Photo credit: JITD / Shutterstock.com
If you drive in harsh winter conditions, it is a good idea to keep some sort of snow traction mat in your vehicle. Even if you have the best snow tires or a traction-aiding device like tire chains, there will still be situations where the snow is too deep. If there is too much snow, or if there is ice under the snow, snow tires will likely fall short. Chains are the next best bet, but they are time-consuming to install and remove. In the long run, snow traction mats are the best short-term tool to provide a layer of gripping surface between your tires and the driving surface.
The problem when shopping for snow traction mats is that there are many different brands and styles available. More importantly, there is a huge range of pricing, likely making you question whether you need to spend the extra money. If you have never used traction mats before, it might be hard to figure out which to buy, but we are here to help.
In this article, we look at the most popular snow traction mats sold online, ranging from an inexpensive set that is best purchased in case of emergency, to an expensive option that can be used for repeated use in all sorts of harsh driving conditions. They are all highly rated, but the design, function, and pricing all vary greatly.
For more information on the best snow traction mats, refer to our table of contents.
Table of contents
1. Editor's Pick: MAXSA Escaper Buddy Traction Mats
The MAXSA Escaper Buddy snow traction mat is a solid plastic mat that measures 48-inches long, making it the longest mat design on our list. It also has an aggressive upper and lower design, so it digs into the snow while also providing plenty of traction on the top side.
The Escaper Buddy has a small ramp on both ends, making it easy to quickly jam it under your drive tires. There are small spikes on those ramps that help the tire grip right away. Once the tires get up onto the main portion of the mats, there are larger spikes with webbing running between the spikes on the outer edges. The center section has an egg crate design that allows snow and water to fall away while more small spikes line the entire center. The egg crate design serves as spikes on the underside, so the area on which the weight of the vehicle is focused is being used to drive the bottom spikes into the snow.
The solid design isolates the tires from the snow and the four-foot mat allows for plenty of run-up time. More run-up time allows you to build more momentum, so once you drive off of the mats, you have more speed built up to continue covering the deep snow. At the same time, since these MAXSA mats have a hollow design, they are lighter weight and easier to unload in a hurry.
2. JOJOMARK Tire Traction Mats
This recommendation from JOJOMARK is a flexible snow traction mat system made from galvanized steel and high strength rubber, creating a ladder-like design that is 39.3-inches long and 10.8-inches wide. Each of the rungs is lined with rubber tabs, with metal studs spaced out across every other rung. This allows for great grip against the driving surface and the surface of the tire.
JOJOMARK’s tire traction mats are designed to be stored in the rolled-up position in the bag that comes with each pair. When you find yourself stuck, you roll them out and tuck either end under each of your drive tires. As you drive up onto them, the weight of your vehicle shoves them down into the snow, giving you a textured surface to drive across. Every rung is lined with rubber tabs that provide traction and every other rung has metal studs with tungsten steel centers spread out along the area that contacts the tire tread. Between the rubber rungs is a system of galvanized steel cables that are coated in rubber to protect them from the elements, allowing the mats to flex over uneven ground.
The 39.3-inch length of these mats allows you to build plenty of momentum, even on uneven ground, while the ability to roll the mats up when stowed makes it easy to stow them in a small space.
3. Portable Tow Truck Tire Traction Mats
This offering from Portable Tow Truck is a pair of solid polypropylene snow traction mats that measures 36-inches long, making it one of the longer options on the list. These mats are lined with rows of small cleats on top, while the underside has directional spikes that dig against the force of the vehicle. Most importantly, the Portable Tow Truck mats cost considerably less than other long, solid mat systems.
The Portable Tow Truck snow traction mats are uniform from one end to the other, with the small cleats covering the upper surface. You push a mat under each of the drive tires and as you drive onto them, the weight of the vehicle shoves them down into the snow. As the force of the tire turning tries to push the mats, the spikes on the bottom of the mats dig in, using the force of the vehicle to get a better grip against the driving surface. From there, you use the jagged surface to build momentum and dig through the deep snow.
In addition to costing considerably less than many solid snow traction mats, the Portable Tow Truck mats are very lightweight, so they are easily lifted out of the trunk when you are in a bind.
4. VaygWay Snow Traction Mat
The VaygWay Snow Traction Mat is a folding solid polypropylene system that has a pair of mats that fold out to cover 23.4 inches of driving surface. When folded up, these mats are just 10.8 inches by 7.1 inches, so they are the easiest on our list to store while still proving the grip that you need to get out of a slippery situation.
Each snow traction mat is made from solid polypropylene, comprised of three pieces that are held together with metal hinges. The center portion of the mat has what VaygWay calls a honeycomb design, with blocks that are angled to give your tire tread something to grab onto. As you drive across the mat, the underside of these blocks are shoved down into the snow, where similar edges dig into the snow. On the outer edges, there is an open area that is also angled, using the force of the tire to provide grip against the snow and ice.
In addition to being tiny when folded up, thus the easiest mats on our list to store, they are also among the least expensive. In addition, they’re very light, so it is easy to get them in and out of your vehicle in a tough situation.
5. Stalwart Deep Groove Traction Mat
The Stalwart Deep Groove Traction Mats are solid polypropylene, measuring 16-inches long by 6.5-inches wide. They feature an angled upper and lower zig-zag design that provides even grip on the tire and the driving surface. They also have a handle on one end, allowing you to use the ramp end as an ice scraper while the relatively compact design makes them easier to store than larger mat systems. Also, these Stalwart snow traction mats are the least expensive on our list, but they are the smallest.
These mats are directional, so you shove the end opposite of the handle under your drive tires. As you drive onto them, the leading edge digs into the snow. Once you are onto the main body of these mats, the angled grooves give your tires something to grab onto and while they do, the weight of your vehicle drives the similar grooves on the bottom into the snow. Also, if your windshield is all iced-up, you can start freeing your vehicle by using the leading edge as an ice scraper before using them to get unstuck.
The key downside to these Stalwart Deep Groove Traction Mats is the short length. At 16 inches, they are the shortest on our list, so they provide the least driving distance to build momentum. As a result, you may find yourself moving these mats multiple times if you are in a larger area of deep snow.
How Snow Traction Mats Work
Photo credit: Andrey_Vasiliskov / Shutterstock.com
Imagine you come home late from work on night in the middle of an intense snow storm. You park in your driveway where there is already six inches of snow on the ground and over the course of the evening, another four inches falls. When you go to leave for work the next morning, your car is practically buried, but it is also sitting on several inches of packed snow. You clean off your windows and get into the car, but when you put it in gear, it doesn’t move at all. Even though you have expensive snow tires, you find that you can’t get enough grip on the packed snow to do anything other than spin the tires. The more you spin the tires, the smoother the surface under the drive tires become. You get a shovel from the garage and carefully clear snow away from the drive tires, but you are still sitting on several inches of packed snow that are preventing you from getting out of the driveway. If you could get just a little momentum, you could get out onto the freshly-plowed road, and that is where snow traction mats come into play.
Snow traction mats are plastic or rubber mats that are either solid, folding, or a roll-up design, with cleats, grooves, or spikes on both sides that allow your vehicle to get traction in deep snow or on ice.
Even with deep snow in front of your vehicle, you lay the traction mats as flat as you can, jamming the leading edge of the mats under each of your drive tires. When you put your car into drive, the motion of the tires grips the mats and pulls them under the tires, flattening some of the snow in front of your vehicle. The spiked surface on the top of the mats helps your tires get the grip needed to inch forward. As you do, the added weight forces the ramps deeper into the snow, packing the snow underneath. At the same time, the spikes on the underside of the mats are embedded into the now-packed snow under them, leading to a near-solid surface on which you can build the momentum needed to get out of your driveway.
When buying snow traction mats, there are a few key aspects that you have to keep in mind. Most notably, you want to make sure that the mats will comfortably fit in your vehicle. Most drivers prefer to keep the mats in their vehicle, and with some measuring four feet in length, they may not fit in the trunk of some smaller cars.
Once you have found mats that will comfortably fit in your vehicle, you want to look for mats that offer the most aggressive grip for the price. Less expensive mats are often smaller, lighter, and less aggressive, so they don’t work as well as larger, more expensive mats. If you have a smaller car, you want to choose a mat system that folds or rolls up for easy storage. As for truck and SUV owners with lots of storage space, you are far less limited with your options.
We are committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using the retail links in our product reviews. Learn more about how this works.