Sumitomo Encounter AT vs Falken Wildpeak AT3W: Both the Sumitomo Encounter AT and Falken Wildpeak AT3W are all terrain tires which provide a great combination of durability and on and off road traction. Both tire are 3 peak mountain snowflake rated and they provide immaculate performance on snow. The Encounter AT even outperforms it’s competitor in some key areas where it seemed very unlikely.
The blocky traditional design of Sumitomo Encounter AT provides a very confident ride where it’s 4 channels aid a lot in hydroplaning. The tire may not look too aggressive, but it even amazes you with a few things off road as well.
Let’s start by looking at these tire’s tread design.
Table of Contents
Falken Wildpeak AT3w
Sumitomo Encounter A/T
The central blocks of Sumitomo Encounter AT features a very blocky design with central smaller rib of 2 blocks (highlighted with yellow. Both of these blocks are joined together by reinforced foundation underneath and they make stepped edges/ramps on their sides, and are also seen with notches facing sideways.
These blocks then make very similar looking T shaped blocks on the sides and are seen with notches and stepped edges with a more prominent rectilinear siping.
Together they are making 4 circumferential channels unlike Falken Wildpeak AT3w, which only makes two.
On Widlpeak, the channels are also wider and they separate the central blocks where Z shaped blocks are placed surrounded by other C shaped ones.
Rectilinear siping is seen on these blocks and on a closer inspection, you’d notice ramps on the sides of highlighted blocks below.
The edges of all blocks are also chamfered in order to improve handling and braking performance.
On sides, the Sumitomo Encounter AT features a single block design. They are staggered with a proper scoop but still make sharp off set edges. These resemble Wildpeak’s blocks a lot.
The blocks are separated from the sidewall lugs, which paste on a large surface area but don’t make bulkier lugs.
Where on Falken Wildpeak AT3w they are thicker and join the shoulder blocks, and like the Encounter, each block is staggered on itself.
Also there are no proper ridges in between the blocks here, where on Sumitomo the blocks are properly connected with each other.
Now, let’s see how these design differences help them in traction, starting with pavements.
On Road Traction:
On roads, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w showed better grip and handling performance values. During grip testing on dry roads, the Sumitomo Encounter AT took 6 feet shorter to stop.
Similarly, the tire also showed better handling times as well, averaging a few seconds shorter in completing laps in comparison.
It makes sense because the tire offers a greater rubber to road contact. It’s softer rubber blocks are also reinforced by foundations, so this helps the tire a lot in maintaining superior grip and handling.
But the lateral traction component on Falken Wildpeak AT3w on dry asphalts was slightly better. This has to do with tire’s much more aggressive shoulders which come alive during cornering.
Now what’s really surprising to see is that, Sumitomo did not let down even on wet roads. Here during braking tests, it stopped 2 feet shorter in comparison.
Where on handling times, both tires were equal (with Wildpeak negligibly better, if you must pick one).
So overall, Sumitomo Encounter AT is a better dry performer and it’s wet traction is on par with Falken Wildpeak AT3w.
Can these tires handle Mud?
Mud is a big no for Sumitomo Encounter. The tire simply can not handle it. It would get packed very easily.
The tire offers very minimal lateral and longitudinal spacing between its blocks, and even these blocks have connectors/foundations underneath.
These connectors are best seen on the shoulder blocks, and they act as barrier, restricting mud to pass through.
The Falken Wildpeak AT3w would be a little better here. The tire provides wider channels and has more tread depth, so more mud and dirt can leave this tire. In other words, the tire can self clean much more efficiently in comparison.
Durability is a big one for this type of terrain as, on rocks there are a lot of different pointy objects that would pierce the tire’s sidewall, if not strong enough.
The Sumitomo Encounter AT has inner construction of 2 ply polyester casing with 2 steel belts wrapped with just 1 ply on nylon. The nylon ply also covers the sidewalls, making them a bit stronger.
The Falken Wildpeak AT3w also has same construction but it’s outer layer has 2 ply nylon and then there are 2 more separate layers just for the sidewalls. So this tire is more puncture resistance in comparison.
Falken Wildpeak also offers thicker lugs on sides, which during flexing sidewalls under lowered pressure bar/psi, provide ample traction.
On snow both tires are remarkable. Both are 3 Peak Mountain Snowflake rated. If we talk about acceleration on snow, both tires give you a similar subjective performance, where you can’t really put one over the other.
But other than that, the stopping distances were seen better on Falken Wildpeak AT3w but with a very close margin.
Same goes for handling times, where there was less than a second difference, where Sumitomo Encounter AT was a bit slower.
The real difference was however seen in deeper snow and here the Falken Wildpeak AT3w has the edge of more tread depth. The tire can take on more snow where it’s shoulders are really good at self cleaning.
Fuel Economy, Tread Wear & Comfort:
Ride quality is better on Falken Wildpeak AT3w, the tire offers higher density of polymers in its rubber which provides better cushioning to imperfections on roads. The larger tread depth also helps as with that, there is more rubber between you vehicle and the road.
If we talk about noise, its although very minimal in both tires, the Sumitomo Encounter offers a better design to handle it. It’s connectors between the shoulder blocks dampen the noise by resisting the amount of air to either leave or enter the tire (noise is just air doing that).
Sumitomo Encounter also offer less rolling resistance. And on top of that the tire also weighs less and is slightly stiffer, so all these factors contribute to a better tread wear resistance on Sumitomo.
However, the Falken Wildpeak AT3w also takes some time to wear off, as it has more tread depth so more rubber would take more time to wear.
But with more no of layers of polyamide in the tire’s construction make these tires quite heavier in comparison, and that effect all fuel economy, wear as well as comfort.
What’s the Verdict?
Sumitomo Encounter AT is a very good candidate for on road and snow traction. The tire is not too aggressive to take you on rugged terrains but for light off roading, it’s a very great option.
The Falken Wildpeak AT3w already provides a very great wet traction and out of all aggressive all terrain tires, none is able to match it’s wet performance, that’s why it’s so surprising to see Sumitomo coming on par with it and even outperforming in wet braking tests with smaller calculated distances.