Not all studded tires are created equal.
Just because you put studs in it doesn't mean it will be the equivalent of a Hakapallita 7 (or 8 now).
A couple counterpoints:
1) Studless ice tires are going to do much better on ice than all seasons.
2) The dry-road performance of studless ice tires is significantly better (safer) than traditional snow tires with studs especially, but even without studs.
3) Slush and snow performance will be less important than ice performance for folks who stick mostly to well plowed roads.
Maximizing safety for winter driving is a complex equation that needs to take into account all the driving that will be done throughout the winter. I use traditional studded snow tires on one vehicle, studless ice tires on another, and still trying to figure out what to put on my third vehicle this winter.
One key point I want to make is people worry way too much about getting stuck. You are not going to get seriously injured or killed by getting stuck, rather by not being able to stop or turn. For the winter driving I do (mostly on I-70), I worry most about being able to stop and control my vehicle at highway speeds on ice and packed snow.
Each solution provide certain plus and minus no matter how you look at it.
It really comes down to drive with in the limits of your equipment and the current conditions regardless of what tires you have and you will be as safe as you can be.
^^^^ I generally agree, adding on:
Yes, some all-season tires do great in the snow, others are downright dangerous. There is a huge range of winter performance of all-season tires. Most folks have no clue and think their car is good or bad in the snow. It's not, its the tires that are good or bad in the snow.
I really think studded vs. stud-less snow tires just depends on the type of driving you do. I have both. My 4x4 with studs is my "powder" vehicle that I will drive into any storm, any time, regardless of conditions. It also sees as little dry pavement as possible when the studs are mounted, as it's a third vehicle. Our AWD with studless snows spends the huge majority of time driving around the front range on dry roads, with less than 10 winter trips/year into the mountains.
I wouldn't want traditional snows with or without studs on our AWD that tools around Denver because of the decreased dry performance. No, it's not for racing, it's for the extra safety on the dry pavement this vehicle sees 95% of the time in winter. I don't want to give up the 10 feet breaking (or whatever it is) on dry pavement for the snow/slush benefits. That's why I think studless snows are a great option for the way this vehicle is driven. BTW, this vehicle has also done really well in snow and ice with all-seasons that have a good tread pattern and compound for snow (Michelin Cross Terrain), at least while they were fairly new.
Hmmm.... trick question? I don't think any feature does in snow? A really well engineered traditional snow tire with studs is going to be best in all winter conditions, yes?
But, that same traditional snow tire is going to perform worse on dry pavement, so it is best used on a vehicle that sees a lot of snow, or one that regularly has to drive roads that are extremely difficult in winter conditions. Sounds like your neighborhood is the latter.
I haven't thought about all that. I've been using tall studless tires on rims. I can get a little more ground clearance, there's less chance of wheel damage on busted up roads, and in the past small size steel rims were usually cheap. One downside was that it made the steering to light, which I don't like on dry roads. I'm way more concerned about ice. If the snow is deep enough to stop me, chances are the roads are blocked by AWD vehicles anyway. If I had a high clearance 4WD I might use something different.
Maybe next time I'll use regular size studless.
Contact patch PSI isn't the reason to go to a narrower width tire, it has to do with the size and shape of the contact patch.
A wide tire with a lower profile causes a wider patch, but narrower.. which is good for cornering but not so good for acceleration or braking, alternatively a skinny tire with a higher profile will cause a patch that isn't as wide laterally but is longer, providing better acceleration and braking, but at a loss of cornering grip.
Alternatively you could get some http://trucktracks.com/en/ and get a massively increased contact patch and open your own uber chairlift, with heat and tunes and seat warmers.. until you get kicked out for driving up the mountain.
I've just installed the Continental PureContact V rate version (for a few dollars more I'll get the higher rating) of the tire which is listed as a Grand Touring All Season. I had the chance to drive them in light snow fall conditions (snow did not stay on ground) and found them to hold very well considering that they are not winter tires. Considering they are an all season tire, tire rack gives them a relatively high rating for Ice and Snow.
So far I've had the Conti ProContact (came with the 09 Jetta Sportwagen), The Conti ExtremeContact DWS, a set of Toyo Winters (wasn't impress in the winter,no better than the Conti's) and now the above mentioned. Feel wise, the PureContact are on par with the DWS's. I'll report back later.
Area of travel.....primarily Windsor to Ottawa to Minden to Toronto and some Northern New York.
BTW for my wife's 06 Caravan I just ordered the X-ice Xi3's as she doesn't drive the same as I do (I enjoy driving, she drives because she has to even though she's a good driver). Interested to see how they handle on the van which I must say is a bit of a pig in winter conditions.
Here's the follow up to these two tires.
Both have had some mileage put on them 700 to 1400km's including some in the snow and slush in and around Toronto.
09 Jetta Sportwagen the PureContact's are not bad in the snow and slushy conditions and seem to feel that they have a lower roll resistance (mileage so seems to confirm the difference of about 5 to 10% improvement). In comparasion to the snow slush feel to the X-ice 3's there is a bit less grip. Is it enough to purchase X-ice 3's for my car still not decided at this point.
On the 06 Caravan, the X-Ice 3's made a definite feel difference. Actually better than the All Seasons even in the warmer temps (+13C). As it got colder well no comparison. The handling and control along with the braking and confidence just amazing. The most surprising difference was the lower road noise of the tire. The only worry is that we don't over appreciate the tire and drive beyond the limits of the tire because of the confidence they inspire. This was definitely a wise and long over due choice for this vehicle.