Snow socks vs chains for semi trucks

Some days ago I helped my new neighbor to get out of a stuck in the snow. He wasn’t used to the cold climate of this region at this time of the year and makes him see the need to have good snow covers or snow chains in a place like this. He asks me which of the two products he should buy. Snow socks or snow chains? … In winter … that is the question.



What are snow socks?

They are covers made of fabric that are placed on the tread of the tire. They absorb the water present on the surface and evacuate it allowing permanent contact between the cover and the ice; creating the friction that together with the electrostatic charge of the fabric, generate the necessary grip to get traction.

Traction with snow socks is lower than if you are using snow chains. On the other hand, with snow socks, you won’t have the noise and vibrations produced by snow chains and they don’t affect the operation of systems such as traction, stability or ABS controls.

Snow socks for trucks are planned to be used only in totally covered roads by snow or ice. If the snow disappears from the pavement you must remove the covers of the tires and place them again if snow or ice is present. If you leave them on, it is very probable that after a few kilometers they are useless.

Winter tires in snow socks

Winter tires in snow socks

Snow socks are the good alternative to snow chains and cables.

The price for snow socks for semi-trucks may vary from $60 to $120 and you never must exceed 30 mph when driving with these devices.

The main snow socks models are:

  • AutoSock Tire Chain Alternative. Models from 695 to 699.
  • Altiprimr Anti-Skid devices for Ice and Snowy Road. Models from (AT-SB75) to (AT-SB79).
  • Isse ECO-66 Snow Socks. Models: ECO-66, ECO-74, and ECO-78

Is it legal the usage of snow socks?

Socks are not an acceptable option by the authorities of some States despite that they have achieved the certifications of some international certifying organizations because they aren’t as effective as chains, overall in places where roads conditions show that chains must be used instead.

Semi-truck in-tire socks

Semi-truck in-tire socks

You should check with your local transit authorities to verify if the use of these implements is permitted and which are the specific situations you can use them.

What are snow chains?

They are a mesh of interlaced steel links that cover the tire to provide better traction. They are more effective than snow socks to prevent slipping and are appropriate for any vehicle but they cannot be used in vehicles with a very limited clearance the tire and the wheel arch.

Its main advantage over snow socks is that they offer excellent traction in most of the situations and are more durable and resistant. However, they have disadvantages such as the complexity of their assembly, especially in emergency situations, the damage they can cause in the tire-rim assembly if they are not properly adjusted, and the extra weight they represent.

The price may vary from $30 to $130 and driving with them you should never exceed 30 miles / h.

The best from the available models and vendors:

  • Glacier Chains for Light Trucks
  • Thule XC12 Pro Deluxe and XB16
  • Quality Chain Fot Light and Commercial Trucks

What else can you use?

Spider-type chains

Spider-type chains

Spider-type chains: They are made with very resistant polyester links and with steel rings. They can be mounted quickly and are effective both in snow and ice. You also have the tire studs which are small and strong metal pieces intended to dig into the ice to add traction. They can damage the road if it isn’t covered by ice.


Snow socks vs chains

Following we’ll evaluate best sellers of each type:

For the snow socks, we have the AutoSock 697 Size-697 Tire Chain Alternative.

Item dimensions: 13.4 x 12 x 2.8 inches

Item weight: 2.73 pounds

What cars fit: For RWD vehicles you will need to buy 2 sets – for all 4 wheels.

Pros / Cons:

  • Nice traction on flat roads where snow or ice cover the road.
  • They’re light and thin. They fit limited clearance vehicles and are foldable.
  • They’re reusable and machine washable.
  • Placing and removing them is easy even in difficult weather conditions.
  • Offer a lower traction, especially on ice.
  • More likely to wear out. Its useful life is short.
  • More appropriate for urban roads where snow should be removed from the roads frequently. Not suitable for pronounced uphills or downhills.
  • Recommended for 4WD vehicles because of the lower traction they provide.
  • Their use is not permitted by the transit authorities of some regions.

Assigned Score: 6/10

And representing the snow chains we have the Peerless 0231805 Auto-Trac Light Truck/SUV Tire Traction Chain – Set of 2

Item dimensions: 12 x 11.2 x 3.1 in

Item weight: 13.58 pounds

What cars fit: apply for both 2WD or 4WD vehicles and also for vehicles with insufficient space between the tire and the rest of the inner parts of the wheel.

Pros / Cons:

  • Easy installation and removal in minutes
  • Much more resistant and durable than snow socks.
  • Meet class ‘S’ clearance requirements
  • Excellent traction in any kind of terrains. Designed with a diamond pattern cross that affords a smoother ride and better traction.
  • They tight and center automatically in the tire thanks to self-tightening ratchets.
  • They’re accepted and even required by most of the local transit authorities.
  • You must verify with the manufacturer which size fit your tires. On this depends that they work well.
  • Can damage the vehicle if incorrectly fitted.
  • Heavier and voluminous than snow socks

Assigned Score: 9/10

Chains or socks. What to choose?

As with any purchase decision, you must take into account your particular needs to acquire the product that best suits you. Since at this moment I have to offer a general recommendation, I will take into account that the Peerless 0231805 Auto-Trac Light Truck and SUV Tire Traction Chain offers a better performance in terms of traction, even on steep slopes and in any climatic condition. This coupled with the fact that it is accepted by most traffic authorities makes my mind much calmer when I think that I only have to put them on my tires and I do not have to drive all the way thinking that I can slide on any downhill, about the rocks and potholes of the road, or about the traffic police can stop me.

So, if you ask me about snow sock or chains, I would definitively take the snow chains for my semi-truck.   

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