Tire preferences vary! I think everyone has an opinion on what’s “Best”! To be honest, I think it depends on how (aggressive or casual) you ride, where you ride, when (seasons) you ride, and what you ride (both the type of trails and the type of bike).
Personally I LOVE my Panaracers.
I originally had a set of Continentals on my 26” Hardtail. They did fine. When it came to replace them, I (by sure dumb luck) wound up putting on a set of Panaracer Fire Pro tires (front and back). I loved the way my bike handled (no matter how hard I pushed it) and consistency (regardless of whether it was rocky, dry, or muddy out).
When I upgraded my ride to a 29” Full Suspension, it came with a set of bontraeger tires. It was late winter/early spring in NorCal (which means rain/mud). These tires were TERRIBLE on my local trails. They just didn’t throw off the mud enough (packed mud in a tire made them more like “slicks” – not good). Even without the “mud pack”, they didn’t have the same “grip” as the Panaracers. I replaced them with a set of Panaracer Pros a week later. Rode the same trail in similar conditions – night & day with those panaracers.
Recently, I was riding in South Lake Tahoe and got a puncture. I survived the ride and visited Over the Edge Bike shop in SLT for a replacement tire. They replaced/fitted my rear tire with a Maxxis DHR II. While riding in Tahoe area (trails and the Northstar Bike park), I can’t say I noticed any difference in my overall ride.
When I returned back to the Bay Area and headed out to my local stomping grounds, the difference was noticeable – and not in a good way. For the dry/dusty/rocky conditions in NorCal right now, I find that the Maxxis DHR doesn’t have the same “grip” as my Panaracer did. As such, I have another set of Panaracers on order…..