First things first, there’s no such thing as the best winch in the world. The performance of this device is heavily determined by the type of vehicle you are using it on.
For heavy-duty vehicles like a truck, a humble winch that’s specifically engineered for cars won’t simply work. I have spent a significant time of my life cruising along the most challenging terrains of United States by my RV.
Before you hit the road, you to make sure you have the right tool present in your toolbox to help you haul the wheels, should your car ever get badly stuck in sand or mud. In today’s segment, I will discuss about the best winches designed for multiple types of vehicles.
Best Winch of 2017
|6.6 hp||9500 lbs||94'||5 y|
|Superwinch TS 9.5||5.2 hp||9500 lbs||95'||2 y|
|12V DC||8000 lbs||94'||Limited Lifetime|
|Warn ZEON 8-S||12V DC||8000 lbs||100'||n/a|
|Rugged Ridge||5.5 hp||8500 lbs||94'||5 y|
|6.6 hp||10000 lbs||98.5'||5 y|
|Vortex 8000||5.5 hp||8000 lbs||79'||1 y|
|Yescom 10000||5.5 hp||10000 lbs||92'||n/a|
|LD12-ELITE||6.0 hp||12000 lbs||87'||n/a|
|Superwinch LP10000||5.1 hp||10000 lbs||85'||2 y|
Smittybilt 97495 XRC – Best for Jeep
Motor power is one of the most important criteria to take into account while buying a winch. The first product I am going review in this segment houses a 6.6 HP amphibious motor.
It is powerful enough to help you haul the wheels of your jeep, in case they get stuck in a hole or mud while off-roading.
One of the most noteworthy features of this winch is its easy mounting.
It also employs a 3 Stage Planetary Gear System which minimizes the stress from the motor. For the same reason, winding the winch won’t require a tremendous muscle effort.
The device carries an IP67 waterproof rating which is quite a big deal when you’re driving under gruesome conditions. All in all, Smittybilt 97495 is a quite an amazing winch for the price.
The installation took me less than an hour. It has been a loyal companion in many road trips and I don’t think I am willing to get rid of it anytime soon.
Smittybilt 97495 has proved its worth time and again to me. Once I pulled out a 7000-lbs SUV that was badly stuck in a crevice. The owner of the car couldn’t believe his eyes.
It is powerful and the installation is a cakewalk if you use a little common sense. It also spares you the hassle of buying a separate fairlead as well. What else can you possibly ask for?
Superwinch Tiger Shark 9.5 – Best for the Money
Even if you do, you might get charged a handsome amount for the service. Superwinch Tiger Shark is rated for 9500 lbs. and can give many of its expensive a tough run for their money.
Superwinch’s sleek textured finish design gives it a vibe of a premium product. And it’s not skin deep, it is capable of withstanding the wear and tear of rough weather and unforgiving driving conditions.
I had managed to rescue my Land Cruiser that got stuck on an incline twice without much trouble.
Warn VR8000 – Best for Truck
The first thing that catches your eyes is the low-profile design of the winch. The winch has a solid fit if installed correctly.
And the same compact structure allows it to snugly fit a variety of car models and trucks.
If you power and torque demand is higher, VR series has several other options for you. The weather-resistant, rubberized remote controls give you a complete control over winching.
The Spydura synthetic winch rope provided in the package is decent, feels strong, safe and durable. The installation involves a number of steps but will seem straightforward to those who have installed a winch before.
I know a colleague who has been using it as a boat trailer winch for quite a long time. He didn’t have anything negative to say when I asked about his experience with it.
In conclusion, I would pass off VR8000 as one of the best low-priced winches available in the market right now. It can effortlessly pull out ATVs weighing around 4400 lbs. While they really dug in.
Special brownie points go to its no-nonsense design that makes it compatible with most vehicles. Unless you are in need for a winch for heavy-duty repair work, VR8000 could give you a great bang for the buck.
Warn ZEON 8-S – Best Electric Winch
The convertible control pack is my most favorite feature of the lot as it allows me to mount the device in multiple ways. Now, ZEON 8-S is not a “pocket-friendly” gear per se.
The advanced features it is packed with might be an overkill if you take your jeep out only once in a while for road trips or hiking. For someone like me with a knack for wildlife photography, this is an ideal equipment, though.
Being a freelance photographer and travel writer, I happen to spend most of my days exploring the unknown. Thankfully, the powder-coated aluminum housing and stainless steel parts effectively shielded the winch against vagaries of weather my crazy itinerary puts it through. About the installation, the overall process isn’t painstaking.
Once you get the drift, it will take you roughly an hour to complete the setup. I have winched my jeep several times under heavy downpour and still didn’t spot any sign of rust.
ZEON 8-S can pull out SUVs, trucks, and jeeps while exerting minimal strain on your arm muscles, no matter how unforgiving the terrain is. It is engineered to withstand the abuse of off-roading.
For me, it has worked flawlessly for 3 years and trust me, my jeep tends to get stuck in mud quite often. The package comes will all the necessary equipment you need to mount the winch. Performance-wise, definitely a deal worth grabbing.
Rugged Ridge 8,500Lb – Best for Trailer
Its pulling power makes it worth every bit of the money you spend on it. It can recover vehicles with minimal effort even if they are dug in the deepest pit of a muddy terrain or sand.
The winch doesn’t seem to catch rust, the finish remains intact even after combating terrible abuse. The secret behind its brute force is the 6.6 HP Wound motor that can adjust the torque according to the demand of the situation.
The installation kit includes everything you’ll need to get started. If you’re good with tools, the setup won’t take you more than an hour. If you’re looking for a winch with multiple mounting options, the roller fairlead in the package will provide you with that benefit as well.
The 94 feet steel cable is another significant addition you’ll appreciate while rescuing a vehicle from a hazardous position.
The Rugged Ridge is equipped with all the essential features to help you get through nightmare scenarios during your expeditions. The installation is a breeze.
The cable is long enough to provide you a great adjustability while recovering the badly stuck at ATV. The build quality looks quite impressive as I haven’t noticed any kind of damage in the winch so far.
Smittybilt X2O – Best Waterproof
It carries a waterproof rating of IP68 which means you can relentlessly use it under heavy rain without getting it damaged. The wireless function makes gives a clear edge over many other products within and above its price range.
I have managed to pull my JK Wrangler 15 times with it without hitch. Rubberized remote control is also waterproof and lets you neatly execute all the tasks.
In fact, amidst a forest 1600 miles away from the city, my friends and I had to move a couple of giant logs that blocked our path.
The winch worked incredibly well, although it took a toll on the safety catch latch and it broke. The free spool also functioned just the way I’d expected.
Smittybilt is not essentially a flawless winch but its overall features and performance more than make up for it. Winching a trailer in an extreme environment is a real challenge.
Fortunately, Smittybilt does it like a pro. The installation isn’t meticulous, free spooling is smooth and most of all, it doesn’t wear off despite prolonged exposure to water.
Vortex 8000 – Best for 4×4
Apart from recovering my 4×4, long ago, I had also managed to pull a 60 ft. long maple tree that was blocking my way.
The installation was a lengthy process, spent almost 2 and a half hours to get the thing hooked to my truck. I would have really appreciated if the cable was a bit longer but never mind.
Vortex doesn’t come from the house from globally recognized brands like Warn or Smittybilt. It’s an inexpensive winch for off-road vehicle recovery purpose, it fits well and does its job with integrity.
I can’t vouch for its resistance against extreme weather or rough terrain but I haven’t encountered any durability issue so far.
The machine works fast, cools down well within every few minutes interval and most of all, the wireless remote allows you to carry out the operation smoothly.
Vortex 8000 might not be the best winch in the market but you get what you pay for. If you’re certain that you’ll only need a winch once in a while, this could well be your go-to product.
The remote control works pretty well, not a very common thing with budget products. Without a doubt, this is one of the best budget winches for off-road vehicles.
Yescom 10000 – Best for Car Trailer
The wireless function can be operated from 12 ft distance which is quite a big deal, considering the price of the product. Rated for 10k lbs, the tool can pull out vehicles weighing up to 5000 lbs. without a hitch.
For further safety, the connectors are housed inside a solid, wear-resistant casing to extend their longevity.
My nephew has it mounted on his trainer. He is apparently using it for 2 years and hasn’t found any major flaw in the functionality yet.
The Yescom 10000 is one of those accidentally great discoveries that come in your way while you were expecting something average. The features, the design, the ergonomics, and setup- everything is nearly perfect about this wench.
Granted, it doesn’t work like a Warn or Superwinch but there shouldn’t be any comparison in the very first place. Its capacity is limited, nonetheless, it does its best despite it.
LD12-ELITE – Best to Buy
Not among the most popular but certainly one of the most high-performance winches in my list. It can seamlessly pull off tasks like rescuing heavy trucks, towed vehicles and SUVs from deep holes, muddy roads, and sand.
The machinery uses highly durable, abrasion-resistant wire ropes to lift vehicles, massive trees, and logs.
The series-wound motor supplies consistent power and torque to make sure the work doesn’t have to be paused frequently to let the machine cool down.
Had to call in a professional to figure it out. Other than that, the winch gave a decent performance throughout my 6 months trial period.
To sum it up, the product under question is a silver line among the crowd of low-budget winches manufactured these days. The capacity is quite above average considering the price. Both the corded and the wireless function work like charm.
Don’t keep your expectations too high from it. It is a product worth trying if you’re going to use the winch only once in a while.
Superwinch LP10000 – Best for Jeep Under $500
It can lift up to 5000 lbs. of weight with a single line of rope. The 85-feet steel rope, coupled with a 5.1 HP series-wound motor cranks up enough power to shift heavy-duty objects without lag.
The wireless operation can be performed from a safe distance, thanks to the 12 ft. long cable that comes with it.
The rubberized remote control equipped with a 12 ft. long cable makes it easier to rescue the vehicle, standing at a safe distance.
Best Winch – Buyer’s Guide
How does an Electric Winch work?
An electric winch is one that uses an electric motor instead of a normal one. The motor used is akin to those used in a drill. The motor used in a winch is usually quite strong as the weight that a winch needs to bear is a lot. The electric winch will require a power supply.
This can either be AC or DC, depending on the kind of winch you are dealing with. ATV winches use an ATV battery and usually work on a DC power source. Winches used on trucks or trailers can function with a regular 12 V DC source.
The workload of the gear in an electric winch is very easily explained. A smaller gear is used to turn a larger one. When handling an electric winch, you should probably use some gloves, just to be safe. The wires poking through can cause damage to your hands.
How does a Hand Winch work?
Hand winches use a double clamping mechanism through which a steel rope is moved. It is equipped with a clutch through which the cable is fed. With a hand winch, even though the labor is minimized, a lot of manual labor is still required.
A hand winch is used for lifting items that are heavy or of larger dimensions. It could be used for lifting heavy boats to a trailer for example. However, as efficient they are, never make the mistake of lifting or supporting people.
In fact, winches should never be used when people are passing below them. A single mishap may cause you to lose your grip and result in accidents.
After wrapping the cable with the winch, the cable pool ratchet needs to be unlocked. After that, you can simply hook the cable to the object.
You need to be extra careful as well to ensure that the hook is secure enough to handle the weight.
How Does a Hydraulic Winch work?
Hydraulic winches work on a fluid power source with the help of a hydraulic mechanism along with a motor pump positioned in between the winch and the generator. Because it essentially works by power conversion, the electrical power required is increased by 20 to 30%.
These are ideal for large generator sets that can handle heavy loads. Hydraulic winches have an increased capacity for carrying loads.
If you are planning to buy a winch for a ship, the type of the winch will be based on the size of the ship itself. It is in these cases that a hydraulic winch is preferred, even over an electrical one. It is important that you look into the electronic system of the winch when making your purchase.
In general, hydraulic winches have a longer lifespan. Of course, you need to replace the damaged parts as soon as you notice them.
How Does a Car Winch work?
A car winch is supposed to connect the car to another object or vehicle. It comprises of a powerful cable that connects the two objects. Your car winch may operate with the help of a motor. Or it may depend on the power supply from the car itself.
There are two functions to which a car winch may be applied. It can be used to help pull out a car which is stuck. This is done by connecting one end of the cable to a strong stationary object that helps to support it while you work the winch.
Or it might be used the other way round. It can be used to attach a smaller object to your vehicle to drag it along.
The winch is built with a rod in the center that is attached to a crank.
This crank may require a manual force to be operated. Or it can be used along with a motor.
The cable is connected at one end to the rod. The cable that is left is wrapped around the rod.
Apart from these, there are several kinds of winches. However, essentially, all of them function in a similar way.
How Does a Winch Brake work?
A winch brake is a brake that works just in one direction. Some winches comprise of a solenoid brake that is used instead of or in combination with a mechanical brake. If the pawl is not retracted, the brake will not allow the winch from unwinding.
What Is a Winch Used for?
A winch is used for lifting a heavy object with a minimum input of effort. A manual winch may still require you to operate the device. But an electrical one makes the job easier by using an electric motor.
A winch works by passing a cable around a rotating drum that is positioned horizontally. The simplest of winches is built with a spool and a hand crank. A larger winch will be placed at the center of the machines like steam shovels and two trucks and even elevators.
A more complicated winch will have a gear setup. The cable is stored in its position on the winch. Several winches may be built with a cleat or stripper to maintain the tension. These are known as self-tailing winches.
It needs to be attached to a permanent fixture on one end and to the object on the other.
What is a Self-recovery Winch?
A self-recovery winch is one which is used for the purpose of pulling out a car that is stuck in the mud. It is mounted on the rear or the front of the car. The other end of the cable is supported by attaching it to a stationary object like a tree or a pillar. It requires a mounting kit.
If it is a multi-mount system, then it can be taken off and used on another vehicle. A mounting kit, though, is permanently attached to the vehicle.
What Size Winch Do I Need for My Jeep?
The size that you require for your winch depends on the purpose for which you will use it.
However, if you plan to use it for heavier purposes like dragging out your car from a ditch, you will need a larger device.
You can get an 8000 lbs. winch at the very least. Apart from size, there are several factors that you need to take into account while choosing your winch. One is the line-speed. Further, the material of the cable may also aid in lessening your efforts.
Rolling Load Capacity
A rolling load is usually easier to move because it has wheels. The winch is able to handle more than its specified capacity because of this. In fact, from the ground level, this capacity is multiplied 10 times.
If you are pulling it up an inclined plane, this capacity increases further. To find the rolling load capacity of your winch, you need to multiply its original capacity by 3.40 for a 20-degree incline. For a 30 degree incline, you have to multiply the capacity of the winch by 2.61.
Other Things to Look for While Buying a Winch
When buying a winch, the first thing you need to decide is what you are going to use it for. This includes the vehicle for which you are buying the winch. A winch you get for a truck is different than what is required for an ATV.
But it should not be positioned in front of an SUV, ATV or a pickup truck. It can be used during the loading of ATVs or boats on trailers. It can even be used for lifting rocks or larger trees.
If you get an ATV winch, you should use it for the sole purpose of ATVs. It should come with a mounting kit as well. The self-recovery winch can be utilized for pulling out vehicles which are stuck in the mud.
- You should also take into account the winch line. Average winch lines will function at a meter in one minute. But if you want to apply it to commercial purposes, you might look into a faster one. Usually, you will find that a 30 meters long line is sufficient. If you are working in short underbrush, you might prefer a shorter line. Commercial winches will require a longer line, on the other hand.
- There is further the choice between hydraulic, electric and mechanical winches. Hydraulic winches are used for the heaviest of loads. For slightly lighter ones, an electric one or a permanent motor winch would be sufficient.
- The mounting and anchoring of a winch are important as well. The mount is supposed to be light and the footprint should be small so that it firmly fits the vehicle. If the winch is supposed to mount internally, you will also need to look into the dimensions of the winch. Winches can be built with a remote or an integrated solenoid pack. For the remote solenoid, it is mounted externally on the winch. An integrated solenoid may be mounted above the motor. Or it can be placed on a bridge atop the cable.
- You will also need to consider the power source of the winch. It can function on a dry battery or it can use the power source of the vehicle. The ignition of the vehicle needs to be on while using the winch in case of the latter.
- Winches have different poundage rates as well. This rate varies according to whether the winch is a non-rolling, rolling or a marine one. A non-rolling winch is typically used to pull stones or tree stumps. Marine winches are used for dragging boats from the water. The rolling winch is used to tug wheeled vehicles while in neutral gear.
Remember that a winch is a durable device and you probably won’t be changing it anytime soon. Of course, you can get a simple hand winch for lighter purposes as well.
It is probably better to get one that used the power of the vehicle instead of a battery. Further, take into account the build quality of the winch you are buying.
This will include the components of the winch. You can check for cracks on the surface or otherwise. A cable line is always better than rope. Synthetic lines work just as fine too. Ropes, on the other hand, are light and easy to handle.
So if it is a hand winch, you should probably go with rope. It is important that you get one that is suited for your vehicle.
To Sum it Up
After a thorough discussion with my teammates who helped write this comprehensive guide on the best winches, we have collectively decided to declare the Smittybilt XRC as the most reliable winch for any vehicle, road or climate.
It gets a tough competition from Warn VR8000. No matter which product you choose, be sure to do your diligence before making an investment. Hope this review will guide you to select the best product for your individual requirements.