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If you are driving a vehicle that you plan to take off the road, be it an ATV/UTV, Jeep SUV, Truck, or something else, eventually, you’ll want to think about a winch. No doubt this will cause you to ask a few questions, like is the best UTV winch the same as the best truck winch?
There are quite a few things to consider when it comes time to make this pick. Some accessories are nice to haves, but when it comes to a winch, we’re talking safety gear. This means you need it to work when called upon. While some of this is your responsibility for maintaining your equipment, some of it rests on the manufacturer to make a product that is reliable.
Luckily for you, the Garage Chief crew tracked down answers and have come up with some of the things you’ll want to consider when it comes time for you to make your purchase. Plus, we will highlight some outstanding choices and point out not only our picks for the best product but also the best value choice. After reading this, you’ll be able to select and purchase the best winch or the money with confidence.
Let’s start with quick comparison table first – thanks to that you will better know what we will review next.
Best ATV Winch and Best UTV Winch – Our Picks
(Under 4500 lb. Capacity)
|editors-choice||Best Product||Best Value|
|item-title||Warn 89020 Vantage 2000 Winch - 2000 lb. Capacity||Warn 90250 ProVantage 2500 Winch - 2500 lb. Capacity||Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC winch 3,000lbs/1360kg||VIPER Max 4000lb ATV / UTV Winch Kit with BLACK AmSteel-Blue Synthetic Rope||Champion Power Equipment 14560 4500 lb. ATV/UTV Wireless Winch Kit (12V DC)||KFI Products SE45 ATV Stealth Winch Kit - 4500 lb. Capacity|
|2,000 lbs. (907 kgs)||2,500 lbs. (1,134 kgs)||3,000 lbs (1,361 kgs)||4,000 lbs (1,847 kgs)||4,500 lbs (2,041 kgs)||4,500 lbs (2,041 kgs)|
|155:1 / Differential Planetary||154:1 / 3-Stage Planetary||136:1 / 1-Stage Planetary||136:1 / 3-Stage Planetary||180:1||166:1 / All-metal Planetary Gear Drive|
|• 12V DC, 0.9 HP (0.7 kW) Permanent Magnet, Sealed|
• Dynamic gear break
|• 12V DC, 0.9 HP (0.7 kW) Permanent Magnet, Sealed|
• Roller Disk
|• Sealed 1.2 HP Permanent Magnet|
• Automatic, 100% load holding
|• 12V DC, Sealed 1.6 HP Permanent Magnet|
• Automatic, 100% load holding
|• Permanent Magnet 1.6 HP (12V DC)|
• Dynamic braking systems
|• 12V DC, 1.7 hp Permanent Magnet
• Dynamic and Mechanical
|editors-choice||Best Product||Best Value|
Best Jeep SUV Winch and Bets Truck Winch (Over 4500 lb.)
|editors-choice||Best Value||Best Product|
|item-title||WARN 26502 M8000 8000 lb Winch||Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC, 9,500 lb Capacity Winch||Mile Marker SEC9.5(es) Truck/Jeep/SUV Element Sealed Electric Winch - 9,500 lb. Capacity||WARN 92820 ZEON Platinum 12 12000 lb Winch||Smittybilt (98510) X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope - 10000 lb Winch||WARN 96820 VR12|
|8,000 lbs (3,630 kgs)||9,500 lbs (4,309 kgs)||9,500 lbs (4,309 kgs)||10,000 lbs (4,535 kgs)||10,000 lbs (4,535 kgs)||12,000 lbs (5,443 kgs)|
|216:1 / 3-Stage Planetary||218:1||212:1 / 3-Stage Planetary||162:1 / 3-Stage Planetary||218:1 / 3-Stage Planetary||261:1 / 3-Stage Planetary|
|• 12V 4.8 HP, 24V 2.1 HP, Series Wound|
• Automatic Direct Drive Cone
|• Sealed 5.2 HP Series Wound|
• Mechanical, Automatic Load Holding
|• Series Wound, 4.8 HP, 12V||• 12V DC, Series Wound||• 6.6 HP Series Wound |
• Automatic Out-Of-Drum
|• 12V DC, Series Wound
• Automatic Direct Drive Cone
|editors-choice||Best Value||Best Product|
Best ATV/UTV Winch Reviews
(Under 4500 lb. Capacity)
We’ll start out with winches that are more suited for ATV and UTV operations. For the purposes of this list, we have drawn the line at 4,500 lbs. of pulling capacity. While there are larger winches that can be used with your powersports rides, these winches will handle most of what you want out of them. We discuss sizing your winch later in the article, but remember, you never hear of people complaining that they have a winch that has too much power.
Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC 3,000lbs/1360kg Best Winch for the Money
The first winch on our list is the 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC winch from Superwinch. As you can probably pick out from the name, this winch was built with an ATV in mind. It brings you 3,000 lbs. of pulling ability, which should be enough to handle all but the largest of ATVs. This winch is an electric, ready to wire into the battery of your 4×4.
This system is quiet during operation and comes with 50 feet of 3/16 inch wire rope. For operation, you’ll get both a handle mounted rocker switch and a handheld corded remote. The remote cord is a full 12 feet long to allow you to be at a safe distance before starting any winching operations. This is backed up by Superwinch with a 2-year limited warranty.
While it may seem that all this power would cost a pretty penny, this whole set up can be had at Amazon for just north of $100. When you look at the fact that this is a highly trusted company offering a solid product at this price, it is no surprise that this took out pick for Best Value as the best winch for the money.
Warn 90250 ProVantage 2500 Winch – 2500 lb. Capacity
For our best ATV/UTV winch list, we come to our natural pick for the best product on the market today. The 90250 ProVantage 2500 Winch from Warn. As the name might tell you this is a step up from the other Warn offering to make the list, not only in that it goes up 500 more pounds for a very respectable 2,500 lbs. total, but also in the overall quality of the build. The fully sealed electric motor means that you will be able to fire this puppy up and not have to worry about if it is raining or doing any variety of weather conditions.
For easy control of your ATV or side by side (SxS), a mini rocker is included to ensure that you can command the winch as required. If something goes wrong you can rely on the rolled disc brake to stop the drum. This winch comes with 50 foot of 3/16 inch wire rope and a hook sporting a durable black finish. This finely crafted winch also comes with a roller fairlead to ensure that your winch doesn’t snag the rope during operation.
With all these features loaded into a single winch, you can tell it was designed with the hardcore enthusiast in mind. And of course, since people rarely if ever complain about having more power than needed, the ProVantage line goes up from 2500 lbs. all the way to 4500 lbs., with options for either wire or synthetic rope at each step. This great set up makes it no wonder that this offering from Warn is our pick for the best product.
Champion Power Equipment 14560 4500 lb. ATV/UTV Wireless Winch Kit (12V DC)
The next winch on our list is the 14560 4500 lb. ATV/UTV Wireless Winch Kit from Champion Power Equipment. This option is another electric driven winch, this one offering enough power to cover either an ATV or a UTV, having 4,500 lbs. of pulling might. For operation, you get a handlebar mounted rocker switch, but you also get a wireless remote, to give you a whole new world of versatility when it comes to where you want to be to operate this winch.
This winch has a gear train ratio of 180:1. The cable is 15/64 in super-duty aircraft cable and 38 ft. of it are included in this kit. Since this comes with the cables and mounting channel it is a package that gives you everything that you need in order to work with your winch. The kit comes with a 2-year limited warranty, but Champion offers free technical support for the entire lifetime of the product.
Warn 89020 Vantage 2000 Winch – 2000 lb. Capacity
Warn offers the 89020 Vantage 2000 Winch as their first step in the Vantage line of ATV winches. This one gives you 2000 lbs. worth of line pull, but if you are looking to step up there are a number of options available in this line to give you more power. When it comes to operation, this set up gives you a mini rocker to mount on the handlebar of your ATV to control the winch. The motor and drive train have been fully sealed in order to keep out the elements. The gear ratio for this winch set up is dialed into 155:1, giving it a good mixture of power and speed.
The cable on this offering is a 5/32 inch wire rope and a full 50 feet are included in the setup. As with most ATV style winches, this one runs off a 12V battery, most likely the main one on your ride. You will find that stepping up to a more powerful winch will offer a wider array of extras, such as a wired remote. However, if 2,000 lbs. is all the power that you require, this makes a great choice of the range.
VIPER Max 4000lb ATV / UTV Winch Kit with Black AmSteel-Blue Synthetic Rope
The Max 4000lb ATV / UTV Winch Kit is just the offering you want from Viper when you need a winch that is going to deliver you power, where and when you want it, no questions asked. The 1.6 horsepower permanent magnetic motor comes fully sealed to ensure that no matter what nature throws at you this winch will pull its weight. It is another electric option, running off the 12-volt battery that is at the heart of your ATV’s power system.
This winch set up opts for a synthetic rope over a wire one. At 3/16 inch and 50 foot long it will do well in muddy conditions, but it needs to have an eye kept on it when using it in areas that might be abrasive. When it comes time to run this powerhouse you’ll have the option of your handlebar-mounted mini rocker switch or a cabled remote. Whereas most winches on this list so far have included a roller fairlead this one opts for the aluminum hawse fairlead.
This set up also sports both mechanical and dynamic braking. This way no matter what happens you can rest assured that the drum will stop when you are expecting it to.
KFI Products SE45 ATV Stealth Winch Kit – 4500 lb. Capacity
The SE45 ATV Stealth Winch Kit from KFI Products is a stunning winch. It’s motor, which connects to an all-metal planetary gear drive, runs off the ATV/UTV standard 12-volt system. But that powers a stunning 4,500 lb. capacity for this small winch. When operation time rolls around for this little beauty you’ll find that you can either engage the system with the handlebar-mounted mini rocker or you can use the corded remote( with a 14-foot cord), allowing you to get out and look at the problem from another angle.
With its all black sleek look you won’t have any questions as to why this winch is called Stealth. The standard model comes with 38 feet of rope and the wide comes with a full 50 feet of rope. It is worth nothing though that going all the way to the end of your rope may cause the rope to come loose from the winch, this means you have to keep about 3 feet worth of rope back.
A number of people have mentioned that while this winch works amazingly well when it is new, after a few years of use it seems to go downhill. You will want to keep this in mind, as most buyers look for something that will last you for years to come.
Best Jeep SUV and Truck Winch Reviews
(Over 4500 lb. Capacity)
And next, we’ll cover winches that start at the 4,500 lb. mark and go up from there. These are they types that you will normally see on trucks, jeeps and other SUVs. While there is nothing wrong with putting a smaller type of winch on one of these you will without a doubt find yourself at a point down the line when you wished you had more power. While all the ATV style winches ran off electric power this is the category that you would find winches that were hydraulic. Without any further ado, let’s dive into the reviews.
Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC, 9,500 lb Capacity Winch
The list starts with a standout, the 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5 from Superwinch. This is another electric model, this one giving you a full 9,500 lbs. of pulling capacity. All that power can be traced back to the 5.4 horsepower motor that has been sealed to ensure that you have to pull power even when nature decides to throw its worst at you. With a gear ratio of 218:1 you will find that you have plenty of power while not giving away too much speed.
The cable that comes in this impressive set up is a steel rope that measures 21/64 inch. You’ll find 95 feet of cable spooled around the drum to this unit and on the end, a heavy duty clevis pinned latched hook to give you confidence that whatever you need to pull can be attached securely. And to make sure that the line doesn’t get fouled at all this one comes with a 4-way roller fairlead crafted from stainless steel. And when it comes time to run this beast you’ll find that the heavy duty 12 foot remote lets you position yourself just where you need to be.
This is a winch that has shown itself ready to put up with abuse and keep on doing its job. Perhaps the most amazing stat of them all for this offering is the price. With all that has been packed in from a respected name in the industry, you could expect a much higher price attached. Without a doubt, this is our pick for the best value for the money.
WARN 92820 ZEON Platinum 12 12000 lb Winch
Now if you are looking for the ultimate in performance winches and quite possibility the last winch that you will ever need to buy, look no further than the 92820 ZEON Platinum Winch from Warn. This winch gives you just about everything that you could want from a winch, short of a robot that hooks everything up for you.
- Extreme Durability
- Warn Badge
- Contactor and Advanced Controls
- Extreme Waterproofing (IP68)
- Auxilliary Light and Accesory Port
- Remote Clutch
- Warn Synthetic or Steel Rope
- Automatic Mechanical Cone Brake
- Large Diameter Drum
- High Performance Package
- Advanced Wireless Remote
First off you’ll love the 12 volt DC series wound motor that is the heart of the operation. It sports the highly regarded 3-stage planetary gear train, this time in a ratio of 216:1 to ensure you have all the power that you need. Speaking of power, this one can pull 12,000 lbs. on the line.
That line is 3/8 inch wire rope and you’ll find that the system comes with 80 feet of it to give you ample room in making recoveries. It features roller fairleads to ensure that the rope winds and unwinds without issue.
When it is time to operate this winch you won’t be tethered as this system comes with a wireless remote control to allow you to go to the exact right spot to do your work. And this control goes beyond the basics, from it, you can monitor not only the motor temperature but also the amount of charge left in the vehicle’s battery among other things. With this information you will be ready for any issue, having the chance to turn off the system when there is a problem instead of it dying and you trying to track down why.
Warn Zeon Platinum Overview
With all of these bells and whistles, it is no wonder that this superb offering from Warn tops our list as the best product overall.
Smittybilt (98510) X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope – 10000 lb Winch
The X20 Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch from Smittybilt is a fine piece of work. This winch is not only sealed but comes with an amphibious motor that sports a waterproof rating of IP68. This 6.6 horsepower motor gives this offering the ability to pull a stunning 10,000 lbs. When it comes time to operate this you could easily reach for the wired remote, but it also gives you a wireless remote, allowing you much greater movement around the area that you are working in, so that you can approach the problem from whatever angle makes the most sense at the time.
This power is transferred between the motor and the drum with a 3 stage planetary gear train, rocking an impressive gear ratio of 218:1. While many of the more powerful winches stick to a steel rope, this one does it with a 3/8 inch diameter synthetic rope, giving you 98.5 feet of rope to work with. At 67 pounds you have the ability to move this, but in all likely hood, it will just stay mounted and ready for battle on your front bumper.
Smittybilt feels that they have a top of the line product in everything that they put out and this is no exception. To back up these feelings they extend a limited lifetime warranty to anyone that purchases this winch.
Mile Marker SEC9.5(es) Truck/Jeep/SUV Element Sealed Electric Winch – 9,500 lb. Capacity
The SEC9.5 Truck / Jeep / SUV Electric Winch from Mile Marker is a fine winch that is not only waterproof but also snow proof and mud proof as well. This is due to the sealed 4.8 horsepower motor, the expedition grade hardware crafted of stainless steel and the marine grade connectors to ensure that power is there when you need it. And speaking of that motor it is linked to the drum via an extremely rugged 3 step planetary gear train sporting a 212:1 gear ratio. This boils down to providing you 9,500 lbs. of pulling capacity with this mounted to your ride.
And to attach that pulling power to just about anything you want, this winch set up comes with 100 feet of 3/8 inch aircraft cable. The latched hook on the end of that cable ensures that no matter what your cable should stay in place throughout the recovery or other winching operations.
The corrosive proof construction ensures that there is no chrome anywhere in this setup, leading to a system that can handle the weather with ease. Another thing to note is that this is part of a series so that if you like some features and want to set up to a more powerful winch, the highest one in the range is 15,000 lbs of pulling capacity.
WARN 26502 M8000 8000 lb Winch
If you are looking for that heavyweight series winch that you know you can count on, a fine choice is the 25602 M80000 Winch from Warn. This winch comes with 8,000 lbs. of pulling capabilities, these come from the 4.8 horsepower motor. Even with all of that power and prestige this offering still comes in with a very small footprint.
When it comes time for operations with this beauty, you’ll be working with the corded 12-foot remote. This gives you a good safety range, with still being close enough to have a first-hand view of the operation. And that operation will rely on the 100 foot of 5/16 inch steel cable that you will find wrapped around the drum on this winch.
Of course, you might want some choice but still like the numbers that this winch comes with. You can get the S model of the winch. In that case, they swap out the steel cable for synthetic rope, again 100 feet of it, but this is 3/8 inch diameter rope.
WARN 96820 VR12 12V Electric Winch with Steel Cable Rope: 3/8″ Diameter x 80′ Length, 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Capacity
Now, sometimes when you are just entering into a hobby such as off-road or four wheeling, you can find some of the jargon confusing and not really know enough to make good choices all the time for every purchase. Luckily for you, the 86260 VR12000 Winch from Warn is a great place for a beginner to start out at. Sure, it may not be the last winch you buy, but it sports a healthy array of features to get you up and going.
The fun starts with the 12 volt DC motor that connects to the 3-stage planetary gear train, which features a gear ratio of 261:1. This gives you a staggering 12,000 lbs. of pulling capacity, more than what you should need as someone brand new to the hobby. You’ll find that this one sports 94 feet of 3/8 inch diameter rope to handle all the hard stuff.
When you need to do some work with this one you’ll find that the 12 foot lead on the remote gives you the space you need to work safely and keep an eye on things. The comfortable pistol grip hand will make sure that you can run your winch all day long.
A Winch Overview – Beginners Start Here
A Brief History of the Winch
One thing to consider while growing your understanding of today’s winches is the history of how we got here. A winch is merely a method of pulling things to a spot and then being able to let out line. The very basics of the model happened as soon as mankind used any rope-like object, themselves becoming the winch to pull things in.
While that gives the basic usage of a winch, it still isn’t its own stand-alone object. The truth is
that we don’t really know when winches were first developed, though we can probably chalk this one, as with so many others, to the Greeks. Even without documentation for how far back they go, we know that in the 4th century BCE Aristotle wrote about the winch as being a commonly used item. There is a history of the Persian War, written around about 480 BCE, that speaks of a winch that was made of wood and used to tighten cables for pontoon boats as they crossed a river.
Since that point, mankind has slowly updated and refined the device. Over the years, we have been able to swap out wood for various metals to give a stronger device. We have also been able to go from a simple human-powered crank to a variety of power options, giving us a lot more oomph on the pulling end of the winch.
What is a Winch and How Does it Work?
Now that we know where our winch came from, let’s take a few moments and consider just what is this device and how does it go about doing its job. Overall the winch is very simple, the rather basic definition is that it is a mechanical device that is used to pull in a rope or cable or let it back out.
For the purpose of demonstration, consider your arms as a mechanical device. If you pick up a rope and pull it toward you, you are doing the job of a winch. The downside to this is that if you want to keep the rope pulled to a given tension or stored, you have to continue to hold the rope.
If in our example, you wrap the rope around a tube, you now have a place to keep the rope stored. However, tubes can be hard to grip, so a handle is added to make for easier use. Then a ratchet system is added to keep the rope at the tension you want.
Now instead of you holding the rope, you work the crank until the rope is as tight as you want it. There is a place to store the extra rope and you can keep it under tension and then go about doing other things in the process.
Anatomy of a Winch
Given that you now have an understanding of how a winch would work, let’s take a deeper look at some of the various parts and find out what they do for you.
The drum is what the rope wraps around. Normally with will have something on the ends of it to keep the rope or cable from slipping off one of the edges. Often times there will be some form of acage or other containment around the drum.
With the pulling power of modern winches normal rope has been replaced by a metal cable. If you wanted you could swap to a simple rope, but in motorsports application, the cable is a better choice. On a safety note, be sure to understand how much load your cable can handle and keep it in good condition. A metal cable under tension, as it will be when pulling an object with a winch, that suddenly releases can be a very dangerous object.
A fairlead is a system that keeps the cable going where it should. In some cases this is a ring or hook, in some cases, this is a slot in the cage around a mounted winch. This component keeps the cable wrapping around the drum while being reeled in, instead of being accidentally wrapped about other parts of the winch.
The gear train for your winch is the same as the transmission from your vehicle. This set up will take the energy from the motor and convert it to the power that spins your drum. This vital piece of the puzzle can be geared in a number of different ratios, but the most common would be 150:1 and 300:1. While we won’t worry about the details of exactly what those mean, you should keep in mind that the higher the ratio the more power it will deliver. The trade-off is speed. Many winches look to strike that balance between speed and power.
The braking system slows the drum down. This is a valuable addition to the winch, as simply cutting the motor could allow the drum to keep spinning based on inertia. The braking system will stop the drum which in turn will stop the pull on the cable, and during winching operations being able to stop quickly can be more valuable than starting.
The clutch is what engages the gear train and motor to the drum. You can disengage the clutch and the drum will spin freely. This is exactly what you need when it comes time to pull theline out when you are hooking up the object to be winched. Then you engage the clutch and start the motor and the drum starts turning as controlled by the winch.
As it may sound, this is how the winch gets its direction. Often this is where the operator will provide the inputs to get the winch to start pulling, disengage the clutch or stop the system as required. This also covers the various guts required to make the winch work.
Some modern winches give the operator the ability to not be right next to the winch and still control it. Based on the set up of the particular model this could be a wired connection, such that the operator could sit in the cab of their vehicle and work the winch, or a wireless one, allowing you to be wherever makes the most sense for that given winching operation. These are a great boost to safety since you can be in a more protected area.
The Wonderful World of Winch Ownership
Sure, these devices are great at pulling cables, but how does that help you in the real world? If you haven’t seen one in action, you might not see its use. But a winch gives you any number of advantages. For starters, if you have one mounted on your truck while going off-roading, you’ll no doubt find any number of uses for it. From getting your car out of being stuck in a mud pit or just helping you up and out of that boulder field a winch is a welcome accessory.
But you can also find any number of uses for your winch on a farm ATV. From pulling other equipment to connecting it to some pulling and lifting objects you’ll quickly find that a winch can be a farmyard friend.
And lastly, just consider winter. If you live in an area with ice and snow at some point someone you know will find themselves off the road. You’ll be able to help get them back on the road, or with a winch on your vehicle, you might just find yourself pulling your own truck back on the roadway without the need of anyone else’s help.
Not All Winches are Created Equal – Pairing a Winch to Your Vehicle
Just going down to the store, picking up a winch and bolting it to your vehicle is not a wise way to go about things. Even a top of the line ATV winch won’t serve you very well if you try to use it with your half a ton pick-up. Luckily for you, we’ve broken down some categories for you.
Best ATV Winch
Let’s start on the smaller side of the spectrum. With an ATV you can look at the lower end of the power spectrum. The rule of them is to base your winch size off your ATV’s engine. The standard divider line is at 300cc. Anything smaller you should be able to get by with only 1,500 pounds of winch power. Going bigger and you need to be looking at 2,500 pounds.
Now, these numbers are just your rough estimates based merely on the size of your ATV. Consider this good enough to pull yourself out of a mud pit. If you are looking at using your ATV for a specific set of tasks, like a farm ATV, you might need to consider some other factors.
With an ATV, as with most winches, going bigger is only a problem if you can’t provide the power to run it, don’t have a good place to mount it or the weight will cause other performance issues.
Best UTV Winch
Generally, once you have stepped up to a side by side you are no longer looking at just a vehicle to have fun with. While plenty of farmers and hunters use their ATV to get work down an S x S is a tool to get work down. The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is that you need to look at a winch that is going to give you at least 4,000 lbs. of pull strength.
Again, this is just the ballpark to get you out of the gate. While the power that you want to have to pull your UTV out of a tricky situation should be enough to pull up a deer on a hunting trip, you’ll have to think how else will you use your UTV. Once you have a winch mounted on it, you’ll normally end up thinking, ‘I can use the winch to take care of this’ a lot quicker than you’ll consider ‘Do I have enough power in my winch for this’.
Best SUV Winch
The difference between a truck and an SUV gets more and more murky with each passing year. For our purposes, we’ll lump everything that is mainly driven on asphalt and not generally taken off the road into the SUV category. This could be a Jeep or a Tacoma. The main reason to have a winch on this style of car is the winter rescue. Either you or someone else hits the patch of ice, goes sliding and ends up stuck somewhere they can’t just drive out of.
The sizing on this is simple as can be. Take the gross weight of your car and multiply by 1.5. This gives you the minimum amount of power you will want to use the winch for self-rescue. Of course, you’ll want to consider how big any other car you try to help is in relation to your car. The last thing you want to do is try to help someone with a bigger car and find yourself pulled into trouble, instead of pulling them out.
Best Truck Winch
Now we will consider vehicles that are taken off road with some regularity. Again, these could be sold on lots as SUVs but for the purposes here we’ll consider them as trucks as well. The process of multiplying by 1.5 is a great place to start, but you’ll want to make sure you multiply the correct number.
Since often times this type of vehicle has had some modifications made, starting with the standard gross weight isn’t a good choice. You’ll want to find a good weight for your vehicle, sometimes truck scales will let you weight a personal truck so you can get a good feel of the weight. If you do this make sure you have the truck as close to the weight you would take it out with as possible. Do you go out with a few full fuel cans and bags of sand in the back? They need to be there for your weigh in then. This is a great number to do your calculations from.
Of course, many times when you go out for off road fun, you tend to go with a given group of people. You’ll want to be able to help them should they get stuck as well, so some quick estimates may be in order. Are any of these trucks much heavier than yours? If so try to get a weight on it and use that as your starting point. No one has ever complained about having too much power in a winch.
Top Brands for Outstanding Winches
Mile Marker makes electric and hydraulic winches for a range of UTVs, ATVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles. They are proud to be a supplier to the US Military and claim to have the only winch that is approved to be used with the US military’s Humvee. Based in Florida, this company makes very well respected winches and other products for your off-road adventures.
WARN Industries makes winches that are fit for a range of four-wheel drive vehicles as well as ATVs and UTVs. They have built up tons of experience since their founding in 1948. A USA based company, they currently have products available in 65 different nations. What started as a family owned company was purchased in 2000 and is now a part of the Dover Corporation.
Actron is a company based out of Michigan that produces diagnostic gear as well as electrical and mechanical testing equipment. They also offer a line of parts and accessories. This is another company that has been acquired by Bosch’s automotive division.
Superwinch came out of a Ford Motor Company project. The founder of the company jumped at the idea to spin this winch project out to its own company and that act began a 45-year history. The company now has products actively being used on four continents. Building winches that range from 1,000-pound capacity all the way to a 50,000-pound capacity, Superwinch goes after the individual as well as corporate and military needs.
Champion offers a full line of winches for work, home or play. Their products range in capacity from 2,000 pounds pull to a 12,000-pound pull, so there should be no problem making sure that you locate the one that is just right for you. They are a North American based company, focusing on products for Canada and the United States. In addition to winches, they put out a line of other products from log splitters to generators.
KFI Products is a family run company. They started back in 1986 having their products manufactured for them, but in 2002 decided that it was worth it to move to in-house manufacture for some products. This gives them more control over the product quality. They are mostly focused on ATV accessories, so they offer a line of ATV winches, many of which were tested on their personal ATVs before being put on the market for others to use.
Motoalliance is the company behind Viper branded winches. This company is another USA based company and they put a major importance on treating people well. As part of that, they avoid dealing with vendors since in their eyes it only drives the price the customer will pay up. They design their products with the end user in mind, often having people with experience in the field involved in the design process.
Some Considerations for Selecting the Best Winch for the Money
Winch Capacity (Rated Line Pull)
While there are several ways to organize and classify winches, perhaps the most useful to the user is the rated line pull. This is the number, generally in pounds, that you most often see with a winch. It is a measure of how much weight the winch can pull. This is an area where more is generally better, but how would you figure out how much you truly need?
If you are looking at a truck, jeep, or SUV winch the numbers are fairly easy to determine. These are generally winches that are rated over 4,500 Lb. You’ll want to take the gross weight of your chosen vehicle and multiply it by 1.5. This will give you the minimum power you need, but moving up is always a good choice.
For the powersports side, things aren’t quite so easy. Generally, these are the winches that are rated for line pulls up to 4500 Lb. While you won’t have a problem using a larger winch with an ATV/UTV, you’ll need to take into account the weight of the winch and the mounting options. For ATVs you’ll consider engine size, anything below a 300cc engine you should be able to get away with a 1,500 Lb. pull. Larger than that and you’ll want to step up to a 2,500 Lb. minimum. If you have a UTV (anything that has two seats next to each other) you’ll want at least 4,000 Lb.
Line Length can seem like a very easy feature to just say, oh yes, I’d like lots, please. But you need to take into account what that will be asking of your winch. A very long line will require more power to pull. On the other hand, a very short line will not give you the flexibility that you need to get various options done.
Whatever you select, at some point you’ll find yourself wishing you had just a few more feet. Most winches don’t give you a selection for length, so unless you know that you need a particular length for a given task that you’ll be asking of your winch, this doesn’t need to be a top priority in your search.
Line Speed vs. Motor Power vs. Gear Ratio
As we mentioned in the above section, there is a balance between how fast your winch pulls the line in and how much power is available. This balance is maintained by the gear ratio of your gear train. As the ratio gets higher you get more power and a slower pull. Most manufacturers don’t push for maximum power, as this would slow down the line pull speed. They generally shoot for an acceptable trade off to give you enough power while also going fast enough that it won’t take hours to cover inches.
Other Important Features
Think about how you will use this winch. Most likely you will be outside and generally, winches are called into action in the worst weather conditions. You’ll want to at least consider the kind of waterproofing that the company has decided to add to their product.
You’ll also want to look into just what is on the other side of the cable. There is no best answer, but you’ll want to think about how you will attach it to other things. For some, a hook or a hook with a clip might be the best option. Other people may want a ring or even something that they can change out based on the situation they find themselves in.
When you look into purchasing a winch you’ll want a model that will last. Perhaps the best way is to look at reviews and pay particular attention to those starting with I’ve had this winch for X number of years. If you see a few of these it is fairly safe to say that the winch should be able to stand up to regular usage. Another way to get a feel is to just look at the winch. For the most part, rugged and durable winches don’t look cheap and barely held together. While it shouldn’t be your only guiding star, a gut feeling as to if a winch will last is a good place to start.
Cost – Finding The Best Winch for The Money
As with so many things in life, you get what you pay for. As you start looking at different winches of a given class you’ll quickly find that a number of winches that have similar features will come in at similar price points. If you find one that comes in much lower, you need to stop and consider how did the manufacturer save the money to offer this to me at a lower price.
You have your normal inexpensive, mid-range and high-end selections in this area. If you are looking for a lower powered winch to simply pull an ATV out of the mud now and then, there is no problem going with the inexpensive model, cheap doesn’t always mean bad. But if you want all the coolest features and more power, don’t be surprised when the price hikes up.
Electric winch vs. Hydraulic winch – Which One is The Best?
Electrical Winch Option
When you are debating how to power your winch you should not discount the electrical power route. This is by far the simpler of the two we are highlighting here and often times will be the cheaper choice. The motor on an electric winch runs off standard 12-volt DC like any of the other electronics on your car. This means that all you need to do is run some wires to your battery and your winch will have power. Since most winches are mounted on the front of a vehicle it is generally not even very far to run your power cables. The low cost and ease of installation make this a great choice for a first winch.
This does come with its downsides though. If you run a winch off your battery that is one more item draining power from it. You’ll have to ensure that your battery has enough juice to handle this load as well as still being able to start up your rig. Also, you’ll need to ensure that all your connections are waterproof, the last thing you want to do is fry your battery trying to help your buddy out of some wet mud.
Another consider is the heat that will be produced. A note that electric winch owners should be aware of is that running the winch for a long recovery will produce a fair bit of heat. If you have your engine running during this, some have been known to shut down, you’ll have to balance this with the threat of draining your battery for those longer pulls.
Hydraulic Winch Options
Another option is that of the hydraulic setup. Perhaps the strongest argument for a hydraulic system is that it is what most professional rescue setups use. These type of winches allow you to do longer pulls, not need to turn off to cool down as much and many times the highest line pull winches are only available in hydraulic options. While none of this means that you need to have a hydraulic system, some would view this option as a most robust system.
There is a downside of course. Most vehicles don’t come standard with a hydraulic system so you’d need to add one before you can consider using this style of thewinch. Even if you are running other hydraulic components, you’ll still need to purchase and install all of the particular hoses, connectors and other bits to make your winch work. Then you have to keep it in working order. A poorly placed thorn won’t stop an electric winch, but if it causes a hole in a hydraulic line you might be going nowhere fast.
As with so many options in working with vehicles, there is not one solid, works every time for everyone best answer. You’ll need to come up with those bits that are most important to you and then see where they lead you, be it electric or hydraulic.
What Winch Rope Types Exist and Which to Choose? (Wire Rope, Synthetic Winch Rope)
While you have the opportunity to put any type of rope, cord or cable that you want on your winch, some don’t make sense. With the amount of tension that modern winches can produce you will want to make sure the line that you use has the strength to take it. You’ll also want to consider the conditions that you are using the line in.
One option is synthetic winch rope. This can be a great choice if the conditions are right. Normally you will only see this on winches that are targeted for Powersports uses. This is due to it having a lower strength, you’ll want to verify this type can stand up to the winch you put it on. Being synthetic this rope has a very low weight, making it easy to use, pull, and carry. The downside is that if you are going to have it rubbing against objects it may end up giving way to you. If you are just looking for a rope to pull an ATV out of the mud though, this is a great choice.
The second option and the one you are more likely to seeare wire rope. This is a rope or cable that consists of many different wire strands. It can be found in a number of sizes, each having its own given strength. While the nature of this rope makes it handle abrasives better than the competition, it is not invincible. However, if you take care of this type of rope it should last you a good many years.
Choosing a Mounting System
When you purchase your winch, or hopefully before you buy one, you’ll need to consider just how are you going to attach this to your vehicle. Some popular options to accomplish this are the bumper mount and the hidden mount. While most winches are mounted on the front, you’ll find that the same options apply if you want to mount one on the rear of your vehicle.
The first one we’ll look at is the bumper mount. This option is the most straightforward, you simply bolt the winch onto your bumper. It is right there, easy to get to, completely visible and permanently attached to your vehicle. This means that it is always ready, easy to inspect and work on and you know that it won’t come off your bumper. These things could always be the same reasons not to go with this style if you only off road infrequently.
Another major option is the hidden mount. This places your winch somewhere accessible, but out of sight. Often a hidden mount with being inside the grill that just the hook is visible with an opening to lead the line through. This means that you can easy pull out your cable, but inspecting the rest of the winch is a bit more complicated.
There is what is known as a multi-mount option as well. This has a mount that is permanently affixed to the bumper, but the actual winch can be removed with it is not needed. While this makes it easy to remove the winch when not in use, you’ll have to not only put the winch on but attach whatever power system is driving it prior to being able to use your winch.
Winching Extras, Accessories and Parts
While the winch may be the first and biggest item on your mind there are a few other items that it is generally a good idea to have when dealing with a winch system.
The first one is a pair of gloves. Between the cables and trying to attach them to harnessing points, there are any number of places that you could injure your hands while working with a winch.
Another item to have in your winch kit is a tree protector strap. This item can often be forgotten until you try to pull yourself out of a situation using a tree without one. In that set up you’ll find how easily the winch pulls the cable into the tree. This strap distributes the force over a larger area, keeping the tree from being damaged and giving you better performance.
A snatch block is another must have in your toolbox once you have a winch. This is a special type of pulley that is made to work with a winch. It opens up so you don’t need to thread the cable to us it. You can use it either to change the angle that you are pulling something out or to give you two points of connection with the vehicle when doing a self-rescue.
Most manufacturers, if not all, also offer warn replacement parts so in case your Warn gets broken, you’ll be easily able to find Warn winch parts at Amazon or any winch retailer out there. Replacement parts include controls, contactors, sockets or service kits, amongst others. The rule is simple – the better known brand, the more replacement parts you’ll likely to find.
Check out some winch replacement parts at Amazon right here.
Winch for Sale – Where To Buy?
Our recommendation is plain and simple: go to Amazon. Why? Well, because the Amazon has it all. Different winch brands, so many types, so many options to choose from. There’s no reason why we wouldn’t recommend shopping at Amazon, especially that some of these warns are heavy and bulky – and delivering such to your door step does sound convenient, doesn’t it?
Plus, last time we checked, most winches for sale at Amazon, as well as most winch parts had a ‘free shipping’ option available.
Before you buy though, our advice is to check first hand user reviews at Amazon. Real reviews from real users are the most valuable resource (except the one you’re reading right now) and are must-read when you buy a high-end winch.
I have to tell you that a winch can be a very dangerous thing to use. You’ll need to be careful when you put tension on your cable. You’ll want to keep the winch and the cable in particular in good working order. A frayed or damaged cable is more likely to break in doing so can release a lot of power very quickly.
Safety gear such as gloves and glasses should be worn whenever using winches. Another valuable step is to keep everyone who doesn’t need to be close to the action a good deal away. This way if a vehicle starts moving in an unexpected direction you don’t have to worry about people running in fear.
Best UTV Winch – The Bottom Line
With that, you should have all the information that you need to make the best-informed decision. Be sure to go through and know your particular situation as that information will help you to find the winch that is just right for you. Having the best truck winch won’t help you too much when what you were really after was the best ATV winch.
If you are looking for a quick answer on which winch you should pick up if you need more than 4,500 lbs. of capacity you can’t go wrong with the ZEON Platinum from Warn. If you are looking for less than this level consider the Warn ProVantage. Either of these will be a standout option.
Finally, it is your turn. Do you have some experience with our choices or is there a nugget of wisdom that we missed? If so feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
Lastly, we’d love to hear from you. Which of these choices did you go with and why? Let us know in the comment section below.
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