Getting stuck in an off-road terrain is inevitable, therefore it is better you are prepared for it. For many of us who love the feel of a wheel plowing through the mud, it is important to have everything we need to get out whenever we get stuck.
There are many reasons for which you can go off-road driving – it could be for business, it can equally be for pleasure. In order to have the best of times, investing in the best winch is quite necessary.
Winches are incredible unsung heroes of the off-road, and most times they are the difference between you getting stuck in the middle of nowhere and being rescued from the mud. Some would go as far as to call these tools superheroes – beneath the excitement, the reason for such sentiment is obvious.
We have recognized that many drivers face similar problems, which is being unable to choose from the multitude of products available in the market. This is why we have compiled a list of eight top-quality winch as well as a buying guide to help you make an informed decision.
This guide touches the best electric winch as well as nest winches for jeeps and trucks.
Best Winches Review
Here are the top 8 winches we selected and reviewed
1. Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC winch
This is one of the winches designed to be mounted on an ATV, and it surely makes for a great option to start with our review. Users of the product have come to love a number of things about the tool – from the compact design to the small size to the wired remote control and more.
Superwinch is one of the most reputable winch suppliers in the market and this product only helps to cement their legacy as a staple in the game. One of the interesting features about this product is it its incredible pulling capacity – despite its small size.
The tool also offer two means of control for drivers; one, you can make use of the wired handheld remote control for a simple and easy mode of control. You can also choose to have the controls mounted directly on the handlebars.
Another reason why the product is loved by many drivers is the fact that it does not act as a huge strain on the life of smaller batteries. This is because of the low amp motor that comes with the product.
One major downside of the tool is that it cannot work well for removing a jeep out of a deed mud.
2. Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500 lb. Load Capacity
As one of the most renowned manufacturers in the industry, the name Smittybilt has been associated with some of the best products in the market over the years. For this particular tool, which represents an upgrade on the popular XRC series, the brand really delivered the goods.
One feature that has made this product a popular amongst many off-road drivers is the 100% waterproof protection that comes with its working and sensitive parts. It gives you a certain kind of assurance that the parts of your car will be fine, even if you are driving through rivers and water-logged holes.
Your winch getting wet would be the least of your concern. In occasions when your car gets stuck, the immense power of this winch is ready to get you out anytime.
The winch comes with a corded remote control that allows you to operate the tool even while standing at a safe distance. With this feature, you can also control the winch while seated behind the wheels.
For drivers looking for a winch with long-lasting hook, this is one product to look out for. You don’t have to worry about replacing the hook anytime soon. The lifetime warranty on the stainless steel part and a 5-year warranty on powder-coated parts is the just added bonus of buying this product.
The installation of this winch has been described as easy as you have all the kits you need for installation from the pack. The considerably budget-friendly price of this product just shows how much it deserves a place as one of the best winches.
The downside to using this product is that the electrical cable is a bit short.
3. Champion 3000-lb. ATV/UTV Winch Kit
From the name alone, it is pretty obvious that this winch is designed for mounting on ATVs/UTVs.
This is a wireless winch kit that offers even greater control than the winches already mentioned in this review. The wireless feature of the product allows you to control the winch from a maximum of 50 miles away.
The winch also comes with a backup option – a manual control which is designed for handlebar mounting. Drivers will really love the fact that they have options available to them.
The product also comes at a decent price that makes it one of the best budget-friendly winch option you can go for right now. It has a pulling power that is capable of removing your ride whenever it gets stuck. When it comes to price, there won’t any complaints about this product.
Another feature to love about this product is its automatic power-off function whenever it is not in use. Buying this winch gives you access to a lifetime of free technical support.
One downside is that the warranty on the winch is limited and it lasts for only 2 years.
4. WARN 86260 VR12000 12,000 lb Winch
The tag ‘best electric winch’ gets thrown around a lot but the WARN 86269 VR12000 stakes a decent claim on this title. The product has a number of things to admire about it, making it a straight choice for our best winches review.
Made by the WARN brand, a company known throughout the world for constantly making top quality winches, this particular winch has to be one of the best ever to come from the brand.
The product has an incredible amount of pulling power that makes it perfect for any rescue operation in the off-road. The 3-stage planetary gear train further makes the delivery of power smoother.
When it comes to controlling, few products can rival this top quality winch. Control of operation is through the use of a handheld remote control that is easy to use and capable for almost any situation you can find yourself on the off-road.
The winch also comes with a well-designed and efficient braking system that gives you even further control on the winch.
The major downside on this winch is that it would take a considerable amount of money to purchase. This is definitely not the choice for someone with a tight budget.
5. Bravex Electric 12V 3500lb/1591kg Single Line Waterproof Winch
Bravex Electric 12V Winch can lay claim to the title of being the best winch for truck and also described as a best electric winch. This is the perfect winch to use with your ATV.
The winch offers great amount of power making giving it the capability to rescue your truck from any case of being stuck in the mud. The operation of the winch is also steady and smooth – so expect a hitch-free operation when using this one.
The metal gearing feature that comes with the product helps to ensure that the use and operation of the winch is smooth. This is definitely one product that you can rely on whenever you get stuck to do the job.
The rather impressive appearance of the winch would make it a fine addition to your truck – this is one feature that off-road drivers that love aesthetics would love about the winch.
Bravex Electric 12V Winch is easy to set up and install and it has been described by many off-road enthusiasts as an easy tool to use.
One major downside of the product is that it offers a smaller amount of power when compared to most of the winches in this review. So when it comes to deed mud and heavy-duty trucks, this is not your man for the job.
6. X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Electric Winch 13000 lb.Load Capacity
X-BULL 12V has to be one of the best winches for the jeep. The winch is a unique product designed to have some of the best features that a winch can deliver.
The incredible load capacity of the winch is one that has made it favorite amongst off-road enthusiasts. It is powerful enough to perform a rescue operation on your jeep whenever you get stuck in the off-road.
The winch has also been rated waterproof – meaning worrying about getting into a river or water-logged area should be the least of your worries. This is one particular feature that many care-free drivers would really love.
The overload protector and winch cover are designed to give the winch increased protection in cases of harsh weather condition.
X-BULL 12V comes at a price that you can only describe as the best value for money. For off-road enthusiasts who are looking to get a unique and powerful tool at a budget-friendly price, this is a good choice for you.
One feature that really makes this winch stand out is its interesting orange color. It is absolutely one to fall in love with – and typifies the uniqueness of this product.
The biggest downside of this winch is the fact that it does not come with a warranty. This is not exactly the most reassuring fact about the product and it may be a concern to some drivers.
7. ORCISH IP67 Waterproof 12V Steel Cable Electric Jeep Truck Winch
The last product on our review, but certainly not the least. This is a fine tool that comes with a plethora of great features that makes it a no-brainer to include in our review of best winches.
It offers a huge amount of pulling capacity; whenever you are in need of a rescue operation from even the deepest of muds, this electric winch is the tool for the job. The 3-stage planetary gear system ensures that the delivery of power is slick and smooth.
The winch can work perfectly with your trucks and jeeps – the two wireless remote controllers that come with the winch would give you the kind of control that makes your driving easy.
One feature that off-road drivers and enthusiasts would love about this product is its waterproof rating. Knowing that you have this product gives you the confidence to enter waterlogged areas. The winch is also totally dustproof – another feature that makes it a great off-road companion.
The winch comes with a wide range of kits that make the installation easy to set up. The overload protection and winch cover of the product help to navigate through harsh conditions safely.
As far prices go, this is one winch that will fit into any budget easily. The decent pricing of the winch gives users a great value for money.
8. Bonus Accessory: ECOTRIC 10x 4 1/2 Cradle Winch Mount Mounting Plate 13,000 Lb Capacity Recovery Winches
This is one heavy-duty plate designed so you can easily mount a self-recovery winch to your truck or jeep. This is definitely one accessory that every off-road enthusiast should have.
This is one easy to set-up mounting plate that can be easily installed by anyone – be it experienced off-road driver or a beginner.
It has powder-coated steel that makes the tool durable and long-lasting. The powder coat finishes on the body of the tool is the perfect anti-rust mechanism to keep your tool in great condition.
The mounting plate has the capability to support a wide range of winches. The cradle winch mount style makes it perfect for numerous winches including a number of winches in this review.
It also comes at a great price that you can easily fit into any budget.
There is a difference in the design and lifting capacity or Rated Line Pull of the winches. This leads to a wide variety in options to choose from. As a result, it is necessary that you know some things to look out before making a purchase.
The guide also comes with a series of frequently asked questions – all of these is so you can make an informed decision when picking a product to buy.
Here are some of the key things to look out for to know the best winches.
Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope
This is arguably the first thing you’d need to consider before choosing which product to buy. Here are some of the pros and cons, why should go for either and why you may not want to choose it.
The biggest reason why many off-road enthusiasts seem to choose this type is because it is easier to maintain. Basically, there is little maintenance to be done a hardwearing line. It is also pretty hard to damage too, making it a good choice for drivers that love the extreme conditions.
The hardwearing factor once again makes it very easy to use. All you have to do is unspool and hook up, pull out the vehicle, spool it back onto the drum and you are good to go.
The fact that steel is a good heat conductor helps it to radiate away heat faster than rope. This is very common in electric winches that tend to get hotter – a steel cable will radiate away from the heat faster.
However, the weight of the steel cable can be a problem. When you put together the weight of the winch itself and the weight of the steel cable, you get something considerably heavy. Some drivers will not want to have this much weight in the front suspension.
In the case of a cable failing and snapping, the damage can be fatal to your vehicle, other people or yourself.
Due to the accumulated kinetic energy in the working mechanism of the steel cable; in the scenario that it fails and snaps, that energy gets transferred into a broken and essentially dangerous cable that can go in any direction.
Basically, whatever seems to be the demerit of using a steel cable is the merit of using a synthetic rope and vice versa.
Weight is not an issue with a rope. It weighs significantly lesser than the steel cable and for off-road drivers and enthusiasts that care about their vehicle’s front suspension, this is a good choice for them.
The synthetic rope is also much safer than its steel counterpart. Unlike a steel cable, this type of line will not store kinetic energy. In the case where it fails and snaps, the damage is significantly reduced compared to cable.
When it comes to repair, synthetic rope is a much better option than steel cable. In the situation that a rope snaps, you can easily make repairs on the field yourself by just weaving the strands together. You cannot say the same about a broken steel cable.
One of the biggest downside to using a synthetic rope is the fact it is very fragile. Anything from rubbing on the side of the winch to picking up a sharp debris can do damage to the rope. The sun is also affected by ultra violet rays due to its component polypropylene material.
It also costs more than a steel cable – definitely not an option for people on a tight budget. One more thing, you will need to do a lot of maintenance on the rope. You will have to dry the rope if it gets wet and remove and clean away the debris it must have picked up.
Look for a product that gives you greater control through a wired remote control. It allows you to operate the winch from a safe distance. The wireless option is even better.
The pulling power of the winch is a must to consider. When shove comes to push and all that stands between you and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere is how powerful your winch is. You must ensure that the winch has the power to pull out whatever vehicle you use it with.
You can either choose between permanently mounted winches that stay on the front bumper or a smaller winch that offers more mobility than power. Permanent winches usually offer greater power – one thing you do have to consider.
Weight of the Winch
A heavy winch can add too much weight to the front suspension of your vehicle. While you may not notice the effect in heavy trucks, it is more noticeable in jeeps. You should rather invest in a lightweight tool that still holds a lot of power.
Type of Winch
We have two types of winches; hydraulic and electric winch.
The hydraulic winch is a less common and expensive type that works by being connected to the power steering system of the vehicle. Electric winches, on the other hand, are more available, easier to install and cheaper.
Frequently Asked Questions about Winches
Q: How Does a Winch Work?
A: This is one question that doesn’t get quite the answer that people are searching for. A winch is tool or mechanism that winds wire around a drum while keeping a balanced tension on it. These tools are powerful enough to pull trucks and jeeps out of deep mud when they get stuck.
When a winch is mounted on the front or rear bumper of an off-road truck or jeep, it can be used to pull out the vehicle from the mud by attaching the cable (or chain) to a rock or tree.
Q: Which should I Pick – Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope?
A: This is one of the most important to know before choosing to buy a type of winch. Either one has something it offers that would make it the best choice, as well as some negatives that would make you refrain from making a purchase.
Having discuss all of these in the Buying Guide section, we will just give a bit of summary here. Steel is a simpler choice and easier to take care of – but it is harder to use.
Synthetic rope is quite appealing while its lightweight makes it easy to use – but it requires a great amount of care and TLC.
Pick whichever one seems more compatible with your taste.
Q: Can I install a winch on my jeep?
A: Yes, you can. And this leads to the next question.
Q: How Do Install a Winch on My Jeep?
A: If you do decide to install a winch on your jeep yourself, this is a step-by-step guide that you need to follow for proper and safe installation.
- Disconnect the negative battery cable, then follow this by the positive wire. This is to cut off all the power in the jeep while you are working. This measure will ensure your safety while installing.
- Install the fairlead at the front of the winch plate. Then make use of a torque wrench to hold and secure the fairlead bots you have provided.
- Ensure that the winch itself is aligned with the winch plate; then secure it, tightly, with the help of the winch bolts you have provided. This long bolts will easily penetrate the winch to ensure easy fastening.
- The next step is to undo the four bolts that hold the tow hooks on your bumper. You will need an extra person to help hold the winch in place.
- While the other person is holding the winch in place, you are to replace the bolts you have unscrewed. Then fasten the longer bolts you have already provided.
- This next step is crucial; you are to power the wrench. You will direct the black and red power cables to the battery. Then run the cables through the grill past the radiator and attach them to the battery. Ensure they are tight too.
The positive red cable will go into the positive battery terminal while the negative black cable will go to the negative battery terminal.
- The final step has you reattaching the battery cables to the battery itself. Then turn on the engine to test run the winch.
Installing a winch on your jeep is not rocket science, and simply put, anyone can do this. Follow this above procedure diligently and you can drive off your jeep to the closest 4×4 track with extra confidence.
Q: Is using a winch better than towing?
A: The simple answer is yes. For the rescue operation of a jeep or truck stuck in the mud, a winch offers a faster, cleaner and safer job than towing with another car.
Q: Is the wireline that comes with the winch replaceable?
A: Yes, the wire is replaceable. Synthetic lines make for a great replacement for your old winch line.
Q: How do I know the Rated Line Pull or Lifting Capacity for My Jeep or Truck?
A: Actually, this is pretty simple to determine. All you have to do is multiply the jeep’s gross weight by 1.5 to know the minimum Rated Line Pull that your vehicle needs.
After a careful and thorough review of the products, here are our top 3 recommendations for you.
Best Winch for Truck
Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch is our top pick for trucks. It ticks all the major boxes and the waterproof feature just seals the deal.
Best Electric Winch/Best Overall
Our pick for this would also be the overall best winch in this review – and we go with the WARN 86269 VR12000. It is a fine product that comes with great features that ensure a smooth and effective operation.
Best Winch for Jeep/Best Value for Money
This title will have to go to the incredible X-BULL 12V – this lightweight product is just what you need to protect the front suspension of your vehicle, and also comes with huge pull rating.
The budget-friendly price without a loss in quality also makes it the winch with the best value for money.