If you’re still searching for the best winch reviews, you’re in the right place. I’ve been using them for a long time and know the difference between high end multipurpose winches and inferior models. With the following guide to the top rated winches, you’ll have an easier time finding the right one.
Buying a winch is more convenient now as they’re online. But it’s important you learn as much about it as possible. The more you know, the less you’ll be confused by jargon used in product ads. That’s why apart from reviews, I’ve included other information.
- 1 Why need a Winch
- 2 Advantages of a Winch
- 3 Types of Winch
- 4 Things To Consider Before Buying a Winch
- 5 Our Pick For Best Winch
- 6 Short Review Of Each Best Winch
- 7 Accessories You may Also Need
- 8 Safety Considerations
- 9 Frequently Asked Questions
- 10 For Those Of You Who Are Still Unsure
- 11 Final Word
Why need a Winch
If you’re looking for the best winch, it’s best to start with a definition. It’s basically a device to let out, pull or adjust the tension of a wire rope or rope. Winches have been used for snowboarding, wakeskating, wakeboarding and now various water / snow sports.
- Winches are often found on pickup trucks for rigging. There are different types of winches, but even the most basic tow winch can lift and haul. Vehicle winches are also used for pulling loads across different surfaces.
- Hauling: winches are designed to haul vehicles or loads attached out of mud, snow or other situations.
- Winches are also used for dragging up firewood and other materials. This is especially useful if the material is around slippery areas, slopes, lake beds etc.
- Winches mounted at the back of a truck helps put loads on a bed or trailer.
- You can combine a winch with a pulley block. This amplifies the pulley’s power. That’s the reason why winches are often used in construction areas.
- Other Uses: winches are used for pulling stumps near riverbeds and fields. You can also use it to tighten or stretch cable. Winches are also useful for lifting gin poles and other objects in construction areas. They’re also ideal for dragging large loads.
A winch has many uses and applications. But at its heart, a winch is for dragging and hauling stuff.
Advantages of a Winch
- Increases Productivity: The best winch makes it easy to haul and drag heavy load without exhausting the operator.
- Versatile: Winches can be used in different situations, from sports to truck driving and construction.
- Great Capacity: Winches can haul up to several hundred or thousand pounds.
- Cost Efficient: Electric winches are affordable. They are all-purpose tools which can perform the function of many other tools.
- Flexible: Electric winches can be used horizontally and vertically. This also reduces your need to purchase other tools.
- Unobtrusive: Winches are silent and effective.
- Winches are portable, durable and safe to use.
Types of Winch
There are mainly two types of winch. They are Electrical Winch and Hydraulic Winch
Electric winches can be used for many applications like hauling and dragging. An electric winch relies on your vehicle’s battery to run its motor. Electric winches are best used for light, quick use like pulling up an ATV. Most electric winches are versatile, but make sure it’s a powerful unit if it’ll be for heavy duty work.
- Low power consumption.
- Easy to use.
- Works well at low speed.
- More expensive than hydraulic winches.
- Uses up your vehicle’s battery power.
A hydraulic winch works using a hydraulic system. They come in different forms, but they all need a hydraulic pump to function. Hydraulic winches are powerful, versatile and durable. However, they are not as easy as electric winches to use.
- Can be used for large tasks.
- Ideal for towing trucks.
- Harder to use than an electric winch.
- Hydraulic fluid needs constant replacement.
So which is best? Hydraulic and electric winches both have uses, and it depends on your needs. The rule of thumb is if you use winches for light work only, the electric version will suffice. But as I have mentioned already, electric winches are becoming more powerful.
Things To Consider Before Buying a Winch
Here are some tips to help you find the best winch.
Winch Capacity over Weight: To get the minimum capacity, calculate your vehicle’s weight and multiply this by 1.5. But this is the absolute minimum. You should get a more powerful winch if your vehicle often goes through rough terrain. Steep hills, mud, dirt puts a lot of stress on your winch. For these you’ll need a heavy duty winch.
Motor Durability: Top rated winches have different motors. Just like winch capacity, you’ll need a powerful motor for heavy duty work. Whether you opt for hydraulic, electric or other options, it must be built to last.
Budget: There is a winch for every budget, so it should not be an issue. There is no need to buy the most expensive winch. Just choose one based on your requirements.
Weight Requirements: Winch weights vary. For some drivers it’s not a problem. But if portability is an issue, read the product specs first.
Warranty: Warranty ranges from a few months to years. The longer the warranty, the better. Read the coverage too so you know what’s covered in case there’s a problem.
Customer Support: Even the best winch could break down and stop working. If that happens you’ll have to depend on the company’s customer support. Review the company’s reputation and what customers are saying about it.
Other Considerations: Most truck drivers have a light duty winch for emergency use. Look also for an all-around winch that can be used on SUVs and ATVs.
Accessories: A mounting kit is needed for self-recovery and ATVs. Or you may opt for a multi-mount which can be installed in front or the rear of a vehicle. You also need tow straps and replacement cables
Our Pick For Best Winch
Let’s take a look at our best pick.
Short Review Of Each Best Winch
Here is the short review of each best winch that we selected for you.
1. Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 3500lbs/1591kg Single Line Pull
The Superwinch has gotten some of the best winch reviews for its performance. Designed for power sport users, it’s built with power in mind. With its 1.6 HP and 3,500 lb. pull rating, it’s built for use in heavy duty terrain. This ATV winch is easy to set up. I also like its planetary gears as they’re much bigger than those in other ATV winches. The bearings are well-designed and look like they’re built to last.
- Dimensions: 13.4″ l. x 4.5″ d. x 4.8″ h.
- Weight: 9.10kg
- Powers load in and out.
- 50′ of 13/64″ steel wire rope.
- 3-stage planetary gearing.
- Gear ratio: 140:1
- Mechanical load holding and dynamic brake.
- All steel planetary gear twice as wide as those used by the competition and utilizing machined-in, oil pocket bronze bearings.
- Ergonomic cam action freespooling clutch.
- High efficiency, low amp draw, sealed 1.6 hp permanent magnet motor.
- Circuit breaker protected.
- Switching method: Handlebar mounted toggle.
- Switching mechanism: Heavy duty, sealed solenoid.
- Weather sealed solenoid contact.
- 4-way roller fairlead.
- Heavy duty latched hook with thimble.
- Limited lifetime warranty.
- Easy to use.
- Wide steel planetary gear.
- Durable construction.
- Color-coated wiring.
- 3,500-LB line pull rating.
- Solenoid contact is sealed.
- Rope quality could be better.
- A customer said he got a bent latch.
Summary of Customer Reviews:
The best winch reviews for the Superwinch have said a lot of positive things about its performance. One person gave it a 5 star rating, saying he’s very happy. Another customer said the winch works great for his ATV.
Many of the reviews have come from long time ATV riders. One of them said this is easy to install. There are also many reviews those who use it to pull disabled vehicles. One person said he’s used it to pull his car out of mud several times. This view is shared by a lot of people who’ve used the Superwinch the same way.
There are a few negative reviews, but most are happy with its performance. While it’s built mainly for ATVs, the Superwinch is powerful enough to pull other vehicles.
2. Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500 lb. Load Capacity
The Smittybilt is one of the best winch as far as power and performance go. Its 6.6 HP is enough to pull a good sized vehicle without any problem. The unit is waterproof too so you can use it in various situations. It comes with a corded remote which works very well. The XRC series has been around a while, but this line has been upgraded with new features. Its 9,500 lb. pull rating is as good as advertised. Overall this is really powerful tool. You can increase its power too with a snatch block.
- Waterproof: IP67 Rating.
- Rated line Pull (single): 9,500Lbs (4,309kgs).
- Motor: 6.6hp Series Wound.
- Control switch: Remote Switch, 12′ (3.7m) lead.
- Gear Train: 3-Stage Planetary.
- Gear Ratio: 161.28:1.
- Clutch: Sliding Ring Gear.
- Brake: Automatic In-Drum.
- Drum size: Diameter 2.5″ (63.5mm).
- Length: 10.0″ (254mm).
- Recommended Battery: 650CCA Minimum for Winching.
- Battery leads: 22mm2, 72″(1.83m).
- Finish: Textured Black.
- Weight: 78.0 lbs (35.0 k).
- Mounting Bolt Pattern: 10.0 ” x 4.5 “.
- Overall Dimensions: 20.88″ (L) x 6.3″ (W) x 7.4″ (H).
- Cable size: 94′ Length 5/16″ Diameter.
- Mechanical Warranty: Lifetime Warranty.
- Electrical Warranty: 3-Year Warranty.
- 4-way roller fairlead included.
- Strong pulling power.
- Magnet control handle is well-made.
- Powerful motor.
- Mounting plate not included.
- Attaching electric cables is a bit cumbersome.
Summary of Customer Reviews:
The feedback has been generally favorable. One of the best winch reviews comes from someone who used it to pull a 4500 lb. Dodge Durango. Another customer attached this on his Explorer and used it to haul another vehicle stuck in mud.
Another customer said this is one of the easiest winches he’s ever used. One person gave the XRC 5 stars and said it’s very effective. This view is shared by other customers who said it’s an effective and powerful winch.
Aside from a few negative reviews, the response to the XRC winch has been positive. After a thorough review, I have to concur. This is a versatile winch that’s built to last.
3. Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC winch
Another Superwinch makes it to my list of the top rated winches owing to its power and versatility. Installation is straightforward. The winch also has enough power to pull ATVs and other vehicles if they’re stuck. The brake is solid and the inclusion of a mounting plate and roller fairhead is nice. The clutch is ergonomically designed. All in all, this is a good example of what an all-purpose winch should do. It’s great not just for ATVs but other applications too. I also like its 1.2 HP motor, which is at par with other winches.
- Rated Line Pull: 3,000 lbs (1,361 kgs)
- Motor: Sealed 1.2 HP permanent magnet
- Gearing / Gear Ratio: 1-Stage planetary / 136:1
- Solenoid: Sealed solenoid, circuit breaker protected
- Clutch: Free-Spooling, ergonomic control
- Brake: Automatic, 100% load holding
- Rope: Wire rope 3/16″ x 50′ (4.8mm x 15.0m)
- Hook: Heavy-duty, clevis pinned latch
- Fairlead: Heavy-duty 4-way roller
- Remote: 12′ handheld remote
- Dimensions: 13.2″ L x 4.25″ W x 4.25″ H (335.3mm L x 108mm W x 108mm H)
- Drum Diameter / Length: 2.0″ (50.2mm) / 2.9″ (74mm)
- Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.87″ (76mm x 124mm)
- Installed Weight: 20.0 lbs (9.0 kgs)
- Line Pull: 0 lbs – 15 Amps motor draw / 27 FPM (8.3 MPM) line speed
- Line Pull: 3,000 lbs – 180 Amps motor draw / 4 FPM (1.2 MPM) line speed
- Mounting Bolt Pattern: 3.0″ x 4.87″ (76mm x 124mm)
- Two-Year limited warranty
- Lots of power.
- Mounting plate included.
- Can be used for ATVs and other vehicles.
- Easy to install.
- Mechanical and dynamic brake.
- Permanent magnet motor that sealed low amperage.
- The switch design could be better.
- Circuit breakers are a bit large.
Summary of Customer Reviews:
Reviews for the 1130220 have been positive and favorable. One customer gave this winch 5 stars and said it works perfectly. Another person also gave it 4 stars, saying it has all the features he was looking for.
One customer said this is the best winch he has tried. He also pointed out the instructions are easy to follow and instructions are clear. There are also a lot of reviewers who have expressed the same view after trying it.
There are some less than stellar reviews, but they’re outnumbered by the positive ones. The consensus from those who’ve tried this winch agree it’s durable and versatile. As one customer pointed out, the winch offers great value for your money.
4. Warn 89120 ZEON 12 Winch with Wire Rope
The Warn Zeon has a 12,000 pull, and that alone makes it one of the best winch the company has produced. Its roller fairhead and wire rope are well made. The winch looks great and feels solid to boot. You can connect the winch with the control pack. There’s also an option for mounting remotely. The winch is corrosion proof, and its aluminum drum minimizes wear and tear. The best thing about the Zeon is its power, as it can pull almost anything you throw at it. The motor has upgraded from previous models so it’s more powerful.
- Rated line pull: 12,000 lbs. (5443 kg) single-line
- Motor: series wound, 12V DC, 24V DC
- Electrical controls: Contactor
- Remote Control: Remote switch, 12′ (3.7m) lead
- Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
- Gear ratio: 216:1
- Clutch (freespooling): Rotating ring gear
- Brake: Automatic mechanical cone
- Drum diameter/Length: 3.15″/9.0″ (80mm/229mm)
- Weight (kit shipping): 98 lbs. (44 kg)
- Rope: 3/8″ x 80′ (9.52mm x 24.38m) steel
- Fairlead: Roller
- Recommended Battery: 650 CCA minimum for winching
- Battery leads: 2 gauge, 72″ (1.83m)
- Finish: Satin-black powder coat
- Plenty of pulling power.
- Easy to use.
- For heavy duty use.
- Lightweight large aluminum winch drum.
- Installation takes some time.
- One customer said the winch arrived with some dents.
Summary of Customer Reviews:
The best winch reviews for the Zeon have focused on its pulling power. A customer gave it 5 stars, saying it’s reliable and durable. A long time Warn customer also gave the Zeon 5 stars. He said he’s been using their products for years and this is one of their best efforts yet.
Several customers have awarded the Zeon 5 stars for being dependable. The reviews, both short and detailed, both agree this is one of the better products that Warn has made.
A lot of reviewers have expressed delight with its functionality. One of them said it’s easy to install. Now that I’ve had a chance to review the product, I have to say the reviewers are correct.
5. WARN 86255 VR10000 10,000 lb Winch
Warn has consistently gotten some of the best winch reviews, and the VR10000 continues that tradition. The low profile VR10000 is compatible with most SUVs and trucks. With its 10,000 lb. pull rating you’ll have no trouble pulling a jeep, SUV or even a heavy truck if it’s stuck in mud. The power and torque are impressive. I also like that it comes with a remote control, and it’s easy to use. It’s built for heavy duty use and the control pack is removable. With all these features, it’s easy to see why a lot of people like it.
- Winch Style: Electric
- Pull Rating (lbs): 10,000 lbs.
- Volts: 12 V
- Winch Fairlead Type: Roller
- Remote Included: Yes
- Remote: 12 ft. hand-held remote switch
- Free-Spooling: Yes
- Brake: Yes
- Power Out: Yes
- Drive Gear: 3-stage planetary
- Winch Line Included: Yes
- Winch Line Type: Cable
- Winch Line Diameter (in): 3/8 in.
- Winch Line Material: Steel
- Winch Line Length (ft): 94 ft.
- No Load Line Speed: 25.90 fpm
- Mounting Hole Quantity: 4 holes
- Mounting Pattern Length (in): 10 in.
- Mounting Pattern Width (in): 4 in.
- Size: 20.80 in. x 6.3 in. x 6.97 in
- Weight: 89 lbs.
- Speed: 1
- Gear Reduction Ratio: 261:1
- Durable design.
- Can pull jeeps and trucks.
- Several mounting options.
- Remote is included.
- All weather use.
- There are a few complaints about the finish’s longevity.
- One customer said the braces were quickly damaged.
Summary of Customer Reviews:
The Warn VR10000 has received favorable reviews. One of those reviewers gave the winch 5 stars. He said his pickup truck got stuck in mud and he used this to pull the vehicle out. Another customer said the Warn winch is much stronger than he thought and installation is easy.
A lot of the 5 star reviews have spoken about how convenient the winch is to use. One of these 5 star reviews said the winch bolts quickly. More than one reviewer said the winch mounts firmly.
Since I’ve had the chance to review this product, I have to say this is one of the best winch available.
Accessories You may Also Need
As the best winch reviews show, a Winch Mount is an important accessory. A winch mount ensures the winch is secured to your vehicle. These are steel plates which you attach to the front or back of your vehicle to haul or drag an object. These mounts have different specifications that correspond to various winches. There are many types of winch mounts, and the type you use depends on your requirements.
KFI Products ATV-SCHS Winch Cable Hook Stopper
This hook stopper reduces roller wear and tear. This also ensures the tension stays on the hook so the cable doesn’t come off. The hook stopper also acts as a protector for your motor.
KFI Products ATV-SB Snatch Block
Even the best winch could benefit from a snatch block. With this you’ll be able to double the capacity of your winch. If you regularly pull vehicles and other load that weigh several tons, this will do the job.
Smittybilt 13047B 3/4" Black D-Ring
You can never be too safe when pulling vehicles. A standard hook is not enough, and you’re better off with a powerful D-ring like this. The D-ring is not just durable but has a smooth finish. This D-ring is also rated for 95000 lbs. which tells you how strong it is.
Warn 91415 ZEON Neoprene Winch Cover
Want to keep your winch looking brand new? The Warn Zeon Cover is just what the doctor ordered. With this your winch will remain in good shape.
Even if you have the best winch, results will be more satisfactory with the right approach.
- Even if you have the best winch, you should always inspect it before using. The springs have to be intact and the cables must not be frayed or tangled.
- Wear safety gloves. Your fingers should nowhere be close to the mechanism.
- Use only slip hooks that have safety latches. This ensures the load is properly attached.
- Even the top rated winches can experience a cable break. The snap back can is dangerous, so put damper blankets on the cable to reduce the effect. Use at least two damper blankets if you’re pulling a vehicle stuck in a ditch and there’s someone behind the wheel.
- Use your winch for its stated purpose. Do not use beyond its stated limitations.
- You should be on the side where the lever is so you don’t get entangled with the mechanism.
- Make certain you are some distance apart from the structure you’re using to pull from. Whether it’s a tree or something else, make certain the anchor point has enough strength.
- Keep people and animals far from the cable area. The winch cable creates a V shape when set up. Ensure no one is near this.
- A snatch block may help for off angle pulls.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I add more cable?
Answer: You can’t add more. A winch carries a particular cable amount / size. Before you buy a winch, make sure you have an idea of the type of cable amount / strength you need.
2. How long does a winch last?
Answer: It depends on how well you maintain it. Good ones can last for years. It also depends on how you use the winch and under what conditions.
3. How much cable does a winch have?
Answer: This is determined by drum size and pulling capacity. This information and other details will be in the product specs.
4. Do winches have locks?
Answer: Self-locking brakes are built into winches. Don’t use it as a hoist as it could slip under the load though.
5. How fast is a winch?
Answer: It varies per product. The information will be included in the product specs.
For Those Of You Who Are Still Unsure
I recommend the Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 3500lbs/1591kg single line pull and the Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500 lb. Load Capacity, as these two are the top rated winches available today.
The Smittybilt is a well-designed winch. It is powerful, waterproof and easy to use. I also like its lifetime warranty and the feedback from customers has been good. Whether for light or heavy hauling, the Smittybilt can serve your needs.
The Superwinch is also high quality. It is very efficient and its mechanical load holding works well. Like the Smittybilt, the Superwinch is well built and durable. If you’re looking for the best winch, either of the two will do.
The winch is an essential tool, and most drivers have one in some form or the other. As we have already pointed out above, a winch can do more than just haul heavy loads. No matter what your driving experience is, you’ll want to have a winch just in case you or another vehicle gets stuck.
With this best winch guide, you’re now better informed as far as functions and features are concerned. The large number of winches available makes it difficult for a first time buyer to decide what to buy, but with this guide you won’t go wrong.