How to choose the right winch?

You always hear people saying always offroad with two. No off-roading enthousiast would ever go on a solo trip without a good working winch. The risk of getting stuck or stranded is just too big, even for experienced drivers. With the help of a winch you can explore more trails far away from civilization and pull your car to safety without any help.

First things first, there are a lot of things to consider when buying a winch and nobody can pick one for you. Try to decide what you want to do with it and then compare your options.

What is a winch?

winch (noun): a device for hauling or lifting; made up of a rope, cable or chain wound around a horizontal rotating drum and turned by a crank or motor and typically mounted at the rear of a towing vehicle.

Most winches are electric because they require less to no maintenance compared to hydraulic ones. But they do require a lot of electricity to function properly and it’s continuous use depends on the size of the winch and the weight of the vehicle that needs recovering. 

How does an electric winch works?

It uses either a worm gear or a planetary gear to turn a drum, the drum is a cylinder the winch cable or rope is spooled around.

There are two styles of electric motors, permanent magnet motors and series wound motors. Permanent magnet motors use strong magnets to get the job done, these have a lower amp draw and tend to be cheaper but they have a bigger chance of overheating and losing power in cold weather. Series wound motors use field coils, they’re more powerful, more reliable and have a longer life span.

How to choose a good winch?

How to pick the right winch with enough capability to recover your car? Take the gross vehicle weight rating and multiply it by 2. For example if you’ve got a new Jeep Wrangler Rubicon two door, the vehicle’s weight is right about 2 268 kg x 2 = your minimum capacity. In this case it’s 4536 kg or 10 000 lbs. So the Warn Winch VR EVO 10-S would be a good start.

Don’t forget, if you’ve done a lot of mods on your car, for example steel bumpers, wheels or heavy skid plates. You’ve got to add that to your stock car weight!

Remember you can always go higher in capacity, Warn offers winches ranging from 3629 lbs (8000 lbs) to 7484 kg (16 500 lbs). It’s always better to overestimate what you need rather than have an underrated winch.

Are you still not sure which winch to pick? Feel free to contact us and we’ll help you out with advice, installation and showing how it works.

Steel cable or synthetic rope?

Both steel cable and synthetic rope are very popular choices and everyone has their own opinion, so what the the pros and cons?

A steel cable is cheaper, more heat & abrasion resistant and it’s low maintenance. But it’s way heavier than rope and much more dangerous if it snaps. It’s also harder to spool, it can rust over time and it can form sharp burs which can easily cut through skin.

Synthetic rope is much safer and it can’t form any burs so you can handle it safely without gloves. It’s also not only lighter than cable, but it also floats on water and can easily be repaired while in the field. Did you know a synthetic rope even has a higher break strength than a steel cable and you can even fit more rope on a spool than you can with a cable. But off course the rope has some cons too, it can be damaged by UV light and it’s not very resistant to abrasion & heat and it can fray over time from heavy use and last but not least it’s also more expensive.

What is the best brand of winches?

This one is a bit biased, but for us it’s Warn. They are just a synonym for high quality winches, we have one ourselves and we are really happy with it. You’ll see Warn pop up at lots of best winch lists, they are one of the best producers of vehicle winches and they come with a limited lifetime warranty.

They are designed to perform in the most rugged conditions imaginable, for example the Zeon series is specifically designed for heavy duty recoveries. They have over half a century’s experience and they have shown constant innovation throughout their history.

What requirements do you need to install and use your winch?

One of the most important things you’ll need is a rock solid bumper designed to accommodate the winch you’ve picked. Don’t forget to check if your bumper has a winch plate to mount your winch on.

Did you notice your winch draining your battery too much during recovery? You can get a new battery, but over time it will easily kill your battery again. The best solution is to install an alternator capable of outputting a higher amount of current which allows your car and winch to both operate solely off of the alternator without putting an added strain on the battery. And because the new alternator is designed to handle this abuse, your electrical system is safe to winch another day.

Don’t forget you’ll also need some basic recovery gear for winching for example a tree protector strap and at least two strong shackles.

Do you still have some questions on winches? Feel free to contact us or read our blog posts for more information!

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