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13 Best Winches For The Money 2020 Reviews

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A reliable, durable, powerful winch is a valuable tool. If you drive an ATV, SUV or heavy-duty truck, this piece of recovery equipment can stand you of service in hairy situations that occur on the roads. You will use it not just in off-roading, but also in many everyday activities.

There are so many different models available in the winch market now, that even battle-seasoned users experience choice overload. Luckily, we prepared some helpful winch reviews which you can use as a guide in a wide world of pulling and lifting devices. Expensive winches, affordable winches, heavy-duty winches, lightweight and easy-to-fit winches, well-known and new winches brands – we covered all these categories and also added a short FAQ section with answers for essential questions on choosing the best product, so you won’t make a costly mistake by purchasing a wrong one.

  • Top 13 truck winches

for any taste and budget

Best of the best rating

Best Winch of all categories Quick Reference Table

5/5
  • 12000 lbs capacity
  • 162:1 gear ratio
  • Super strong Spydura Pro synthetic rope
  • Waterproof IP68 rating
  • Aluminum hawse roller fairlead and strong steel fasteners
  • Corrosion resistive black matte finish

Smittybilt 98510 Waterproof

4.5/5
  • 10000 lb capacity
  • 6 horsepower motor
  • Strong synthetic rope
  • Wireless remote (comes with optional lead in the set)
  • Weather-resistant, waterproof, with rust and corrosion-resistant finish

Superwinch Terra 45

4.5/5
  • 4500 lb capacity
  • Lightweight
  • 1.6 horsepower motor
  • Rubberized handheld remote.
  • Stainless 3-stage planetary gear
  • Strong heavy-duty latched hook

Smittybilt 97417 XRC Gen2 17500 lb

5/5
  • 17500 lb capacity
  • 6.6 horsepower wound motor
  • Strong and durable synthetic rope
  • IP67 waterproof rating
  • Rugged UV-resistant coating

Champion 4500-lb. ATV/UTV Wireless

4.3/5
  • 4500 lb capacity
  • Weight - 30 pounds
  • 1.6 horsepower motor
  • Galvanized steel wire
  • Wireless remote (works within a 50-foot radius)
  • Comes with full installation kit

Top performance & top price
expensive winches comparison

Let’s start our list with top-notch quality and excellent performance winches built to the highest standards – costly, but totally worth the price. 

Overview

This winch is an amazing performer, extremely durable, reliable, and strong. Lightweight, but powerful Warn 95950 Zeon delivers the fastest and quietest pulling power. It’s strongest in class Spydura rope is urethane-coated and covered with a special heat-protection sleeve. It has the highest waterproof rating. The matte black finish of this winch is resistive to rust and corrosion. Warn 95950 Zeon comes with a special patented Warn relocation kit that brings a convertible control pack – so you can either mount or remote mount the winch.

10Expert Score
Warn 95950 Zeon 12-S

Premium-quality winch from a highly reputable trusted brand. Warn 95950 Zeon 12-S is one of the most expensive winches in the market.

Performance
10
Price
5
Functions
10
Positive
  • 12000 lb capacity
  • 162:1 gear ratio
  • Lightweight (39 pounds)
  • Super strong Spydura Pro synthetic rope
  • Remote switch
  • Waterproof IP68 rating
  • Aluminum hawse roller fairlead and strong steel fasteners
  • Corrosion resistive black matte finish.
Negatives
  • Expensive
  • Remote battery could last longer

Overview

WARN 17801 M12000 is perfect for bigger off-road vehicles’ this specification is especially good for heavy-duty winching. It delivers quick, efficient and smooth operation. This winch is quite powerful yet compact. With its low-profile design, this winch can be easily mounted in almost every vehicle. WARN 1780 is weatherproof; corrosion and shock resistant finish make it even more durable. It comes in set with a strong hook, clutch, and roller fairlead.

9Expert Score
WARN 17801 M12000 Series Electric 12V

Another high-end winch by Warn tried and trusted winch brand, designed and manufactured in the USA. Investing in this equipment is worth it, as it'll outperform and outlast other winch options

Performance
10
Price
5
Functions
10
Positive
  • 15000 lb capacity
  • 4.6 horsepower motor
  • Weight - 134 pounds
  • Long (125 feet) and strong steel galvanized cable
  • Remote control
  • Fast no-load retrieval
  • Weatherproof
  • Corrosion and shock resistant finish
Negatives
  • Expensive
  • Steel cable is heavy, it can rust

Best winches for the money - affordable and awesome

Alongside with expensive options, there are many budget winches you can afford easily. And while their price is significantly lower, the performance and durability are still high, as well as the quality.

Overview

Smittybilt 98510 X2O is high capacity winch, perfect for 4X4 vehicles thanks to its high power amphibious motor, weather, and corrosion-resistant design, and 3-stage gearbox. It’s tough enough for the heaviest recovery scenarios. Considering the characteristics, quality, and price, this is a great option for those who are looking for a durable and reliable 10000 lb winch. We strongly recommend it for everyone who does lots of off-roading in extreme weather conditions.

8.5Expert Score
Smittybilt 98510 X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch

Nice mid-range option, one of the best all-weather off-road winches for the money, tough, powerful and super durable.

Performance
8
Price
9
Functions
8
Positive
  • 10000 lb capacity
  • Lightweight (6 pounds)
  • 6 horsepower motor
  • Strong synthetic rope
  • Wireless remote (comes with optional lead in the set)
  • Weather-resistant, waterproof, with rust and corrosion-resistant finish
Negatives
  • The solenoid unit may be a bit difficult to mount
  • The motor sometimes runs very hot

Overview

Superwinch Tiger Shark easily overperforms other brands in a similar pricing range. While its capacity is slightly lighter, this winch can do almost anything that more expensive winches do.

It is durable and built to last, easy to install and operate. It is weather-resistant, so the motor, as well as other winch parts, are effectively protected from the elements. In general, this cheap winch for sale delivers high quality and good performance.

8Expert Score
Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark

Awesome budget option for vehicle owners who don’t usually do heavy-duty off-roading. Ideal for lighter use, this reliable, comparatively cheap winch comes at a great price and delivers high quality for long-term utilization.

Performance
8.5
Price
9.5
Functions
8
Positives
  • 9,500 lb capacity
  • 2 horsepower motor
  • Lightweight (up to 30 pounds)
  • Weatherproof and waterproof - resistant to rain, wind, dust, snow, etc.
  • Sturdy wire rope, stainless steel roller fairlead
  • Comes with rubberized remote
Negatives
  • Lighter winch, not suitable for heavy off-rading
  • Steel cable needs some extra maintenance, as it can rust

Overview

X-BULL 12V comes with strong Dyneema synthetic rope (23809 lbs breaking strength) that is also very light and floats in the water. Overload protection device protects vehicle owners from unwanted incidents with short circuits and overloads. Easy to use clutch lever and remote control ensure smooth and trouble-free operation. An automatic load-holding brake increases users’ safety. Together all the above-mentioned features make heavy-duty X-BULL 12V the best truck winch for those who prefer budget-friendly equipment.

8.5Expert Score
X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Electric Winch

While X-Bull is a new company in the winch industry, their products are known for high quality and innovations. So if you’re looking for a durable winch for trucks for a reasonable price, consider X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Electric Winch.

Performance
8
Price
9.5
Functions
9
Positive
  • 13000 lb capacity
  • Weight - 63 pounds
  • Light and strong synthetic Rope (26 m)
  • Waterproof IP67 rating
  • Overload Protector
  • Wireless Remote
Negatives
  • Rope could be longer
  • Parallel fuse block might needs a mounting insulation, as its open metal parts might get hot

Heavy duty winches for trucks and Jeeps

Whether you’re a proud truck owner or have a jeep and like driving off the beaten pass in your free time, you’ll need a special powerful tool to assist you in pulling and dragging. Off-roading is often risky, so if you don’t want to get stuck in the mud, better check out our jeep and truck winches reviews.

 

Overview

Compact lighter winch for medium-duty recovery. Easy to install, fits comfortably thanks to the low-profile design. Warn VR 800 is known for its faster speed and less overheating. Designed for longer pulls during a longer period, this winch has a free-spooling clutch that uses sliding ring gears.

Warn VR 800 reviews also indicate that this winch for trucks is very easy to operate through user-friendly controls. Simple and durable – exactly what a truck owner needs.

8Expert Score
Warn 8000 lbs Truck Winch

Top-quality, compact, easy to install winch, great both for experienced users and newbies. If you’re looking for your first-ever truck winch, we strongly recommend considering this option.

Performance
8
Price
8
Functions
7.5
Positive
  • 8000 lb capacity
  • Weight - 71 pounds
  • 6 horsepower motor
  • Available in 2 options - with steel wire or synthetic rope
  • Relocatable control pack
  • Wireless Remote
Negatives
  • Not for heavy-duty off-roading
  • Steel rope adds weight, can rust with time

Overview

Superwinch 1145230 Terra 45 4500lbs features high-end power, reliability, and versatility. Although the winch comes with strong synthetic rope, its drum is designed for use either with rope or with steel cable. The sealed solenoid unit is protected from the weather; a circuit breaker is also weather-sealed. Easy to fit in and operate. Superwinch Terra series is rightfully considered to be one of the best off-road winches for the money.

8.5Expert Score
Superwinch 1145230 Terra 45 4500lbs

Truck owners call Superwinch Terra a monster because of its high efficiency and high pulling capacity. Add durability and high performance and you’ll get an excellent price/quality match.

Performance
8.5
Price
7.5
Functions
9
Positive
  • 4500 lb capacity
  • Lightweight (19 pounds)
  • 1.6 horsepower motor
  • Synthetic rope (55 feet)
  • Rubberized handheld remote
  • Durable stainless 3-stage planetary gear train
  • Strong heavy-duty latched hook
Negatives
  • Sometimes it takes time and efforts to free the spindle out of the cable
  • A bit slow

Overview

ORCISH IP67 Waterproof 12V electric winch combines high pulling capacity, powerful engine, and durable branded rope. It is reliable and strong enough to pull your truck or SUV from deep water or mud in minutes. The motor bracket of this winch is designed to withstand higher pressure thanks to thickened steel plate. Protected from dust and water, ORCISH IP67 Waterproof can be used in harsh and even extreme weather conditions. Comes in set with winch cove, overload protector and a pair of thick protective gloves. Requires simple and quick maintenance procedures.

7.5Expert Score
ORCISH IP67 Waterproof 12V

Although ORCISH is not as popular as Warn or Superwinch, this manufacturer produces great winches for Jeeps and trucks, such as ORCISH IP67 Waterproof 12V.

Performance
7.5
Price
8
Functions
7.5
Positive
  • 13000 lb capacity
  • 6.6 horsepower motor
  • Strong and long (85 feet) Dyneema synthetic rope
  • Waterproof IP67 rating
  • Completely dustproof
  • Handheld and wireless remote control
  • Lifetime technical support from the manufacturer
Negatives
  • You'll have to buy accessories (winch cover, etc.) separately
  • Wireless remote battery doesn't last for extended periods of time

Users’ choice – best winches according to user reviews

Users’ opinion is important, especially when these users are enthusiastic SUV and truck drivers who know what it’s like to be stuck in a tough situation on (or off) the road. We carefully checked Amazon reviews and found the best Jeep and truck winches with the highest ratings.

9. Smittybilt 97417 XRC Gen2 17500 lbs.

Overview

Heavy-duty Smittybilt’s XRC winches can handle any situation on the road. Smittybilt 97417 is a reliable winch that delivers great pulling power and ultimate performance even in the toughest circumstances. Comes in a complete factory package that includes a four-way roller fairlead, extremely strong forged steel tow hook, and durable synthetic rope. Smittybilt’s XRC has a specially-designed versatile solenoid box that can be mounted or remounted in 3 different positions. Smittybilt 97417 owners receive a Lifetime mechanical warranty from the manufacturer.

9Expert Score
Smittybilt 97417 XRC Gen2 17500 lb.

Smittybilt 97417 gets 4.5 out of 5 stars according to 1300 customer reviews on Amazon - impressive, isn’t it? So what’s so good about this winch?

Performance
9.5
Price
7
Functions
9
Positive
  • 17500 lb capacity
  • 6.6 horsepower wound motor
  • Synthetic rope
  • 3-stage Planetary Gear System
  • Rugged UV-resistant coating
  • Wireless remote control
Negatives
  • Comparatively heavy (132 pounds)

Overview

Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC is a very compact and light winch, very easy to install, fits in greatly in almost all vehicles. The winch comes with a handheld and wireless remote control, strong wire rope, tough 4-way roller fairlead, and free-spooling ergonomic clutch. The motor is protected by the circuit breaker even in extreme weather conditions. 100% automatic load holding and mechanical braking reduce to a minimum the possibility of steel cable slippage and provide the quickest drum stopping in the events of surge or power failures. Reliable and functional, durable and versatile, this winch is a steal for its price.

8Expert Score
Superwinch 1130220 LT3000ATV 12 VDC

More than 1000 reviews and overall rating in 4.4 stars of 5 - not bad for a lighter 3000 lbs winch. And what’s even better, all these glowing reviews are true, as this product shows an outstanding performance.

Performance
8
Price
8
Functions
8
Positive
  • 3000 lb capacity
  • Lightweight (20 pounds)
  • 1.2 horsepower motor
  • Rugged 3-stage planetary gear
  • Rubberized remote switch
Negatives
  • Steel cable quality could be better

Editor’s pick – best winches that won our hearts

We’ve read many reviews and went through many descriptions and characteristics; it was almost impossible to choose the best winches. However, we decided to include in this category a winch from a reputable and well-known brand and give a chance to two less popular, but high-quality winches.

Overview

Although it may not be as popular as other winches from our list, Champion 4500-lbs is still plenty powerful. Good for small and middle-sized trucks and Jeeps, it comes in a full kit which includes a mounting channel, wiring kit with a contactor, abrasion and fraying resistant aircraft steel cable and everything you might need for installation and use. Champion 4500 wireless remote has a special antenna that allows controlling the winch operations within a 50-foot radius. Roller fairlead and free spooling clutch contribute to safe and smooth pulling.

7.5Expert Score
Champion 4500-lb. ATV/UTV Wireless Winch

Champion is another brand that stays in the shadow of bigger manufacturers and for no good reason - their products are affordable and efficient.

Performance
7.5
Price
8
Functions
7.5
Positive
  • 4500 lb capacity
  • 1.6 horsepower motor
  • Weight - 30 pounds
  • Galvanized steel wire
  • Wireless remote.
  • Comes with installation kit
  • Affordable
Negatives
  • Not suitable for large trucks and heavy off-roading
  • Steel cable is less safe than synthetic rope

12. ZESUPER 12V 13000-lbs.

Overview

Massive load capacity, powerful motor, and good waterproof rating make Zesuper a decent option for those who look for a durable and reliable winch for jeeps, trucks, and trailers. At the same time, it’s lightweight and easy to fit. Automatic load-holding brake, free spooling clutch and advanced 3 stages planetary gear ensure users’ safety. Heavy-duty sealed contactor and a 4-way roller fairlead increase its durability. This winch comes with wireless and wired remote for easy operation. High waterproof rating and resistance to corrosion and rust also add value.

8.5Expert Score
ZESUPER 12V 13000-lb Load Capacity

We decided to give a try to this not-so-popular brand and discovered that they have some nice winch models with great characteristics, such as Zesuper 12V - lightweight and powerful.

Performance
8.5
Price
8
Functions
8.5
Positive
  • 13000 lb load capacity
  • Weight - 75 pounds
  • 6.4 horsepower motor
  • Waterproof IP67 rating
  • Synthetic rope (78 feet)
  • Wireless control
Negatives
  • New, not so popular brand
  • Motor tends to overheat if used during extended period of time

Overview

Warn 103254 VR EVO 12 is one of the best winches for Jeeps, this standard-duty hard-working winch wins our hearts with its advanced features and bold tactical look style. It comes in 2 options – with steel cable or synthetic rope. 2-in-1 wired and wireless remote and relocatable control pack add versatility. Powerful motor and enhanced planetary gear are created to deliver ultimate performance. IP68-rated waterproof protection keeps the winch safe from water, rain, and snow.

Also available in lighter versions (8000 lbs and 10000 lbs; we’ve added Warn VR 800 review earlier).

9Expert Score
Warn 103254 VR EVO 12

We could not but include Warn 103254 VR EVO 12 to the Editor's pick list, as it is one of the best 12000 lbs winches so far. Its versatility and durability make this winch a great performer.

Performance
9
Price
6.5
Functions
9.5
Positive
  • 12000 lbs capacity
  • Weight - 90 pounds
  • Available with steel cable or synthetic rope
  • Wired and wireless remote control
  • Waterproof IP68-rated construction
  • Versatile
Negatives
  • Expensive
  • Slower than other Warn winches

Electric winches FAQ

What are the most reliable winch brands?

Although there are many nice winch manufacturers, only some of them deserve to be included in our recommendation list.

Warn

Warn is one of the oldest vehicle recovery equipment brands. The founder, Arthur Warn, started the company in 1948; they supplied accessories for WWII Jeeps. Today Warn is a leading brand in the market, known for premium quality and innovations.

 

Smittybilt

Another industry leader that offers a full line of recovery equipment and accessories. Over 50 years of experience, top-quality materials, highly skilled engineers – all these factors contribute to Smittybilt success.

 

Superwinch

The biggest privately held recovery equipment corporation in the world. They create durable, reliable, simple and therefore affordable winches. No fancy extra-features added, just quality.

 

X-Bull

A newbie on the recovery equipment market, this Australian company has already earned high reputation. X-Bull offers durable winches; comprehensive set of features and affordable price make their products popular both with newbies and experienced drivers.

Champion

Founded in 2003, this company became an expert in power equipment. They mainly offer generators, inverter generator engines etc., but their winches series is also good. All Champion products are known as durable, tried and trusted equipment you can rely on.

What capacity winch do I need?

To determine minimum winch capacity, you have to multiply the maximum weight you’re going to pull by 1.5.

Example

You have Jeep Wrangler Unlimited; your vehicle weight is 4,100 pounds.

4,100 x 1.5 = 6150

It means that the minimum lbs capacity rating for your winch is 61500. Feel free to choose higher capacity but never go beyond.

Electric vs hydraulic winch. What’s the difference between them and which one is better for me?

Electric winches

Electric winches can be described as self-pulling mechanisms driven by electric motors. Comparing to hydraulic winches they are:

  • smaller,
  • lighter,
  • easier to install and operate.

Hydraulic winches

Hydraulic winches use engine power to function. Their key advantages are:

  • reliability,
  • high power.

They’re bigger and heavier than electric ones. Hydraulic winches are used for commercial cars that require special equipment for professional use.

So if you’re looking for a winch for your private car/truck, an electric one is exactly what you need.

Steel cable or synthetic rope for winch – what should I choose?

Both options have their pros and cons, so choose the one which is the most convenient for you.

 
 

Steel cable, also called wire rope, is made from carbon steel, therefore it is sturdy, durable, resistible to abrasions and weatherproof. It is cheaper than synthetic rope, but also much heavier and less safe to use. It requires some precautions and safety measures – always put on the gloves to protect your hands from splinters when you use steel cable.

Synthetic rope is much lighter than steel wire; it’s flexible and strong. It is great for fording and off-roading, as synthetic materials float in water. You can easily repair broken rope by tying it in knots. Compared to steel wire, synthetic one is much safer, as it does not splinter. There are also some cons – synthetic rope is more expensive.

Can I install a winch? Will I need expert help?

Most winches are easy to install, so you will be able to do that by yourself. Just follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

Do I have to buy a mounting kit?

It depends on the brand and winch model. Many winches come with a mounting kit, but some don’t. You can buy mounting kits and plates separately if needed.

Can I replace the winch cable?

Yes, you can replace the broken cable if necessary – cables and ropes are sold separately, so you can buy the same one or upgrade it to a new one.

Do I have to maintain my winch? How do you do that?

Yes, your winch requires regular maintenance too, even if you don’t use it very often.

You have to follow these simple steps after each ride:

  • Remove the winch from the vehicle and disassemble it.
  • If there’s water remaining inside, remove it and dry the winch, especially its electrical part.
  • Check all the contacts in the inner and outer parts of the winch (don’t forget the solenoid unit contacts). If you notice corrosion, remove it and clean the contacts thoroughly.
  • Check out the gearbox and add some lubricant if required.
  • Clean, rinse and dry the rope.
  • Assemble the winch.

These procedures might be time-consuming, but regular maintenance is crucial to maintain your winch in good condition for years.

What are winching safety measures?

It’s crucial to follow winching safety measures:

  • Read instructions and user guides attentively, learn how to use your winch; do not hesitate to contact the manufacturer if you have any further questions.
  • Choose the right winch – do not use lightweight winches for pulling heavy trucks.
  • Do not exceed pulling limits – each winch has its specific capacity you shouldn’t exceed, as it could cause winch failure.
  • Inspect your recovery equipment before each use.
  • Check cables or ropes frequently. It is strongly recommended to check your synthetic rope or steel cable twice between uses – once during after-use maintenance and once before winching. Important: do not use broken or damaged cables, as it may cause serious accidents if winch cable snaps.
  • Follow general safety precautions – wear thick protective gloves when handling steel cable.
  • Always keep the winching area clean – stay at a safe distance, do not let others (especially children and animals) stay near.
  • Stay attentive and focused during the winching procedure, even if it takes plenty of time. Do not allow others to distract you or intervene in the process.

Conclusion

When it comes to buying a which there is no shortage of options; however, over choice rarely helps to get the best piece of equipment. No matter if you buy an expensive top-notch performance fancy-looking winch or an affordable hard working one, just remember:

  • Choose only trusted brands, listed in this article – Warn, Superwinch, Smittybilt, Orcish, Champion, Zesuper.
  • The heavier your vehicle is, the more powerful winch it’ll need (check the capacity).
  • Make sure it fits (check the measurements).
  • Find out what others think about your preferred models (check user reviews).
We hope that you’ve learned something new and useful from this article – something that will make you feel confident using this knowledge to find the right winch for your vehicle.
We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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