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Top 10 Best Truck Winch Reviews

Invest your money in one of these highly rated truck winches.

Published October 23, 2018

If you own a truck, you know how essential a truck winch is for pulling or hauling. While most people have seen truck winches before, many of those same people don’t have a clue what they’re for or how to use them. That’s why we’ve put together our top ten best truck winch reviews, plus a handy guide on what they are and how to use them.

Most modern truck winches include some form of rope or cable that’s powered by a motor. If you get stuck or need to pull something else that’s stuck, the winch becomes your lifesaver. With a high-quality truck winch, you’ll never have to wait for that tow truck again.

How Does a Truck Winch Work?

A truck winch is versatile and supports a multitude of vehicles. You may have seen them on Jeeps or other off-road machines. All winches have a motor that’s equipped to operate the attached rope or cable. The cable might range anywhere from 40 – 150 feet long. The winch is shaped in a circle that allows your wire to wrap itself around the apparatus. There’s also a gear train and drum involved. The drum utilizes a spool which wraps the cable.

The drum is turned by the motor. With this power, the cable wraps up around the drum. Older or cheaper winches had a manual crank instead of motor. With the more modern versions, human power isn’t needed to pull heavy objects.

Buying a Truck Winch – Things to Consider

If you own a truck, most likely you want to perform heavy-duty actions with it; otherwise, you just use it to look good. If you’re going to help recover vehicles or pull a tree out, a winch is a necessary piece of equipment. Even though you know you need one, you might not know how to pick the best truck winch.

Depending on what you want to use it for and what kind of vehicle you drive, the best truck winch for you might vary. Before making your decision, there are some things to consider that will help you narrow down your options.

Cable Quality

winch cableYou’ll find two main types of cable material on a winch: steel or synthetic. While you’ll hear various schools of thought on the subject, most people prefer the synthetic cable. That’s because they’re more flexible and have a high level of strength. A synthetic rope doesn’t need maintenance and is safe in the case of breakage. You’ll find that a synthetic cable can pull up to 9,500 pounds, which is pretty impressive. Even if you do purchase one with a steel cable, you can always swap it out for a synthetic later.

Sealed

If you need a truck winch, there’s no question that you head out on rugged adventures. As you travel on the harsh terrains, you tend to sling around some mud, dirt, and dust. You don’t want a motor that’s exposed to these natural forces. Otherwise, it might malfunction when you need it the most.

Motor dysfunction is the cause of many failures, so you want to find one that’s sealed. Having a motor that’s sealed protects the mechanics from mud, moisture, rain, snow, and dust. These are common elements that lead to corrosion. Protect yourself and your truck winch by ensuring you invest in one that features a sealed motor.

Pulling Ability

When you use a winch to pull more than it’s capable of, you set yourself up for disaster. The cable snaps and then inertia takes over. This leads to numerous accidents, property damage, and even some deaths.

When you’re looking at the options available for your truck, make sure you invest in one that has high pulling capacity. Normally, you won’t want one that pulls less than 6,500 pounds unless you don’t plan on pulling anything heavy-duty.

Accessibility

winch accessories

Here’s another area that deserves a little extra investment on your part. You’ll find plenty of truck winches that don’t come with the accessories which make it easier to use. High-quality models feature a spool in the drum and remote controllers to operate the winch. You should also receive detailed manuals so you know how to run your new winch properly.

Installing the Winch on a Truck

Once you’ve chosen the best truck winch, you’ll want to know how to install it. We can’t stress enough how critical it is that you install the winch properly. Not only could you damage the winch and your vehicle, but you could hurt someone if it’s not done correctly.

The Four Wheeler Network offers some great advice if you want to get in-depth, but the simple steps are as follows:

1 – Locate the spot on your front bumper where you want to mount it.

2 – Mount your winch onto your bumper. Make sure it’s secure.

3 – Connect the wire to your battery or another power source.

4 – Install the power switch.

5 – Pretension your wire inside the truck winch.

6 – Ensure that the cable is tightly spooled on the drum. Some come with the cable already spooled, and other models require you do it yourself.

If your truck bumper doesn’t have a hitch available, you’ll need to purchase a winch bumper. You’ll also want to make sure you have a decently powered battery to handle your winch.

Truck Winch Safety Tips

We care about your safety. When using a truck winch, there are a lot of factors that could go wrong. Winches attached to your front bumper and hooked into your battery leave a lot of things to consider. When you’re pulling things of extreme weights, you face numerous safety hazards. It only takes a second for the cable to snap or something else to come loose. In a split second, you could suffer injury.

Here are just a few safety tips you’ll want to keep in mind when you operate your pickup truck winch.

  • Don’t climb on or step over the cable while tensioned.
  • Always examine your cable, clamps, and winch before using it.
  • Utilize someone operating the winch and have another person observe for any signs that something’s wrong.
  • Make sure your winch remote isn’t located near the drum.
  • Make sure that there’s no one standing near the winch or towed object just in case something should break.

While you can’t totally prevent accidents from occurring, these steps help you to protect yourself, others, and the property around you.

Our Favorite Truck Winches

While there are many more options available, we’ve put together this list of the top ten truck winches available on the market right now. Make sure you review all the features of each option to determine which one will work best for you.

1. Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch

Superwinch LP10000 Winch

This portable truck winch is part of Superwinch which has become a popular option for an off-road truck winch. It isn’t just meant for off-road vehicles, but also helpful when used on a boat or car trailer. With this winch, you can lift up to 5,000 pounds on a single rope.

This system comes with a 5.1-horsepower motor and 85 feet of steel rope. In addition, it features automatic load holding which increases the safety while you pull. There’s also a mechanical brake system which locks your cable to prevent an accident if the power fails.

You can also perform wireless operations at a safe distance because of the rubberized remote and 12-foot cable that’s included. The only downside to this winch is that its roller fairlead is constructed from plastic. This winch is good for anyone that needs a budget-friendly option that still features decent lifting capacity.

2. LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch

LD12-ELITE Winch

This winch doesn’t offer quite as many reviews as some of the others you’ll see on the list, but it’s well worth a second look. It’s capable of pulling heavy trucks from mud, rescuing SUVs from holes, and saving the day when anything is stuck. This winch features a durable wire rope that’s abrasion-resistant. That helps you to move large trees or logs.

In addition, it comes with a series-wound motor which delivers consistent torque and power. This allows you to work without having to pause and cool your machine down. There’s also an automatic brake included which prevents your rope from sliding when you’re not using it.

There’s an included remote that offers a 75-inch range. The only caution we give about this low-budget truck winch is that there aren’t many directions included. If you’re a pro, you should have no trouble. With that said, we can’t recommend this option to beginner users because it might be difficult figuring out what to do on your own.

3. Yescom 10000 lb 12V 5.5HP Electric Recovery Winch

Yescom 10000 lb Electric Recovery Winch

Here’s another low-cost truck winch that might be everything you need. Considering the wireless function works from 12-feet away, this is a unique option. It’s rated at 10,000 pounds, so pulling out a 5,000-pound vehicle should never be an issue.

There’s a free spool and four-way roller fairlead that work together seamlessly. The wire ropes also won’t tear because of friction. With the automatic brakes, the wire ropes get locked when you aren’t using them.

You’ll find that the unit’s connectors remain housed in the wear-resistant, solid casing which helps to further extend their lifespan. You won’t find that this works as one of the top of the line models, but you shouldn’t overlook its capability. For the price, few winches beat it.

4. Vortex 8000 LB Pound Recovery Winch

Vortex 8000 LB Pound Recovery Winch

When you need a winch for a truck, but your budget is limited, this option from Vortex might be the way to go. This isn’t your perfect winch, but it works and won’t let you down. With that said, installation is a bear. You will spend a little longer getting this winch hooked up than most of them.

What it does have going for it is that this machine cools down every few minutes, works fast, and performs well wirelessly. The single line is rated to pull 8,000 pounds, so there’s plenty of torque to grab anything stuck in the mud. It also features a decent 5.5 horsepower motor and is covered by a one-year warranty. Not bad considering the low price you’ll pay to purchase this winch.

5. Smittybilt 98510 X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch

Smittybilt Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch

Now we get to some of the bigger names in the industry. Of course, buying a brand like Smittybilt means you’re going to pay more. Unlike many of the others we reviewed so far, this winch comes with an IP68 waterproof rating. This means that even using it in downpours won’t cause it to get damaged.

In addition, its wireless function allows a strong edge when compared to winches in the same price range. You’ll pull out any truck or SUV without trouble. The rubberized remote is also waterproof. While this winch isn’t perfect, it does offer superior durability and is constructed from high-quality materials. Yes, you will pay more to buy this model, but the free spooling is smooth and it won’t wear out due to the elements. With this in mind, this winch should last you longer than many of the budget-friendly options.

6. Rugged Ridge 15100.01 8,500Lb Winch with Steel Cable

Rugged Ridge Winch with Steel Cable

If you need a tow truck winch, you’ll find that this Rugged Ridge remains one of the most powerful on the market. The additional pulling power is worth every penny you invest, which quite frankly, isn’t that much. You won’t need to worry about pulling out vehicles that are stuck in muddy terrain or a pit of sand.

On top of that, no matter what weather you use it in, nothing is going to rust. This winch stands up to some of the toughest abuse and just keeps going. It does come with a durable 5.5 horsepower motor and three-stage planetary gearbox. The installation kit comes with everything you need and it doesn’t take long to get the unit setup.

Another important addition to this winch is the 94 feet of steel cable. What’s interesting about this premium unit is that even though they’ve supplied every quality needed on your top-of-the-line model like an automatic load holding brake system, it doesn’t cost a fortune. You can spend a minimal amount and feel like you own the best truck winch around. Why not save a little extra dough for something else?

7. Warn 89305 ZEON 8-S Winch with Synthetic Rope

Warn ZEON 8-S WinchDon’t let the price of this winch scare you away; it’s worth every penny. This truck winch is top of the leaderboard because of all the features you’ll receive. It comes with a convertible control pack which allows you to mount your winch in any way you please.

Of course, if you are only looking to use this winch rarely, it might not be worth the additional cost to you. This is your regularly-used truck winch that likes to be played with. Take it with you for off-road adventures and you’ll find that it might save you from a multitude of trouble.

The powder-coated housing is made from aluminum and the parts are constructed from stainless steel. These keep the winch from damage due to weather and abuse. While the installation is simple, some vehicles will require a Warn bumper in order to fit this properly. If you need to get the gear mounted in a tight area, you might also need a relocation kit.

8. Warn 86260 VR12000 12,000 lb Winch

Warn 86260 VR12000 Winch

If you want to use a Warn, but don’t want to spend as much as the last option, this is a better choice for you. It’s considered to be their flagship model and the low-profile styling will certainly catch your eye. When installed properly, this winch features a solid fit and compact structure. It even comes with a 12-foot lead on the remote control.

This tow winch is rated at 12,000 pounds plus offers all the torque and power you need. It even comes with a Spydura synthetic rope for a strong, durable, and safe addition. Not only that, but it also comes with a reliable, smooth three-stage planetary geartrain and exclusive brake design to offer superior control.

9. Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5

Considering this winch is rated at 9,500 pounds, it’s a serious contender to many of the more expensive models out there. Even the design of it, makes it appear as if it is a more expensive truck winch. With the durable construction, you’ll be able to subject it to rough conditions and many abuses without the fear of hurting it.

This winch was specially designed to haul heavy-duty trucks and SUVs out of stuck situations without breaking a sweat. It also comes with synthetic ropes which are more durable than cables. You’ll find that the handle is also durable and provides a firm grip during operation. The 5.2 horsepower motor is weather-sealed and won’t receive any damage from the dust, snow, or rain blowing in. On top of that, this unit comes with a 12-foot rubber handheld remote for versatility.

10. Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch

Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch

The last one on our list is another 9,500-rated winch, but this time from Smittybilt. You’ll find that many Jeep owners prefer this model and like the lower cost as well. Don’t let the low price throw you off track; this winch utilizes a 6.6 horsepower motor. That’s powerful enough to haul even heavy-duty vehicles.

Users also regularly comment on how easy the installation is. With the three-stage planetary gear system, your motor receives less stress which helps it to last longer. That’s also why winching won’t require an extraordinary amount of effort.

With an IP67 waterproof rating, you can drive under any condition without worrying about hurting the winch. Despite the low price, this kit comes with everything you need for installation. They also offer a lifetime warranty on all the stainless steel components and a five-year warranty on the powder-coated parts. After three years, the replacement cost is warrantied for 50%. You can’t really go wrong with this purchase.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when searching for the best truck winch. You have to evaluate the power, materials, and various features before you settle on the winch you’ll use. Take your time to evaluate all the options and don’t rush into a decision. After all, this piece of equipment might get you out of a jam one day, and you won’t want to wish you purchased something else.

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Brian Jones
About Brian Jones

I am an ASE Certified Master Tech, but spend more time with my awesome family now than I do on cars. In my spare time, you'll still find me playing with tools, cars and many other "manly" gadgets.

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