Last year, I bought a Badland 12,000-pound winch. My wife and I were living in Unicoi, Tennessee, which is in east Tennessee. We went up to the mountain two days after installing the winch to look for a place to hunt that year. We drove up some logging roads and got off-road with my ’89 Dodge Ramcharger. What a tank. We got in quite a ways and started to turn around when we discovered there was no four-wheel drive. Oh boy. What a long walk that would have been if we didn't have the winch. I told my wife to take the strap and wrap it around this tree about 40 feet away. I pulled the winch cable out and hooked it to the strap. Told my wife to get in the Dodge and put it in Neutral and steer while I operated the winch. Well, the winch pulled that truck out from where it was stuck, and we were on our way again. On another note, cellphones don’t work in that area so that was not an option to call someone. However, we are ham radio folks, and if needed, we could get in touch with someone if needed. Best money I ever spent is on the winch.
Having owned two Warn winches (8274 and 9.5ti) in 38 years of four-wheeling, moving them from vehicle to vehicle starting with a ’78 Chevy short wheelbase 400ci standard cab 1/2-ton full-time 4X4 pickup, through an ’87 GMC 3/4-ton 4X4 Suburban to an ’03 Ford F-350 FX4 crew cab, I can tell you one thing for sure. A winch is the second most valuable piece of safety equipment you can own. The most valuable piece of safety equipment? Your brain. I've recovered many rookie and veteran four-wheelers in the backcountry over the years, so many I can’t even remember the number anymore. The one thing I do remember though, is the giant smiles on the faces of those stuck and in trouble when I approached them on the trail with those big beautiful Warn winches mounted on the front of any of my rigs.
I’ve been wheeling for well more than 40 years, and I’ve seen winches used in many wrong ways. I’ve seen guys winch until the winch’s motor dies from either overheating or a dead battery, I’ve seen the cable snap rollers off the fairlead due to ridiculous angled pulls (when not necessary), and I’ve seen single line pulls in really tough recoveries when a double line pull would’ve been much easier on the equipment. A winch is a tool, a very wonderful tool, and it must be used correctly. I appreciated the “Winching Dos & Don’ts” (Feb. ’17) story, which talked about winch safety, another important aspect of winching.
Bought my winch right after I bought my Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, and I’m glad I did. It’s just an inexpensive unit and slower than molasses in January here in North Dakota, but it has saved my ass a number of times. You guys need to do another winch shootout. It’s been awhile.
I like slow winches. It gives me time to ponder my next stupid move.
I was in the middle of a long winch pull up a slimy hill in Tellico (when Tellico was still open), and I had the controller in my left hand. I dropped the controller out the window and ran over it with my Jeep. My ignorant buddies thought that was hilarious.
In the Feb. ’17 Firing Order column you talk about winches and talk about owning a winch for a long time. I’ve owned my Warn for more than 10 years, and I will never sell it. Even if I get rid of my Tacoma, I will keep the winch and put it on my next 4x4.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in with winch experiences and comments. Although we can’t publish every note and comment, we enjoyed hearing your winch stories and it’s given us a couple ideas for future winch tech stories and tests.