With synthetic rope, you must use a hawse fairlead, such as the aluminum Smittybilt unit s
There are more winch companies and models today than literally any other time in history. That means a lot of choices, a lot of competition driving prices down, and a lot of comparison shopping once you decide it’s time to take your off-road adventures to the level that requires a winch.
We’ve already talked about how to select an appropriate line pull for your vehicle. The rest is series of trade-offs. A fast line speed is generally desirable, but that has to be weighed against cost within the winches that meet your weight-rating requirement. Warn also upped the ante last year with the introduction of the PowerPlant Dual Force, which includes an air compressor in the winch package.
The bottom line is that you should always choose a winch that will deliver the performance you need. Once you decide what that need is, there are quite a range of choices to fit what you want.
The Warn PowerPlant makes use of the winch’s electric motor to drive an integrated air com
Sweat the Technique: 12 Winching Tips for Safety
Proper use and maintenance of your winch is the subject of a whole separate story (we could write a book about it), but whenever you are out on the trail, always keep these minimum basics in mind:
Always wear leather gloves when handling cable, even synthetic winch line.
Keep hands well away from the fairlead and cable drum.
Double-check that the winch hook, shackles and clevis are fastened securely before applying power.
Keep spectators at least 50 feet away and to the side of the winching procedures.
Always place a winch weight over the cable midway point to act as a damper should the cable come loose under load; this is a good idea with synthetic line as well as steel cable.
Never stand beside the winch when it’s operating—you’re in the line of fire if the cable breaks.
Nearly all recreational winches come with a wired remote, with a rocker switch to power th
Be sure the attachment points on the vehicle being winched are strong and will not be damaged during retrieval.
Never attach a winch cable to a tow ball.
Never start winching with less than three cable wraps on the drum. Fewer winds could let the cable pull loose from the drum.
For long recoveries, don’t try to get out in one continuous pull. Winch in short intervals to keep the winch motor cool.
Always inspect your cable prior to winching to ensure there are no frays or kinks.
Never stand or walk behind a vehicle being winched uphill.
The $400 Question
The question of the year regarding winches is whether or not to trust one of the many winches now entering the market at a price much lower than traditional winch prices. For less than $400, you can now buy an 8,000- or 8,500-pound winch. That’s half of what you would have expected to pay just a couple of years ago.
The Smittybilt XRC10 that we tested for this article sells for $400 (at time of print) from several retailers, and we were skeptical of what we would find. As you might expect, the winch is made in China. Also as you would expect, the touch and feel of materials is not the same quality as a more expensive winch. The other difference we noticed is that we got to do some of the wiring of the winch ourselves during the installation, while other winches come completely wired and simply need to be connected to the vehicle battery.
We used the XRC10 winch to extract a few vehicles, including ours. The first time we used it, we called for technical support because we weren’t getting any action when we pushed the switch. The Smittybilt winches require you to plug the controller in and twist it a quarter turn to lock it in place. Then it works fine. This is a design decision, not a factor in the cost of the winch, but we thought you’d like to know.
The line speed is much slower than a winch costing twice as much, but that’s the only complaint we can register from using the XRC10. The winch worked fine every time we called on it, and the controls are easy to use. These ultra-low priced winches are new, so only time can tell how durable they will prove to be. These low-priced winches completely remove the price barrier that traditionally has kept a large part of the 4x4 market from purchasing one.
1600 North Garnett Road
12900 S.E. Capps Road
Optima Batteries, Inc.
5757 N. Green Bay Ave.
400 W. Artesia Blvd.