A Different Pull-osophy: Looking at Winching From a Different Direction
A Different Pull-osophy
From the jobsite to the trailhead, front-mounted winches are rather popular. You can even walk away from a Ram dealership with a Power Wagon hiding a 12,000-pound winch behind the front bumper. There is, however, a problem with front winches—they only perform their duties in the front of the vehicle. Since a big part of four-wheeling is problem solving, read on, and let’s solve this winching dilemma by looking at it from a different direction.
Front-Winch WoesImagine this scenario. Though wheeling alone is not something we recommend, it happens. The cold winter night is falling and that quick backwoods shortcut that was supposed to shave minutes off your trip has turned to mud. Your rig inevitably takes a nosedive into a snow-covered, sludgy chasm of a mudhole such that no combination of locked differentials, 4-Lo, or horsepower has a chance at budging it forward or back. The icy quagmire is headlamp-deep around the rig’s front quarter, and your trusty winch is sunk like the Titanic beneath the murky surface. Faced with the prospect of twisting the frozen freespool lever and fishing for the submerged winch hook, questions arise.
Can someone pull the rig out from the rear using shackles and a recovery strap? At this hour, with this poor phone reception, chances are slim. Is winching forward through the muck even a good idea? The remainder of the shortcut could still be a gooey minefield, offering more chances at getting stuck, even if you escape the current hole. A winch on the backside of the 4x4 sure seems like a dandy idea now.
Rear-Winch BumperWant a winch in the rear of your rig? Mount it just like you would in the front—using a winch bumper. These configurations keep the winch snug against the vehicle and protected from damage, while still allowing for a pull when it’s needed. Weight and cost, however, might need to be considered. The weight of the winch combined with the bumper can tax the rig’s suspension, and all bumpers come at a price. One option is the Stealth Rear Winch Bumper from Road Armor. It comes fit for many popular fullsize trucks and is a stylish way to mount and protect a winch on the back of your vehicle. Olympic 4x4 Products designed the Smuggler bumper to fit ’07-’17 Jeep Wranglers. The bumper weighs 236 pounds and can be purchased with or without the Dual Directional Tire Carrier.
Winch CradlesBridging the gap between front- and rear-mounted winches is the winch cradle. With most made to fit standard 2-inch receivers, the winch remains bolted to the cradle, and it can be moved between the front and back of the vehicle as desired. With the winch cradle installed, the approach and departure angles of your vehicle will be decreased, and care must be taken to avoid running the winch into obstacles. Also remember that winches are not lightweight, and moving a cradled winch between bumpers and storage can be tiresome, maybe even dangerous in mud or snow. Lastly, the winch cradle creates an inherent weak point between the winch and your rig’s frame. Pulling from an angle (which is not advised, even with bumper-mounted winches), can bend the cradle.
The Multi-Mount from Warn accepts a variety of the company’s winches (Warn Power Plant is shown here) and can be outfitted with a 7.5-foot power lead, hawse fairlead, and Quick Connect power plug. The Multi-Mount is said to fit standard 2-inch receivers.
Smittybilt adds sleek storage to the winch cradle concept with the XRC Black Box. The cradle accepts up to a 12,000-pound winch and is supplemented by three separate lockable storage compartments for recovery straps, gloves, and tools. The Black Box also features a pair of D-ring shackles and forward-facing lights, and it is said to fit standard 2-inch receivers.