Best Winch Reviews 2018

We know it might be tedious to pick a winch out of the whole lot available, which is why we decided to do that for you. We have researched the different brands out there and came up with the best winches from top five brands (with different prices and capabilities). Take a look at the list and see if you’ll find the one for you; if not, don’t worry. These brands have other winches you can check out, so you’ll definitely find the right one.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Type
Size
Load Capacity
Motor power
Warranty
Our Top Choice
Smittybilt XRC 12,000lbs Winch
Smittybilt is well-known for manufacturing top-quality, heavy-duty, and functional truck and SUV accessories.
It’s strong and works smoothly while serving its purpose. It’s also easy to install, affordable for its quality, and is waterproof.
Doesn’t have a wireless remote.
Corded
22.3x6.4x9.4 inches; 83 pounds
12000 pounds
6.6 horsepower
Available on request
Best Value
Superwinch Terra SeriesWinch
Superwinch develops and manufactures high-quality and top-performance winches, hoists, and supporting accessories.
It has a powerful motor that operates smoothly, the steel drum is adequate for synthetic rope, it’s easy to install, and it operates quietly.
Isolated complaint that the circuit breaker is too exposed and you have to prevent it from coming in contact with metal.
Handheld remote
13.4x4.5x4.8 inches; 20.1 pounds
3500 pounds
1.6 horsepower
Available on request
Warn Zeon Corded Winch Kit
WARN designs and manufactures a wide range of off-road equipment and accessories that enhance the performance of four-wheel-drives, ATVs, and utility vehicles.
It’s built with sturdy parts, is easy to install, has a large drum for reduced rope wear, and an integrated anchor point for easy rope replacement.
Isolated complaints that it’s difficult to get the line threaded.
Corded
28x18.2x16 inches; 118 pounds
8000 pounds
0.01609 horsepower
Available on request
Rugged Ridge Heavy Duty Off Road Winch
Since 1995, Rugged Ridge has been developing and selling SUV parts and accessories that are innovatively designed and have superior functionality.
It’s built tough and durable, its automatic load holding makes it safe to use, it’s easy to install, has a lot of pull power, and comes with anti-rust parts.
Isolated complaints that you might need a bigger alternator if you use it very often.
Winch with steel cable
26x12.5x10 inches; 85 pounds
8500 pounds
5.5 horsepower
5-year limited warranty
Champion Power Equipment Winch Kit
Champion has years of experience manufacturing top-quality and durable power equipment designed and engineered for high performance.
It’s heavy-duty, durable, easy to install, and comes with a manual. Its wireless remote allows you to operate from a safe distance. It has a powerful line pull.
Isolated complaint that winch doesn’t pull well from the side.
Wireless remote
17x14.5x9.5 inches; 31.9 pounds
4500 pounds
1.6 horsepower
2-year limited warranty

(Updated )
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How Do I Choose the Best Winch?

As an enthusiast, it’s serious fun driving around a rugged terrain on a sunny day. Until your all-wheel-drive automobile gets stuck in a rut. Then you suddenly realize how important it is to have a winch to pull your ride out with, unlike changing your car tires which you can easily do by yourself, especially since all the tools you need come with the car by default. You have to buy a winch that you can easily install on your ride.

You might have been lucky to be riding along with your buddy who has a winch installed and wants to help, but you quickly realize that your truck is way heavier than the winch's maximum capacity. The best winches are built tough, but there's a limit to the weight they can pull, just like floor jacks have a limit to the weight they can lift.

Just at that moment, another friend gets to the scene with his monster truck with a bigger winch installed. You hook up your ride to his harness, and you're there staring at him sitting atop his truck, wondering when he'll come down and start the winch. Just then, you hear your truck buck and start rolling out of the pool of mud. You turn back in amazement to inquire how he did it, and then you saw him waving you with the wireless remote he used to control the show. Happy to have your truck out, you're now faced with how to get the mud off your new seat cover, and more importantly, you also want to ensure you have the best winch for the next time you need it.

Here are the most important things to look for.
Price
Winches are heavy-duty equipment, so they have to be made with heavy-duty materials. The positioning of each component has to be precise for it to work well, requiring highly skilled professionals. The higher the capacity of a winch, the bigger and more sophisticated the motor that powers it (as well as other technicalities involved). These are some of the reasons behind the pricing of winches.

There are winches available for well over $1000, and there are some modestly priced ones, a little over $200, with great quality but with less features and capacity compared to the more expensive ones. There are also cheap winches we stumbled upon during our research. Don't bother about those ones. If you're looking for winches that will break apart after two uses, our review is not where you will find them. Winches are meant to be durable, and the ones presented in our review are.
Features
The features of your winch determine if it’s a good buy or not. Those who use winches for their business know that a winch can determine if you complete a job or not. What a winch is capable of gives one advantage over another, and also determines what application it’s best suited for. The following are features to look out for when getting a good winch:
  • Construction material
  • Ease of installation
  • Drivetrain
  • Pull capacity
  • Output power
  • Type and length of cable
  • Mounting method
  • Drum type and size
  • Waterproof rating
  • Pulling speed
Construction and Design
Winches come with either a permanent magnet (PM) or series wound (SW) motor. PM motors generally cost less and require smaller amounts of power. A winch fitted with this type of motor is recommended for the occasional user. One downside, however, is that it loses power in extremely low temperatures. SW motors, on the other hand, are fashioned to take abuse and tolerate heat. Winches with this type of motor are highly recommended for heavy-duty users who frequent cold areas.

The effect of the winch’s drivetrain is most evident in the line speed - the speed at which the winch pulls. There are three main types: the spur gear, worm gear, and planetary gear.

Spur gears use a pair of gears for operation, a big one on the motor shaft, and a smaller one on the winch shaft. They have fast line speeds but low internal gear friction, and they don’t require a strong brake to hold the load. This type of gear is now rarely used. The worm gear is connected to the winch motor via spur gears, which provide extra gear reduction. They are very good at load holding and their drivetrains are usually robust, which makes them popular among tow trucks. The planetary gears are the most popular in today's market because they strike a balance in drivetrain friction and amp draw. This gear system is similar to the type used in automatic transmission cars. They are light, compact, and more affordable.
Performance and Ease of Use
The benefits of a winch start from the ease of installation. Some require you to drill holes on your car to mount, some do not. There are others that are built for particular types of vehicles, which makes installation sometimes as easy as screwing the winch to some parts of the vehicle.

Even though winches are tough, heavily-built equipment, they still require some form of attention. The moving parts need to be cleaned and greased. Also, the load holding capability of winches makes them safe to use, and some winches use wide gears to more evenly distribute the load. Worm gear systems are especially good for load holding.

Most winch designs have remote controls, but they usually have cords. There are also some with a wireless remote which allows you to keep a safe distance while you operate. Winches use wire rope made of carbon steel strands, which usually come in seven bundles of 19 strands (i.e. 7 x 19). The wire strands are more resistant to abrasion and are the standard issue.

Synthetic winch ropes are newer and are only available with few premium winch packages. They can be purchased as a standalone, though, which will make for a great upgrade for your older winches. Synthetic ropes are light, strong, and will float in water; but they are susceptible to chafing and have a high initial cost.

What is the Best Winch?

There are lots of features and options available for winches, and knowing the right combination might be tricky. But now that you’ve read through our buying guide, we hope you now know what’s most important to you in your situation. Just keep them in mind as you go through our individual reviews of brands/products. It’s our hope that you find the right winch that will cater to all your needs, within your budget.
Our Top Choice
The Smittybilt XRC Winch has a 6.6HP amphibious motor and 3 planetary stage gear system to sustain its 12000-pound load capacity. It has stainless steel hardware with a steel cable. If you don’t require that much load capacity, you can try out the Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch which has a 9500-pound capacity.
Smittybilt XRC Winch with 12000 lb. Load Capacity

Smittybilt Winch 97412


Features
Smittybilt originally started with the aim of creating 4-wheel drive equipment for trucks and SUVs. Over the years, it started making innovative products aimed at the growing off-road aftermarket industry. It created the original Nerf Bar - tabular front and rear bumpers for SUVs. With focus on quality and innovation, Smittybilt now has thousands of dealers and distributors worldwide selling its superior-quality truck and SUV accessories.

The Smittybilt XRC Winch (Suggested Retail Price: $399.99) has a 6.6 Horse Power amphibious motor and 3 planetary stage gear system to sustain its 12000-pound load capacity. This device is suitable for all sorts of heavy-duty vehicle towing with its aluminum fairlead and a state-of-the-art synthetic rope. Following are some other features of this heavy-duty winch:
  • Has an upgraded pulling power
  • 4-way roller fairlead
  • Steel cable rope
  • 3 solenoid mounting options
  • Large clutch lever
  • Upgraded line speed
  • Stainless steel hardware
  • Oversized aluminum crossbar
  • IP67 waterproof rating
  • Lifetime mechanical warranty and 3-year electrical warranty
Best Value
The Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 is built for strength and performance with a load capacity of 3500 pounds, and uses heavy-duty motors with wide gears that distribute load evenly. If you want a winch with a higher load capacity, then take a look at the Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch which has a 10000-pound load capacity.
Superwinch Terra Series High Efficiency Winch – Available in 6 Styles

Superwinch Winch 1135220 – Terra 35


Features
Superwinch makes a wide variety of high-quality products including electric winches, power drives, hydraulic winches, accessories, parts, and hubs that are sold to both the consumer and industrial markets. It’s one of the largest privately-owned designers, manufacturers, and marketers of winch systems and accessories in the world. It has a reputation of reliability and superior performance, which has given it loyal customers among off-road enthusiasts and industrial OEMs.

The Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 (Suggested Retail Price: $ 194.41) is built for strength and performance, and gives you a choice of either a synthetic rope or steel cable (you select which is right for you). This winch has a load capacity of 3500 pounds and uses the biggest and heaviest motors allowed by law. It uses wide gears that distribute the load evenly for better engagement and longer life. Here are other features that make this product great:
  • It uses steel cut gears
  • 1.3 Horse Power permanent magnet motor
  • 3-stage planetary gear
  • Free spooling and ergonomic control clutch
  • Sealed and circuit breaker protected solenoid
  • Automatic 100% load holding brake system
  • Heavy-duty clevis latch hook
  • Heavy duty 4-way roller fairlead
  • Sealed handheld remote
  • Limited lifetime warranty
The WARN ZEON 8 Multi Mount Winch allows you to mount it on the front or rear of your vehicle, giving you maximum flexibility. It has bolt-on mounting for easy installation. If you would like a winch with a lower capacity but of the same great quality, go for the Warn 89020 Vantage 2000 Winch which has a 2000-pound capacity.
Warn Zeon Winch Kit – Available in 10 Sizes

Warn Winch 90260 – Zeon 8 Multi-Mount


Features
Founded in 1948, WARN Industries got the idea of converting surplus World War 2 Jeeps into useful on-road vehicles. In 1959, it developed the first recreational winch which featured the rugged drive train, and consequently became the leading brand for off-road racers, four-wheelers, adventurers, and ranchers. WARN continued to make superior-quality winches that earned it a contract to supply the US military’s M-ATV program. It later launched the ZEON Platinum winch line which boasts to be the most technically-advanced winch in the market.

The WARN ZEON 8 Multi Mount Winch (Suggested Retail Price: $1147.22) is a technically-advanced winch that can be mounted on the front or rear of your vehicle, for maximum flexibility. Its mounting kit includes winch, hawse fairlead, carrier, and wiring for the front of the vehicle. It has the simple installation of adding the receiver to the front of the vehicle and the Quick Connect wiring to the rear. This winch has other features including the following:
  • It has 8000-pound load capacity
  • Automatic direct drive cone brake system
  • Freespool rotating gear clutch
  • 3-stage planetary gear train
  • Designed to spread load throughout vehicle frame
  • Bolt-on mounting kit
  • Cast-aluminum housing
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • IP68 waterproof rating
  • Large diameter winch drum reduces rope wear
  • Fast line speed with low amp draw
The Rugged Ridge 15100.01 Winch is a durable 5.5HP series with a wound motor for extra pulling power. It’s safe to use with the automatic load holding, which helps to reduce slippage. If you want a winch with the same features but a higher load capacity, then go for the Rugged Ridge 15100.10 Winch which has a 10500-pound capacity.
Rugged Ridge 8500 lbs. Heavy Duty Off Road Winch with Steel Cable

Rugged Ridge Winch 15100.01


Features
Rugged Ridge has the knowledge and experience to fill the gapping need in the 4-wheel drive market, as well as with off-road enthusiasts; and it’s doing so by developing and marketing superior-quality products and accessories for the teeming Jeep users out there. It has manufactured several patented products and accessories, including the Jeep floor liners, Jeep snorkel, and Jeep XHD modular bumpers. With so much confidence in its products, it gives 5-year and limited lifetime warranties on them.

The Rugged Ridge 15100.01 Winch (Suggested Retail Price: $440.99) is sturdy and durable, with a 5.5HP wound motor for long life and extra pulling power. It has a gearbox with a 172.8:1 gear ratio, delivering power, and reliability. It also includes a 94-foot, 5/16-inch diameter steel cable and latched hook to ensure a strong hold and adequate pull in any situation.

This winch is designed to be safe to use, with automatic load holding to reduce slippage in case of power failure. The solenoid box can be mounted in different positions for your convenience and it can accommodate most winch bumpers, including the Rugged Ridge XHD bumper system. The following is a list of some of its other features:
  • Automatic load holding brake system
  • Comes with a light mount roller fairlead
  • Built with tough corrosion-resistant stainless hardware
  • Rugged 3-stage planetary gearbox
  • Fairlead allows for easy no-drill mounting of up to 2 off-road lights
  • 8500-pound line-pull capacity
  • Shift pin ring gear clutch
  • Integrated solenoid module
  • 12-foot all-weather cable remote switch
  • 5-year limited warranty against manufacture defects
The Champion 14560 Winch is wireless-operated and provides powerful winching for your vehicles. Its 4500-pound capacity gives you great performance in any situation it’s required. If you require a lower capacity and power (resulting in reduced cost) but the same great quality, then go for the Champion 13004 Winch Kit which has a 3000-pound capacity and 1HP.
Champion Power Equipment 4500 lb. ATV/UTV Wireless Winch Kit

Champion Power Equipment Winch 14560


Features
Since 2003, Champion Power Equipment has earned a reputation for designing and producing some of the finest quality power equipment. Its product line has expanded to include portable generators, home standby generators, inverter generators, engines, winches, and log splitters. With certified Champion Power Equipment technicians in both the US and Canada, you’re guaranteed to get great after-sales service and customer support.

The Champion 14560 Winch (Suggested Retail Price: $167.99) is a wireless winch that provides powerful and reliable winching for your ATVs and UTVs. Its 4500-pound rated pull capacity gives you reliable performance in whatever situation you require winching. Its wireless remote allows you to carry out your winching operations from a safe distance. The following are some other cool features of this high-quality winch:
  • 38-foot 15/64 inch galvanized heavy-duty aircraft cable
  • Efficient planetary gear system
  • Comes with a 4-way roller fairlead
  • 1.3HP (12V DC) permanent magnet motor
  • Ergonomic handle, bar-mounted remote control
  • Dynamic braking system with 180:1 gear reduction ratio
  • Cam action free spooling clutch
  • Sturdy latched clevis hook
  • Mountable rocker switch
  • Solenoid contactor
  • 2-year limited warranty and lifetime technical support

Get the Best Winch of 2018!

We hope we were able to save you a lot of stress by researching winches for you. We also hope that you now have the information you need to decide which winch is best for you. In that case, go ahead and make your purchase with confidence.

Our Top Choice
Smittybilt XRC 12,000lbs Winch
Best Value
Superwinch Terra SeriesWinch
Warn Zeon Corded Winch Kit
Rugged Ridge Heavy Duty Off Road Winch
Champion Power Equipment Winch Kit