Top 7 Best Truck Winches in The Market To Pick In 2018

If you own a truck, a winch should be one of the essential upgrades you need to include on your list of MUST have. If you get the best truck winch, it will be able to provide you with recovery support in getting your truck out of sand and rocks in case it becomes stuck. It has line that is synthetic or a wire rope which is spooled out and mounting location latched like a boulder or a tree to provide pulling leverage your truck out of a jam. A winch can also become necessary in pulling your truck out of fording deep muddy waters.

truck Winch

Comparison Of Truck Winches

Product

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1. Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch

Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch - 9500 lb. Load Capacity

2. Yescom 12000 lb 12V Winch

Yescom 8000 lb 12V Recovery Winch Truck Trailer ATV SUV 5.5HP Electric Towing Mount

3. Smittybilt 97510 Waterproof Winch

Smittybilt 97510 X 2O Waterproof Winch - 10000 lb. Load Capacity

4. Superwinch 1511201 Winch

Superwinch 1511201 Tiger Shark 12V Winch with Aluminum Hawse and Synthetic Rope - 11500 lb. Load Capacity

5. WARN 86260 Winch

WARN 86260 VR12000 12,000 lb Winch

6. Champion 4500lb Winch

Champion 4500-lb. ATV/UTV Wireless Winch Kit

7. LD12 Elite Electric Winch – Heavy Duty

Product Review

1. Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch

It has a pull strength of 9500 pounds which is more than enough to haul your truck out of the mud. It has a strong motor rated at 6.6 horsepower and a gear system which enables the horsepower to be translated to raw pulling strength.

The motor is waterproof and this is key when it comes to hauling in water. It doesn’t matter how deep you sink because, the gear and motor system, keeping the wet out and thus, you will definitely come out of the mud alive.

It has a corded remote, giving you a good shot at operating your winch without having to tread water. It is an electric winch that seems to have a strong pulling capacity with an installation that is straightforward.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • It is waterproof
  • Strong motor capacity
  • Powder-coated
  • It comes with a warranty
  • The multi-gear system

Cons

  • Not durable
  • Replacement takes long

2. Yescom 12000 lb 12V Winch

It is an electric winch that has an automatic braking action, three-stage planetary gear train, has a handheld corded remote switch, power in and out, free spooling clutch, and a 4-way roller fairlead.

The automatic breaking is located in the drum and it will be responsible for locking rope wire and stop the pull when the button on the winch is released. It has casings for connectors that are extra protective which makes it possible for low wear out and safety. The custom gaskets ensure that it seals up critical inner components from debris and water infiltration.

Pros

  • The three-stage planetary gear efficiency helps to offer powerful horsepower.
  • The connection is made using a rope wire, which is allowed by the free spooling clutch to be pulled out without the use of electric power.
  • The rope is guided onto the drum evenly by the 4-way roller fairlead.
  • When you release the button on the switch, the automatic braking in the drum will stop pulling and rope wire will be locked.
  • Comes with some extra protective casing for connectors for extra security.

Cons

  • Warranty is limited
  • Gloves not good quality

3. Smittybilt 97510 Waterproof Winch

It has been enhanced in almost every area in order to increase performance and trouble-free operation. It features 6.6 HP motor which is completely sealed together with a 3 stage planetary gear system.

It has a 500AMP waterproof solenoid pack which can be mounted in two different locations depending on your type of application needs. It also includes a new controller which is wired to the winch or unplugged for a wireless operation which is trouble-free. 

The gear ratio is optimized, delivering lightning fast line speeds. It is covered by a lifetime warranty which will likely provide you with peace of mind and unparalleled performance. It has a 3-year warranty on electrical and the mechanical warranty is the one which is a lifetime.

Pros

  • A strong motor
  • 3 stage planetary gear system
  • It is waterproof
  • The gear ratio is optimized to deliver fast line speed
  • It has a lifetime warranty on mechanical and 3-year warranty on electrical

Cons

  • Made in China
  • Not good value for money

4. Superwinch 1511201 Winch

When you purchase it, it comes loaded with aluminum hawse, a synthetic rope, stainless steel hardware, severe duty textured finish which resist harsh offroad and outdoor, sealed submersible contactor solenoid, ultra-tough 3 stage planetary gearbox that handles stress and torque demand, automatic load holding brake design is located on the end of the motor away from the center of the drum to eliminate heat transfer to the synthetic rope, and the egornomic lift and pull free spool lever which will stop trail debris from entering your winch during off-road encounters which are vigorous.

Pros

  • The motor is weather sealed
  • It has a strong motor of 6.0 HP
  • The solenoid is weather sealed
  • The remote is heavy duty and it is handheld
  • Effortless switching
  • Aluminum fairlead and synthetic rope
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Banned in some states in the USA due to health hazards it is likely to cause
  • Doesn’t have a cable tensioner

5. WARN 86260 Winch

It might be one of the best winches on the market with a commendable 12000lb capacity. That is the reason why I decided to buy it for my truck and I have never regretted my decision.

Its low profile makes it suitable for most trucks and SUVs. Its brake is designed to give superior winch control whatever the circumstance you find yourself in. The remote control is rubberized and ergonomic with a pistol grip handle and leads that is 12ft that makes it an essential addition. This will make it possible for you to utilize the winch even when under extreme circumstances.

It has an improved sealing, which allows it to be mud resistant and ultra weather. It is reliable, smooth, and durable due to its 3 stage planetary gear train that will make it possible for you to get out of any trouble you get with your truck. You will get the work done at an affordable price and thus, if you are on a tight budget and yet looking for a winch, you can consider buying it.

For mounting options, it comes with a separate control pack to choose from and a series of the motor which will provide you with a lot of fast line speed and power if the need arises. To crown it all, it has a limited lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Good quality
  • Works great
  • Fits well
  • An ergonomic remote control
  • High power

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a winch plate
  • The manual is not comprehensive

6. Champion 4500lb Winch

I consider it to be one of the most powerful winches available in the market that boasts of 4500lb that is powered by a 12V battery that you can use to rescue your truck or whatever ATV and UTV that you own due to its reliable power.

The dynamic braking system and planetary gears operating on a ratio of 180:1. It has a galvanized aircraft grade cable with a roller fairlead, cables, wireless remote control, a mounting channel, and a mini locker switch.

It has a permanent housing with magnetic motors which will definitely give your winch the power. You will also find features like a rugged clevis hook and a spooling clutch with the purchase of this winch. It comes with a two-year limited warranty on bonus accessories and parts.

Pros

  • Efficient and planetary dynamic braking system
  • It has a rocker switch that is mountable.
  • Comes with a 2-year warranty and technical support that is limited
  • Comes with a wireless remote control
  • Heavy duty power contractor inbuilt in the winch

Cons

  • It frequently overheats

7. LD12 Elite Electric Winch – Heavy Duty

It is an electric winch rated for a single line pull of up to 12000 pounds. You need a 12V direct current to the motor to give you a maximum torque. It allows for consistent power through the duty cycle, unlike the magnet motors which normally falter when they heat up.

Its motor is reversible and thus, the cable can be wound in or out. The three-stage planetary gear system of this winch enables it to offer efficient, smooth operation to eliminate wear and slippage.

It has a lever on top to allow for easy disengaging and engaging from the drum. When the drum is disengaged, it will free spool which means that you can pull the rope without the motor. When the drum is engaged, it means that it is secured to the motor using sliding ring clutch gear.

It has an automatic braking system which locks the rope in its place to hold the rope when power is not applied. The rope is abrasion resistant, extremely durable, aircraft quality wire. The roll fairleads use c-clips and wave washers to secure the rollers.

A hand-held wired remote control allows the line in and line out controls to be operated at a distance. Included also is a wireless controller with battery. It is a winch which is easy to install.

Pros

  • Slacking a free spooling prevented by the automatic braking system.
  • Has a wireless and wired remote control
  • It is easy to install
  • The motor is powerful
  • The rope is abrasion resistant

Cons

  • The battery drains very fast
  • Clutch not strong

The Benefits of a Good Winch

A winch is an important insurance for your truck. When you find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere and you realize that there is no one to help you pull your truck from the mud or climb up the hill, a winch will really save the day.

How to Choose The Truck Winch

Before you purchase your first winch, it is important too, first of all, to be able to consider how you are going to mount it on your truck. There are three popular ways in which to mount your winch which include:

1.Bumper Mounted Winch

It is the simplest method to mount your winch. You will keep your stock bumper and the winch will be bolted to the top of your off-road bumper. The winch will come with all the instructions for installation hardware and brackets. It is very straightforward.

2.Multi-mounted winch

It is more complex as compared to the bumper mounted winch. You will mount your winch on the carrier first and later you will mount it to a receiver that is attached to the bumper. It is less durable due to the mounting point.

3.Winch Bumper

The winch plate is built right on the bumper. The mounting will be very strong and capable of supporting the winch very well. This type will allow your winch to perform very well despite the type of terrain you are pulling it from.

Nonintegrated or Integrated Winch?

It might sound a simple question from face value, but I am sure it will be tough when you go out to the market and you want to make a decision. Let me try to explain the difference between the two:

A nonintegrated winch: It can fit on most winch bumpers on the market as it is more versatile as compared to the integrated winch. This is possible due to the fact that, the solenoid is separately located above the bumper or remote mount to a winch anywhere in the front of your truck or vehicle.
In order to save space, you can decide to mount the solenoid box in the engine compartment. If you have plans to purchase an aftermarket winch, then the nonintegrated winch should be the best choice for you.

Integrated Winch: It is normally large in size due to the solenoid control box is connected to the winch and it makes it impossible to fit on an aftermarket bumper unless it is a bulky bumper. But when it comes to waterproof properties, it seems to be the best winch.

Typical Winch Failures

Apart from the name recognition, there is a need for you to spend some time to do your homework in regard to what winch you need to buy because there is a possibility for a brand that is unnamed bad quality winch to fail. The following are some of the causes:

  • Solenoids and contactors of some winches can easily break due to less protection and components that are a low quality which cheap brands use. It is a problem that is rare for well-known brands.
  • It is very easy for a bad winch’s coating to get off in a short time after you buy it due to the low-quality components used in such brands. Whatever the amount you are paying for your winch, ensure that you get one that has a quality cover and protection that will not damage the coating.
  • Motor failure can be a failure that you will experience with some winch. You might be stuck in a remote area with no one nearby. Even though it is a rare occurrence, but you should be ready for that and that is why you need to ensure that the motor of the winch you are purchasing is strong enough.
    If you do your homework well, you will end up with a great winch that will help you when you are stuck in the wilderness without giving you problems.

Other Factors to Consider

1. Capacity and Size Winch

The load taking or capacity of the winch is the maximum weight which the winch can be able to pull. If you get a good quality winch, it is supposed to be able to pull at least 1500 lbs. But there is some high-end winch on the market which is capable of pulling up to 10,000 lbs or even more. If you get one that has a higher capacity, it will enable you to use it to pull very heavy trucks without them having to break the steel cable or synthetic rope.

The length of the cable is also an important aspect to consider when choosing the winch for your truck. This will depend on the usage of the winch you are about to purchase. If you want to use it to pull a truck at a great distance, then you will have to choose a winch with a long cable length to reinforce durability.

If you just want to use the winch for casual use, at least 10m will do. You need to remember that if you want to use a long cable length, you will have to go for a model which is heavy duty and with a motor that is very powerful due to the fact that, a long cable requires a lot of power from the winch.

Table of US GVWR classifications United States (Source) :

US Truck Class

Duty ClassClassification

Weight Limit

Examples

Class 1

Light truck

0–6,000 pounds (0–2,722 kg)

Dodge Dakota, Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger

Class 2

Light truck

6,001–10,000 pounds (2,722–4,536 kg)

Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150

Class 3

Light truck

10,001–14,000 pounds (4,536–6,350 kg)

Ram 3500, GMC Sierra 3500, Ford E-350, Ford F-350, Hummer H1

Class 4

Medium truck

14,001–16,000 pounds (6,351–7,257 kg)

Ram 4500, GMC 4500, Ford E-450, Ford F-450, HINO 155 COE

Class 5

Medium truck

16,001–19,500 pounds (7,258–8,845 kg)

Ram 5500, GMC 5500, Ford F-550, Peterbilt 325, International TerraStar, HINO 195 COE

Class 6

Medium truck

19,501–26,000 pounds (8,846–11,793 kg)

Chevrolet Kodiak C6500, Ford F-650, Peterbilt 330, International Durastar, HINO 268 & 268A

Class 7

Heavy truck

26,001–33,000 pounds (11,794–14,969 kg)

Autocar ACMD, GMC C7500, Peterbilt 220 & 337, Ford F-750, HINO 338

Class 8

Heavy truck

33,001 pounds (14,969 kg)+

Autocar ACX, International WorkStar, Kenworth T600, Kenworth T660, Kenworth T680, Peterbilt 579, Peterbilt 389 - Semi-trailer trucks fall into this category

Class 9

Super-heavy / special duty truck

33,001 pounds (14,969 kg)+

Usually class 8 truck with special duty characteristics, e.g. - Autocar ACX 12x6, International WorkStar, Western Star 6900 (6900XD or 6900TS)

2. Electric vs Hydraulic Winch


It is important you know the difference between the electric and hydraulic winch so that you make your choice wisely

Electric Winch: It uses an electric motor to drive its cable. Its main advantage is that it is versatile. You can use your truck’s battery of about 12V, another vehicle’s battery or use a dual cell battery for heavy duty applications.

Even if it is not heavy duty or not as powerful as the hydraulic one, its efficiency and versatility make it be one of the most popular. Most of the brands on the market of this type can run on a 650CCA battery for minimum winching.

Hydraulic Winch: It might one of the best winch to buy for your truck. This is due to the fact that, it has a high load taking capacity, which will make it possible to pull a lot of weight.

It is powered by a hydraulic system which allows it to be used for applications of heavy duty. Compared to the electric winch, the hydraulic winch is more durable and long lasting.

3. Synthetic Rope or Steel Cable

When purchasing a winch online, it is important to consider the cable material as it is an important aspect. You will get it as either a steel cable or synthetic rope. It is the one that will allow you to pull your truck in all safety regardless of the capacity of the load.

I believe that a synthetic rope, when it comes to budgeting, is more budget friendly. It comes with the electric winch to make it possible for you to save some money. Its load taking capacity is fair enough. In most cases, you will find the rope braided to increase its load taking capacity and durability.

If you decide to pick the steel cable, it has a higher pull capacity and it is a more heavy duty. It is normally accompanied by a hydraulic winch due to it being heavy duty. It is not possible for a steel cable to corrode thus, long lasting and extremely durable. Purchasing a steel cable ensures that you will have many years of usage without it breaking, unlike the synthetic rope.

So the determining factor for which one to buy will depend on your budget and usage. If you are hard on cash, and you want to use the winch for some short-term purposes, then I would suggest you get a synthetic rope. But if you want a winch to use for a long time with your truck, you will need to invest in a steel cable.

4. Waterproof

Due to the fact that, some of the winching you will be doing might be in the rainy seasons, you will need to consider purchasing a winch which is waterproof. This will make it possible for you to have a long-lasting and durable winch which will not corrode or surface issues regarding performance due to water damage.

5. Warranty

Most winches come with a warranty. Most of the high-quality winches come with a one year warranty. And due to the fact that it is very hard to get spare parts for winches, I would recommend you ensure that the winch you are buying has a warrant.

6. Mounting System

The installation process will be dictated by the mounting system. You have to make sure that your winch has a mounting base that has holes to make it easy to bolt it onto your truck.

Apart from that, the base of mounting needs to be made from materials that are tough, so that it doesn’t crack or break easily during winching. I would advise you go for a mounting base made of steel metal due to its durability.

7. Line Speed, Vs Great Ratio Vs Motor Power

The line speed refers to the speed at which the winch will be able to pick or retrieve the rope or cable. If you get a good winch, it is supposed to retrieve the line at the rate of 2 to 5 feet per minute.
If you want to tow your truck very fast, then you need to be keen on the line speed, but you should remember that, even at 5 feet per minute, you will require patience because it is still very slow.

The motor power in a winch is normally measured in horsepower and it is the one which is responsible for providing the necessary torque for winching. You will have to ensure that you choose the motor power for your winch based on the purpose and need.

A high motor power will mean that the winch will be more expensive and thus, your budget will determine whether you will go for that or not. But you need to remember that, the more powerful the motor is, the higher the pulling capacity.

The winch has a system of Drivetrain that is similar to gears in a car. If you get a winch model which has adjustable speed control, then it will have several gears. If the model has one speed, it follows that it will have only one gear.

If the ratio is high, then the winch will be able to produce a high line speed due to the fact that the torque multiplication is high. The reverse becomes true due to the fact that, a low gear ratio will give you a low pull speed.

Frequently Asked Question

1.How Do You Use A Truck Winch?

If you manage to use it properly, you will be able to benefit from using a winch and here are my tips on how to use a winch properly:

  • When the rope is under tension, you should never disengage the clutch and when the drum is rotating, avoid engaging the clutch.
  • When there are less than five wraps of the cable around the winch drum, don’t winch.
  • When you are trying to increase the length of a pull, don’t attach a recovery strap to the winch hook.
  • For a great and better experience of winching, you need to stop at intervals regularly so that the winch is allowed to cool rather than having to overheat the winch motor.
  • Ensure that before you use a winch, you get a secure anchor point.

2.What Are Truck Winches Used For?

A winch is an important tool which you must have in your truck as you never know when you will need it. Due to its design of gear train system, it will be able to output a powerful torque, allowing you to pull any heavy vehicle that weighs several tons with ease. It is a must have especially when driving in the wilderness where the possibility of your tires getting stuck and help not being readily available is very high.

3.How Do You Install A Winch?

Each winch comes with its installation manual and you should utilize it to install yours.

Conclusion

A winch is a must have for any truck or vehicle owner. Apart from being used on your truck, you can utilize it any other ATV applications that you might be having. There are some good quality winches at a very affordable price and thus, not a must that you need to spend a fortune to get a quality winch. It is a tool that is reasonably priced and you need to buy it because I am sure you will be able to find a quality one at your budget price. You can pick one from the 7 I have reviewed if they meet your specific needs because they are among the top on the market.

About the Author Hanah Christine

At Truck Knowing, we guarantee that you'll buy the best accessories for your truck after reading the reviews we provide.

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