The selection of a winch should be based on your particular needs. First, figure out what is important to you. I don’t participate in competitions so line speed isn’t a high priority. I wanted a winch that I knew would do the job if needed, so reliability was my top priority. Safety was a close second, there are lots of examples of how to not use a winch.
What size of winch do I need?
To figure how much winch your vehicle needs, add at about 30 percent to the working gross vehicle weight (GVW). For example, my Jeep’s factory GVW is 4075 lbs. I’ve added some weight with bumpers, skid plates and other mods and it currently sits at 4500 lbs. Going by the 30% rule, I need a winch that will provide at least 5,850 pounds of working load capacity. 30% is a rough guide, but there isn’t anything wrong with getting a winch that has 50+ percent more pulling power than the working weight of your rig.
Why purchase a larger winch?
A winch doesn’t have the same pulling power throughout an entire spool of cable/line. Usually, the bottom two layers of cable reduce the winch’s rated pulling power by almost 20 percent. The layers of cable/line on top of the bottom two reduce the effective pulling power by about 10 percent per wrap. For example, an 8,000-pound-capacity winch might only pull 6,500 pounds on the second layer, 5,500 pounds on the third, and as little as 4,800 pounds on the outer wrap. A 700-pound difference in pulling power could mean calling a friend or tow truck because you’re still stuck.
Steel Cable vs. Synthetic Line
The “s” in the model name represents the synthetic line that accompanied the winch. Synthetic line was an important feature to me. It’s lighter (~20 lbs. vs a steel cable) and it is safer. A steel cable can snap back when it breaks. If this happens, it can do some major damage (or even kill) if it hits someone or something. If a synthetic line breaks it will drop to the ground. It is possible to temporary repair a synthetic line in the field to finish a recovery, this isn’t possible with a steel cable. I find it easier to operate a winch that has synthetic line, spooling back up and dragging out due to it’s weight and lack of frayed metal. However, the selection should be based on your needs and the terrain you encounter. Personally, I don’t seek out mud. If it finds me on a trail I’ll handle it accordingly. My days of cleaning a Jeep after an afternoon of mudding are behind me. That said, if you prefer to play in the mud a steel cable may be a better choice for you. Synthetic lines can be susceptible to UV damage and other elements (dirt, ice, salt, etc.) can cause premature wear.
I choose a Warn VR 10,000s. It uses a 12 volt direct current, Series Wound mount and a remote solenoid. Series wound motors are heavier duty, and tend to be a bit more expensive but don’t overheat as often. The winch came with Spydura™ Synthetic 3/8″ x 100′ line and together weigh about 64 lbs.
Installed October 5, 2012
My Warn VR 10,000s winch is paired with Poison Spyder’s winch fairlead bracket and Aluminum Hawse Fairlead. A winch plate isn’t necessary with my bumper, it’s stout! The bracket simply holds the Poison Spyder Aluminum Hawse Fairlead which protects the synthetic winchline during winch operation.
I put together a small recovery kit that stays in the jeep:
- ARB Bow/Clevis D Shackle
- ARB Strap Wrap
- West County Landscape Work Glove
- ARB 3″ x 10′ Tree Saver Strap (26500 lbs Capacity)
- ARB 20,000 lbs Snatch Block
- ARB 2-3/8″ x 30′ Recovery Strap (17500 lbs Capacity)
I’d have the opportunity to use my winch on 4 different occasions. Once on the trail, twice in town and once at my house. The trail recovery wasn’t for my Jeep, it was for a CJ7 with several broken parts. The winch made quick work of the CJ. We’ve had quite a lot of snow in 2013, two different storms saw some winch action. Once again, not for my Jeep but for a Mercedes and a Hyundai. I did try to unsuccessfully use the winch at my house to remove a giant Yew bush that was 45 years old. The winch lost but the chainsaw triumphed over the yew. I’m happy with my purchase and would recommend this Warn winch.