No matter if you are into off-roading, farming, or you might just live in a rural area, a winch is a valuable tool.
Finding the best winch is not necessarily a straightforward process. We have searched far and wide to find the 10 top winches available.
Each winch one has its own benefits depending on what you would typically use it for. We will go through each in the following roundup to point you in the right direction when it comes time to buy your next winch.
- 1 Product Comparison
- 2 Top 10 Best Winches On The Market Review
- 2.1 1 WARN 95960 ZEON 12-S Platinum 12V Electric Winch with Spydura Pro Synthetic Cable Rope – Best Winch for Cold Weather
- 2.2 2 Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch | 9,500 Pound Load Capacity – Best Jeep Winch
- 2.3 3 Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC winch, 9,500 lb/4,309 kg capacity with roller fairlead – Best Rust Resistant Winch
- 2.4 4 WARN 89305 ZEON 8-S Electric 12V Winch with Synthetic Cable Rope – Best Smooth Quiet Winch
- 2.5 5 WARN 26502 M8000 Series Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope – Best Low Profile Winch
- 2.6 6 ORCISH 12V 4500lb Electric ATV UTV Synthetic Rope Winch Kits – Best Easy Transfer Winch
- 2.7 7 Smittybilt X2O COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch – Best Drum Brake Winch
- 2.8 8 Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch – Best Automatic Hold Winch
- 2.9 9 LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch – Best Extreme Angle Winch
- 2.10 10 Master Lock Electric Winch, Portable 12-Volt DC Electric Winch, 2953AT – Best Portable Winch
- 3 Best Winch Buying Guide
- 4 Other Recommended Reviews…
- 5 So, which is the Best Winch?
|Product||Pull Capacity||Rope Length||Motor||Price|
|WARN 95960 ZEON||12,000 lbs.||80’ Synthetic Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$$$|
|Smittybilt GEN Winch||9,500 lbs.||93.5’ Steel Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$|
|Superwinch Tiger Shark||9,500 lbs.||95’ Steel Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$$|
|WARN 89305 ZEON||8,000 lbs.||100’ Synthetic Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$$$|
|WARN M8000 Series||8,000 lbs.||100’ Steel Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$$|
|ORCISH 12V Electric ATV UTV||4,500 lbs.||50’ Synthetic Cable||Permanent Magnet Electric||$|
|Smittybilt X2O COMP||10,000 lbs.||98.5’ Synthetic Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$$|
|Superwinch LP10000||10,000 lbs.||85’ Steel Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$$|
|LD12-ELITE Electric Winch||12,000 lbs.||87’ Steel Cable||Series Wound Electric||$$|
|Master Lock Electric Winch||6,000 lbs.||29’ Steel Cable||Permanent Magnet Electric||$|
Top 10 Best Winches On The Market Review
|Products||Pull Capacity||Rope Length||Motor||Price||Rating|
80’ Synthetic Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.5 / 5)|
Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch
93.5’ Steel Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.5 / 5)|
95’ Steel Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.4 / 5)|
100’ Synthetic Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.5 / 5)|
100’ Steel Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.3 / 5)|
50’ Synthetic Cable
Permanent Magnet Electric
|(4.6 / 5)|
98.5’ Synthetic Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.6 / 5)|
Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch
85’ Steel Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.3 / 5)|
87’ Steel Cable
Series Wound Electric
|(4.1 / 5)|
29’ Steel Cable
Permanent Magnet Electric
|(3.8 / 5)|
1 WARN 95960 ZEON 12-S Platinum 12V Electric Winch with Spydura Pro Synthetic Cable Rope – Best Winch for Cold Weather
Warn Industries is first up in this review with their Zeon 12-S Platinum winch. This winch has a pulling capacity of 12,000 pounds.
The motor operates off 12V of power and uses a series wound motor that will perform well even in cold weather. You will need a mounting bracket to attach this winch to, and then the installation is straightforward after that.
It comes with eighty feet of Spydura Pro synthetic cable. This cable is utterly amazing, given how lightweight and robust it is. We also like that the drum of the winch features a steel sleeve that will aid in reducing the wear of your rope over time.
To control this winch, you have an easy to use wireless remote control. This remote can control your free spool, winch-out, and winch-in functions.
It also provides real-time data on the temperature of the winch motor and even the charge of your vehicle battery. We used this winch heavily and never noticed any problem with the winch motor overheating.
While using this winch, we found that the cable pull comes in quickly but can be easily controlled via the remote. Overall, the noise emitted from the winch is loud but not ear-shattering.
This winch is powder-coated black and features fasteners made of stainless steel. Warn Industries has tested the Zeon 12-S to withstand over 400 hours of salt spray, and it even meets IP68 standards.
Warn Industries offers a lifetime warranty on all the mechanic parts of the winch. And, the electrical components of the winch are under warranty for seven years.
- 12,000 pull capacity.
- 80’ of solid Spydura Pro cable.
- Easy operation.
- Wireless remote control.
- Lifetime component warranty.
- When in use, it is rather noisy.
- High price point.
2 Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch | 9,500 Pound Load Capacity – Best Jeep Winch
Smittybilt’s GEN 2XRC winch comes packed with 93.5 feet of steel rope for all your winching needs. This steel cable is kept nice and tidy via a four-roller fairlead.
It is powered by a series wound 6.6 horsepower motor that draws 380 amps at 8000 lbs. The maximum pulling capacity of the XRC is 9,500lbs. When pulling at max capacity, it operates reasonably quietly. You hear the hum of the motor, but it is not overly loud. The motor also stays relatively cool even under heavy use.
The XRC only weighs 78 lbs. This means it is perfect for smaller jeeps and trucks since you will have less weight on the front end of the vehicle. You also have three different mounting points on which the solenoid and remote can be attached. The corded remote is 12 feet long.
While the remote is easy to use, we did not find it to have very many features besides the usual winch-in and winch out functions.
IP67 waterproof rating…
Attaching this winch directly to your bumper is possible if it is flat. We would recommend buying an additional mounting kit, nonetheless, for increased stability.
All the electrical cables needed are supplied to hook this winch up to your vehicle’s electrical system, and this Smittybilt winch also comes with an IP67 waterproof rating. This is not the highest rating of waterproofing out there, but it will protect your winch reasonably well.
- 12’ Corded remote.
- 6.6 horsepower motor.
- Can pull up to 9,500 lbs.
- Installation wiring included.
- The long steel cable is rather heavy.
3 Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC winch, 9,500 lb/4,309 kg capacity with roller fairlead – Best Rust Resistant Winch
The Tiger Shark TS9500 from Superwinch has a respectable pulling capacity of 9,500lbs. This all comes from the weather-sealed 5.2 horsepower series wound motor.
The pull speed will not win any races at only 4 feet per minute under max load, though. Nonetheless, it is super easy to run with the twelve-foot detachable cable remote.
It also comes with a 95-foot steel cable and a four-way roller system. We found that cable management could be a tad bit better, and you need to occasionally watch out for too much free spool.
To release the clutch on this winch, you have a pull and turn type handle that’s easy to use. This handle is nice and large and can even be used while wearing thick gloves.
When you are pulling in something at max load capacity, you will be waiting a bit. The max pull speed when pulling 9,500 pounds is four feet per minute.
Stainless steel components…
Most of the components of this wrench are made from stainless steel like the tie bars, and fairlead rollers, for example. You will not have to worry about this winch gathering rust over time. It will look just like new for years to come if properly taken care of.
Like other winches, mounting hardware is included in the box. You will have six feet of four-gauge electrical wire to connect to the vehicle’s electrical system.
Heavy for the power…
You will still need to be a suitable mounting plate for this winch, unfortunately, as there’s none supplied. It also weighs quite a lot, coming in at just over 90lbs. This surprised us some since the motor is not the biggest we have tested.
- Anti-rust stainless steel components.
- 12 ft Detachable remote.
- 9,500 lbs. pulling capacity.
- It runs rather slowly.
4 WARN 89305 ZEON 8-S Electric 12V Winch with Synthetic Cable Rope – Best Smooth Quiet Winch
On our search for the ideal winch, Warn Industries is back again with the next two worthy contenders in this roundup. While the Zeon 12-S sat at an exceedingly high price point, this next winch is more middle of the road when it comes to price.
We’re talking about the Zeon 8-S…
This model has an 8,000 pulling capacity. The gear train used on this series wound motor is exceptionally smooth. From the moment it takes up the slack, controlling the pulling speed is easy.
At a max capacity of 8,000 pounds, it will pull up to 6.2 feet of cable per minute.
The Zeon 8-S comes with 100 feet of Warn Spydura synthetic rope. This rope features a sliding sleeve made from ballistic nylon.
It also comes with a temperature treated sleeve over the outermost layer of the rope. Both sleeves, especially the ballistic nylon, will help protect the cable from abrasion, thus increasing its lifespan.
Handy rope anchor…
Located on the winch drum, you will also find a handy rope anchor to keep it in place when not in use. This drum is also very lightweight and substantial, which should help keep your rope in good shape for a long time to come.
To control this winch, you have a wired remote that controls winch-in and winch out functions. This remote can be removed and stored when not in use.
Some like it hot…
One thing that this winch does not have is a built-in thermal shut off or a way to quickly check the temperature of the motor. We did not have any motor heat issues, so this should not be too much of a concern, but it’s worth noting.
- 100 ft of 3/8 inch rope.
- Motor works smoothly and quietly.
- 12V powered.
- Maximum 431 amp draw.
- The remote cable could be longer.
5 WARN 26502 M8000 Series Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope – Best Low Profile Winch
The M8000 is a relatively low-profile winch. It can be easily mounted on the front of the rear of your vehicle with a compatible mounting bracket.
It includes 100 feet of 5/16 inch steel cable. As far as steel cable is concerned, we found the cable included with the winch to be reasonably lightweight and not too difficult to manipulate.
Slow and steady…
Pulling in this cable is done via the 4.8 horsepower series wound motor on hand. While the motor operates smoothly, it does not pull that quickly. At full capacity, you are looking at a pull speed of 4.8 feet per minute.
The gear train onboard has a three-stage design, which helps aid in making it pull smoothly and also while braking under load. What did concern us a tad was that the motor tended to get hot when under a strenuous full load.
This is all controlled from a handheld remote with a braided cable. The cable used is reasonably long and should allow you to mount if you so choose.
The motor never overheated, but it is something to take note of as there also isn’t any sort of built-in thermal shutoff valve on the engine.
While Warn Industries does include a limited lifetime warranty with this winch, it is limited to the gear train only. You also have a standard seven-year warranty for all the electrical components.
- Long, lightweight steel cable.
- Long braided mountable remote cable.
- Easy mount low-profile design.
- Lifetime warranty only covers the gear train.
6 ORCISH 12V 4500lb Electric ATV UTV Synthetic Rope Winch Kits – Best Easy Transfer Winch
This winch from Orcish sits at a shallow price point. It is capable of pulling 4,500lbs, which makes it usable on light trucks as well as large ATVs, for example.
It comes with a sleeved 50-foot synthetic rope. As far as synthetic ropes go, this one is not that light nor overly flexible. But, you will have a 1.7 horsepower motor on hand. Overall, this winch is very lightweight, coming in at only 22lbs.
Easily transfer between vehicles…
Included are the wiring you are going to need along with a winch mounting kit. The lightweight and easy to set up electronics on this winch make it easy to move from one vehicle to another.
While this winch will work fine on light trucks, it also excels with ATVs or UTVs. You could even hook this up to a boat trailer if you wanted to.
But there’s a catch…
Since this winch uses a permanent magnet type motor, you will want to take caution using this in colder weather. The motor in this winch is sealed from the weather, but you can never be too careful.
- Very affordable price.
- 50 ft synthetic cable.
- Two wireless remotes.
- Pulling capacity is limited to 4,500lbs.
7 Smittybilt X2O COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch – Best Drum Brake Winch
The X20 Comp from Smittybilt is somewhat like the XRC model we just looked at but with a few excellent extra features.
This time you get an increased pulling capacity of 10,000lbs, and it includes a 98.5-foot synthetic rope. The rope used is top-notch and does not curl or fray easily. It also comes with a competition-grade fairlead. It is made from billet aluminum, which will aid in protecting the rope over time.
To control this winch, you will have a 12-foot cabled remote available to you. This remote can also be detached and used wirelessly. The remote is magnetic and can be attached to the winch or vehicle. Functionality is limited, but it works efficiently.
It even pulls pretty quick, at up to 7.38 feet per minute, with 10,000 pounds attached. With nothing connected to the rope, it will come in at a blistering 31.1 feet per minute, so be careful.
Smittybilt’s X20 Comp winch features what they call a Dynamic Braking System on this model. This might be the best drum braking system we have tested yet.
This system makes the winch perfectly compatible with all synthetic ropes since it reduces drum temperatures by up to 66%!
You’ll find yourself less worried about the 6.6 horsepower series wound motor overheating as well. The clutch lever is also a bit bigger on this model and is easy to open and close.
- IP68 waterproofing.
- Kink-resistant synthetic rope.
- Durable competition-grade fairlead.
- Magnetic wireless remote grip could be more robust.
8 Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch – Best Automatic Hold Winch
This next best winch from Superwinch can handle up to 10,000 pounds, but is it the greatest winch out there? The LP1000 series winch uses a 5.1 horsepower series wound motor.
7.6 feet per minute…
It comes with a 12-foot waterproof cabled remote with a simple up and down type switch to operate the winch. At a medium load of 6,000lbs, you can expect it to pull at up to 7.6 feet per minute.
To unlock the clutch on this winch, Superwinch has provided a sizable lever on the right of the drum. This lever takes a bit of effort to turn in our opinion compared to the other winches we have tested.
When pulling out the 85-foot long steel cable, you will appreciate how sturdy it is. Thanks to the handy four roller fairlead, it also coils back on to the drum neatly and helps to prevent fraying or chipping of the steel cable.
This winch features mechanical braking and automatic load-holding. In the case of power loss, this will stop the drum quickly and safely.
The solenoid and circuit breaker are in a sealed enclosure. So, no matter the weather conditions outside, you can rest assured that power will be delivered safely.
- Steel rope payout is quick.
- Automatic load holding for safety.
- Waterproof wired remote control.
- Stiff clutch lever is not that easy to move.
9 LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch – Best Extreme Angle Winch
The LD12 Elite is another winch able to pull a massive 12,000lbs, and all from a 6-horsepower series wound motor.
You can control this winch wireless from up 75 feet away with the included remote. The two-button remote provides fundamental in and out functionality.
The drum free-spools once you disengage the clutch handle on the right side of the winch. We found this lever quite easy to actuate.
That’s not all…
When you pull out the 87-foot steel rope through the multi-directional rollers, it glides smoothly without stressing the cable. Be careful, though, when unspooling the cable too quickly, so it does not become snarled.
Through the use of composite roller bushings, you can even operate this winch at extreme angles. Under pressure, the drum will automatically lock to prevent unnecessary slack.
It comes with a set of 2-gauge wiring cables that are six feet long. We found these wires to be pretty stiff. So, you might find it hard to run these wires under or through your engine compartment if you mount this on your front bumper.
When this winch is up and running, you can definitely hear the motor. One thing we are a tad more concerned about, though, is the warranty with this winch.
Hopefully, you don’t need to contact the company…
Because we have read mixed reviews about how easily you can reach customer service if something were to go wrong.
- Well priced for a 12,000 lbs. winch.
- Pulls well even at sharp angles.
- Wireless remote works up to 75 ft.
- After-sales customer service is lacking.
10 Master Lock Electric Winch, Portable 12-Volt DC Electric Winch, 2953AT – Best Portable Winch
A superb winch does not have to cost an arm and a leg. This winch from Master Lock is a perfect example of just that.
This small nine and a half-inch wide by seven-and-a-half-inch winch is only ten inches deep. It weighs 27 lbs, so portability should not be a concern. It even has a built-in carrying handle.
Pull capacity is capped out at 2,000 lbs. This does increase though if you were to pull a boat up onto a trailer, for example. That is, as long your boat does not weigh more than 5,000 pounds or is no longer than 18 feet. You have 29 feet of usable steel cable on hand as well.
Depending on the weight you are pulling, you will need to let this winch cool down after use. At max capacity, you will only have six to eight minutes before the motor starts to overheat. You will want to let it cool down for at least five minutes before using it again to prevent damage to the winch.
Setting this winch up could not be easier since it includes a mounting plate for a trailer hitch in the box. It also contains an incredible 20 feet of electrical cable.
The clutch on this winch is engaged or disengaged via a hand crank, and pulling out the cable is easy to do.
You will want to crank it by hand to take up the slake once you attach it to whatever you are pulling. Then you can plug in the remote control and use the simple on and off button to get started.
- Extremely well priced.
- Integrated carry handle for portability.
- Comfortable crank handle.
- Requires time to cool off between uses.
Best Winch Buying Guide
You will find winches that vary in size, capacity, and that come with different types of rope. So, we are going to look at what we think is essential when looking for the ideal winch for your needs.
The first thing and what we consider to be most important in choosing a winch is its size or capacity.
You can never really have too powerful of a winch in our opinion. The winch you use should be able to pull at least one and a half times the weight of your vehicle.
The weight of your vehicle can vary, though when you consider passengers onboard or any cargo, you may be hauling. For example, if you have a one and a half-ton truck (3000 lbs.), you will want a winch that can pull at least two and a quarter tons (4500 lbs.).
When it comes to powering your winch, you will find either hydraulic or electric powered ones. Electric powered winches are the most common and often cost less than their hydraulic counterparts.
We stuck with electrically powered winches in this roundup because they all performed better than the hydraulic-powered ones we tested.
An electric winch needs to be hooked up to your vehicle’s battery and electrical system. When you are running an electric winch, you need to be careful that the motor does not overheat.
Electric motors come in a couple of varieties. The motors will either be series wound or a permanent magnet. Winches that come at a lower price point often incorporate permanent magnet motors, which are fine for occasional use.
If you were to be using your winch heavily in cold weather climates or for pulling heavy-duty type objects, then a series wound winch is your better choice.
Synthetic vs. Steel Rope
The rope that your winch uses will be made from steel or a synthetic material.
If you use a steel cable, you will need to make sure that your vehicle can handle the weight of it. Steel cable has excellent durability and is easy to maintain but can sometimes kink.
Synthetic rope is lightweight and much more comfortable to handle than your standard steel cable. They offer more flexibility, but this does affect their durability.
UV exposure, chemicals, and damage from tearing can occur with synthetic cables. While steel might be more impervious to the elements, you will want to wear gloves while handling it.
Give it a good clean…
If you tend to use your winch in sandy or muddy conditions, both types of cabling will perform well. You will want to make sure to clean your synthetic cable after use, though.
Even though steel cable might be more durable, we would still recommend cleaning it every so often to just increase its overall lifespan.
Cable size can vary in diameter and length. If you were ever to replace the cable that comes with your winch, you would want to take that into account.
A thicker diameter cable will take up more room in the drum, meaning that it would not be able to hold as much of it.
The most common way to mount a winch to a vehicle is via your front or rear bumpers. These usually attach via mounting plates or cradles. You can even find custom front bumper mounts that are not made for your specific vehicle but also add front-end protection to that vehicle.
On the rear, you can typically find hitch adapters to set a winch onto. Mounting at the rear of your vehicle can often make installation easier.
Other Recommended Reviews…
Safety is key when working with these sorts of tools. We recommend you invest in a good pair of work gloves, or even the Best Mechanic Gloves, before operating a steel cable winch. For fast lubrication or to loosen up old joints, you’ll want one of the Best Penetrating Oils on hand too.
Back to winches…
So, which is the Best Winch?
… pulled away with the win this time. With the aid of the high-performance synthetic rope on hand, you can pull up to 10,000lbs.
Unspooling all 98.5 feet of rope is easy to do via the large clutch lever. Thanks to the competition-grade billet aluminum fairlead, your line will also last longer.
The remote control might not have a ton of features. But thanks to its ability to work wired or wirelessly, it ended up being one of our favorites.
Smittybilt also made this winch with safety in mind. The dynamic braking and automatic drum locking can be a lifesaver in case of a power surge or battery failure.
Take care, and enjoy your new winch!