Reviews

Best Jeep Winches: Add More Power to Your Off-Road Journeys

Pull your Jeep, truck, or SUV out of any predicament with these tough winches.

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BY Ray Prince / LAST UPDATED ON September 30, 2021

Winches are the ultimate off-roading accessory, allowing you to pull your vehicle from stuck terrain and clear large obstacles blocking the trail. Today, the best Jeep winches vary wildly in price point, construction, cable type, pulling power, controls, and other variables. 

 

Keep reading to learn more about the best Jeep winches, including our top recommendations, types/benefits of Jeep winches, and answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Best Overall
Warn VR12-S Winch
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Summary
Summary

This winch is rated to handle up to 12,000 pounds of weight and is equipped with a load-holding cone brake to give you more efficient control.

Pros
Pros
  • Able to be mounted in an upright position or low-profile mounting on your Jeep, truck, or SUV
  • Comes with a one-piece tie plate for increased strength and performance
  • Designed with a waterproof Albright contractor
Cons
Cons
  • You will need a compatible bumper or mounting plate to properly mount the winch to your Jeep
  • Housing material may be prone to breaking if it’s put under a lot of stress
Best Overall
Warn VR12-S Winch
Best Value
Offroad Boar Waterproof Winch
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Summary
Summary

This winch can be used in any type of element or terrain with its waterproof design. Its pull rating is capable of handling anything up to 12,000 pounds, making it one of the most durable and budget-friendly winches on the market.

Pros
Pros
  • Stainless steel construction makes it reliable and tough enough to withstand more powerful pulls
  • Comes with a heavy-duty sealed contractor, a four-way roller fairlead to easily real in the line, and 85 feet of stainless steel wire cable
Cons
Cons
  • It’s a 12-volt electric winch, so it will need to be plugged into your battery
  • May need to find a suitable route to wire the positive cable to the battery in order for it to reach effectively
Best Value
Offroad Boar Waterproof Winch
Honorable Mention
Smittybilt XRC Synthetic Rope Winch
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Summary
Summary

This powerful winch is rated to pull weights ranging from 9,500 to 17,500 pounds. It is built with a 6.6-horsepower winch motor with a three-stage planetary gear system to increase the amount of pulling power.

Pros
Pros
  • Finished with a UV-resistant matte black coating and a tough stainless steel design
  • Comes with a heavy-duty remote control, a four-way roller fairlead, a durable steel tow hook, three mounting positions, and a 500 amp solenoid
Cons
Cons
  • Installation instructions can be confusing to follow 
  • One of the heaviest on this list
  • Plastic casing surrounding it feels cheap and may break easily
Honorable Mention
Smittybilt XRC Synthetic Rope Winch

Why Trust Us


Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Benefits of Jeep Winches

  • Pull heavy objects. If you do a lot of off-roading, a winch is especially useful. They excel at pulling heavy objects with ease. This can help with loading or unloading a vehicle onto a trailer or pulling it free from mud, sand, or water. With a winch, you can free your Jeep from nearly any situation.
  • Add extra power. While you could use any other off-road vehicle to free a stuck or trapped one, using a winch is easier. They add more power, torque, and leverage, allowing you to pull free from whatever it is you need to get out of.
  • Improved maneuverability. One of the best features of a Jeep winch is its ability to be moved around. Many do not have to be tied down to the vehicle to work. If you need to attach the cable to something, you can move the winch close to it. Without a winch, you would need to get another vehicle and attach a tether to it to free whatever is trapped.
  • Reduce vehicle damage. Attaching a towline or cable from one vehicle to another can be damaging to either vehicle. While many vehicles do have areas you can properly attach a line, many do not. Hooking up a line to a vehicle improperly and using it to pull something can cause severe damage. Using a winch reduces the possibility of harming your vehicle or someone else's.

Types of Jeep Winches

Hydraulic

A hydraulic winch works when you connect it directly to the Jeep’s power steering system. This gives it more heavy-duty pulling power and extends how long it will last. However, this also makes this type of winch more expensive.

Electric

Electric winches are the more common of the two. They are powered by your vehicle’s battery. This gives them a limited amount of power and takes away more juice from your vehicle while in use. However, they are more convenient to use since the Jeep does not have to be running to operate it.

Top Brands

WARN

Arguably the most well-known winch brand in the industry, Oregon-based WARN pioneered the electric winch. In the 1950s the electric winch was created to replace less efficient power take-off and hydraulic winches, which required the vehicle to run for them to work.

Today, WARN features an expansive product line for all types and budgets. Our top recommended WARN winch is the WARN 103252 VR 10000 lbs Electric Winch complemented by a 10,000-pound pulling capacity, 90-foot steel rope, low amp draw, and three-stage planetary gear mechanism.

Superwinch

California-based Superwinch makes some of the best Jeep winches on the market today. One highly recommended pick is the Superwinch Tiger Shark 9.5, boasting a 5.2 horsepower motor, three-stage planetary gearbox for 9,500 pounds of pulling power.

Smittybilt

Known for the original Nerf Bar side step, Smittybilt is more known for being a holistic off-roading accessories manufacturer. It produces everything from side steps to overlander tents. It also manufactures winches. Two of its winches, the Smittybilt XRC Winch and the Smittybilt XRC Synthetic Rope Winch, have made our list.

Jeep Winch Pricing

  • Up to $350. Winches falling in this price range are bottom dwellers. Expect low pulling capacity up to 5,000 pounds), working better for smaller Jeeps.
  • 300 to $900. In this price range, expect marginal improvement over winches up to $350. Pulling capacity can top 12,500 pounds and include a wider range of mounting options, including bumper mounted and multi-mounted options. Other upgrades may include waterproofing and three-stage planetary gear systems over less efficient spun gears and worm gears.
  • $900 and up. This price range works for the most avid off-roaders. In this range, expect the highest pulling capacity (17,500-plus pounds), the most powerful motors, synthetic cabling, and three-stage planetary gear systems. 

Key Features

Pull Line Rating

Arguably the top-scoring criteria for selecting a winch is its pull line rating or pull capacity. Look for winches with a workload rating of at least 1.5 times your vehicle's gross weight. For example, a 2021 Toyota Tacoma may weigh 5,550 (4,550 curb weight plus all passengers and items). In this case, consider a 12,000-pound rated winch. As a general rule, doubling the working load capacity of your vehicle's gross weight works.

Type of Rope

Jeep winches are limited to two kinds of rope: traditional steel cables and synthetic. Top draws of synthetic cables over traditional steel cables include a lighter weight, easier maneuverability, and ease on the hands, unlike sharp-burred steel rope. However, it's more susceptible to damage from UV rays, abrasion, chemicals, and other off-road hazards. Plus, traditional steel ropes require greater wrangling due to being heavier and coarser. Therefore, wearing heavy gloves is highly recommended.

Remote Control

Go for cordless over corded options. Wireless remote control winches allow users to maneuver it more precisely from a safer distance. In addition, many cordless remotes come with 12-foot leads, more than enough clearance for even the most novice users.

Some winches even offer wireless smartphone controls. One example is WARN's HUB Receiver and App that uses Bluetooth to control winches from up to 100 feet away. Other wireless remote winch control systems offer coverage from up to 50 feet away.

Mounting Options

Winches offer bumper-mounted, multi-mounted, and integrated winch bumpers. Bumper mounts bolt onto your OEM or aftermarket bumper, whereas multi-mounted winches carry to a carrier, which is mounted to a receiver-mounted bumper. Integrated winch bumpers have integrated bumper winch plates, offering greater support and durability.

Waterproofing

For heavy water and mud activity, we highly recommend winches with IP ratings. Standard for ingress protection, this classification grades a winch  on how well they are protected against mud, dust, water, and debris intrusion. Typically, waterproofed winches fall under three grades: IP65, IP66, and IP67. IP66 enclosures are protected well against powerful water jets, whereas IP66 and IP67 enclosures allow for continuous operation in water as deep as 1 and 3 meters, respectively, without being compromised.

Warranty

Do not underestimate longer warranties with exceptional coverage. Arguably the most respected winch brand of all time, WARN offers the most generous warranty in the business.

Other Considerations

  • Cabling. There are two cable types associated with winches: steel and synthetic rope. While steel is considered very strong and durable, that makes it heavier. It can also rust over time, making it more dangerous to handle. Synthetic rope is lighter but doesn’t sacrifice power. It is also safer to use, loses tension more quickly than steel, and is much easier to handle.
  • Control. Many winches come fit with their own remote control to operate them from a safe distance.
  • Safety. Always practice safety when using any sort of winch. Winches come with their own list of safety features and guidelines, so keep track of them in order to operate them efficiently and safely.

Best Jeep Winches Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Warn VR12-S Winch

The WARN VR8 Standard Duty winch is a monstrous unit, offering 12,000 pounds of pulling capacity with a 3.6 per minute line speed. Arguably its biggest calling card is its two mounting options in low profile and upright positions, along with a one-piece tie plate for improved strength over multiple tie bars. Waterproofing is solid, featuring a waterproof Albright contactor.


Our only drawback on the WARN VR8 Standard Duty is its wired remote. We could have preferred a 12-foot lead wireless connectivity for safer operation at a closer distance. For this reason, consider it a better choice for intermediate to advanced-level off-roaders.


Kudos for its generous limited lifetime warranty on mechanical components and seven-year warranty on electrical components, one of the better warranties we've come across.

Best Value
Offroad Boar Waterproof Winch

Although it may not be as well known as our other choices, Offroad Boar’s brand of Jeep winch is still plenty powerful. This winch can be used in any type of element or terrain, and its waterproof design means it won’t let you down if it’s raining or you get stuck in a large puddle. It’s also rated with a load capacity of up to 12,000 pounds, making it one of the most durable and budget-friendly winches on the market.


Its stainless steel design makes it reliable and tough enough to withstand more powerful pulls. A few features it includes are a heavy-duty sealed contractor, a four-way roller fairlead to easily reel in the line, and 85 feet of stainless steel cable. Plus, it comes with a handy remote to access the winch from a safe distance.


It is, however, a 12-volt electric winch, so it will need to be plugged into your battery. Be aware, you may need to find a suitable route to wire the positive cable to the battery in order for it to reach effectively. Also, if you have an aftermarket bumper or upgraded to a new one, it may take a bit of adjusting to make it properly.

Best for Wet Conditions
Smittybilt XRC Synthetic Rope Winch

The XRC rope winch by Smittybilt is able to pull the heaviest of loads with weights ranging from 9,500 to 17,500 pounds. It is built with a 6.6-horsepower winch motor with a three-stage planetary gear system to increase the amount of pulling power. The machinery is also waterproof and won’t be damaged by humidity, so you can use it in a downpour or at the lake in case your vehicle gets stuck in a bit of water.


The winch itself is finished with a rugged UV-resistant matte black coating and a tough stainless steel design. Out of the box, you get a heavy-duty remote control, a four-way roller fairlead, a durable steel tow hook, and a box that can be mounted in three various positions. One of the best features included with this Smittybilt winch is a strong synthetic line rope.


One of the more frustrating things about this winch is when it comes to the installation instructions. They can be confusing to follow, and you may have better luck having a specialist install it. It is also one the heaviest winches on this list. Plus, while the winch may feature stainless steel, the plastic casing surrounding it feels cheap and may break easily.

Best Load Capacity
X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch

The X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch is a straight workhorse, featuring a list-best 13,000-pound pulling capacity and a three-stage planetary gear system. It comes in 85-foot long steel (with four-way roller fairlead) and synthetic rope versions. Kudos for its IP67 waterproof rating, which ensures it can work in water up to a meter deep for 30 straight minutes.


One drawback with the X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch is its subpar warranty (one-year limited warranty), not in the same class as Smittybilt and WARN. It is also a lesser-known brand and comparatively priced to better-known brands. Consider your vehicle's weight very carefully before considering this winch over a 12,500-pound rated WARN, Smittybilt, or Superwinch.

Honorable Mention
WARN M8000 8000-lb. Winch

The WARN M8000 8,000-pound winch is designed for Jeeps, trucks, and SUVs. It includes a 4.8-horsepower motor with a pull rating of 8,000 pounds. It has a three-stage planetary gear train, which is powerful and efficient yet not too loud. Other features include 100 feet of 5/16 wire rope with a standard roller fairlead, a sliding ring gear freespooling clutch, and a wired remote control.


You have the option of fitting this winch with a hawse fairlead. It has an automatic brake, a low-profile design, and a separate control box, so you can mount it in a variety of areas. This is a high-quality option, the control box is well made, and the wiring is top notch. Users report that it is strong, reliable, easy to install, and works as described.


However, it is not waterproof, so it's not a good idea to submerge it in water. Also, the solenoid box can fade after a short period of use.

Honorable Mention
ZEAK 12,000-lb. Winch

The ZEAK 12,000-pound winch is a well-rounded unit, starting with a 12,000-pound pull capacity, three-stage planetary gear train, and a generous line speed of 4.6 feet per minute.


Consider this a better option for short-duration pulls at lower loads. This winch is also better for beginners than intermediate to advanced level off-roaders.


One major drawback, however, is its one-year warranty on electronic parts, which is low compared to other brands on the market. 

Tips

  • Look for Jeep winches that can pull a minimum of 1.5-times your vehicle’s gross weight. Jeep curb weights vary by configuration, as low as 3,970 pounds for a Wrangler Sport to as high as 4,439 pounds for an Unlimited Rubicon. To be on the safe side, opt for as much pulling power as possible (12,500 pounds or higher)
  • Go for remotely operated winches over wired winches. Remote operated winches allow for safer operation even at closer distances and are recommended for beginners.
  • For heavy water and mud trekking, look for the best Jeep winches with an IP rating (Ingress Protection). This guarantees protection against water, mud, debris, and dust, with an IP68 score the highest rating possible. This rating is awarded to any winch that can be continually operated in three-meter deep water.
  • Opt for synthetic rope if you winch frequently and prefer a lighter and easier to maneuver option over traditional steel cables. Opt for steel cables if you need a bit more strength and UV/chemical resistance. Don't forget your heavy gloves.
  • Never exceed your winch /winch rope's capacity. If needed, apply a double line using a snatch block to reduce winch load. Snatch blocks help increase your winch's pulling power.
  • Inspect your winch rope with each use. Winch rope can become frayed and damaged over time, needing an immediate replacement.
  • When dealing with steel cables, do not forget to wear heavy gloves. Winch rope can develop barbs with repeated use over time, cutting skin on contact. Loose-fitting clothes should be avoided as well.

FAQs

Q: How do I find out what size winch I need?

As a rule of thumb, look for winches at least 1.5 times your vehicle's gross weight. Multiply the gross vehicle weight by 1.5. Even better, double the weight of your vehicle—this equals your vehicle's curb weight plus all of its items. Most Jeeps do not exceed a 6,000 curb weight, so a 12,500-pound winch is a good option. However, to be on the safe side, go for as high a pulling capacity as your budget and other considerations allow.

Q: Does a Jeep come with its own mounting plate?

Users have the option of using bumper-mounted, multi-mounted, or integrated winch bumpers. Bumper mounts feed into an OEM or aftermarket bumper versus carrier-to-receiver (multi-mount). be sure to consult with the manufacturer to see if a winch is compatible with your Jeep prior to purchasing.

Q: What is a winch used for?

A winch can be used across a variety of applications. Some of the most common ones include pulling a vehicle out of stuck terrain on the off-road. Others include clearing large obstacles such as boulders obstructing paths. Winches help prevent body and structural damage to your vehicle. Be sure to invest in a full recovery kit that also includes a snatch block and winch line extension to ensure all potential outcomes are covered.

Q: Do I need a winch plate?

 Yes, winch plates are needed for winch installation. Users can opt for a universal winch plate that adheres to the standard 10 x 4.5-inch mounting pattern. Some vehicles have pre-installed winch bumpers installed. Be sure to check with your specific Jeep model to determine compatibility.

Q: What IP rating should my winch have?

If your off-roading adventures have you wading through water and mud, opt for winches with an IP (ingress protection) rating of at least IP67. IP67-rated winches can endure powerful jets of water, whereas IP68-rated winches can be operated continually underwater without getting damaged.

Q: How much do winches cost?

Winches can cost as low as $200 to as high as $2000. It all depends on several factors, including motor type, pulling capacity, construction, waterproofing, and higher structural integrity. Our preference is for American-made products that are better known for their durability and warranties. If in doubt, WARN, Superwinch, and Smittybilt are brands that come highly recommended before other brands.

Final Thoughts

If you want one of the best winches with a strong pulling rate and one that can be used rain or shine, consider the Warn VR12-S Winch. If you want to save a bit of cash and get a high-quality winch with incredible winching power, go for the Offroad Boar Waterproof Winch.