Best Jeep Winches: Add More Power to Your Offroad Journeys
Pull your Jeep, truck, or SUV out of any predicament with these tough winches
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PUBLISHED ON August 16, 2019
Driving off the beaten path is a fun hobby for many Jeep owners. These vehicles are designed to take you nearly anywhere and can tackle almost anything. However, offroading can be risky, and you can end up getting stuck or encountering a hurdle you can’t overcome without some assistance. With the best Jeep winch, you can beat a difficult challenge and pull yourself free from the muck. Check out these top-rated winches that can help you the next time you’re planning an off-road adventure.
- Best OverallWarn VR12-S WinchSummarySummaryThis 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.ProsProsIt is able to be mounted in an upright position or low-profile mounting on your Jeep, truck, or SUV. It comes with a one-piece tie plate for increased strength and performance. It’s also designed with a waterproof Albright contractor.ConsConsYou will need a compatible bumper or mounting plate to properly mount the winch to your Jeep. Also, the housing material may be prone to breaking if it’s put under a lot of stress.
- Best ValueOffroad Boar Waterproof WinchSummarySummaryThis 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.ProsProsIt’s stainless steel, making it reliable and tough enough to withstand more powerful pulls. It 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.ConsConsIt’s a 12-volt electric winch, so it will need to be plugged into your battery, and you may need to find a suitable route to wire the positive cable to the battery in order for it to reach effectively.
- Honorable MentionSmittybilt XRC Synthetic Rope WinchSummarySummaryThis 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.ProsProsIt’s finished with a UV-resistant matte black coating and a tough stainless steel design. You also get a heavy-duty remote control, a four-way roller fairlead, a durable steel tow hook, three mounting positions, and a 500 amp solenoid.ConsConsInstallation instructions can be confusing to follow. It is also the heaviest of the three winches on this list, and the plastic casing surrounding it feels cheap and may break easily.
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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
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 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.
The company is based out of Compton, California, and was founded by Basil Smith in 1956. Smittybilt designs powerful winches and other gear built to enhance the off-road experience. The company got its start in Smith’s garage, and Smittybilt offers more than 2,000 different products for Jeeps and more. Two such pieces of equipment are the Smittybilt XRC Winch and the Smittybilt XRC Synthetic Rope Winch.
Superwinch is located in San Dimas, California. Founded by Frank Tolsdorf 45 years ago, the company is one of the leading manufacturers of high-powered and efficient winches for Jeeps or ATVs on the market. A top-rated winch that Superwinch is known for is the Superwinch 12 VDC Winch.
Founded in 1948 by Arthur Warn, Warn Industries started by making locking hubs for World War II Jeeps. Based out of Seattle, Washington, the company developed the first recreational winch in 1959. Now, it is known for several of its winches, including the Warn VR12-S Winch.
Jeep Winch Pricing
- Under $300: You will find more budget-friendly winches at this price point. Generally, they will be far less powerful, smaller, and less durable than the higher-end models. However, many will be able to pull your Jeep out of a tight spot if needed.
- $300-$900: In this price range, you will find a larger selection of winch models with more power and higher-quality material. Many will also come with more durable ropes; these can be a synthetic line or a steel cable. You can also find ones that are more robust and come with wireless remote controls for easier accessibility.
- Over $900: This upper tier selection is designed for the most adventurous group of off-roaders. They are equipped with the most powerful motors, strongest cabling, and most effective mounting to keep them where they are meant to be.
This is by far one of the most important factors of owning a winch. Knowing how much weight you intend to pull is vital when it comes to choosing a winch. All of them are rated to pull different weights, and attaching the cable to something too heavy for the winch can be damaging to your vehicle, the object it is pulling, and you. Double-check the amount of weight the winch is rated for before engaging it.
This all depends on how often you think you will need the winch or in what manners you will use it. The most powerful winches are attached to the Jeep directly and permanently. The most common location is on the front bumper. You can sacrifice power for more mobility by getting smaller winches to carry around.
You can opt for an electric winch or hydraulic one (the differences are outlined above). If it is electric, you will want to make sure you have a large enough battery to power the winch and still give you enough juice to function everything else properly. The upside to a hydraulic one is it is more powerful, but the downside is it can only be used when the vehicle is on. Knowing how and where you will be using a winch will help you decide which type to get.
- 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 Winch Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Warn VR12-S Winch
Warn’s 12-volt electric winch is rated to handle up to 12,000 pounds of pulling capacity, allowing you to pull free almost anything. It’s a durable and reliable winch, capable of pulling you out of nearly any predicament or terrain. It’s equipped with a load-holding cone brake to give you more efficient control.
It can be mounted in an upright position or low-profile mounting on your Jeep, truck, or SUV. A great feature of this winch is the one-piece tie plate that replaces multiple tie bars for increased strength and performance. It’s also designed with a waterproof Albright contractor, making it stronger and able to pull most anything with ease. The clutch lever also makes it simpler to control the winch, and it comes with a remote for easy access.
You will need a compatible bumper or mounting plate to have the winch properly mounted to your Jeep. Also, the housing material around the winch may be prone to breaking if it’s put under a lot of stress. It is also an electric winch, so you won’t get nearly as much power as you would from a hydraulic one.
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.
Honorable Mention: 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 the heaviest winch of the three on this list. Plus, while the winch may feature stainless steel, the plastic casing surrounding it feels cheap and may break easily.
- If you get a system with a steel wire rope or cable, consider handling it with a pair of thick gloves to avoid hurting your fingers. The steel could develop small frays or spikes over time, causing damage to the cable and yourself.
- To avoid straining your winch or the cabling, consider pulling in short spurts or at a slower rate. Slower line speed will reduce the chance you risk damaging anything. Try pulling every 30 or so seconds to give the components a break and allow the system to cool down.
- Winches are not designed to be used to tow vehicles. A winch is built to pull vehicles out of difficult situations, while a tow cable is used to pull cars onto a platform. Using one as the other may lead to a large repair bill.
Q: How do I find out what size winch I need?
A: This depends on the size of your vehicle; the heavier the Jeep, the stronger the winch you will need. The winch should be at least 1.5 times the weight of your Jeep. To find out the exact weight, multiply the gross vehicle weight by 1.5.
Q: Does a winch come with its own mounting plate?
A: Generally, the mounting plate and everything else needed to properly install the winch will be included in the box. However, you should consider checking with the manufacturer to make sure it comes with everything you need. Another thing to keep in mind is the bumper of your vehicle; not all winches are designed to fit aftermarket bumpers.
Q: Can I replace the cable if it is damaged?
A: You need not worry about replacing the entire winch if the cable is damaged or frayed. You can easily replace it with the exact cable or upgrade it to a new one.
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.