Best Synthetic Winch Ropes: Top Picks for Towing and Off-Roading
Upgrade from an old-school steel cable with a synthetic winch ropes
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PUBLISHED ON August 20, 2019
A winch is only as good as the rope you use with it. A winch is essential for off-roading, towing, and even for some work-related tasks. Initially, the only tow ropes that were available were made of steel cable. Today, there is a safer and much easier alternative that can even give you better results. This guide will tell you everything you need to know about the best synthetic winch ropes on the market.
- Best OverallAUXMART Synthetic Winch RopeSummarySummaryAUXMART has the best heavy-duty synthetic winch line on the market thanks to its superior features.ProsProsThis high-grade Dyneema rope is 95 feet long, has a breaking point of 20,500 pounds, and has a 10-foot long protective sleeve.ConsConsThe company does not offer any warranties, and the product does not come with installation hardware.
- Best ValueHOOAI Synthetic Winch RopeSummarySummaryThis cheap synthetic winch rope comes at a great price without compromising on quality and features.ProsProsThe HOOAI winch rope has a durable nylon eye guard, a five-foot protective sleeve, a 90-day trial period, and a lifetime warranty.ConsConsThis winch line is short and weaker than the others on the list, it isn't suitable for large trucks, and it only comes in a bright blue color.
- Honorable MentionOffroading Gear Synthetic Winch RopeSummarySummaryThis comprehensive synthetic winch kit gives you the choice of three different high-quality ropes.ProsProsThis kit comes with a protective sleeve, a steel snap hook, rubber stopper, protective carrying case, and a 30-day warranty.ConsConsThe Offroading Gear winch line has a lower breaking strength than others on the list, and each rope is expensive for its size.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Synthetic Winch Rope
- Weight. Synthetic winch ropes are significantly lighter than steel cables. This is a great advantage for storing your ropes and also makes it easier to maneuver them while in use.
- Safety. A serious drawback of using the traditional metal cables for towing is that when they break, it's a huge safety hazard. Not only is synthetic rope safe during a breakage, but it’s also less likely to break.
- Strength. While you might expect steel to win in the strength category, physics can work against it. When stretched, steel stores energy that is eventually released through an explosive snap of the cable. Synthetic winch ropes are made to stretch.
Types of Winch Ropes
Synthetic tow ropes were introduced in the 1990s as an alternative to steel ropes. The materials can vary based on the manufacturer; typically, there are braided strands of various materials, which can include steel wires and nylon. While it is a fairly even match up when you're looking at a synthetic winch rope vs. steel cable, there are key differences. We previously mentioned the benefits of synthetic, but two places where steel wins out is weatherproofing and price. Synthetic tends to be more expensive, and the rope is vulnerable to UV light.
Steel cable has been used for off-roading vehicles wenches since they were first introduced. The wires are strong enough to tow vehicles and other heavy objects, and there are still people today who prefer this product. Steel towing cables aren't perfect for every situation. They are much heavier than synthetic rope, they can be harder to connect to the object you're towing, and if the winch cable breaks it’s a big safety hazard. Positive attributes include a lower price and less vulnerability to sunlight.
Smittybilt offers a huge range of off-road gear such as Jeep Armor, camping refrigerators, and its popular Synthetic Rope Winch. The company gets its name from Basil Smith, a.k.a. "Smitty," who started a four-wheel-drive equipment company in 1956. Smith's son Tom worked at the original company before renaming it to Smittybilt.
Offroading Gear is a Canadian company that manufactures products for a wide range of off-roading vehicles. The company tests its goods in the harshest of conditions at its base in Vancouver. Offroading Gear's parent company, OFR Brands Inc., has over 30 years of production experience. It produces high-quality winch products like its synthetic winch rope and winch cover.
Synthetic Winch Rope Pricing
- Under $25: The smallest and least expensive winch ropes are made for ATV and UTV use. These ropes tend to be only 3/16 inch thick and typically have tensile strength under 6,000 pounds.
- $25 to $75: Some winch ropes for light-duty trucks and larger UTVs come at a slightly higher price. These will cover 6,000 pounds to 12,000-pound winch cables and might include off-roading kits with useful features.
- $75 to $125: Most synthetic winch ropes will land in this price range. These include 75- to 100-foot cables with premium features such as protective sleeves and steel D-links.
- Over $125: Some off-road kits that include premium ropes will come at a higher price. There are also full winches with synthetic lines included at this price point.
Using your winch isn't going to be possible if you buy a rope that can't handle the load you're moving. Every synthetic line will give you a tensile strength, or breaking strength, of the product. You don't want to push the cable too far either, so it's important that you don't buy a rope that's weight capacity is near your average pulling weight. For example, don't trust a 10,000 pound line to pull 9,500 pounds.
If you can imagine your typical winching distance, it'll help you pick a product that can fit your needs. You need a rope that can bridge the gap between your vehicle and anchor point as well as give you extra working room. Smaller winch cables made for ATVs are typically under 50 feet long, while the heavy-duty truck lines can be up to 100 feet long.
- Cost: Synthetic winch ropes vary enormously in price. This is important for your personal budget and also making sure you don't spend extra money on features you don't need. Also keep in mind that no matter how expensive the product is, breaks can and do occur.
- Included Parts: Something to think about before investing in a new winch rope is what you might need for additional pieces. This includes things such as installation hardware, D-rings, snap hooks, carrying cases, and other useful features, which tend to come with a higher price tag. Buying them all at once can save you money in the long run.
- Warranty: The last thing you want to deal with is spending money on a new winch rope and having it break the first time you use it. Whether it's the quality of the product, a manufacturing defect, or just user error, having extra guarantees can go a long way.
Best Synthetic Winch Rope Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: AUXMART Synthetic Winch Rope
All things considered, it's hard to beat this synthetic rope by AUXMART. This truck, SUV, and ATV winch line has a premium towing capacity of 20,500 pounds and is less expensive than other ropes that are the same length. The cord is made from a high-grade synthetic material called Dyneema that has been pre-stretched and heat set to help it repel extreme weather.
One stand-out feature of the AUXMART is the winch rope’s protective sleeve. This built-in feature outdoes the competition with its unique design and 10-foot coverage. The protective sleeve prevents overheating and slippage and protects against rough or sharp surfaces. The line is 3/8 inches thick and 95 feet long and weighs under five pounds. Unlike metal cables, this synthetic material doesn't kink or curl and is resistant to splintering and fraying. The included D-ring has a three-layer forged steel construction, and you can save some money by buying it without the shackle if you already have one.
While this synthetic rope winch cable has impressive features, there are a few things that would make it better. The winch rope kit does not include hardware for mounting the product. And while it's cheap for its size, this synthetic rope is still an expensive option. The AUXMART rope also does not come with a warranty.
Best Value: HOOAI Synthetic Winch Rope
If you're in the market for a synthetic winch cable for ATVs or UTVs, HOOAI has an excellent product. This nylon winch rope has some competitive characteristics considering its very low price point, making it a steal for anybody who doesn't need the super heavy-duty features of premium rope.
This 3/16 inch synthetic winch rope is 48 feet long and has a 6,000-pound breaking strength. One notable design feature is the hook attachment, which uses a heavy-duty nylon eye guard. Another impressive feature is the five-foot protective sleeve, which is rare to find on lower-priced winch cables. The rope is also easy to handle and splice, with no need to worry about sharp frays. HOOAI includes a 90-day carefree return policy as well as a lifetime warranty.
This UTV winch rope is great for its price, but it’s not suitable for every buyer. Many synthetic winch rope customers complain about the bright blue color, which is the only option available. As with most ATV winch cable sizes, the 3/16 inch rope cannot handle pulling large vehicles. The 6,000 pounds tensile strength is good for its price range, but it’s the lowest on our list.
Honorable Mention: Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope
Our final product is a universal rope that's made to fit any winch, including SmittyBilt, ARB and Power Winch. Offroading Gear offers several different options with this kit, and each rope comes with a protective sleeve, a stainless steel snap hook, and rubber stopper. It also has a bag that's useful for carrying and protects your line against the elements.
One great thing about the Offroading Gear winch rope kit is the available options that can help you pick the perfect product. The synthetic ropes come in three sizes and tensile strengths: a 3/16-inch by a 50-foot cable that can pull 4,400 pounds, a ¼-inch by a 50-foot cable that can pull 6,400 pounds, and a ⅜-inch by a 95-foot cable that can pull 18,500 pounds. The company offers a 30-day, worry-free warranty with all of its products.
Offroading Gear gives you a lot of options and included parts, but the product isn't ideal for everyone. The 3/8 inch rope is the most expensive option on the list, and even the smaller sizes are pricey for their sizes. The 18,000-pound tensile strength is also less than the AUXMART rope.
- For towing vehicles that you take offroad, investing in top of the line synthetic ropes might not be necessary. The average Jeep only weighs between 4,000 and 5,000 pounds.
- Be aware of what type of hardware you need to anchor the line to your winch. Every winch rope has a specifically sized eyelet (usually between 1/4" and 3/8") for connecting to a winch's anchor point, and this should match the sized bolt you need.
- Allowing your winch line to drag over jagged objects can cause fraying, which will increase the chance of breakage. Protective sleeves are a good option if you often use your winch rope over sharp surfaces.
- Winches go hand and hand with towing. However, it's important to note that a winch cannot be used with tow straps or recovery straps. Winch ropes are specifically made to connect to a winch, and plain towing straps won’t do. They also wouldn't be able to attach to a winch drum.
Q: Do synthetic winch ropes need to be maintained?
A: Maintenance might include cleaning your winch rope, but for the most part you just need to take some preventive measures. Keep synthetic rope out of the sunlight to protect it from drying out, and store it in a dry place to prevent moisture damage.
Q: What is synthetic rope made out of?
A: Synthetic rope can be made from a variety of materials. Manufacturers can use a mixture of materials such as metal wire, nylon, polyurethane, and other synthetic plastics.
Q: How do you install a synthetic winch rope?
A: First you need to rid your winch of any old rope or cable. Then you can attach the new line's eyelet to the winch's locking mechanism. Once secured, your new cord can be wound up on the winch drum, and it will be all ready to go.
With so many synthetic and steel winch cable options out there, it's crucial to find one that fits your lifestyle. If you need a heavy-duty rope for off-roading, the AUXMART Synthetic Winch Rope is your best option.
If you're looking for a less expensive product that is still high quality, you should try the HOOAI Synthetic Winch Rope.