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LAST UPDATED: August 20, 2019

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 Overall
    HOOAI Synthetic Winch Rope
    HOOAI Synthetic Winch Rope
    Summary
    Summary
    This synthetic winch rope comes at a great price without compromising on quality and features.
    Pros
    Pros
    The HOOAI winch rope has a durable nylon eye guard, a five-foot protective sleeve, a 90-day trial period, and a lifetime warranty.
    Cons
    Cons
    This 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.
  • Best Overall
    HOOAI Synthetic Winch Rope
    HOOAI Synthetic Winch Rope
  • Best Value
    Ucreative 1/4 Inch x 50 Feet 7,700-Pound Synthetic Winch Line Cable Rope
    Ucreative 1/4 Inch x 50 Feet 7,700-Pound Synthetic Winch Line Cable Rope
    Summary
    Summary
    This synthetic winch rope comes in three colors and is UV- and chemical-resistant. It has a solid metal loop and protective sleeve.
    Pros
    Pros
    It's made of heavy-duty synthetic fiber that is strong and durable. It's also lightweight, easy to install, and good looking.
    Cons
    Cons
    It requires a Hawse fairlead for installation, and it can easily fray if it jumps the track. It may also snap prematurely.
  • Best Value
    Ucreative 1/4 Inch x 50 Feet 7,700-Pound Synthetic Winch Line Cable Rope
    Ucreative 1/4 Inch x 50 Feet 7,700-Pound Synthetic Winch Line Cable Rope
  • Honorable Mention
    Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope
    Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope
    Summary
    Summary
    This comprehensive synthetic winch kit gives you the choice of three different high-quality ropes.
    Pros
    Pros
    This kit comes with a protective sleeve, a steel snap hook, rubber stopper, protective carrying case, and a 30-day warranty. 
    Cons
    Cons
    The Offroading Gear winch line has a lower breaking strength than others on the list, and each rope is expensive for its size.
  • Honorable Mention
    Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope
    Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope

    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 Synthetic Winch Rope Reviews & Recommendations 2020

    Best Overall

    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.

    Best Value

    This 50-foot, 1/4-inch synthetic winch rope has a breaking strength of 7,700 pounds and is available in blue, yellow, and gray. It's designed to produce minimal stretch and non-rotation and is UV- and chemical-resistant. It's a universal fit for most ATVs and UTVs and features a solid metal loop and a black protective sleeve.


    This line is strong, well-constructed, and durable. It is made of heavy-duty synthetic fiber and has a low stretch. It's also lightweight and will float in water. You can fold it in half once it's rolled to fit in a small area in your truck if you want to use it as a safety line or for other purposes. It's also easy to install and looks good.


    However, you need to use an aluminum Hawse fairlead with this rope because it can snap with a traditional fairlead. Also, it has a tendency to fray if it jumps the track. There have also been some complaints that it breaks after a short period of use.

    Honorable Mention

    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.

    Honorable Mention

    This 100-foot, 3/8-inch cable is pre-stretched and heat treated for optimal tensile strength. It has a 25,000-pound breaking point and comes with a red protective sleeve to prevent abrasion and chafing. The rope also features a stainless steel tube thimble to protect your eyes.


    The sleeve acts as a warning against spooling out too much line and also protects the line if it is in contact with rocks. The D-ring has a durable finish, and the full length of rope fits on the spool without any issues. Overall, it is nice and smooth, resists knotting, and is hard to cut.


    One downside is it may leave behind a black film if you handle it with your bare hands. Also, it may not be the 100-foot length that it claims to be. And the lug that bolts to the winch drum is very large, so the rope can come up a little short. Some also complain that the heat shield is too short.

    Honorable Mention

    The FieryRed 85-foot long, 3/8-inch rope has a 25,000-pound breaking point and is designed for Jeeps, SUVs, and other off-road vehicles with winches ranging from 9,000 to 14,500 pounds. It's constructed of 12 strands of braided, ultra-tough nylon and comes with a UV and chemical-resistant nylon sleeve.


    It spools nicely while pulling on an incline and is great for pulling stuck vehicles, removing stumps, hauling a car into a trailer, etc. The line is really strong, doesn't tangle, and is much lighter but about the same strength as some competitor cables. It's also very easy to install and holds up well over time.


    One problem with this rope is it may be a little stiff, and the eyelet that bolts to the winch roller is not the best quality. In addition, the black dye can rub off onto your hands, revealing white rope underneath.

    Honorable Mention

    This 50-foot, 3/16-inch synthetic rope is for use on the following WARN ATV winches: RT25, XT25, RT30, XT30, 2.5ci, and 3.0ci. The rope is lightweight, flexible, and easy to handle. It also comes with a rock guard sleeve.


    This WARN rope is strong, nimble, good quality, and quick and easy to install. It's a perfect fit, winds up nicely, and is a perfect replacement for old, worn-out cables. The line can pull ATVs, trucks, and more out of the mud without fraying or breaking. Also, the instructions are easy to follow, and it looks nice.


    One problem with this rope is it tends to get fragile when it gets wet, which can be an issue if you use it for tasks such as plowing. The rope may also wear rather quickly and may not have as long a lifespan as some rival synthetic winch ropes.

    Honorable Mention

    This 85-foot, 3/8-inch synthetic rope has a maximum breaking load of 26,000 pounds and is designed for ATV, SUV, Jeep, and truck use. The rope is easy to handle and will work in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. It features a protective sleeve that is UV- and abrasion-resistant. It also has a stainless steel tube thimble and hook attachment.


    This cable is high-quality and holds up well over time. It's strong yet lightweight and is easy to use for tasks such as pulling a vehicle or logs. It feels nice in your hands and is very flexible, and the end loop is durable. The eyelet is also very thick, which is a testament to its quality.


    However, the hook is not included. Also, the sleeve may tear after a short period of use, which can cause the braided line to wear more easily. The product may also fray prematurely.

    Honorable Mention

    This 50-foot, 1/4-inch rope comes in grey and blue and is designed for ATVs, UTVs, SUVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles with a 2,500- to 4,500-pound winch. It is significantly lighter weight than a comparable steel winch cable, repairable, and can be braided and used again.


    This rope is strong, flexible, easy to maneuver, and is a lot easier to use than a steel cable. You don’t have to worry about cutting your hands when you handle it. Many people also use this product for their tree stands and climbing steps for hunting. It's also very reasonably priced.


    However, there have been some complaints that it can fray or snap easily the first time you use it. In addition, its maximum breaking load is just 6,500 pounds, which is considerably less than many other brands.

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    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 

    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.

    Metal 

    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.

    Top Brands

    Smittybilt

    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

    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.

    A winch attached to the front of a vehicle
    gettyimages

    Some synthetic rope kits come with an easy snap hook attached

    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.

    Key Features

    Tensile Strength

    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. 

    Length

    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.

    Other Considerations

    • 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 2020

    Best Overall
    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.

    Best Value
    Ucreative 1/4 Inch x 50 Feet 7,700-Pound Synthetic Winch Line Cable Rope

    This 50-foot, 1/4-inch synthetic winch rope has a breaking strength of 7,700 pounds and is available in blue, yellow, and gray. It's designed to produce minimal stretch and non-rotation and is UV- and chemical-resistant. It's a universal fit for most ATVs and UTVs and features a solid metal loop and a black protective sleeve.


    This line is strong, well-constructed, and durable. It is made of heavy-duty synthetic fiber and has a low stretch. It's also lightweight and will float in water. You can fold it in half once it's rolled to fit in a small area in your truck if you want to use it as a safety line or for other purposes. It's also easy to install and looks good.


    However, you need to use an aluminum Hawse fairlead with this rope because it can snap with a traditional fairlead. Also, it has a tendency to fray if it jumps the track. There have also been some complaints that it breaks after a short period of use.

    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.

    Honorable Mention
    Ranger 3/8

    This 100-foot, 3/8-inch cable is pre-stretched and heat treated for optimal tensile strength. It has a 25,000-pound breaking point and comes with a red protective sleeve to prevent abrasion and chafing. The rope also features a stainless steel tube thimble to protect your eyes.


    The sleeve acts as a warning against spooling out too much line and also protects the line if it is in contact with rocks. The D-ring has a durable finish, and the full length of rope fits on the spool without any issues. Overall, it is nice and smooth, resists knotting, and is hard to cut.


    One downside is it may leave behind a black film if you handle it with your bare hands. Also, it may not be the 100-foot length that it claims to be. And the lug that bolts to the winch drum is very large, so the rope can come up a little short. Some also complain that the heat shield is too short.

    Honorable Mention
    FieryRed Synthetic Winch Rope

    The FieryRed 85-foot long, 3/8-inch rope has a 25,000-pound breaking point and is designed for Jeeps, SUVs, and other off-road vehicles with winches ranging from 9,000 to 14,500 pounds. It's constructed of 12 strands of braided, ultra-tough nylon and comes with a UV and chemical-resistant nylon sleeve.


    It spools nicely while pulling on an incline and is great for pulling stuck vehicles, removing stumps, hauling a car into a trailer, etc. The line is really strong, doesn't tangle, and is much lighter but about the same strength as some competitor cables. It's also very easy to install and holds up well over time.


    One problem with this rope is it may be a little stiff, and the eyelet that bolts to the winch roller is not the best quality. In addition, the black dye can rub off onto your hands, revealing white rope underneath.

    Honorable Mention
    WARN Synthetic Rope Replacement Kit

    This 50-foot, 3/16-inch synthetic rope is for use on the following WARN ATV winches: RT25, XT25, RT30, XT30, 2.5ci, and 3.0ci. The rope is lightweight, flexible, and easy to handle. It also comes with a rock guard sleeve.


    This WARN rope is strong, nimble, good quality, and quick and easy to install. It's a perfect fit, winds up nicely, and is a perfect replacement for old, worn-out cables. The line can pull ATVs, trucks, and more out of the mud without fraying or breaking. Also, the instructions are easy to follow, and it looks nice.


    One problem with this rope is it tends to get fragile when it gets wet, which can be an issue if you use it for tasks such as plowing. The rope may also wear rather quickly and may not have as long a lifespan as some rival synthetic winch ropes.

    Honorable Mention
    BUNKER INDUST Synthetic Winch Rope

    This 85-foot, 3/8-inch synthetic rope has a maximum breaking load of 26,000 pounds and is designed for ATV, SUV, Jeep, and truck use. The rope is easy to handle and will work in temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. It features a protective sleeve that is UV- and abrasion-resistant. It also has a stainless steel tube thimble and hook attachment.


    This cable is high-quality and holds up well over time. It's strong yet lightweight and is easy to use for tasks such as pulling a vehicle or logs. It feels nice in your hands and is very flexible, and the end loop is durable. The eyelet is also very thick, which is a testament to its quality.


    However, the hook is not included. Also, the sleeve may tear after a short period of use, which can cause the braided line to wear more easily. The product may also fray prematurely.

    Honorable Mention
    QIQU 1/4

    This 50-foot, 1/4-inch rope comes in grey and blue and is designed for ATVs, UTVs, SUVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles with a 2,500- to 4,500-pound winch. It is significantly lighter weight than a comparable steel winch cable, repairable, and can be braided and used again.


    This rope is strong, flexible, easy to maneuver, and is a lot easier to use than a steel cable. You don’t have to worry about cutting your hands when you handle it. Many people also use this product for their tree stands and climbing steps for hunting. It's also very reasonably priced.


    However, there have been some complaints that it can fray or snap easily the first time you use it. In addition, its maximum breaking load is just 6,500 pounds, which is considerably less than many other brands.

    Tips

    • 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.

    FAQs

    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.

    Final Thoughts

    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, the HOOAI 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 Ucreative 1/4 Inch x 50 Feet 7,700-Pound Synthetic Winch Line Cable Rope.