Going off-road and exploring the unexplored is one of the best parts of owning a truck or SUV. These vehicles are designed to be more rugged than cars, and in general can take the rockier terrain with much more grace than vehicles that don’t have the same horsepower or four wheel drive systems. Despite this, sometimes when you’re driving a SUV or truck, you need the ability to either pull another vehicle like a four wheeler or tow the truck or SUV out of a muddy or watery area. When you’re in these situations, a dedicated truck winch is the perfect tool to get you where you need to go.

Capacity: A winches capacity will greatly be affected by your vehicle’s size. Most modern trucks weigh between 5,000 and 9,500 pounds, so if your winch can only manage 3,000 pounds, then you’ll primarily be using it to winch in four wheelers, snowmobiles, and off-road vehicles. On the other hand, if your winch has a larger capacity, you can use it to pull your truck out of a mired situation (such as if you get your vehicle stuck in mud or sand!). In both of these situations, you’ll need some additional specialized equipment in order to make sure that your winching is safe.

Additional Purchases: Winching should be done safely, and in order for this to be the case, you should employ some additional tools. These can include:

A pair of thick gloves – These will protect your hand from injury as you winch your load. They should be made of strong material that won’t be greatly affected by the friction caused during the winching process. These are also great when you’re establishing a connection with external objects like trees.

A Tree Saver – Winching directly with a metal cable will absolutely destroy a tree’s trunk, so it’s important to use a Tree Saver attachment for your winch. These are usually made of a thick, hard to break material that wraps around the tree and simultaneously sets an anchor point for your winch. You’ll probably have to attach your winch via a D-shackle.

A Cloth or Towel – Believe it or not, but a simple item like this can greatly protect you from a snapped cable. These items reduce the snap-back of a broken cable by absorbing some of the initial shock. These cables can really injure you if you’re not careful, so using these items are helpful.

Weather and Waterproofing: When you need to winch, sometimes it’ll be in less-than-optimal weather situations, so it’s great to use a winch that is weatherproof. In addition to this, when you find that you need to bring your SUV or truck across a narrow waterway, sometimes a winch is your best friend in this situation. When this happens, a waterproof winch is absolutely vital.

Horsepower: How fast your winch is able to pull a rated load will greatly depend on its horsepower. While some may not consider this a big deal, being able to quickly pull your vehicle will get you moving again in short order.

Truck Winches

Best Design Feature

Price

Rating

Rugged Ridge 15100.01 8,500Lb Winch with Steel Cable

This product features a relatively powerful 5.5 horsepower motor

$269.99

Stars 4.6/5

Superwinch (1140230) Black 12 VDC LT4000ATV SR Winch – 4000 lb

This product features a remote; making winching easy.

$210.71

Stars 4.4/5

WARN 86260 VR12000 12,000 lb Winch

With a 12,000 pound capacity, this winch has a lot of pull power.

$799.99

Stars 4.8/5

Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch, 10,000lbs

This product has a great weatherproof construction.

$378.36

Stars 4.7/5

VIPER MAX 5000lb UTV Wide Spool Winch

With 55 feet of cable, this product has a lot of built-in versatility.

$301.49

Stars 4.5/5

WARN 86245 VR8000 8,000 lb Winch

This is a very low profile product. It’ll fit easily on many SUVs and trucks and will be all but unnoticeable, yet can pull four tons.

$499.99

Stars 4.6/5

Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500 lb. Load Capacity

The 6.6 Horsepower winch is fully amphibious, which is perfect for those who love an off-road adventure.

$299.90

Stars 4.6/5


1) Rugged Ridge 15100.01 8,500Lb Winch with Steel Cable

The first product in our guide is perfect for a plethora of vehicles and mounts neatly onto the bumper of your jeep, SUV, or truck. With a capacity of 8500 pounds, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting your vehicle unstuck or simply borrowing a little oomph from a nearby tree or stationary object. Rugged Ridge specializes in jeep parts, so you know that when you purchase this particular product that it’ll be able to help your vehicle traverse any unexplored wilderness with ease.

We really like the horsepower on this particular unit, it packs a full 5.5 horses into its performance, which means that you should easily and quickly be able to pull your vehicle once you’ve established a stable grip. We also loved the construction of this particular device; it has a lot of components that are made of stainless steel, so it really goes well with the front bumpers of many models of jeep and truck. In addition to this, it also utilizes a automatic brake system that has great load-bearing capabilities.


2) Superwinch (1140230) Black 12 VDC LT4000ATV SR Winch – 4000

As you might have guessed from the name, Superwinch is a company that specializes in devices of this type. As a matter of fact, we’ve featured more than one of their excellent products in this very guide. The S400 truck winch has an excellent design that is perfect for those who need to haul a relatively small load of about 4,000 pounds or two tons. If you need to quickly load up items like go carts, four wheelers, or even golf carts into the bed of your truck, then this is a great product to use.

The cable on this device is steel braided, making it have a very strong tensile strength. Even with that in mind, the device also comes with a wired remote control so that you can stand at a safe distance while you execute the winching operation. When done, the remote’s cable neatly detaches so that you won’t have to worry about it dragging. While it only has a 1.8 horsepower motor, you’ll find that this is more than enough power to pull relatively heavy objects.


3) WARN 86260 VR12000 12,000 lb Winch

Another manufacturer that you’ll see on this list multiple times is Warn. Established in the 1940s as a company that modified World War II surplus jeeps for civilian use, this company has gone on to become one of the most reliable producers of American made truck and jeep winches. Warn’s VR series of winches is designed to be a perfect entry level line of products; they provide power and ease of use simultaneously.

This particular entry in the series has a good amount of power for any level of user. With it, you’ll be able to pull over six tons of load, which is one of the highest capacities in this guide. In addition to this power, the device also includes a remote that you can easily control the winch with from a range of 12 feet. This electrically controlled device is also weather and water resistant, so you can depend on it, even when a lot of moisture is in play. Also, when you need to stop for whatever reason, this device has a great breaking system as well.


4) Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch, 10,000lbs

Our second Superwinch product is also the second highest when it comes to overall capacity. This product can pull around five tons of load, which is a great capacity when you need to quickly pull your vehicle out of a difficult situation. The motor on this product is a one horsepower model that has a decent speed when under load.

We felt that this product really shines when it comes to its cabling. The rope for this device is made of tightly wound steel wiring that has a lot of tensile strength. On top of this, the device comes with a 12 foot remote that’ll let you control the winching operates from a safe distance. This remote is coated in rubber so that you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged during the winch’s operation.

Since many winching operations can happen as a result of inclement weather, the weather-sealed solenoid and circuit breaker are designed to operate with efficiency under any moisture conditions.


VIPER MAX 5000lb UTV Wide Spool Winch

At 55 feet of overall length, this Viper product does a great job at giving you a lot of cabling to work with. In addition to this, this product probably has the most accessories of all of the products that we’ve featured in this guide. It comes with a 4T snatch block that will greatly increase overall capacity for pulling, a clevis hook that’s designed to attach to your vehicle in a very sturdy fashion, and a stopper that’s comprised of rubber that will also prevent your vehicle being scratched up by the durable hook.

The planetary gear of this particular product uses a three-stage system that provides a lot of control and inherent versatility. The cabling itself is also very strong and comprised of steel threads. We also really liked the responsiveness of this particular winching system’s braking. Finally, the spool is relatively well-protected so that debris and detritus doesn’t gum up the winch’s works.


WARN 86245 VR8000 8,000 lb Winch

Another of Warn’s entry level VR series, the Warn 86245 is a durable, easy-to-use winch that’s designed to provide more than enough towing and hauling capacity to get most vehicles to where they need to go. Like other winches in the VR series, this particular winch has a rubberized 12 foot long remote control system that lets you easily control it from a safe distance. This remote has a pistol-grip so that controlling it ergonomically is easy to do. This feature is very useful, especially considering that this particular winch has a 8,000 pound pulling capacity.

Another feature that we found very useful is the removable control pack. This pack can be mounted directly on the winch itself or placed somewhere else entirely, like the cab of your truck. This feature allows you to have versatility in your control choices. While this product doesn’t use a steel cabling system, it does employ a very strong spydura synthetic rope system that has a lot of tensile strength.


7) Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500 lb. Load Capacity

Our first Smittybilt product is also the last product that we’ll be featuring in this guide. It also has the highest horsepower of all of the devices that we’ve reviewed. With a 6.6 horsepower motor, you’ll be able to quickly pull the devices 9,500 capacity with relative ease. With a good-sized capacity like this, you’d expect this to be one of the most expensive winches on our list; but fortunately, you can find this particular winch under $300.

What’s very impressive about this particular winch is its IP67 rating. This means that this is a very waterproof winch, so if you find yourself needing to ford a small river, this particular winch will easily give you the pull you need without risking its internal mechanisms. In addition to this, it also has a corded remote that features a pistol grip for added convenience and ease-of-use.


Conclusion

Pulling our sport utility vehicles and trucks out of difficult to navigate situations or simply loading up our off-road vehicles is made much easier with a dedicated winching system. Having these as an option for getting unstuck is also a great reason to have one of these machines. All of the products on our list will serve you well for years to come because they are all well-built and are all designed to be easy to operate.

Of all of these devices, if we had to pick one that’s our favorite, we’d pick the
WARN 86260 VR12000. This unit just has the power and ease-of-use that would be most appealing to many of the off-road enthusiasts that this product is designed for. Being able to pull 12,000 pounds will also make it very valuable for when you need to un-mire a large vehicle. Add this to the fact that it’s also remote controllable and you have a winning hitch that also happens to be very competitively priced amongst its competitors.

If you are looking for more bang for your buck, then we also loved the
Superwinch 1510200 LP10000 Winch. For less than $400, you will be able to tow 10,000 pounds of load, which is a fairly large amount of hauling ability. The fact that this product also has a weather-sealed solenoid and circuit breaker means that you’ll also be able to use this product in any inclement weather situation that you might encounter out there in the wilds.