Which Winch?

What Size Winch?  |  Powersports  |  Wrap/Layer  |  Tips  |  Brands

If you like to take your truck, Jeep, ATV or side x side out on the trails, it is a good idea to have a winch with you just in case. Selecting the best winch now will save you the headache when you will need it out in the wilderness. Even though doing all the research and going through all of available options may take a ton of time, it will pay off when you need it the most.

Electric Winch V. Hydraulic Winch

Determining what type of winch will best suite your needs is one of the hardest questions. You need to compare between an electric or hydraulic winch.

Electric Winch


  • Easy to install
  • Relatively inexpensive


  • Totally dependent on your vehicle's electrical system
  • Designed for short term pulls
  • Need to cool down between uses

  • Hydraulic Winch


  • Can be used for long duration pulls
  • Won't overheat
  • Won't burn out
  • Not dependent on your vehicle's electrical system


  • Cost more than electric winches
  • More in depth installation requirements

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    What Size Winch?

    The size of the winch you need depends on what you will be needing to get unstuck. If you are looking to free up a truck or a Jeep, simply take the vehicle's gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and multiply that number by 1.5.

    Example: If you are looking to outfit your Wrangler with a winch and the GVWR of the Wrangler is roughly 5,000 lbs, that would put the minimum capacity at 7,5000 lbs. So look for at least a 7,500 - 8,000 lbs winch.

    ***Note: You can always go up in capacity. It would be better to have a heavier duty winch and be able to get freed than not have a strong enough winch and have wait for assistance.***

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    No matter if you are running a hydraulic or electric winch, there will be a point when the max pulling power is tested. The max pull rating of every winch is measured on the innermost wrap of line around the drum. The first wrap delivers the most leverage and greatest mechanical advantage. Each time another layer of winch line is made, the overall gearing grows taller and reduces pulling power. The more layers that are on the drum, the less each outer layer's load capacity reduces the leverage factor. For most of the heavy duty model winches, the effective pulling power is cut by roughly 15% - 20% per layer (depending on the winch make and model).

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    In selecting a winch, you can choose between a wire and synthetic rope. Synthetic rope is lightweight, can be handled easy and is great for use in muddy situations. Wire rope is better for utility tasks and winching in abrasive situations.

    Type Of Powersport Winch Size
    Small ATV (Under 300cc) 1,500 lbs
    Large ATV (300cc Or More) 2,500 lbs
    Largest ATV 3,000 lbs
    Side x Side 4,000 lbs

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  • Keep hands away for the cable drum and fairlead
  • Before winching, make sure all shackles, hooks and clevis are fastened securely
  • Wear leather gloves
  • Bystanders should be at least 50 feet away
  • A heavy mat, coat or bag should be placed at the center (midway) point of the cable
  • NEVER stand next to a winch that is under load
  • NEVER attach a winch to steering components, an OEM bumper, spring shackles or tow ball
  • NEVER start winching with less than four (4) cable wraps on the drum
  • Winch in short bursts
  • Before starting, check the cable for kinks, frays and damage