An In-Depth Look At Off-Road Truck Winches – Selection

A trusty winch is a great piece of equipment to have on your off-road truck.

With the right winch, you can safely explore the trails and try various obstacles, secure in knowing there is a way to recover your vehicle when something unexpected happens.

There is a lot of thought involved in adding that winch to any off-road truck; however, there are also many questions that should be answered first.

Read about it all in this 4-part series offering an in-depth look at winches that includes how selection, set-up, use, and maintenance.

In Part 1 of 4, learn about the main details and commonly asked questions that owners have when looking to add a winch to their trucks.

What Is The Right Winch Size?

Winch size is one of the more critical factors needed to be absolutely certain that the selected winch works as it should on your off-road truck or Jeep.

Too much winch is better and less dangerous than not enough; however, it has its own drawbacks.

Generally speaking, buy a winch that is rated for one and a half times the curb weight of your 4x4.

As an example, an off-road truck or Jeep of around 6,000 lbs needs a winch that is rated for at least 9,000 lbs, so a 10,000 lb rated winch would be a good choice as it offers a little bit extra capacity in a physical size that will fit the truck without a lot of modification.

A bigger, higher-capacity winch is not only unnecessary, but it might require a considerable change to the frame in order to fit the larger unit.

How Should It Be Mounted?

Regardless of the winch size you decide on, correct mounting is critical.

Given the fact that the winch must be securely attached to its 6,000 lb anchor in order to do any good, it has to be attached in a way that the attachment itself does not become a weak point in the setup.

Some trucks come with winch mounts already built-in for smaller winches, although that may not be enough.

A better and more reliable option is to add an aftermarket winch mount sized for the winch you want to use or to switch the factory bumper for a winch bumper that has the mount built-in.

In either case, these are much stronger since they are bolted right to the frame of the truck.

Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope?

The decision on whether to stick with the traditional steel winch cable or use a synthetic winch rope on a 4x4 is largely a personal one, although there are a few practical advantages to each.

Generally speaking, steel can get kinked and might corrode after time and can develop potentially harmful barbs.

It is also extremely dangerous if steel cable should snap during an off-road truck recovery.

On the other hand, synthetic rope is:

  • Flexible and won’t kink.
  • Less dangerous if it breaks, though still dangerous if it hits someone.
  • Nearly as strong as steel but without the barbs.
  • Much lighter than the steel cable.
  • Easier and safer to use.

One drawback is that ropes need to be replaced every few years which can get expensive.

What About Shackles and Terminators?

Securing the end of the cable or rope is another critical factor to consider for an off-road truck since a weak connection is extremely dangerous and makes a winch impossible to use.

Most cables already come with a standard gated winch or crane hook and a common terminator; however, if the winch will be used frequently, upgrading to a stronger terminator might not be a bad idea and there are many types and sizes available to choose from.

A strong terminator creates the perfect connection for a strong shackle, which many feel is better than relying on the gated hook that comes with the winch.

Large bow shackles are a good choice and also fairly inexpensive.

Together, a terminator and shackle are much stronger and safer than the factory

Other Factors To Consider

Besides the more obvious considerations needed to help decide which winch to get for an off-road truck and how to mount and equip it, there are some others to keep in mind, too.

Start with a winch that has a good track record, preferably one made by a recognized brand.

Roller fairleads might look great but are more trouble than they are worth, so choose a simple, straight one instead if financially possible.

Where winch controls are concerned, a wireless winch is definitely safer but more costly.

If sticking with a wired type, just be extremely careful using it and positioning yourself.

Lots to Think About When Selecting A Good Winch

Getting the right winch for your truck takes some time and research.

It is definitely not an upgrade to simply pick out of a catalog without doing some homework first.

That said, be sure to read on to Part 2 of this series to learn how to correctly set up whatever winch you do choose.

Read all of the installments posted this month before selecting a winch for an off-road truck so you can decide based on all aspects of winch selection, use, and care!

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The Perfect Combination of Form and Function!


An In-Depth Look At Off-Road Truck Winches - Set-up
An In-Depth Look At Off-Road Truck Winches - Uses
An In-Depth Look At Off-Road Truck Winches - Maintenance