Off-Road Truck Winches – How to Pick One And Use It!


Whether your off-road truck is used for work or for play, having a good and reliable winch is essential.

Having the winch is the easy part; however, choosing and using it is more challenging.

Though we will be covering some winch topics in more detail in future blog posts, check out this brief primer on winch selection and use it when thinking of adding one to your 4WD truck.

It is at least a beginning point on ‘winch recovery road’ to start considering the details and winch and winch bumper options might be available to help with planning.

Using A Winch On An Off-Road Truck

Before worrying about which off-road truck winch to get, an important part of winch operation is knowing basic usage of this accessory and how to use it safely.

While there have been volumes written about safe and correct winch operation, understand that every use must be done with the same basic method and precautions to ensure both success and safety.

1. Winch Preparation or Rigging

A safe and successful winch recovery of an off-road truck or Jeep starts with a good anchor point plus careful rigging or preparation of the winch and cable.

Start off with leather gloves to protect your hands, then connect the power to the winch and roll out the winch cable far enough to anchor at a sturdy point like a tree, boulder, or even another heavier vehicle.

Use straps and shackles as necessary to secure the cable for a straight pull, then make the cable taut in final preparation to recover the vehicle.

2. Winch Recovery

Once it is set up and ready to use, slow and careful winching is the key and the safety of all is paramount.

Anyone standing outside of the off-road truck being winched must stay far enough away from the vehicle to prevent injury in the event that the cable should snap or release.

Getting the vehicle rolling initially will be the hardest part; however, once the 4x4 is moving, the slow and steady rolling of the cable will eventually get the vehicle out.

3. Winch Unrigging and Storing

After the recovery has been made, a good off-road truck owner must know how to correctly unrig and store their winch to be sure it is ready for the next use.

This is simply a matter of extending the unhooked cable out from the truck and letting it turn slowly so it coils evenly around the drum then disconnecting the power source to the winch until needed it again.

Choosing The Right Winch

Safe winch use starts with choosing the right winch for your off-road truck and possibly changing to a winch bumper if not already equipped to mount one.

Then consider the many options and decisions to be made in order to find the right one for your off-road monster:

  • Winch Size - Higher winch capacity and size is better, so be sure your choice can winch at least 1.5 times GVWR which is the minimum recommended size for that vehicle.
  • Winch Type - Choices include hydraulic powered by the power steering pump or electric powered by the battery. Electric is fine for occasional use; however, hydraulic is more reliable and less draining on the battery when the off-road truck is more frequently used.
  • Gear Type - Worm gear systems are slower yet preferred for longer pulls and easy repairs while planetary gears winch faster yet heat up more and are harder to repair.
  • Cable or Rope - There are benefits to both types for off-road trucks depending on different conditions, so research is necessary. Steel cables are standard; however, synthetic rope can be better for certain winching uses.
  • Wired or Wireless - Wired is less expensive; however, wireless is safer by allowing anyone outside of the 4x4 to stand further from the vehicle during winching.
  • Cable Length - Long cables reduce winch power as they roll around the drum yet make accessibility easier while shorter cables provide stronger pulls yet reduce reach.
  • Waterproof or Not Waterproof - If you frequently go through water or drive in other wet conditions, a waterproof winch on an off-road truck is a better option.
  • Mounting - Safe mounting is required with either a bumper mount or a safer and durable winch bumper.

So Much To Consider When Buying A Winch

Adding a winch to an off-road truck is not something that should be done without first doing some research and giving it all a lot of thought.

Since your need and situation is going to be different than anyone else’s, keep these options in mind when deciding which winch is the right choice based on usage.

Knowing this, decide which winch mount or bumper will work best for your truck and start there!

Fab Fours Winch Mount

Ultimate Combo of Form and Function!