Best Winch Reviews 2017 – 2018

Having the best electric winch is very useful in recovering your vehicle, especially when you’re miles from civilization. While the cost of this equipment varies from hundreds of dollars, you will have the peace of mind during emergency cases, giving you the pulling power for vehicle recovery and other general utility situations.

In case you’re wondering on who’s making the best winch today, this article will tell you exactly who. Purchasing this equipment could be overwhelming due to the wide selections, types, and brands, also considering your available budget. But, before going deeper into these aspects, it would be best to discuss the top-rated winch brands, making them available to you, even through online shopping.

So, below are electric winch reviews with their corresponding customer ratings, and other product details, specifications, and features. These reviews allow you to compare one brand over the other, while considering your personal taste or preference towards the end.

PictureModelEditor RatingsOur Review
Smittybilt 97495 (4.6 / 5)
220+ Reviews
Our Review
Champion Power Equipment 14560 (4 / 5)
76+ Reviews
Our Review
Superwinch 1135220 (4.6 / 5)
800+ Reviews
Our Review
WARN 86255 (4.6 / 5)
92+ Reviews
Our Review
Master Lock 2953AT (3.9 / 5)
270+ Reviews
Our Review

Best Winch Reviews 2016

Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch

Garnering an average rating of 4.6-Stars is the Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch. This winch from Smittybilt receives an IP67 waterproof rating with a 9,500 pounds single line pulling capacity. It features a 4-way roller fairlead, including a remote control, plus a 6.6HP series wound motor.

The manufacturer recommends a 650CCA minimum of battery for winching. It also boasts a 12-foot lead with battery leads of 25 square millimeters. It also features a 3-stage planetary gear train and a 161.28:1 gear ratio.

This is one of the best winches you’ll ever find on the market, featuring a stylish textured black finish. Weighing at 78 pounds, the Smittybilt 97495 has a sliding ring gear mounting clutch, along with a bolt pattern of 10.0-inch by 4.5-inch. Its overall dimensions measure at 22.3 inches in length by 5.4 inches in width by 9.4 inches in height.

Featuring an automatic in-drum brake with a 2.5-inch in diameter as drum size, this off road winch makes use of a wire rope and the cable length measuring at 93.5 feet. The Smittybilt 97495 claims to be the next generation winching technology.

Along with the product is a 5-year electrical warranty from the manufacturer, which is much loved by a lot of actual users. Winch reviews also indicate that this product is very powerful as it is less geared down; thereby, it is able to wind faster. With the parking brake on, users can actually winch a 4,500-pound vehicle on concrete easily.

Purchasing a snatch block with the actual winch provides additional pulling power, but only when necessary. Overall, the Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch boasts heavy-duty features combined with an improved performance and durability. Read our Smittybilt 97495 Review here!

Champion Power Equipment 14560 Wireless Winch Kit

Next up is the 14560 Wireless Winch Kit by Champion Power Equipment. With an average rating of 4-Stars, this could be the best winch for the money, functioning as an ATV/UTV wireless winch. It has an excellent, powerful, and reliable winching technology, allowing a maximum of 4,500-pound rated line pull.

Similar to the previous product, this version also offers a planetary gear, including dynamic braking systems, plus a gear reduction ratio of 180:1. It has a 1.6HP permanent magnet motor with an ergonomic and convenient handle bar mounted remote control, all in powering the line in and out.

Other impressive features of the 14560 Wireless Winch include a rugged, latched clevis hook, a free spooling clutch, and 38-foot by 15/64 -inch galvanized heavy-duty aircraft cable. The kit also comes with a roller fairlead, a wireless remote and antenna, a mini-rocker switch, cables, and mounting channel – all of which are necessary to start winching.

Furthermore, Champion Power Equipment is a trusted brand when it comes to competition winch products, offering years of impressive experience, while creating powerful equipment that are designed towards the North America and the worldwide markets. Hence, such product offers excellent performance, either for play, home, or work, making lives easier day by day.

Champion Power Equipment also offers a 2-year limited warranty with this product, while ensuring dedicated technicians and service networks to provide world-class customer response and service where ever it is needed. All in all, Champion Power Equipment is among the electric winch manufacturers to suit your needs. Read our detailed Champion Power Equipment Review here.

Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 3500lbs

Meanwhile, the Superwinch 1135220 Terra garners a 4.6-Star as an average customer rating. As an excellent product from Superwinch, this cable version is available with a mounting plate, a roller fairlead, a handlebar mount toggle, and a handheld remote. The steel drum design has been engineered for use with a cable or a synthetic rope.

This model also offers the high-end power, including durability, and versatility that power sport users demand for. It is a serious workhorse, possessing an outstanding 3-stage and all-steel planetary gear train combined with a machined-in and oil pocket bronze bearings.

With a 3,500-pound as its pull rating, the Superwinch 1135220 Terra boasts a 1.6HP low-amp draw engine, plus a 50-foot of sturdy 13/64-inch steel wire rope. Aside from its 4-way roller fairlead, this version also provides multi operation switching options, making it ideal for recreational and serious operations alike.

It is, indeed, a high-performance winching power as it was engineered in correlation with the toughest terrains there could be. It promises to haul you out of tight situations and spots that you may end up with. Its overall design is also compatible with most 4-bolt pattern winch mount kits out there.

When compared to the planetary gears used by other manufacturers, the ones used in this version are almost double, ensuring smooth and uncompromised movement, despite weather conditions. With safety measures in mind, this recovery winch for sale includes these valuable features such as the mechanical load holding, dynamic braking, and the sealed solenoid, plus circuit breaker protection. Superwinch also offers a limited lifetime warranty with this unit, guaranteeing customer satisfaction all the time. Check our Superwinch 1135220 review!

WARN 86255 VR10000 Winch

Warn introduces the 4.6-Star-rated 86255 VR10000 Winch, which is the mid-capacity version of Warn (Vehicle Recovery) VR Series. Thus, the VR Series are geared towards the novice winch buyers and those who are looking to save some bucks, while getting a genuine WARN winch.

Actual users say this is the best Warn winch, considering its 10,000-pound capacity, making it perfect for heavy trucks, jeeps, and SUVs. This version means big power and big torque at a not-so-big price.

The 86255 VR10000 Winch features a separate control pack for different mounting options, having a series-wound motor that delivers plenty of power, a fast line speed, plus a patented brake design for excellent winching control. The unit includes a remote control, including a 12-foot lead, a 94-foot of 3/8-inch diameter wire rope.

It also features a low-profile design, while the separate control box fits most vehicles. Just like the previous units, this model also offers smooth and 3-stage planetary gear trains. Warn winch reviews indicate the robust, black powder-coat finish of this winch, which is loved by many existing users.

Hence, this model is compatible with other products from WARN such as accessories included in the WARN VR product line. This privilege allows the entry-levels, occasional users, and the pros to acquire the same WARN performance and reliability that the manufacturer is known for.

This next generation winch’s remote control withstands rough treatment off-road, while its rubberized pistol-grip handle allows optimum comfort. The improved sealing design also results in ultra-weather or mud resistance capacity, and not to mention its intuitive operation. Indeed, the low-profile and universal design of this Warn superwinch for most SUVs and trucks. Read our WARN 86255 review!

Master Lock 2953AT 12-Volt DC Portable Winch

Another good winch is the 3.9-Star-rated 2953AT 12-Volt DC Portable Winch by Master Lock. With this unit, you don’t need to buy separate winches for your vehicle or trailer as this DC-powered, portable winch mounts to any flat surface or hitch to haul in a trailer, vehicle, boat, and more.

Compared to other auto winches, the Master Lock 2953AT can be permanently or temporarily mounted to a flat surface or a ball-mount hitch. It has a parallel shaft gear, ensuring sufficient power for rolling wheeled vehicles and trailers up to a 6,000-pound capacity. It is also capable of pulling 5,000 pounds through water, while dragging objects up to 2,000 pounds.

When overloaded, this unit shuts down automatically, a feature unlike other winches out there. Moreover, a toggle remote control allows you to control the entire action from a certain distance. This unit is equipped with 20 feet of cable, reaching easily from the truck’s front to a trailer’s back. The same feature is excellent and comfortable for towing a boat against the trailer.

This 12-v portable winch also includes a hand crank, power battery cables, and a safety hook. The backup hand crank is perfect for carrying and transport of the winch housing. Comes with the kit is a mounting plate that measures at 8-3/4 inches by 4-15/16 inches by 5/32 inches.

While the clutch is manual, you can set the drag through a threaded knob on its shaft; hence, it is easy to use by simply connecting the power and the control cables, loosening the clutch, pulling the cable to the vehicle. Tightening the clutch and pressing the button on the control handle are likewise necessary to start winching. Indeed, this unit is not only a reliable automotive winch, but also a great automatic winch. Read our Master Lock 2953AT Review here!

Winch Buying Guide

On the other hand, this section of the article talks about the essential factors, features, and other major considerations you need to keep in mind when shopping for winches. Being familiar with the top-rated winches also gives you a good winch comparison between the products. Hence, this section allows you to be more equipped with proper knowledge, surrounding winches, their features, benefits, and more.

Types of Winches

While most of the discussed products above are related or are electric winches, there are also trustworthy hydraulic counterparts. For some off-road enthusiasts, they consider the hydraulic type as the best variant over the other, although each type has its advantages over the other. Perhaps, the information below will help you identify the best off road winch between the two.

  • Electric Winch – This type of winch exactly describes its label, which is electrically powered through a vehicle’s battery. Its duty cycle, however, is limited by the battery power. It is highly recommended that the vehicle’s engine is ongoing when using an electric truck winch, preventing the battery to drain completely.
  • Hydraulic Winch – This type of winch is powered by the power steering pump of a vehicle. A hydraulic winch is highly capable of an unlimited duty cycle for long pulls, including a persistent pulling power flow.

Electric Winches

So, why would you choose an electric winch over the hydraulic counterpart? While there is no decision in either way, choosing the electric variant means you’re having more universal equipment. The available models today allow you to install in virtually all vehicles with universal mounting kits. Furthermore, this type is easier to install and remove than the hydraulic, providing more choices and slick features as well.

Electric Winch Framework

It is a given fact that any winch for a truck is a complex combination of pieces and machinery. For better understanding, it is sensible to go more intricately on the components of this equipment, excluding the discussed features.

Battery

This may not be an internal part of the winch, but it serves a great purpose throughout the winching process. Keep in mind that the battery of your vehicle may be sufficient in running your engine, but could be insufficient in handling a winching operation. As a result, keeping your engine running when winching will prevent your battery from draining completely. Also, you must be cautious of heat buildup caused by prolonged winching.

Fortunately, there are now premium battery units that serve such purposes like deep cycle and starting batteries. Otherwise, you can get the highest-rated or the biggest battery you can find, providing you the power for winching during recovery situations. A secondary battery can also help throughout the process with one exclusively for winching, or accessories like a battery isolator or solenoid for the better management of the available power for winching.

Alternator

Also an overlooked component is the alternator, considering its output that can either help or hurt the winching performance. Typically, prolonged winching can cause the alternator to overheat or fail eventually. So, upgrading to a premium variety is strongly suggested, getting one with higher output will resolve this dilemma. A winch manufacturer may also offer upgraded electrical cables in handling heavier electrical current.

Drivetrain Types

Keep in mind that there are also varieties of drivetrain configurations, each having its distinct strengths over the other. Below are the three basic drivetrain types that you can find in electric winches, be it a used electric winch or a new unit.

  • Spur Gear – This drivetrain type offers reliable winching and a fast line speed. However, it lacks stability in holding loads, while requiring a robust and functional brake system.
  • Worm Gear – The worm gear drivetrain is not typical in electric offroad winches, but suited for industrial applications. It is highly capable of holding and lowering loads, making it popular for tow trucks. But, it pulls far slower than other types.
  • Planetary Gear – This type, as offered by the products above, is a hybrid of the two previous types. It is more compact, allowing less weight, less cost, while performing in between the Spur Gear and the Worm Gear drive trains. Heat accumulation is its main drawback.

Motor

The motor of an electric winch is also a major consideration. You can choose between the Permanent Magnet (PM) and the Series-wound (SW) motor. The PM motor is perfect for the casual winchers who do not encounter extreme terrain and recovery situations regularly. This type of motor offers a decent pulling power, excellent performance, heat-tolerant, and its low-amp design makes it energy-efficient. An electric recovery winch with a PM motor typically costs less.

Meanwhile, the SW motor costs more, while requiring some upgrades at times, especially with your vehicle’s battery, alternator, and other electrical components to ensure its lasting performance.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, even the smallest electric winch can help you in recovery situations. The bigger counterparts do not always mean that they perform or pull better. There are more things to consider when buying and using this equipment, besides the unit itself.

Bear in mind that regardless your circumstances are, safety precautions are of utmost importance. The use of work gloves is highly recommended during recovery situations and utility operations because wire strands may break, resulting in lacerations over unprotected skin. It is also wise to keep your hands free of the winch drum when winching. When using a rope or a wire rope, it will be best to spread a towel or a blanket over it as it could snap and produce a whipping effect.

Granted that everything has been discussed about the electric and recovery winches, you are now on your way to purchasing your own equipment, keeping in mind the top-rated winches and the buying guide in this article.