Picking a winch for your 4×4 can be confusing. First off, which size do you need? Is an 8000 lbs pulling capacity winch sufficient? Or do you need something with more beef like a 12,000 lbs pulling capacity winch? Next, do you need a name brand winch like a Warn or ARB (which are often more expensive) or can you go for one of the no-name Amazon brands?
In this article I’ll discuss the top winches and what to look for when selecting one.
- 1 Overview
- 2 Smittybilt x20 12,000 lbs 4×4 Winch
- 3 CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 4×4 Winch
- 4 OFF ROAD BOAR 4×4 13,000 Winch
- 5 WARN ZEON 4×4 Winch
- 6 How Much Winch Pulling Power Do You Need?
- 7 Synthetic Rope vs Wire Cable
- 8 Integrated Solenoid or Non-Integrated Solenoid?
- 9 Mounting Options for Your Winch
- 10 How Much Do You Want to Pay for a Winch?
- 11 Conclusion
Smittybilt x20 12,000 lbs 4×4 Winch
The SmittyBilt X20 is one of the most affordable 12,000 winches on the market. It’s a complete kitting coming with a wireless remote, synthetic rope, and heavy duty snap-hook and hawse fairlead. The X20 is also waterproof with an IP68 rating. This means it won’t get damaged, even if it’s submerged in water.
The x20 also comes with a fairly respectable warranty. It has a lifetime mechanical warranty and a 5 year electrical warranty. The electrical warranty means it will protect you against things like a defective solenoid while the mechanical warranty covers you against things like a bad drum brake. It entitles you to a free product repair or replacement and Smitty has always been pretty good at standing by their products.
It is also worth noting that the X20 is also one of the best looking winches. Its powdered coated casing might not help you winch out of a mud pit any quicker but it does look cool!
Smittybilt 4×4 Winch Pros & Cons
CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 4×4 Winch
Champion’s 12,000 lbs winch wins the award of having the most swag with it.
With Champion’s 12,000 lbs winch you’ll get:
- Wireless remote
- Synthetic rope
- Winch Cover
- Snatch Block
- Mounting Cradles
All of these accessories can cost hundreds of dollars extra and the Champion winch is already fairly affordably priced.
Now with that being said, Champion doesn’t have the greatest reputation in the 4x4ing community and the reputation on this winch isn’t amazing (it has just a 2-year warranty compared to WARN and SmittyBilt which have lifetime warranties). Still, if it’s lots of extras your after, you can’t go wrong with the Champion 12,000 lbs winch.
CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT 4×4 Winch Pros & Cons
OFF ROAD BOAR 4×4 13,000 Winch
Looking for an inexpensive Chinese branded winch without a bunch of accessories? The Off-road Boar winch is a reasonable choice. Depending on the deals available on Amazon, this winch will come in at around $300, which is roughly half the price of some of the name brand winches on this list. It’s also rated at 13,000 lbs pulling capacity instead of 12,000 like many of the other others here, meaning you’ll get a bit more pulling capacity.
The Off-road Boar comes with a fairlead roller (not a hawse fairlead like many of the other winches here because it comes with wire cable and not synthetic rope) and a wireless remote, and that’s about it. If you want a bunch of extras like synthetic rope or a winch cover then look elsewhere.
It also has an IP67 waterproof rating.
Everything about this winch screams Chinese through and through from the instructions to the very ‘functional’ appearance. However, Off-road Boar have decent after-purchase support and they’ve been selling their brand for many years now, meaning they’re not a fly-by-night Chinese brand.
OFF ROAD BOAR 4×4 Winch Pros & Cons
WARN ZEON 4×4 Winch
When it comes to pulling capacity and lightness, the WARN ZEON 10-S Winch makes it on top of the list.
This 4×4 winch won’t be left behind with a 10,000 lbs pulling strength. As a result, it can stand up to heavy loads effortlessly. But don’t be fooled because despite such a pulling power, its aluminum winch drum is easy to carry around.
This 4×4 winch is made from a powder-coated material for an elegant finish and a long-lasting function. It comes with an aluminum hawse fairlead.
WARN ZEON 4×4 Winch Pros & Cons
How Much Winch Pulling Power Do You Need?
Pulling capacity is arguably the important role in picking a 4×4 winch.. This is due to the fact that it refers to how much weight it can handle and move to safety. There are a wide variety of winches with pulling capacities from 2,000 to 18,000 lbs, depending on your vehicle’s size.
The weight of your vehicle isn’t the only thing you need to consider, though. You must also consider the passenger weight, parts and accessories weight, and the modifications you’ve made on your vehicle.
As a rule of thumb, you need a winch with a pull rating that’s at least 1.5 times your 4×4’s overall weight. What’s your 4×4’s overall weight? Vehicle gross weight = vehicle curb’s weight + weight of supplies and equipment you will typically carry.
But then again, it’s only the minimum pull rating. If you want to make sure you’ll safely pull your entire vehicle out of awkward and dangerous situations, it’s better to get a winch with a double pull rating of 2.0.
Most trucks and SUVs are going to be somewhere around 4000-6000 lbs and that’s why 12,000 lbs pulling capacity winches tend to be the most popular for these types of vehicles.
|Half-a-ton Pick-up Trucks
|Less than 8,500 lbs
|10,000 lbs +
Synthetic Rope vs Wire Cable
Another thing you should be concerned about is whether the winch comes with synthetic rope or wire cable. Wire cable is strong against surface tension or abrasion, which means it doesn’t easily break when it rubs against rocks or other similar kinds. Wire cable can also be prickly on the hands and is more difficult to handle than synthetic rope.
On the other hand, when you go for a synthetic rope, it generally has a much higher breaking strength than a wire cable. And because it’s light and floats on water, carrying it around is a breeze minus the trouble of it accidentally sinking into a mud bog.
Synthetic rope also has a less recoil tendency when it snaps. Bear in mind though, a synthetic rope is susceptible to UV light and other elements, which might force you to have it replaced more than once.
Synthetic rope is normally a premium option with winches and will cost slightly more money.
Integrated Solenoid or Non-Integrated Solenoid?
Winches either include an integrated solenoid or a non-integrated solenoid.
Winches with integrated solenoids are often bulkier (meaning that mounting to some bumpers can be a problem) but are also better waterproofed.
Winches with non-integrated solenoids are more flexible in terms of mounting positions but are not as waterproof.
Depending on your mounting position, you may also need to move the solenoid and mounting it off of the winch.
Mounting Options for Your Winch
After you’ve set your eyes on your preferred 4×4 winch, you need a proper place for it on your vehicle. Depending on where you’re mounting your winch, these are popular mounting options:
- On a bumper already with an equipped winch mount
- On a bull bar
- On a trailer mounted cradle
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size fits all equation we can tell you so you’ll have to check the dimensions of your desired winch against your mounting location to see if it’ll fit. The good news is that almost all winches have the same mounting hole pattern so that will never be an issue for you.
How Much Do You Want to Pay for a Winch?
Last but not the least is consider your budget. Are you after a 4×4 winch that’s inexpensive? There are winches that are reasonably priced at $200 to $500. But there are also those which start at $800 going up.
More expensive winches like Warn typically come with a reputable brand name and reasonable parts and support. If something dies on your winch, you can count on being able to find replacement parts. Cheaper winches typically come from less well-known brands. Generally the motors are fairly comparable to more well known brands but there may be limited after-purchase support. You choose.
Getting stuck in an awkward spot is a hassle and even life-threatening, at times. But don’t let panic takeover your system. As long as you have the correct 4×4 winch, with due consideration to its pulling capacity, rope type, and installation level, you can easily and safely get yourself out of any uncomfortable situation. What kind of winch do you have on your 4×4? Let me know in the comments below.