How to choose the right winch
A winch is an essential piece of equipment for people who regularly go off-road. If you don't have a winch, you will find it difficult to unstuck your vehicle from deep mud or sand. You might spend the whole afternoon digging out your rig with a shovel, something you dont want when you’re out there.
If you’re looking for a winch, you’ll be surprised to find a wide range of options out there on the market. Knowing what to look for can go a long way in helping you choose the perfect winch for the job. To make things easier for you, we’ve created this simple guide that will walk you through the process of choosing the right winch.
Hand winch or electric winch: which one should you choose?
One of the biggest challenges faced by winch buyers is deciding whether to buy a hand winch or an electric winch. They are both great, but there are a few things you need to know about each one of them before settling on one.
Cost and efficiency
Hand winches are less expensive than electric winches. However, electric winches are faster and more efficient.
Load capacity and battery life
While both options have a high load capacity, the electric option won't tire and will likely lift heavier loads. However, an electric winch needs a power source and could quickly drain the car battery with extended use.
Which winch rope should you choose?
You’ll need to decide whether to use a steel cable or synthetic rope. Let’s take a closer look at the two to help you find the perfect option.
Steel is the most common cable for wincing. It's the preferred option for off-roaders as it has proven to be the most effective recovery method. It's durable and strong, which makes it ideal when driving on rough and abrasive terrain, where you're likely to encounter rocks and stony dirt. However, steel can fray, so ensure you use protective gloves. Steel cables are difficult to break compared to synthetic rope. On the upside, it has stood the test of time and is less expensive than synthetic rope.
Synthetic rope is increasingly becoming popular, and there is a good reason for that. They are made from lightweight polyethylene composition, which makes them easy to handle and repair. Surprisingly, synthetic rope is stronger than steel. When they break, they won’t whip around dangerously. However, it tends to fray in harsh weather conditions. Synthetic ropes will work perfectly well for most recovery situations. It’s important to keep the synthetic rope covered when it’s not in use.
How powerful should your winch be?
Most winches have a winch rating, which indicates the amount of weight they can pull. However, it's crucial to remember that these ratings are only meant to guide you on the weight the winch can pull under perfect conditions. There are many things that affect the performance of your winch. These include the angle of the cable, engine size, and others.
The number of layers on the winch line is one of the key factors that influence winch power. A winch tends to be less powerful, with multiple layers of cable wrapped around the winch line. Several layers of cable on one spool can lead to up to 40% power loss. So, you must always take this into account if you’re planning to pull heavy loads.
What mount options are there to choose from?
Apart from the points mentioned above, you also need to consider the winch mounting. There are three main mounting options you can choose from.
Bumper mount is the simplest and most common mounting option. They are not only versatile but also easy to install.
Multi-mount is a bit more complex than bumper mount. This mounting option allows you have a winch both at the front and back of the car. However, it's not the most durable option you can choose.
Winch bumper option is also popular. It looks like part of your car. Aside from serving as a winch, it protects the front side of your vehicle.
Additional features to look out for
Here are a few extra features you need to look out for when shopping for a winch.
The average length of cable of most winches is 24 – 40m. It’s recommended not to choose too short or too long. Always follow the manufacturer's recommendation on cable length when buying a cable separately.
Your winch has to combat the elements when you’re out there. Choose a winch that comes with some level of protection. This will ensure your winch stays strong and last longer.
Some winches come with a remote control that allows you to control the winch from a safe distance. The remote control can be corded or cordless.