How to Choose a Winch

What you need to know.

Rated Line Pull.

This is the rated line pulling capacity that a single line can handle safely without the use of a snatch block or other pulley system.  This is measured on level ground pulling dead weight(equivalent to lifting weight)(not rolling) from the first layer of winch cable(the one closest to the drum).  The recommended capacity to use for electric winches is generally 1.5 times your GVW(Gross Vehicle Weight).  If your vehicle has a GVW of 6,000 lbs., the recommended winch size would be a 9,000 lbs. winch.

Line Speed.

Line speed refers to how fast a winch can power the cable in or out when the winch is engaged in gear.  Electric winches are fastest with no load.  As the load increases the winch will slow down.

Intermittent Use.

When using an electric winch the amperage draw and heat buildup are directly proportionate to the load you are winching.  As the load increases or the cable moves to a higher wrap on the drum the amperage draw will also increase to pull the same given load and generate heat faster.  Because of this you want to keep the duration of pulls as short as possible.  If necessary you may have to stop and let the electric winch motor cool before continuing.  This is true of all electric winches.

Choosing the right rope.

There are two kinds of rope available for winching(wire and synthetic) and both have their advantages.  Wire or Steel rope is the most common choice.  Wire rope is more resistant to abrasion than synthetic.  It's also more resistant to heat and less expensive than synthetic.  It is also mcuh heavier.  Synthetic rope is much lighter, and generally safer if the rope actually breaks.  It's also stronger in an equivalent diameter to wire.


Consider where and under what conditions you will be using the winch.  There are many accessories available to make winching easier and safer.  Using a snatch block(pulley) can almost double a winch's pulling capacity if the hook on the end of the cable is anchored near the winch itself.  Also included in most accessory kits are gloves to protect you, sythetic strap to protect trees, and shackles to make attaching everything easier.