Best Truck Winch Review and Buying Guide 2020

When it’s about choosing the best truck winch, first and foremost, don’t choose anything less than 8000 lbs weight capacity.

In fact, for heavy-duty jobs, it’s better to start from 10000 lbs. For medium-duty tasks, you can start from 8000 lbs weight capacity.

With that said, not all the winches are reasonable, and if you are meticulous like me, then you should not believe all those marketing hypes blindly.

To give you a clear picture of some of the quality truck winches, I’ve prepared this best truck winch review. I’ve checked so many winch brands, models and then made this top 10 best list.

Before I dive into the review, let me tell you what I considered before keeping any of the following winches on my list.

  • Whether it’s powerful enough to pull a truck.
  • It’s durability, overall performance, and sturdiness.
  • The accessories come along with the package.
  • Ease of installation and use.
  • The cable length and type.
  • Its IP rating.
  • The brand reputation and customer service.

Let’s see which ones successfully made into my list.

Top 10 Best Truck Winches

If you don’t know what pulling capacity you will need, multiply your trucks’s gross weight by 1.5 to get the ideal pulling power for your truck. Ex: To pull a 8,000 lbs truck, your winch capacity should be minimum 12,000 lbs. Check the buying guide below for more on this.

Gross Truck Weight= Truck + Passangers + Baggages Weight

1. Smittybilt  17500 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • It’s a new Gen2 series of XRC that offers better performance.
  • This heavy duty winch features a relocatable control pack (with three mounting options).
  • IP67 rated. Meaning, the unit is waterproof.
  • A large enough free spooling clutch lever lets you operate it comfortably wearing gloves.
  • The hook quality is up to scratch.
  • Straightforward installation and operation process.
  • A relatively big and well functioning wired (12 ft) remote comes with the kit.
  • The 94 ft heavy-duty stainless steel cable performs up to the mark; you won’t see any tangling.
  • This winch is reasonably priced considering the application, quality, and performance.

Cons

  • I anticipated a wireless remote and a winch cover with the kit at this price point.

This winch is the best truck winch as per my findings if buying a quality product at a fair price is something you are looking for. It’s one of the most used and loved winch model by offroaders.

As it’s a 17500 lbs winch, so you will want to limit the gross weight of the truck up to 11666 lbs. It will provide you the best performance and ensure the longevity of the winch.

Overall, this winch is an affordable power in and power out winch for regular use. It features other standard functionalities like 3 stage planetary gear system and automatic load-holding brake for the smooth and secure winching experience.

By the way, this model also has 9500, 12000 and 15500 lbs capacity options. Almost everything is the same, just higher/lower load capacity. If you liked this winch but don’t need huge 17500 lbs capacity one then you can opt-in for lower capacity options.

2. Warn 12,000 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • The advanced rechargeable wireless remote is the best part here. It’s big, so it easily fits in hand. The quality of the remote is superb too.
  • It’s IP68 rated. That means it’s designed to withstand water, sand, dust, or other outside materials.
  • You won’t find it challenging to install the unit.
  • It doesn’t weigh too much considering the weight pulling capacity.
  • A high-quality Spydura Pro synthetic rope (80 ft) goes through the fairlead to ensure a smooth towing.

Cons

  • A pricey winch, I should say. With that said, Warn excels in quality, no doubt. So if budget is not an issue for you, then it’s totally worth buying.

This Zeon 12-S Platinum winch is a top-shelf winch for towing your truck by all means. However, the price is not perfect for someone who is looking for a budget winch.

Since it’s a 12000 lbs winch, it will be wise to restrict the gross weight of your truck within 8000 lbs.

This is one of the most powerful heavy duty winch by Warn. Heck, this thing is a beast, let’s admit it!

It has a less priced steel cable version too. Everything is the same just the rope is replaced with steel cable.

This model is 2X as durable as their previous models. And you can expect it to last for decades easily. No compromise in quality, as expected from a premium brand like Warn. It can easily withstand heavy usage. This one comes with a premium price tag so you know, these qualities must be there to validate the price.

As I said earlier, the wireless remote control is one of the coolest parts here. It features a USB charging cable and a car charger adapter, and it also can read the motor temperature.

So, if the remote runs out of battery, you can effortlessly plug it in either USB source or truck’s charger adapter. It’s quite a handy option for frequent use.

This model deserves to be on top 3 of best winches for truck list.

3. X-Bull 13000 lbs for Truck

Pros

  • It’s easy to hook up and use.
  • It’s IP67 rated. Meaning it’s waterproof.
  • The new generation wireless remote control works as expected.
  • Additional wired remote is designed for offering a good grip and control over the remote operation.
  • A weather-sealed, and relocatable solenoid-box gives you the liberty of placing it at a convenient spot.
  • An overload protector is installed into the system to protect the unit in case of a short circuit or overload.
  • You are getting a winch cover with the kit.
  • The 85 ft synthetic rope proves to be substantially long and lightweight but strong enough to serve the purpose.

Cons

  • Although it’s waterproof, it’s not a great winch to work underwater. However, a water splash won’t damage it.
    It’s a tad loud for my likings.
  • The manufacturer should concentrate on improving the user manual.

This orange-colored heavy duty winch is a suitable option for towing your truck as the weight pulling capacity of this unit is 13000 lbs.

Nonetheless, better keep the gross weight of the truck up to 8666 lbs to follow the rule of thumb (your winch needs to have 1.5 times more weight load capacity than the total weight of the vehicle).

If you are looking for a reliable high capacity winch within 500 bucks, this is the one you should go for. At its price range, this is the best winch for truck I’ve come across with this much capacity and features.

4. Zesuper 13000 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • It’s a quite cost-effective and powerful winch.
  • The unit is IP67 rated. Meaning it’s another waterproof winch on my list.
  • It’s a breeze to install and use.
  • It features both a wireless and wired remote. Both of these remotes work well and easy to grip.
  • A 78 ft lightweight synthetic rope works great without bunching up, and it floats in water and works below -20 degrees centigrade.
  • A weather-sealed control box comes with the kit.

Cons

  • It’s a tad louder than usual.
  • The free spooling clutch lever lacks smoothness occasionally.
  • The manual doesn’t have a wiring diagram included. Nonetheless, wiring is super easy due to the color-coded wires.

Not sure if you heard of this brand or not, but trust me, this particular winch is a perfect alternative to any big brand out there. If you are not lean towards big names and looking for a quality yet inexpensive winch, this is one of the best bets for you.

Like any other 13000 lbs weight pulling capacity winch, you should limit the total weight of your truck up to 8666 lbs when towing using this winch.

Remember, this unit responses one or two seconds later once you press the remote button. I don’t consider this a drawback. Instead, it’s for increased safety.

5. X-Bull 12000 lbs for Truck

Pros

  • It’s an IP67 rated waterproof unit.
  • It comes with two flawlessly working wireless and wired remote control.
  • A weather-sealed control box keeps the solenoid from outside materials.
  • The solenoid is protected by a circuit breaker for better safety.
  • It’s quite straightforward to set up and operate.
  • A heavy-duty 85 ft stainless steel cable wire comes with the unit that goes through a 4-way roller fairlead.
  • This unit has a power-in power-out motor too.
  • This winch is not too loud.
  • It’s reasonably priced.

Cons

  • Sometimes the cable tangles.

This 12000 lb electric winch offers all the standard features like a free spooling, three-stage planetary gear system, and automatic load-holding brake. It’s quite capable of recovering your truck that weighs up to 12000 lb, better if you can restrict the weight to 8000 lb.

The remote supports operation from an ample distance ( from about 80-85’).

Altogether, this very winch is a high quality and powerful solution for every truck owner. It features every single thing required for smooth winching.

If you seldom use a winch, then this one is the best bet for you. Yes, it’s suitable for regular use too, but you have some better options on my list above that are pricey but more suitable for heavy usage.

6. Orcish 13000 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • You are getting two remote along with a robust wired (12’) remote with the kit, including a pair of gloves too.
  • It’s another IP67 rated waterproof unit.
  • A weather-sealed control box with a circuit breaker increases safety, no doubt.
  • It offers a simple installation process.
  • The heavy-duty 85 ft stainless steel cable that goes through a 4-way roller fairlead goes in and out smoothly.
  • It’s cost-effective.

Cons

  • The battery life of the remote could have been longer. That’s why I suggest you carry some extra batteries.
  • You might find the speed somewhat slow.

This 13000 lb winch is a robust winch and one of the best truck winches for the buck on my list.

Like the other 13000 lb truck winches, this particular winch is also a handy unit for towing up to 8666 lb effortlessly.

It won’t mind if you keep the vehicle weight up to 13000 lb, but as per the rule of thumb, that’s not a good practice.

Yes, it also features an easy to use free spooling, 3-stage planetary gear system, and an automatic load-holding brake.

If you want a balanced solution regarding quality and price, you won’t regret buying this winch.

7. Smittybilt 10,000 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • It spools convincingly fast.
  • An inductive braking system is there to prevent overheating.
  • The control box offers multiple mounting options.
  • This one is an IP68 rated winch. So, you are getting ample protection from water contact.
  • You are getting both wireless and wired (12 ft) controlling options from the same remote control.
  • The installation is pretty straightforward, and the instruction is comprehensive too.
  • The forged hook excels in quality.
  • A remote plug cover protects the remote plug.
  • The high-quality synthetic rope is substantially long (98.5 ft) and strong for towing a vehicle like a truck.
  • It’s moderately priced.

Cons

  • No significant drawback.

It’s an excellently built and well-finished (matte black textured) winch. To me, this heavy duty winch is one of the best alternatives to an expensive brand like Warn. I like the appearance and build quality of this series more than any other winch series.

As it’s a 10000 lb weight pulling capacity winch, so better keep the gross weight of your truck up to 6666 lb to ensure optimum performance and longevity.

The flawless performance of its premium remote is worth mentioning.

Overall, this one is a beauty and the beast for you at an affordable price.

By the way, I should mention that this model also has 12000lb, 15500lb and 17500lb option. And the option to pick between steel wire rope and synthetic rope, keeping everything else the same except the winch rope.

8. Superwinch 9500 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • It’s comprised of a weather-sealed motor and a solenoid box.
  • The ergonomic style free spooling clutch makes it easy to handle and operate.
  • It’s easy to install and operate.
  • A lightweight but durable 80 ft synthetic rope goes through a hawse fairlead smoothly.
  • The automatic load-holding braking system is located away from the drum’s center. This keeps the synthetic rope from heat.
  • A well functioning 12 ft wired rubber-sealed handheld remote is included in the kit.
  • This winch runs quietly.

Cons

  • The price could have been better.
  • No wireless controlling remote comes with the package. It should’ve been included at this price.

I’m not a big fan of this winch considering the price. Still, I think it’s worth putting this unit on my list because of the overall performance.

This winch is capable of winching your truck effortlessly if you keep the gross weight up to 9500 lbs. Therefore, to get the best performance, you should restrict the weight to 6333 lbs.

This model has a 95 ft steel cable version too. You can check the steel cable version of from here.

9. Rough Country 9500 lbs  TruckWinch

Pros

  • It’s an attractively built winch having solid construction.
  • A series-wound motor is in-place that prevents overheating and works efficiently at high speed.
  • The weather-sealed solenoid is replaceable.
  • This Rough Country winch is IP67 rated. Meaning it’s water and dustproof.
  • An easy to hold and operate corded (12 ft) remote control works without causing any trouble.
  • Painless to install and use.
  • A heavy-duty 94 ft steel cable goes through a 4-way roller fairlead steadily.
  • It’s super inexpensive considering the weight load holding capacity and quality.

Cons

  • No wireless controlling remote comes with the package.

All the winches from this brand are amazingly inexpensive, considering the performance they provide.

This very recovery winch has 9500 lbs weight pulling capacity, so you should restrict the weight of your vehicle up to 6333 lbs. That means this one is a good option for a medium-duty job but not for too heavy-duty tasks.

Like all the other winches I reviewed here, this winch also offers some handy features like an easy to use free spooling, 3 stage planetary gear train, and auto in-drum brake system.

You can buy the synthetic rope version of this same winch here.

10. Warn 8000 lbs Truck Winch

Pros

  • It features a relocatable control pack.
  • It’s quite easy to install and operate.
  • This one is a lightweight, compact recovery winch having a low profile design. As a result, it fits quite comfortably.
  • Features three-stage planetary gear, free spooling.
  • This winch is also comprised of more than 6 horsepower series wound motor for fast speed and less overheating.
  • A cast-iron brace plate holds the control pack firmly to increase the rigidity of the whole unit.
  • The hook quality is good too.

Cons

  • This winch features hawse fairlead with a steel wire rope. A roller fairlead with steel wire rope would be much better.
  • It’s a bit pricey. With that said, it’s quite common for Warn winches.

When it’s about quality, Warn is the best bet. This winch also shines in quality as usual.

However, this one is an 8000 lbs weight pulling capacity winch. So, you have to keep your truck’s gross weight under or equal to 5333 lbs. That means it’s a good winch for the medium-duty recovery process.

Yes, it comes with a technically error-free wired 12ft remote, but I expected better quality and technologically advanced solutions here. Perhaps a remote that has both wireless and wired feature like the one that comes with the X2O winch I mentioned above.

You have the liberty to buy the synthetic rope version for this model as well.

Final Words

So, this is it.

I’m going to end my review on top 10 best truck winches. As you saw, I mentioned all the upsides and downsides of each of the winch distinctly. I hope you already got what you were looking for.

Anyway, last advice: if money is not an issue for you, then go for Warn winch. They will last much longer than any other brands and their winch quality is top-notch.

Otherwise, you can go for other options you liked from the list. Every option I listed won’t disappoint you. It actually depends on your requirements and budget.

Truck Winch Buying Guide & Tips

truck winch buying guide

Before buying a truck winch you should know some basic things like required capacity, rope type, winch-type etc. Here I explained these shortly.

1. Mounting Options

You have to consider mounting plate option before buying your truck recovery winch. You have three popular options.

Bumper mount: It is the simplest method of mounting a winch. You will get all the installing instructions with the winch.

Multi mount: It is a little complex compared to the bumper mount. It is less durable because of the mounting point.

Winch bumper: Nowadays, it is a very popular option. It will allow your winch to perform well in any type of terrain.

Also, ensure that the mounting base of your winch has holes to make it easy to bolt it onto the vehicle. The mounting base should be built from tough materials. I recommend you choose a steel metal mounting base.

2. Nonintegrated or Integrated Winch

Nonintegrated winch: It is versatile than the integrated recovery winch. Because the solenoid is separately placed above the bumper or anywhere in the front of your vehicle. The solenoid box can be mounted in the engine compartment for saving space. A nonintegrated winch is best for those who want an aftermarket winch.

Integrated winch: In integrated winch, the solenoid control box is connected to the winch making it large in size. This type is best considering waterproof rating properties.

3. Winch Capacity and Size

You cannot pull a heavy duty truck with a winch that is able to pull a small passenger car only. So, you have to understand the weight of the vehicle.

For pulling trucks, it’s better not to choose a winch less than 8000 pounds weight pull capacity. I recommend you start from 10000 pounds. Choose a winch that is able to pull at least 1.5 times the weight of your truck.

The 1.5X rule is a minimum rating. You should pick one with more high pulling capacity for better safety. If you are still in confusion, then get a winch with more pull capacity. I suggest you at least double your truck’s weight when choosing a truck winch. This will put less strain on the winch and increase its lifetime.

4. Electric Winch vs Hydraulic Winch

Electric or hydraulic- which type is best for your truck? You must know the difference between electric and hydraulic winch to make the right choice.

Electric Winch: It is a widely used winch type and the first choice for most truck owners. All the truck winches in my list that I have reviewed are electric.

The main advantage of an electric winch is its versatility. Though it is not as powerful as the hydraulic winches, it’s versatility and efficiency has made it very popular. It is very easier to install. If you need to transfer the winch from your truck to another vehicle, you can easily reinstall it.

Electric winch is run by using the vehicle’s battery. So, you don’t need to install the hydraulic pump to power it. And, you will need a powerful winch battery for that reason.

Another great advantage of electric winch is that it doesn’t need the vehicle’s engine to be running. After all, an electric winch is cheaper than a hydraulic winch of the same weight pulling capacity.

Hydraulic Winch: It is less common in the truck world. If you want to use a hydraulic winch for pulling your truck, then the truck engine must be running because it runs off the steering pump.

Hydraulic winch is expensive than electric winch and difficult to install. But it offers very high pulling power.

Mile Marker offers some high quality hydraulic truck winches. If you’re looking for the best hydraulic truck winches, then you can check this brand.

5. Synthetic Rope or Wire Cable

It is an important aspect to consider when purchasing a winch. You have two options, wire cable and synthetic ropes.

Wire Cable: It is the most common rope that is made from strands of carbon steel. It is very popular because it is heat and abrasion-resistant, inexpensive and requires less maintenance. The lifetime of wire cable is longer than synthetic rope. Users must use a glove while handling a wire cable.

One serious problem with wire cable is that it stores energy. That means, if wire cable snaps, it can slice anyone in half. It is also heavier than synthetic rope. You have to buy winch dampener to increase safety.

wire rope winch

Synthetic Rope: Synthetic rope joined the offroad industry in the 90’s. It has become very popular among offroaders because of its safety benefits. It is lighter, flexible, safer and very easier to handle than the wire cable. And it doesn’t require a glove to using it.

The biggest advantage is that it doesn’t store energy like wire cable. That means, if it snaps, it won’t create any serious damage. Also, if it breaks, you can repair it instantly. That’s a great advantage of synthetic rope, especially in an emergency situation.

Does it mean the best winch for your truck is surely a winch with the synthetic rope? Well, it has some negative points too. It is susceptible to UV exposure, chemicals, abrasion and heat. It also needs regular maintenance. Another disadvantage of this rope is that it can hold water. But there is a solution too. You have to choose a synthetic rope winch that is water and weather resistance.

synthetic rope winch

6. Waterproof Rating

You may need to use your winch during rainy seasons. For that reason, consider purchasing a waterproof winch. This will increase the lifespan and durability of the winch. Also, invest in a winch with a sealed motor to protect your truck and yourself.

7. Warranty

Most high quality truck winches come with a limited lifetime warranty. I want to inform you that, finding spare parts for winches is a difficult task. So, you should invest in a winch that has a warranty.

Typical Winch Failure

  • Cheap brands use low quality components. So, there is a high possibility of breaking solenoids and contractors. But this problem is rare for reputable brands.
  • The winch coating may get off in a short time if low quality components are used to build the winch. While buying a winch, make sure that you are getting a quality cover and protection that will prevent the coating from damage.
  • Though motor failure is a rear occurrence, you will experience this problem with some winch. So, at the time of purchasing winch, make sure you’re are picking one with a strong motor.
  • Capacity limit crossing failure. If your vehicle weight is 5000 pounds and you use a 4000 pounds capacity winch, it will fail miserably. To pull 5000 pounds truck safely you need a winch with at least 7500 lbs capacity.

How Do Truck Winches Work?

A off-road truck winch is a versatile device that supports different types of vehicles such as jeeps and other heavy-duty vehicles. A off-road truck winch is built up of a motor, gear train, drum and rope or cable.

The motor is equipped to operate the attached winch cable or rope. Besides, the gear train runs the motor and the drum. The length of the winch cable is generally 40-150 feet long.

The circular shape of the winch allows the rope to wrap around the winch drum. Plus, the drum utilizes a spool for wrapping the rope in and out. The drum is turned by the motor which helps the rope wrap up around the winch drum.

Not all the winches come with motors. Some winches feature manual hand crank and some users are satisfied with this too. You will find manual crank instead of a motor in cheaper or older winch units.

With the latest winches, pulling heavy loads doesn’t require human power. The gear train and motor work together and provide the strength needed to perform the hauling action.

Who Makes The Best Truck Winch?

You will find a lot of brands manufacturing truck winches. It can be very confusing to find out the right brand. Here I’ve mentioned the top 4 brands that produce high quality truck winches. You can surely pick truck winch from these brands.

1. Warn

They are definitely a legendary winch manufacturer company. Because of their extremely high quality products, they quickly gained huge popularity. They have got a lot of awards for their top quality products. Their winches are the most sought for and best selling winches in the market of all time.

2. Superwinch

They are the biggest privately held manufacturer, designer and marketer of winches and other accessories. Their products include hydraulic winches, electric winches, power drives, hubs, parts and accessories.

Winches manufactured by them have huge popularity in the off-road industry because of their superior design, reliability and value proposition. They offer a limited lifetime warranty as far as I know.

3. Smittybilt

This brand produces reliable, high quality pickup truck winches. If you don’t have enough budget to buy a pricey winch. Then you can surely go for this brand. They offer a lifetime warranty for their winches.

If you check Amazon, you will find their winches with a lot of positive reviews. You will also notice some of their winches are in the best selling list.

Frequently Asked questions

Q: What are truck winches used for?
A: Truck winches are used to recover truck from mud, sand, terrain or any other sticky situation.

Q: How do you install a truck winch?
A: Each truck winch comes with its installation instructions. You should follow it to install yours. You can watch this video I have attached below.

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