Are you in the market for a recovery winch for your off-road vehicle? A winch is, quite possibly, the most essential piece of recovery gear you can have when navigating rough, hazardous, challenging terrain. Unpredictable conditions like mud, snow, ice, and boulders cease to be a barrier when you’ve got a winch to get you through.

But which winch do you need?

Here’s a bit of advice.

Why a Winch?

No matter how great your vehicle is, how big your tires are, or how solid your driving skills are, if you’re a serious off roader, there will be times when you get stuck. When that happens, a pull from a winch may be all you need to get moving again. Winches provide a steady, slow, controlled motion that can get you out of most any sticky situation. If you’re alone or on a trail where you can’t get a towing vehicle into position, a winch and an anchor position are all you need.

A Wealth of Winches

How do you shop for a winch? Here are some things to consider:


Since you’re most likely to use your winch for towing your vehicle (if you’re buying a winch for off roading), the winch needs to be strong enough to handle its total weight when fully loaded. A good rule of thumb is to purchase a winch that has a capacity equal to or greater than twice the GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of your vehicle. A weaker winch won’t have the pull strength you need to get you free.


Basic models do the trick just fine, but there are a few modern extras that can make life easier and worth considering.

  • Wireless remote. Without a wireless remote, you have to physically plug in the wired remote to the solenoid box. That task is not always easy or pleasant. A wireless remote gets you started on recovery much faster, helps you avoid the inconvenience of plugging anything, and allows you to control the winch from anywhere, inside or out.
  • Will you be driving through mud holes, creeks, and other wet crossings? If so, a waterproof winch lets you submerge without damage.
  • Line speed. If you’re only using your winch occasionally, line speed won’t be critically important. But if you’re using your winch multiple times a trip, a faster spooling speed is really nice.


You can buy either steel or synthetic rope for your winch. Steel is the most common because it’s cheaper and more durable. However, steel rope is very heavy and can cause serious, even fatal, injuries if it breaks while in use.

Synthetic rope is lightweight and easy to use. If it breaks while in use, it just drops to the ground and is rarely dangerous. But they are high maintenance; you really have to baby a synthetic rope to keep it in good shape. (For example, you never want to get synthetic rope wet.) And they’re expensive as well.

Which is better? If you can afford it and are willing to be careful, synthetic is probably the way to go.

One Last Note

You’ll also probably need to install a front bumper mod if you’re considering a winch. Many OEM bumpers can’t handle a winch installation.

If you’re into off-roading, a winch is a must. Shop for yours today.