Home / The Best Winches for 4×4 Vehicles, Large and Small

The Best Winches for 4×4 Vehicles, Large and Small

If you’re planning on moving a vehicle, or heavy load whether onto a tractor or out of the mud, or just across the yard, winches are the way to go. Winches are easy to use and are made for a variety of different types of vehicles, so getting the right one for you is essential.  There are even different kinds of winches that do different jobs, some lift vehicles while others pull them onto tractors or out of the mud.

Depending on the excursion you’re getting yourself into, getting the typical winch fit for pulling vehicles out of mud or onto trailers is probably the best option. It’ll give you the power you need to pull small loads, and the strength to occasional pull your vehicle from some rough terrain. Since the weight of the vehicle, or weight of a typical load pulled, will determine how powerful of a winch you need, it would be best to consider the weight that the winch will be expected to pull, and what kind of winch your vehicle can handle having mounted to it before buying one

SmittyBilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500lb Load Capacity

The SmittyBilt 97495 XRC Winch – 9500lb Load Capacity, has a 6.6 horsepower motor, allowing it to pull up to 9,500lbs with ease. It also utilities a three-stage planetary gear system that allows it to distribute the weight of its load evenly over multiple gears – making the strain on the motor much less while it’s pulling vehicles out of mud, messy terrain or even onto a trailer. For ease of use, it even has a corded remote, allowing you to operate it away from the stuck vehicle. This winch is useful for pulling more than just vehicles, though, it can be used to handle any load under 9,500lbs, from logs and rocks to equipment.

If you need something heavy duty, this winch is even waterproof, with a rating of IP67, meaning its submersible for up to thirty minutes. So, this powerful winch will get the job done even if the vehicle has been submerged in water. Don’t worry, though, for even some of the worst situations the SmittyBilt 97495 XRC Winch will be able to take care of them all.

Usually, this product is well worth the money spent on it. It’s reliable and strong, able to do whatever task it is set up to complete. This winch even comes with a roller fairlead, so it can be used as it is, or a new one can be purchased to replace it. Sometimes the roller fairlead has some issues, so it might be a good idea to have a backup one, just in case.

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Smittybilt (97510) X2O Waterproof Winch – 10000 lb. Load Capacity

If you’re a bit more demanding on your winches, the Smittybilt (97510) X2O Waterproof Winch – 10000 lb. Load Capacity might just be the better pick. With this winch, not only is the load capacity high, but the 6.6 horsepower motor works amphibiously, in or out of the water. The Smittybilt 97510 X20 was made to last, and to get the job done. This waterproof winch features a remote control for use without being in the danger zone. So you don’t have to worry whether the vehicle is submerged and access the controls would be too risky, or if the winch is pulling just something in and it needs to be operated from a distance to be safe, you won’t have to be anywhere near it.

For added control and usability of this winch, the control pack has multiple mounting options, so that it can be placed wherever is most convenient and useful for you. In regards to ease of use, this winch even comes with a fairlead, which gives it just another edge over the competition. Just as the fairlead is replaceable at any time, the cable is also easily replaced, so if after years of wear and tear this winch needs a new cable, you don’t have to go buy a whole new one, just a new cable. That’s a relief, isn’t it?

Usually, this SmittyBilt Winch features a complete kit to assemble the winch to a 4×4 vehicle, but it seems to be missing the brackets that you will need to mount the control panel. Typically, there aren’t any complaints about installation, it’s easy and intuitive, meaning that a hassle free experience can be expected all around when you get this winch.

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Superwinch 1125220 Terra 25 2500lb Winch with Roller Fairlead and More

If you’re looking for a smaller winch, here it is. This Superwinch 1125220 Terra 25 can pull 2,500lbs making it great for UTVs or ATVs. It comes with a mounting plate, and a four-way roller fairlead, so there is no need to purchase one separate unless a backup is needed or desired. However, the mounting plate is not guaranteed to work with every UTV or ATV, so there might be some issues with trying to install the winch with the stock mounting plate. It might be wise to purchase one separately just to make sure it will fit the ATV or UTV that the winch is needed on.

Thankfully, this winch has a weather-sealed motor that attached to the battery of any ATV. Because it’s such a compact motor, it only uses a low amount of amps, meaning there won’t be any issues with the power usage. Although this winch is small, it shouldn’t be underestimated. Another useful addition is the free-spooling clutch which allows you to drag out the line manually, which could come in handy if the line needs a little slack before starting up the winch.

Although it is possible to run into wiring issues while setting up this winch, as the instructions seem to be a little off sometimes, this winch is reliable and strong. Out of the competition, it is a good choice. When this Superwinch is on sale, it is definitely a steal, especially if you consider the work that it can handle. At normal price, it is definitely going to be a little on the expensive side for those looking for a small but powerful winch. However, to get a little more bang for your buck, the Superwinch usually can handle more than just 2,500lbs if it has a snatch block added to double the pull strength.

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Superwinch LT2000 12V Utility Winch (2,000lb)

This Superwinch with its one horsepower motor is able to pull 2,000lbs while only using a fraction of the power of the larger winches. This winch uses 49 feet of wire rope that even has a turn free-spooling clutch, allowing the wire to be pulled out manually as needed. This winch features a differential planetary gearbox, which allows the load to be distributed evenly, making it an efficient, but powerful winch.

As expected, this product includes a rubber remote which allows you to use it safely at a distance. And because the winch isn’t an everyday use tool, this Superwinch even comes with a seatbelt cutter and a car window breaker, meaning that this winch will be there when things get rough, no matter the situation.

Because this winch is so efficient and lightweight it has a price to match, unlike some of the competition this winch is reliable and affordable. Typically, this winch is trustworthy, but with heavy use during harsh winter months, you may expect there to be some difficulties. Although the motor is efficient, the cold weather has a way of wearing on the motor. So, it might be a good idea to keep looking if you planned on using it in cold environment consistently. However, if you live in a relatively warm or tropical environment, it shouldn’t have any problems.

To get the most of this winch it might be a good idea to replace the cable with something stronger, and more durable. The current design of the cable allows it to get frayed and tangled with heavy usage.

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Smittybilt 97412 XRC Winch – 12000 lb. Load Capacity

If you need a bit more power to complete the job, the Smittybilt 97412 XRC Winch has a 6.6 horsepower, amphibious motor. To increase the durability and strength of this winch, it even has the coveted three stage planetary gear system which allows it to have a 12,000lb load capacity. This winch will handle whatever test you put it to. If you need the most power, you need the most reliability too, which is why this winch comes with a completely waterproof motor that uses only 500amps.

For ease of use and safety, the Smittybilt winch comes with a wired remote, allowing it to be used from a safe distance rather than right in the nitty gritty. If colder temperatures or harsh winters are a concern, this winch can still be used and will still be fully operational, typically without problems even after it’s been frozen. So, if repeatedly getting stuck in the snow is an issue, this winch will handle the challenge flawlessly.

To those of you who don’t know winches, the price may seem a bit unnerving, but even so, it is not a terribly expensive winch – especially considering the durability of this tool. Typically, this product doesn’t need a cover, but most users attach one anyone to keep it from being easily seen and coveted.

As with all great things, this winch should be properly broken in before use, which could mean pulling a vehicle around at full stretch of the cable. Which should be fun to do anyway, but will help make sure it is in perfectly working order before being put to the test. While it’s reliable and heavy duty it’s always best to check to make sure there aren’t any issues first and foremost.

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It’s a relief that these winches come with warranties because of them such an essential part of enjoying the off-road experience. It may even be a good idea to get a winch just for those emergency situations – vehicles, no matter their handling can get stuck, even on roads that appear to be reliable. So instead of having to hire someone to pull you out of the mud, it may be a good idea to have one. And thankfully winches are good for more than just pulling cars out of mud, they can help logs or even equipment.