If you plan on doing any amount of serious off-road driving in your Jeep, a winch is an absolute must-have accessory. Getting stuck is a virtual inevitability at some point or another, even for the most skilled and experienced Jeep pilots. A Jeep winch allows the driver to get himself unstuck safely, without having to rely on another vehicle for help or resort to questionable/unsafe methods.
But as with any product, not all winches are created equal, and there are many factors to consider when selecting the right Jeep winch for your needs. One big consideration is the choice between synthetic rope and steel cable. Synthetic rope weighs less and stores less potential energy during use, meaning that if it snaps, there’s not as much risk of bodily injury or property damage. That said, it’s also prone to fraying, and is more susceptible to wear from UV light and chemicals. But steel cable has its downsides, too; it can develop sharp burrs, not to mention rust (even though it’s typically galvanized). Those operating steel cable winches should always wear protective gloves.
But the most important consideration by far when shopping for a Jeep winch is the load capacity of the winch. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to simply look up your Jeep’s curb weight and select a winch rated at or just above that value. Depending on how loaded down the vehicle is, how badly it’s stuck, and whether it has to overcome any rocks or tree trunks during recovery, one could far exceed the load capacity of a winch matched to the curb weight.
With that said, here are a few of our favorite Jeep winch options on the market:
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- Warn M8000 Self-Recovery Winch
- Superwinch Tiger Shark 11500 SR Winch with Aluminum Hawse and Synthetic Rope
- Smittybilt X2O-10 Comp Gen2
- Superwinch LP10000
- Rough Country 12,000 LB PRO Series Electric Winch
- Warn Zeon Platinum 12-S with Spydura Synthetic Rope
- Mile Marker SEC8 (ES) Series
- X-Bull 12V 12,000 lb Steel Cable Electric Winch
Warn M8000 Self-Recovery Winch
Warn might be the best-known brand in the recovery winch space, and for good reason; they make top-notch products, and never compromise on quality. The Warn M8000 Self-Recovery Winch is an electric-powered unit with a 100-foot rope and 4.8 horsepower of pulling power. Both synthetic rope and steel cable options are available, and if it were our money, we would opt for the latter; it’s hundreds of dollars less expensive, with every bit as much capability and functionality.
Superwinch Tiger Shark 11500 SR Winch with Aluminum Hawse and Synthetic Rope
When it comes to a good Jeep winch, Superwinch is another popular name that you’ll see gracing the front of many off-road trail rigs. The Superwinch Tiger Shark 11500 SR features a 6-horsepower weather-sealed electric motor that provides an 11,500 lb. load rating. An aluminum hawse protects the 85-foot-long synthetic rope and is controlled by a 12-foot rubber-sealed hand-held control. It’s also available in a 9500 lb. model, but for the price difference, we suggest having that extra pulling power for those really sticky situations.
Smittybilt X2O-10 Comp Gen2
If you’re looking to spend a bit less than the cost of a Warn, the Smittybilt X2O-10 Comp Gen2 is a terrific alternative Jeep winch. Rated at 10,000 pounds with a 6.6-horsepower electric motor and a 98.5-foot synthetic rope, the Smittybilt X2O-10 Comp Gen2 features a remote control instead of a wired one, making it easier to get a safe distance away for vehicle recovery. It’s also highly rated by users and has enough capacity that it should be able to tackle most serious recoveries with ease.
Another Jeep winch option rated up to 10,000 pounds, the Superwinch LP10000 is a sturdy 5.1-horsepower winch with an 85-foot steel cable rope and a wired remote. It replaces another great entry-level winch, the Superwinch LP8500, and builds on that unit’s core competencies with a more powerful weather-sealed motor, a higher load rating, a thicker cable, and a 4-way roller fairlead in place of the LP8500’s steel hawse.
Rough Country 12,000 LB PRO Series Electric Winch
Whether you’re a new Jeep owner or a seasoned off-road vet, you know the popularity of the Rough Country parts and accessories, which includes a quality Jeep winch. For having a 12,000 lb. pulling strength, their Pro Series Electric Winch is easier on the wallet than much of its competition with similar features like synthetic rope, aluminum fairlead, and water/weatherproof construction. A mid-level priced winch with many high-end features and strong reviews on Amazon will make this a solid investment for your trail rig.
Warn Zeon Platinum 12-S with Spydura Synthetic Rope
If money is no object, and you won’t trust your off-road vehicle recovery to anything less than the best, then the Warn Zeon Platinum 12-S with Spydura Synthetic Rope might be the Jeep winch for you. As we’ve said: there’s a reason that Warn is perhaps the best-known brand in vehicle recovery winches. With a 12,000-pound load rating, this unit has plenty enough overhead to get you unstuck from just about any situation, and the advanced wireless remote control includes a clutch engagement function. The Spydura Pro synthetic rope is extra durable and resistant to wear.
Mile Marker SEC8 (ES) Series
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a bit more of a budget-friendly option, the Mile Marker SEC8 (ES) Series winch is tough to beat. It features Mile Marker’s all-new Project ES (Element Sealed) technology for superior resistance to the elements; a 4.8-horsepower electric motor, giving it an 8,000-pound load rating; and a 100-foot synthetic rope. Best of all, it plays nice with any budget, representing a nice, feature-rich winch at an affordable price.
X-Bull 12V 12,000 lb Steel Cable Electric Winch
If you want the most bang for the buck out of your Jeep winch, look no further than the X-Bull Steel Cable Winch. This winch provides 12,000 lb. of pulling torque through a three-stage planetary gear system, driven by a waterproof and corrosion resistant motor and controlled by a wireless controller. While you might not know the name as well as other brands, its strong ratings on Amazon lead us to believe that this is a solid investment for a steal of a price.
Which is better? Steel cable or synthetic rope for winching?
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Steel cable is usually less expensive and requires less maintenance, but is harder to fix on the trail and a bit harder to handle. Synthetic cable, on the other hand, is more expensive and requires maintenance in the way of cleaning and UV protection, but is much easier to handle when required and easier to fix if it were to break when you’re in a sticky situation.
Do I need to upgrade my electrical system when adding a winch?
We won’t say that you have to, but it isn’t going to hurt upgrading your battery and alternator to handle the additional load a winch can put on the system.
Are there any other items I should consider getting when I buy my winch?
Definitely! First and foremost get yourself some good gloves to protect your hands from a frayed cable or any debris stuck in synthetic rope. WARN has a great winch recovery kit that includes a snatch block, recovery strap, tree trunk protector, shackles, gloves, and a bag to carry it all in.
How do I know what rating I need for my Jeep Winch?
This is pretty simple. The heavier your vehicle is, the stronger your winch will need to be. The standard is that your winch should be at least 1.5 times the weight of your Jeep. To know exactly how strong your winch needs to be, multiply the gross vehicle weight by 1.5 and you’ll have your answer.
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