top rated truck winch

5 Best Off Road Winches For The Money 2018

A powerful off road winch for your truck or SUV provides a lifeline for when things goes wrong. A powerful off road electric winch is usually mounted to the front of the vehicle but its not uncommon to find one on the rear of some vehicles.

The best off road winch is the Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch with a puling power of 9,500 pounds from a 6.6 HP motor, which will pull all vehicles out of trouble.

Not only will a powerful off road winch pull yourself out of trouble but it will also be able to save other people that are stuck. The pulling power of off road winches depend upon your budget, but they start from a 500 lbs to well over 10,000 lbs.

Best 4×4 Winch for the Money

Off Road WinchPull PowerWireless Control
Smittybilt 974959,500 LBSNo
WARN 8626012,000 LBSNo
Champion Power Equipment4,500 LBSYes
Smittybilt 9741212,000 LBSNo
Superwinch 11302203,000 LBSNo

Investing into an electric winch for your truck, SUV or 4×4 is sensible idea as having your vehicle towed from a remote location is very costly. For those that use their 4×4 for some off road adventures, an electric winch can be a lifeline when you are completely stuck.

The type of winch you require is dependent upon a few variables that are different for certain vehicles i.e. pulling weight. Many include remotes that allow the driver to winch their vehicle out of trouble without the need of a second person.

A powerful winch for your vehicle is the ultimate 4×4 toy and there are many available. Below is a list of the best off road winches that offer high pulling power and heavy duty design for long lasting usage.

Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch


Smittybilt are a popular off road winch manufacturer in the US. The 97495 XRC model is the most popular with a puling power of 9,500 pounds from a 6.6 HP motor.

As with all good off road winches, the Smittybilt 97495 XRC includes a remote control with a 3.7 meter lead that can also be adapted to work with a wireless adapter if necessary. The majority of off road adventures include water and this winch is waterproof with a rating of IP67.

The cable inside of the drum has a length of 93 foot and the gross weight of the unit is 78 pounds, which is in the mid range in regards to its weight.

There is two separate warranties that Smittybilt include, which are a 3 year electrical warranty and a lifetime mechanical warranty. This is good for peace of mind when purchasing this winch compared to other cheaper versions.

Overall, the Smittybilt 97495 XRC is the best off road winch for the money and can be used for a variety of scenarios. It has enough pulling power (9,500 lbs rated) to tow a range of vehicles, pull your own vehicle out of a ditch or even pull tree stumps.

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Warn 86260 VR12000


The Warn 86260 VR12000 is the ultimate winch for 4×4 owners without a budget in mind. As the model suggests, it has a pull capacity of a huge 12,000 lbs from a 12V DC, Series Wound motor.

This off road winch in particular has a three stage planetary geartrain that provides a smooth yet durable pull whilst in action. It has also been designed to be low profile that results in the majority of vehicles able to hitch the Warn winch onto the front bumper.

The control pack can be removed and mounted in a location of your choice so that you can operate the winch from wherever you want. The wired cord that does come with this winch is 12 foot long that can also be modified to run with a wireless adapter.

The steel cable inside the winch drum is 94 feet in length and 3/8 inch in diameter. This is heavy duty winch and as a unit is very high quality. Warn provide a lifetime limited warranty that gives you peace of mind over the fairly expensive price tag.

With regards to the premium you must pay for this winch, there are small features that really do make this product worth its while. Such things include an exclusive braking system, compact design, excessive pulling power and much more.

The Warn 86260 VR12000 is the best off road winch you can buy but if you are on the budget, the Smittybilt 97495 XRC would be your best buy.

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Champion Power Equipment 14560


The Champion Power Equipment 145600 is an affordable winch that is capable of pulling 4,500 lbs from a 1.6 HP permanent magnet motor. It therefore packs the greatest pulling power for the least amount of money.

The pulling power is perfect for small to medium sized off road truck or SUVs but you would need to go for a more expensive for heavier trucks. The heavy duty galvanized steel cable is 38 feet long, which isn’t the longest but more than enough.

One party piece that the Champion Power Equipment 145600 packs is a wireless remote and not a wired remote control like the others. This saves on having to purchase an adapter for those looking for this feature.

There is a two year limited warranty with a lifetimes technical support and overall, it is the best cheap winch for lightweight trucks or SUVs.

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Smittybilt 97412 XRC Winch


If the Warn 86260 VR12000 is far too pricey but you want the most powerful off road winch, the Smittybilt 97412 XRC Winch is the best buy. Packing 12,000 lbs pull power from a 6.6 HP Amphibious motor and 3 Stage Planetary Gear System, it can pull the majority of heavy objects.

It also features a clever 500 amp solenoid that is completely waterproof for those that off road in watery conditions. The cable inside of the drum is 94 feet in length with a 3/8 inch diameter that is more than enough for most pulling activities.

The design is very similar to the 97495 XRC model but this 97412 XRC model is for those looking for the additional power.

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Superwinch 1130220 For ATV


The Superwinch 1130220 is targeting 4×4 owners with a cheap off road winch that actually works. It is often the case that cheap winches for trucks have low pulling power and look unattractive but this is not the case with the Superwinch 1130220.

It has a rated pulling power of 3,000 pounds from a 1.2 HP motor, which is great for a range of scenarios. It is probably most suited to an ATV, UTV or lightweight off road vehicles due to the pulling power.

The length of the winch rope is 50 feet, which is very respectable as the winch can be controlled with the handheld remote that is wired with a 12 feet lead. Overall, it is the best off road winch for ATV vehicles.

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Front Mounted Winch On Bumper

A very important factor before buying a powerful electric winch is whether or your not your front bumper is prepared. An electric winch can be fairly heavy and cause stress on the front bumper, which may cause issues if its not rigid enough.

The best front bumpers for winches are usually reinforced and have dedicated locations for the winch to be mounted. You can find a range of winch bumpers that vary in price but ensure that they fit the vehicle before purchasing it.

How To Install An Off Road Winch

After choosing one of the electric off road winches above, you will be wanting to know how to install the winch. Its critical that you install it correctly otherwise your winch will not work correctly and you could potentially damage your vehicle.

In order to fit an electric off road winch to your front bumper, following the below steps:

  1. Locate hitch on the front bumper for winch
  2. Mount the winch onto the hitch securely
  3. Connect a wire to the power source (i.e. battery)
  4. Install a power switch
  5. Pretension the wire inside the winch

The last step is often left out but its essential to ensure it is tightly spooled on the winch drum. Some manufacturers will supply the winch with the cable correctly spooled already but some do not.

Regardless, you should unspool the majority of it and spool it up by attaching the winch to a heavy object and starting the winch. Instructions will be supplied with your off road winch on how it should be correctly setup.

If your bumper does not have hitches readily available, you will need to buy a “winch bumper” with many available at different budgets. Another aspects that can be forgotten is that a winch uses a lot of power and will therefore require a high powered battery.

Some people also like converting their off road winch to a wireless controlled winch with a slight modification. One verified method of doing this is by using the Mile Maker 7076 and following the instructions but it is usually plug in and play.

Safety Tips Whilst Using A Off Road Winch

Winches attached to a front bumper of a car and attached to a car battery can be very powerful. A pulling capacity of over 12,000 pounds is masses of power and it comes with many safety hazards. All it takes is for something to snap or come loose for severe injury to take place.

Some common safety rules that you should always abide to when using an off road winch are:

  • Never climb or step over a cable under tension
  • Always inspect the winch, cable and clamps before use
  • Have someone as a winch operator and someone else watching
  • Ensure the winch remote is not near the drum of the winch
  • Ensure no one is standing near the towed object in case of sudden movements

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