Don't Buy a winch until you read this shopping guide

Don't Buy a winch until you read this shopping guide


There are many things you need to upgrade before going to the terrain. Our suggestion is never go fancy; the first thing you need to invest in is always a winch, not the tire, suspension, or locker. Suspension and tracking are important, no doubt, but no matter how good your rig’s traction and suspension are, you will still get stuck somewhere.

I have a lot of friends who are new to winches who always ask me advice on which winch they should buy. Sometimes, knowing how to shop for the right winch for your need is much more important than getting a suggestion from others’ second-hand knowledge since everyone uses their winch differently. In this blog post, I will show you what you need to know before you start shopping for the winch for your specifically off-road vehicle.


Winch Mount Options

Before you buy your first winch, the first thing we think you need to figure out is how you are going to mount the winch to your rig.

We find there are three popular ways that you can mount your winch.

The first and the simplest way is a Bumper Mounted WinchFor this method, you can keep your stock bumper and the winch will bolt to the top of your Off-road Bumper. Of course, you will find all brackets and installation hardware in your winch package. It is very straightforward.

Winch Mount Options


The second approach is through a Multi-Mounted Winch. This is a little bit more complex than a Bumper Mounted Winch. So you will have to mount your winch to a carrier first and then you need to mount them to a receiver that is attached to the bumper. A Multi-Mounted Winch is usually less durable because of the mounting point.

Bumper Mounted Winch      

Lastly, the best way to mount a winch is using our Heavy-duty Winch Bumper, because of the winch plate built right on the bumper. The mounting will be very strong and can support the winch well. It will allow your winch to perform like a beast, no matter what terrain you are on.

Bumper Mounted Winch


Integrated or Non-Integrated Winch

It sounds like a simple question but I still get asked a lot by the shoppers what the difference is between an integrated and a non-integrated winch. This is extremely important when you are planning to mount your winch on our winch-ready bumpers.

An Integrated Winch is usually larger because the solenoid control box is the part of the winch; most times it won’t fit to an Aftermarket Bumper unless the bumper is very bulky. However, the integrated winch will provide you with better waterproof.


Integrated Winch


A non-integrated winch is much more versatile and can fit to most Winch Bumpers on the market because they usually have a separate solenoid located above the bumper or remote mount to a winch somewhere in front of your vehicle. Some people mount the solenoid box in the engine compartment to save some space. If you plan to buy an aftermarket winch bumper in the future, then obviously a non-integrated winch is a better choice. 

Integrated Winch


What brand should you choose? What is your preference?

Now you know how to mount a winch and you have figured out the difference between integrated and non-integrated winches.

Most times, you will have to simply look at the winch’s price and the warranty. As always, multiple testing and better components will always lead to a higher price and a better warranty. You pay for what you get.

What you should do first when selecting a brand is know what you need. If everyone had an unlimited budget, they would 100% choose one of the premium warn winch series. The reality is that most people have a limited budget when shopping for a winch. So what do you really care about? Price, brand-name recognition or high performance? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself before buying a winch for your off-road rig.

Let’s face it, most winches today probably were used very limited times per year. So there is no need for you to shop for a premium high-end Warn Zeon Winch. If you are the one who goes to the terrain very often, then you probably need to consider one of the best Warn or Ramsey winches since you want to make sure your winch works every time when you get stuck in the middle of nowhere. So figuring out how you will use your winch is critical to your winch decision.

We have seen so many brands on the market today, but are you aware that 80% of them are imported from the same manufacturer in China and what they do is simply put different labels on their winches and market differently? We call these label winches. There are some other brands and they might spend a little time on the design part and then ask their Chinese manufacturers to customize their products a little bit and to differentiate them from other winch brands.

We noticed that only a few manufacturers, like Warn and Ramsey, design and manufacture their winches in the U.S. However, big manufacturer like Warn still outsource their low-end VR series to China and some winch components they use on winches are imported from China as well.

Sometimes those Chinese label winches aren’t bad or low quality; it really depends on how much you are willing to pay. Even though most well-known winch brands outsource their products to Chinese manufacturers as well, there are still a lot of other factors that can determine a good winch from a poor winch. It all depends on how often you use your winch and how much you would like to invest, since better components and a better warranty always results in a higher price.


We have listed some popular winch brands below, including all the big size truck winches, ATV and UTV winches, and 4x4 winches.

US: Warn, Ramsey, Superwinch

China Made: Viper, Engo, Meanmother

Warn, Ramsey, and Superwinch have designed all their winches in the U.S., and they outsource very few products to Chinese Manufacturers. Viper, Engo and Meanmother import all their winches from Chinese manufacturers but they all have a very great reputation in quality.

The list below are our best-selling winches.

M8000:  A little light, one of the Warn Premium Series, wire rope

VR10000:  Warn’s VR “Entry-Level Series,” wire rope

M8000-s: Lightweight, Warn’s “Premium Series” synthetic line

VR10000-s: Warn VR “Entry-Level,” synthetic line included

XD9000: Warn “Premium Series,” wire rope included

9.5XP: Warn “Ultimate Performance Series,” wire rope included

M12000: Warn “Heavyweight series,” wire rope included

9.5XP-s: Warn “Ultimate Performance Series,” synthetic line included


What winch capacity should I get for my vehicle?

Now you know which brand that you would like to buy based on how often you use it. Next, we will show you how you choose the best pulling size for your off-road vehicles.

First thing you need to know is your vehicle’s weight and then you need to find out what the weight is that your rig will typically carry. Using the formula we use to calculate the vehicle’s gross weight, the rest is very easy. The best line pull power would be 25% greater than your vehicle gross weight.

Use the formula below to calculate the vehicle gross weight.

[Vehicle gross weight = vehicle curb’s weight + weight of supplies and equipment you will typically carry]


What are typical winch failures?

Besides the name recognition, you might wonder why you should always spend enough time to do your homework before buying a winch because it’s so easy for an unnamed bad quality winch to fail.

For some winches, the solenoids and contactors can be easily broken because of the less protection and low-quality components that cheap winch brands use. This problem rarely happens to a well-known brand winch.

Coating failure! You won’t believe how easy it is for a bad winch surface to be damaged in just a few weeks. So no matter how much you pay for your winch, it is always good to get your winch a cover and to protect the coating from the damage.

Motor failure can be a huge threat to your trial. You are talking about getting stuck in a remote area with no one nearby. Even though it’s very rare for winches, you have to be very cautious when shopping.

So work diligently on your homework, and you shouldn’t have too much problem making a good choice on your first winch.


Steel VS Synthetic Rope

Finally, we know there are lots of debates over this topic on the internet. Once you decide what brand you should buy, and once you decide between an integrated or non-integrated winch, then you find out what capacity you are looking for. What’s next?

You have to choose what rope you want to have: steel or synthetic? We will go through both pros and cons for each rope below, so make sure to take some notes if needed.  


Steel Cable

Steel cable is durable, affordable and easy to maintain but the con is it might be too heavy for your rig’s front. Steel cable is ideal when you are in highly abrasive terrains such as in mud, rocks and sand. Some dudes use steel ropes in utility work as well. Never forget to put your winch grove on when handling a steel cable winch. You could easily injury yourself with bare hands since the cable can rust and become very sharp.

Integrated Winch


Synthetic Rope

In the beginning, synthetic rope was introduced as an alternative to steel rope, and people got the idea from fishing industries. The main reason that synthetic rope is becoming the mainstream today is because it reduces so much weight. Besides being lightweight, the Synthetic Rope doesn’t save much potential energy like steel rope does, so it doesn’t become a projectile when it breaks. What most people like about synthetic rope is it is easier to handle than the steel rope considering the steel rope’s rust and sharpness, so you don’t necessarily need a glove when handling the synthetic rope.

It sounds like everyone should select synthetic rope, and it’s perfect, right? Of course not. Synthetic rope is very susceptible to UV exposure, chemicals, heat and abrasion, so you might get your winch a cover to protect it from damages. For some people who live in a very cold area, you have to be very careful when your synthetic rope gets wet since it can retain water and can easily freeze and your winch will be turn into nothing but a piece of ice block.  

Compared to steel cable, synthetic rope requires the winch owner a lot of time to maintain since the sand and dirt can easily get into the rope’s core and potentially damage the rope in the future. You have to wash them from time to time to get them out after you get back from the terrains.

Synthetic Rope


Let’s wrap this up, and I hope you can learn something new from this blog post. At this point, you should be able to know the best ways to mount your winch. You should figure out what the difference is between an integrated winch and a non-integrated winch. Also, you know how to select the best winch brand specifically for your needs rather than hearing some second-hand knowledge from random people on the internet. You have learned how to calculate the capacity of winch that you should buy for your off-road vehicle. You also learned the typical failures of a bad winch. Last but not least, you know when to select a steel rope and when to select a synthetic rope for your winch. 

Now you know everything fundamental about shopping for the right winch for your off-road rig. You should be very confident using this knowledge shopping for your first winch. If you still have questions or suggestions, please leave us a comment or Contact Us.

When you ready to buy your first winch, please Click Here, and all winches at are free shipping with a price guarantee!

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