3 Best 4WD Winches

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Hey there my fellow 4×4 enthusiasts and welcome to my post where we will check out my three best 4wd winches to pull us out of trouble with this year.  If you are the type of person who likes to take your 4×4 truck into extremely challenging terrains, then a 4×4 winch becomes a necessary addition to your recovery arsenal.

They can pull you out of, or even into, just about anywhere you find yourself whilst out on the tracks however as usual, there are a number of options out there to choose from.  So for those of you looking to get yourself setup with a good winch for your 4×4, I have had a bit of a look around and come up with three decent options below.

Let’s check them out…

My three recommended 4wd winches

I will review these in more detail below, but if you just want to get moving without all the carry-on, my recommended products are listed here for your convenience: 

09/22/2022 01:58 am GMT

What is a 4wd winch?

Usually bolted to the front of a vehicle, a 4wd winch is an electric pulley system that uses a steel cable to extract them from sticky situations in terrain such as mud, sand, water or snow.  Some even use them to assist in driving up steep inclines as well. 

When a vehicle becomes stuck, the steel cable is attached via a hook or shackle to an inanimate object such as a tree, rock or even another vehicle.  The winch is then turned on which winds the cable back onto the spool of the winch.  This in turn then effectively ‘skull drags’ the vehicle from where it was stuck.

Winches are a necessity in situations where a recovery strap cannot be used die to the inability to get another vehicle into the same area.

Best 4WD winches - 4WD winch

What should you be looking for?

The following factors should be considered as you look for a good winch for your 4×4…

  1. Type
  2. Cable
  3. Capacity
  4. Weight
  5. Mounting methods
  6. Additions


4×4 winches are designed in different ways by manufacturers. Here is a short list of them for your consideration:

  1. Power take off winch: This winch, also known as a PTO, is connected directly to the transfer case via a drive shaft which drives the winch’s gearbox. The 4×4 engine powers the PTO winch (meaning the engine must be running). They are very powerful however not used a lot these days.
  2. Hydraulic winch: The power for the fully enclosed hydraulic winch comes from the vehicle’s power steering system. Hydraulic winches, like the first type, provide powerful pull because they are directly connected to the vehicle’s engine. The hydraulic motor attached to the winch is powered by hydraulic pressure.
  3. Electric winch: The most common 4WD winch today is the 12V electric winch. This type of winch does not require the engine to run for an extended period. However it is best to bring an extra battery with you on a long trip if you have this type of winch installed on your 4×4.


Most common winches are made with steel cables due to their durability in that they are strong and do not quickly wear out when used in mud or dragged over sharp rocks etc. While steel cable is typically less expensive than synthetic cable, it is heavier and more prone to rust.

Synthetic rope on the other hand is much lighter than steel cable and can fit more length on the winch spool. While more expensive than steel cable, synthetic rope has advantages in that it can be tied and re-tied if it snaps, floats in water and is lightweight as well.

Pulling capacity

Many factors influence a winch’s overall pulling capacity. For one, it is determined by the power rating of the machine’s motor – measured in in horsepower (HP). A higher HP means a greater pulling capacity although this increases the device’s size and weight.

Weight capacities range from 4500 lbs to 13500 lbs. You may choose large capacity options if you intend to use the winch for commercial purposes. Otherwise, opt for a mid-level range.


The weight of a 4×4 winch can range from just under 20kg to more than 50kg. To effectively use your 4wd winch for its primary purpose it must be appropriately mounted to the bullbar or rear bar.

Make sure the winch you choose will fit your 4wd’s bullbar or rear bar and clear the manufacturer’s weight recommendations. Also, ensure that your battery can power your chosen 4×4 winch.

Best 4WD winches - 4WD winched out of snow

Mounting methods

There are numerous methods for mounting a winch to your 4×4 vehicle and most winches come complete with the necessary brackets and bolts for standard mounting on a winch-compatible bullbar.

It is vital to consider which method you will use when purchasing a winch and also check that it includes everything needed for installation.


Other potential additions include:

  1. Clevis hook: 4×4 winches include a clevis hook that secures the hook to a bracket or chain.
  2. Safety gloves: These are useful in protecting your hands as you operate using the winch.
  3. User manual: This document will guide you in the installation process and on how to use and maintain the winch properly.


What size winch do I need for 4×4?

In most cases, you will a winch that can add at least 30- 50 percent to the working weight of your vehicle (GVW). This means that if you have a working GVW of around 6,200lb, you you should be looking at a winch with at least 8060lb pulling capacity.

My three recommendations broken down

So based on the information above and my own experience, I recommend the following options:

1. ZEAK 3500 lb. Advanced 12V DC Electric Winch

My first recommended winch is equipped with reliable components and an impressive design.  It is waterproof for exgra durability and provides great pulling power via its 50′ synthetic rope.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: ZEAK
  • Winch type: Electric
  • Cable: 50′ Synthetic rope
  • Motor: 1.1 horsepower
  • Capacity: 3500 pounds
  • Weight: 19.76 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • 210 Amp 12V DC permanent magnet motor
  • Wireless remote
  • Mounting brackets
  • 1-year warranty

Why have I chosen it?

This winch is a good option for so many reasons. It has a 1.1 horsepower 12 volts DC permanent magnet motor and can pull up to 3500 pounds. To make towing more manageable, this winch comes with a 50’x1/4′′ synthetic rope and a hawse fairlead. Upon purchase, you will receive a 12.5 ft corded remote to operate the winch, which is handy when you have to distance yourself from the equipment for safety.

2. AC-DK 9500 lb Electric Winch

The next 4×4 winch comes with a generous pulling capacity with string steel cable and all of the extras included.  It is waterproof rated and capable of use on 4×4 and small trucks as well.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: AC-DK
  • Winch type: Electric
  • Cable: 85′ Steel
  • Motor: 6 horsepower
  • Capacity: 12000 pounds
  • Weight: 61.6 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Sliding ring gear clutch and auto in drum braking
  • User manual
  • Safety gloves
  • Overload protector
  • Hand remote controller
  • IP67 waterproof rating
  • 2-year warranty

Why have I chosen this?

This winch can handle a 12,000lb load capacity with a two-year limited warranty and lifetime technical support. The rope has been rigorously tested and the three-stage planetary gear system has a gear ratio of 265:1. The manufacturers include a pair of gloves to keep your hands safe while operating the winch.  This is a great option for those who really like to get out into the tough terrain.

3. Smittybilt X2O GEN2 10K Waterproof Wireless Winch

The last 4×4 winch option is equipped with a braking system designed to keep the motor from overheating with a compact design that can deliver enough power for almost any need. If you are looking for a solid investment for a 4×4 winch, this is the one you are looking for.  See its specifications below:

  • Brand: Smittybilt
  • Winch type: Electric
  • Cable: 98.5′ Synthetic
  • Motor: 6.6 horsepower
  • Capacity: 10000 pounds
  • Weight: 16 pounds

Other inclusions:

  • Power cables
  • Remote control
  • Sturdy fairlead
  • Lifetime mechanical warranty, 5-year electrical warranty

Why have I chosen this?

This impressive winch has a three-stage planetary gear system with a 218:1 gear ratio providing significantly faster line speeds than other products on the market. For long-term performance, the dynamic braking system with inductive and automatic outer brakes prevents the motor from overheating during its heavy-duty operations.

Depending on your circumstance, a wired and wireless remote can control the recommended winch and it also includes a nice long cable and a separate battery compartment.


There you have it, my three best 4×4 winches to deal with your off road vehicle recovery issues. I would be pleased to know how this article helped you, and as usual,  let me know of your experiences with them.

Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.

Until next time.

Have fun


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Hi, I'm Paul

I am a passionate fishing, camping and four wheeled driving hobbyist who researches, tests and educates around issues and equipment relevant to them.

I am by no means a professional however my passion is to assist you in making informed decisions about buying and using awesome gear that will give you the best chance of success at whatever you are doing for the best price.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.