If you go off-roading at all, it makes sense to invest in the best-rated truck winch. A high-powered winch will get you out of a stuck situation with ease. Instead of being stranded, you owe it to yourself and your pickup to have a truck bed winch that can handle a hefty load. We will talk about the available models to determine which is the pickup truck winch for you.


Preview

Product

Rated Line Pull

Motor

Check Price

WARN 68801 16.5ti Series Electric 12V...

WARN 68801

16,500 lbs

12V 4.6-hp Gen II Series Wound motor

WARN 95950 ZEON 12-S Electric Winch with...

WARN 95950

Zeon 12-S

12,000 lbs

12V Series Wound

WARN 26502 M8000 Series Electric 12V Winch...

WARN 26502

M8000

8,000 lbs

12V 4.8 horsepower Series Wound

Smittybilt (98510) X2O Waterproof Synthetic...

Smittybilt (98510)

X2O

10,000 lbs

6.6-horsepower Amphibious

WARN 97740 16.5TI-S Electric 12V Heavyweight...

WARN 97740

16,500 lbs

16.5TI-S, 12V


Why Truck Winches Are Worth Investing In

Truck winches and accessories are invaluable if you want to pull heavy objects with your truck. Let's say you drive up on a downed tree. Your truck winch will be able to clear it quickly. Also, you can pull your pickup out of the sand, mud, or water when you are enjoying an afternoon on the trail. By installing a truck bed winch mount, you create a type of insurance policy for yourself.


Features to Look for in a Truck Winch

Pulling Power vs. Truck Weight

Before you look at anything else, you want to determine how much weight you will be pulling. Truck winches are rated to tow a certain number of pounds. If you use it to pull something above what it is rated for, you might cause damage. Factor in the truck weight when figuring out what you need.

Power Source & Winch Motor Type – Hydraulic vs. Electric

Truck winches come in electric and hydraulic styles. If you want a hydraulic winch, you receive the most power possible, but the vehicle must be running. On the other hand, the electric winch runs off of battery power, so you will need to ensure that you have a strong enough battery under the hood.

Cabling Quality & Line Length

There are two cabling options available to you: synthetic rope and steel cable. The cable is durable and provides maximum strength, but it will add more weight and can be dangerous to use. Over time, it might even rust. With the rope format, you get a lighter option that’s simple to handle, but you won’t get the same level of tension.

Winch Drivetrains - Spur Gear, Worm Gear, Planetary Gear

Truck winch drivetrains will either use a Spur Gear, Planetary Gear or Worm Gear. Each of these gear types has its own efficiency level, so you want to understand which you require. Plus, you want to evaluate the gear ratio and line speed to see how quickly operation will occur. The faster it pulls, the more you can expect to pay.

Durability & Safety

You want to remain safe when using a truck winch, which is why it must be constructed of high-quality materials. Not only does this ensure your protection, but it also guarantees that the winch will last as long as possible. With the right safety equipment included, you can pull your truck out of the mud without worrying about what might happen.

Weight Of Winch

When every pound matters, you have to evaluate what the winch itself weighs. After all, you don’t want to haul more than necessary when you hit the trails in your truck. The lightweight options are still capable but are constructed of different materials. These designs will generally cost more, so that’s a trade-off you must consider.

Mounting System

If you want a permanent winch, then it makes sense to mount it. The truck winch mount will fit on most bumpers, but check the compatibility before you buy. Otherwise, you can choose a portable winch, but you might sacrifice power in the process. In addition, you will often pay more to have mobile capability.

Waterproof

While it will cost more to have a sealed winch, it’s valuable to continued operation. Sealed motors and solenoids ensure that water can’t damage the valuable components. If you plan to drive through rivers or you get stuck in the mud, you can't afford to sacrifice this quality offered by many of the top brands.

Extra Features

Do you want to operate your truck winch safely from a distance? Then, you want a remote control. Consider a few other winching accessories, such as hooks, a free spooling clutch, or fairleads. Some winches come with supplies, such as the winch cover. Other times, you will be responsible for purchasing them separately.

Price & Warranty

Everyone wants to save money, but sometimes you need to spend more to get what you need. For example, the price of a tow truck winch is going to be higher than a mid-size truck would need. No matter what equipment you require, you can find options that are lower-cost, but still reliable. Just read the truck winch review of the product you are looking at to determine what other customers think. Plus, you want a warranty, preferably at least two years long. This guarantee provides the best value for you, especially if something breaks.


5 Best Truck Winches Reviewed

1. WARN 68801

Our Top Pick

Rated Line Pull

16,500 lbs

Motor

12V 4.6-hp Gen II Series Wound motor

Fairlead

Roller

Rope or Cable

Cable

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Warranty

Yes, limited lifetime

There’s no question about the quality of this winch. As far as WARN winches for trucks are concerned, you can see that this model is highly rated and often recommended. Part of the reason it is a favorite is that it pulls up to 16,500 pounds. With this kind of capability, it can easily pull most any truck, no matter how large it is.

This Warn Industries 16.5ti thermometric winch contains exceptional durability, sealing, and reliability, just like you would expect from the ti-series. The series-wound motor combines with a 3-stage planetary gear train to provide an unprecedented pulling force. Plus, the thermometric indicator LED offers operator feedback, so that you always know the motor temperature. You could even use this with a tow truck winch cable to recover stuck vehicles. This particular model comes with a 90-foot steel cable for complete strength.

The price of this top-rated truck winch is what turns most people off, but you can’t be shocked by it when comparing the capability. Plus, this system includes the remote control and a 12-foot lead with an integrated flashlight. Besides, you get a limited lifetime warranty with your purchase. We can't help but recommend this winch as our top choice because of the power, additional features, and maximum versatility.

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Pulls up to 16,500 pounds
  • Sealed
  • Includes 90-feet of cable

Cons

  • Expensive

2. WARN 95950 Zeon 12-S

Best Electric Winch for Truck

Rated Line Pull

12,000 lbs

Motor

12V Series Wound

Fairlead

Hawse

Rope or Cable

Rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Warranty

Yes, limited lifetime

Another WARN winch to consider is this model. It comes with the strongest Spydura pro-synthetic rope complete with a urethane coating. The rope is also heat-treated and features a 12-strand braid, plus a ballistic nylon sliding sleeve and 20-foot Nomex heat protection sleeve. This rope is designed to handle the heaviest applications with ease.

With the planetary gear train, you won’t have to worry if this machine can handle your tasks. It’s not only efficient but also fast and quiet. In the entire WARN lineup, this winch has the highest waterproof rating. This ensures you can go off-road without worrying about what messes you get into. With the convertible control pack, you can also attach the winch in multiple ways and use it remotely.

This particular model handles 12,000 pounds, but you can choose 8,000 and 10,000-pound winches as well. Thankfully, it is a lightweight option, mainly because of the unique rope design. If you were to choose the steel cable model instead, you would add 18 more pounds of equipment. The only downside once again is the price, but WARN is worth every penny, especially with the limited lifetime warranty. Get off-road and enjoy some excitement with the peace of mind this winch brings.

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Pulls 12,000 pounds
  • Best-in-class cable
  • Various mounting options

Cons

  • Expensive

3. WARN 26502 M8000

Best Portable Truck Winch

Rated Line Pull

8,000 lbs

Motor

12V 4.8 horsepower Series Wound

Fairlead

Roller

Rope or Cable

Steel cable

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Warranty

Yes, limited lifetime

Have you had enough of WARN yet? We can’t help but rank the brand so highly because the equipment is made to last. It features a powerful 12V 4.8 horsepower Series Wound motor and 3-stage planetary gear that will easily pull 8,000 pounds. This 8000-lb truck winch also has an automatic-run direct drive cone brake system and sliding ring gear free spooling clutch for maximum safety. We have listed this model as our best portable truck winch.

You will love the low-profile design and additional control box, which allows for numerous mounting options to fit your needs. This particular model includes a 100-foot wire rope, which adds to the weight, but you can opt for the synthetic rope model design. It also features a hand-held remote with a 12-foot lead so that you can remain at a safe distance.

As with the other WARN winches, you will notice this model includes a limited lifetime warranty. You really have nothing to worry about with this kind of protection. According to the WARN winch reviews, this model performs exactly as it should. In fact, it comes with some of the highest rankings in the industry, despite the lower price tag. Of course, the lower capacity is not enough for some heavy-duty applications, so you will need to keep that in mind. You may require something more substantial to get the job done.

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Durable construction
  • Plenty of safety features
  • Versatile mounting options

Cons

  • Only 8,000 pounds of pulling power

4. Smittybilt (98510) X2O

Best Budget Truck Winch for the Money

Rated Line Pull

10,000 lbs

Motor

6.6-horsepower Amphibious

Fairlead

Hawse

Rope or Cable

Synthetic rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Warranty

Yes, limited lifetime

Smittybilt is another leader in the winch industry. This particular model comes with a 3-stage planetary gear and a 6.6-horsepower Amphibious motor that can pull up to 10,000 pounds. Of course, this model comes in other variations, such as a 12,000, 15,500, and 17,500-pound unit. While this particular Smittybilt winch has a synthetic rope, you could opt for the steel cable instead.

What’s exceptional about this model is the completely waterproof solenoid, which makes it simple to travel anywhere. Plus, you get a wireless remote with this truck winch. With this setup, you can operate pulling power from a safe distance. We aren’t big fans of the heavier weight, but understand that helps make it durable and reliable.

What we are fond of is the price. This is a budget-friendly winch that doesn’t sacrifice capability. The reviews prove that this model is a winner, plus the limited lifetime warranty backs that up. The installation appears to be simple, so you won’t have to wait to go off-roading. Grab this Smittybilt winch for your next adventure, or opt for one with more power. Either way, you will be able to keep more money in your wallet and know that you are protected by a reliable brand.

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Durable rope
  • Comes with wireless remote
  • Quick line speed

Cons

  • Replacement parts are expensive

5. WARN 97740

Best Heavy Duty Truck Winch

Rated Line Pull

16,500 lbs

Motor

16.5TI-S, 12V

Fairlead

Hawse

Rope or Cable

Synthetic rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Warranty

Yes, limited lifetime

If you want the best winch for 1-ton truck, this option might be the machine you’ve been looking for. The 16.5TI-S pulls up to 16,500 pounds thanks to the durable and smooth-operating 3-stage planetary gear train and efficient series-wound motor. It’s not just about the pulling power, but this unit also has the best-in-class cone brake for maximum safety.

What sets this heavy-duty unit apart is the 80-foot Spydura Pro synthetic rope covered with a ballistic nylon sliding sleeve for additional protection against wear and abrasion. This heat-treated rope is like nothing you’ve ever used before, offering complete strength and plenty of heat protection. With the thermometric indicator, you also get operator feedback during the pulling process.

Furthermore, it features a waterproof contractor control for superior reliability. The reviews on this WARN winch can’t get much better, further proving that it is a high-quality product. Of course, the limited lifetime warranty backs that up even more. The only thing we can’t get excited about is the price, but it’s to be expected when you look at the versatility and reliability. Use this winch to pull out the largest trucks or take it with for your next off-road adventure. As with the other customers, you won’t be disappointed.

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Strongest rope on the market
  • Best-in-class cone brake
  • Thermometric indicator

Cons

  • Expensive

Installing a Winch on a Truck

You might need a new bumper to handle your truck winch. Once you get the appropriate bumper for the setup, it’s time to mount the winch. You can find detailed directions with this video. Then, you must connect the truck winch to a power source. This requires you to connect the winch to your car battery and to install a power switch. You might even consider adding an extra battery for winch operation. Finally, you want to pretension the line. It must be spooled onto the drum. Some of the models already come with the cable spooled.


How to Use a Truck Winch

Once you have the truck winch installed, it’s time to get pulling. Your first step is to learn how to use a truck bed winch anchor. Most times, you can use a tree, but there are other times when you must use a ground anchor, such as a spare tire. You can also dig a dead man’s anchor.

For the basics on truck winching, consider watching this video.


Winching Techniques, Tips & Accessories

Once you become a pro at winching, you are ready to move up to some advanced techniques. Here are a few you can learn.

On top of that, you will want some accessories to make the job easier. With a tree protector strap, choker chain, gloves, and snatch block on hand, you have more versatility. You may also consider D-rings, a fairlead, and a controller to make operation a breeze. Some of the best winches come with accessories included as a perk.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How big of a winch size do I need for my truck? What does gross vehicle weight mean?

To figure out what size winch you need for your pickup, take the gross vehicle weight and multiply it by 1.5 times. This is the minimum rating you should look for.

What is fairlead on a winch?

The fairlead guides and protects your line, while it is pulled into the winch. With a steel cable, you will have a roller fairlead, while the rope winches utilize a hawse fairlead.

Do winches need maintenance and repairs?

Winch maintenance is necessary if you plan to use it for many years. As part of the maintenance steps, you will want to check the connections, battery, and line often. Replace any parts as soon as they begin to wear out.

What are the top brands for truck winches?

There are many highly-rated winch brands on the market. We primarily recommend WARN and  Smittybilt due to the warranty coverage and durability.

Where is the best place to buy truck winch bumpers?

We recommend Amazon for truck winches, bumpers, and accessories. Amazon tends to have the lowest prices and the biggest selection, but you can also talk to an auto parts store if you can't find what you need online.


Conclusion

If money is no object, and you want the best, then the WARN 68801 is the right winch for you. It can pull some of the heaviest trucks and won't leave you stranded. Of course, some people have to worry more about the budget, which is entirely understandable. In those situations, you will want to look at one of the other selections we chose. One thing is for sure, with the right winch in place, there's no limit to the fun you can experience.

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