Smittybilt Winch Review: All Pounds, Parts & Accessories Compared

Your Jeep or truck is built to roll over off-road paths without trouble, that's for sure. But when it does manage to get wedged in a tough situation where natural recovery methods are inaccessible, you're really in a pickle. That's where off-road recovery with a Smittybilt winch comes in.

These high-quality, well-built add-ons for your Jeep or truck make it easy and safe to get your vehicle back on the beaten path. Many of this brand’s newest models even include features that allow for hands-free operation. But which Smittybilt winch is right for you? This guide will help you figure that out by teaching you what to look for in a productive Smittybilt winch and providing you with reviews for this year’s top models.


Preview

Product

Rated Line Pull

Gear Ratio

Check Price

Smittybilt X2O COMP - Waterproof Synthetic...

Smittybilt 98510

10,000 lbs.

218:1

Smittybilt X2O - Waterproof Steel Cable Winch...

Smittybilt 97510

10,000 lbs.

218:1

Smittybilt X2O - Waterproof Steel Cable Winch...

Smittybilt 97512

& 97515

12,000 & 15,500 lbs.

265:1 (430:1 for 97515 model)

Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch | 9,500 Pound Load...

Smittybilt 97495 XRC GEN2 & 97695 XRC GEN3

9,500 lbs.

161:1 (173:1 for 97695 model)

Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch | 15,500 Pound...

Smittybilt 97415 XRC Gen2

15,500 lbs.

397:1

Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch | 17,500 Pound...

Smittybilt 97417 XRC Gen2

17,500 lbs.

330:1


What Makes Smittybilt Winches Popular?

Wireless Control

Recently, Smittybilt has begun implementing a wireless control system into their newest models. This allows users to operate their powerful winches from a safe distance. This type of control system can be a major asset while trying to winch up your Jeep or truck from a particularly unstable location.

Different Solenoid Mounting Options

Smittybilt has always excelled when it comes to giving its users options, and their solenoid mounting options fit right into that reliable history. These options, in particular, provide drivers of vehicles both large and small an opportunity to point their solenoid unit to meet their own needs, rather than making body modifications to match the solenoid.

Different Water Resistance Levels/ Waterproofing

All Smittybilt winches offer some degree of waterproofing, thus allowing them to repel the harsh elements in which they are often utilized. Smittybilt’s various models offer differing capabilities on this front, though, so users who don’t expect to need such a high amount of water resistance won’t be forced to overpay.

3-Stage Planetary Gear System

Many of Smittybilt’s most popular winches feature this type of gear system, which, even a few years ago, was an expensive rarity in this industry. Smittybilt led the way in implementing them into their new mainline winches, thus allowing them to provide a greater amount of winching capability when utilized at their full weight capacity.

Larger Clutch Lever

Smittybilt’s larger clutch levers are a small, but significant detail that experienced winch users will appreciate. These levers can be easily accessed and operated, even if you’re wearing gloves or your hands are covered in mud from trying to free your truck or Jeep on your own.

Dynamic Braking System

Smittybilt has remained focused on safety over the years, and their use of a dynamic braking system provides substantial evidence for that fact. Even without the user’s interaction, this system can ensure that a vehicle does not take a sudden tumble due to a loss of traction. This brake system also maintains the cable's structural integrity well, thus preventing unexpected failures.

Large Load Capacity Models

Smittybilt is committed to bringing in as many prospective users as possible. As such, they maintain a wide variety of models that have larger-than-average load capacities. These models are essential for serving the needs of extra-large vehicle owners who want a safe and reliable option when it comes to winching.

Efficiency and Speed

This brand’s winches are particularly admirable when it comes to their speed and overall efficiency. In fact, in many cases, a Smittybilt winch can perform at its tested top speed, even when it has a load on the line. As such, this brand’s units can ensure you work through a winching situation without any undue delay.

Mechanical Lifetime Warranty

Almost all Smittybilt models come with their well-known mechanical lifetime warranty. This feature alone ensures that your Smittybilt winch will be a wise investment that can pay for its own maintenance or replacement over time.


Best Smittybilt Winches Reviewed

1. Smittybilt 98510 X2O 

Product Specifications

Rated Line Pull

10,000 lbs.

Motor

Series Wound, 6.6 HP

Fairlead

Hawse

Rope or Cable

Synthetic Rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Gear Ratio

218:1

Warranty

Yes, lifetime

First up, I want you to have a look at the Smittybilt 98510, which easily wins my award for the top Smittybilt 10,000 lbs. winch. What makes this model so special, you ask? Well, I believe that this model's series-wound, 6.6 HP motor has set the standard by which all other Smittybilt winches now operate under. This model’s 3-stage planetary gear train has also become an excellent standard for this brand, especially after noting its 218:1 gear ration.

The Smittybilt 98510 also has a number of features that are routinely overlooked by novice winch users. For example, this model utilizes a sliding ring gear clutch that won’t give out when a full 10,000 lbs. vehicle is on the line. Along the same lines, while some winch reviews like to demean synthetic winch cable, I really found this model to go above and beyond when it came to durability and wear-resistance.

Finally, the Smittybilt 98510 deserves recognition for its universal fit mounting. As such, truck and Jeep owners alike can look to this model and know that it will fit onto their vehicle without needing to make modifications.


2. Smittybilt 97510 X2O

Product Specifications

Rated Line Pull

10,000 lbs.

Motor

Series Wound, 6.6 HP

Fairlead

4-way roller

Rope or Cable

braided steel wire rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Gear Ratio

218:1

Warranty

Yes, lifetime and 3-year on electrical elements

The Smittybilt 97510 is also a great Smittybilt X20 winch that’s worth your consideration. As the posterchild of the X20 series, this model has found a way to show what a fully engaged 6.6 HP engine is capable of – namely, the ability to pull up a 10,000 lbs. vehicle without burning out or losing traction. Better yet, this model won’t ever cause your vehicle to drop unexpectantly thanks to its reliable out-of-drum automatic brake.

Smittybilt describes the 97510 model as "lightning-fast," and I fully agree with that summation. This model's 3-stage planetary is uniquely able to engage quickly and efficiently, allowing it to gain and apply torque to your wedged vehicle immediately. As such, you'll be able to have your truck or Jeep out of its rut in a matter of minutes. You’ll even be able to complete this task from a distance away using this model’s remote control options.

As with all Smittybilt winches, this model’s lifetime warranty is well worth your while, too. Should this model’s price tag be a bit above your expected price range, this warranty’s value will help balance out the up-front costs easily.


3. Smittybilt 97512/97515

Product Specifications

Rated Line Pull

10,000 lbs.

Motor

Series Wound, 6.6 HP

Fairlead

4-way roller

Rope or Cable

braided steel wire rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Gear Ratio

218:1

Warranty

Yes, lifetime and 3-year on electrical elements

Next up, I want to talk about the Smittybilt 97512 and 97515 in tandem because they feature very similar specifications, and both represent the best waterproof Smittybilt winches available on the market today. To that end, both of these models carry the IP68 waterproofing rating, which means they can resist rain and other forms of environmental moisture without degrading. Even the braided steel wire rope used on both of these models is able to stand up to the wear caused by winching up a hefty truck or Jeep.

To that end, the Smittybilt 97512 and 97515 differ noticeably when it comes to their rated line pull capabilities. To be specific, the Smittybilt 97512 has been rated to hoist up 12,000 lbs. vehicles, while the Smittybilt 97515 can even go a step further by securing 15,500 lbs. vehicles with ease. Both models differ when it comes to their gear ratio, too. The 97512 model provides a respectable 265:1 ratio on this front, while the 97515 model goes above and beyond with a massive 430:1 ratio.


4. Smittybilt 97495 XRC GEN2 

Product Specifications

Rated Line Pull

9,500 lbs.

Motor

Series Wound, 6.6 HP (7.0 HP for 97695 model)

Fairlead

4-way roller

Rope or Cable

93.5’, 5/16" diameter wire cable

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Gear Ratio

161:1 (173:1 for 97695 model)

Warranty

Yes, lifetime and 3-year on electrical elements

Here are two of the most affordable XRC Smittybilt winches for your consideration – the Smittybilt 97495 XRC GEN2 and the Smittybilt 97695 XRC GEN3. Both of these models provide an affordable price tag based upon their core pulling capacity, which only clocks in at 9,500 lbs. each. But don't let that convince you that these winches are weak, by any means. Instead, you should be impressed that even these lower-end models utilize a 3-stage planetary gear train.

Speaking of gears, these two models only differ slightly when it comes to their gear ratios. The Smittybilt 97495, for example, provides a decent 161:1 ratio, while the Smittybilt 97695 ups the ante ever so slightly to a 173:1 ratio. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll be able to count on either unit to stand up to the wear and tear of off-road use due to their mutual IP67 waterproofing rating.

Oh, I can’t forget to mention that the Smittybilt 97695 is part of this brand’s 3rd generation of products, thus making it one of the newest Smittybilt winches available. As such, you can expect this model to receive the most support going forward, including for its lifetime warranty.


5. Smittybilt. 97415/97417 XRC Gen2

Product Specifications

Rated Line Pull

15,500 lbs. (17,500 lbs. for 97417 model)

Motor

Series Wound, 6.6 HP

Fairlead

4-way roller

Rope or Cable

93.5’ 7/16" diameter synthetic rope

Gear Train

3-stage planetary

Gear Ratio

397:1 (330:1 for 97417 model)

Warranty

Yes, lifetime and 3-year on electrical elements

Finally, I want to talk about the most rugged Smittybilt winches in tandem because many shoppers will want to choose between them. But in truth, both the Smittybilt. 97415 XRC Gen2 and the Smittybilt 97417 XRC Gen2 provide a reliable standard of performance, based upon their standard 6.6 HP series wound motor. When fully engaged, these units are able to hold the most weight in their class by a long-shot, at  15,500 lbs. and 17,500 lbs., respectively.

Both the Smittybilt 97415 and the Smittybilt 97417 are built to stand up to the rigors of their job, as well. This can clearly be seen in their stainless steel hardware throughout their construction, as well as an oversized aluminum crossbar that can brace the entire unit when a vehicle is placed on the line. That “line” is 7/16" diameter synthetic rope as well, so you can count on it to be wide enough and strong enough to remain stable during a long winching job.


Pros & Cons of the Smittybilt Brand

There are a number of pros and cons that come with purchasing any Smittybilt winch. Here are just a few that you should keep in mind as you shop:

Pros

  • Competitively priced and widely available
  • Built to last, including waterproofing
  • Reliable 3-stage planetary gear system standard in most models
  • Many weight capacity options
  • Tested and proven dynamic braking system

Cons

  • Many models are not made in the US
  • Wireless remotes don’t have a very large range
  • Mounting pieces may require replacement after a year or two

Comparison with Other Brands

Naturally, Smittybilt isn’t the only name in the winching game today. There are other top brands as well, including Badlands, Rugged Ridge, X Bull, and many more. Recently, all of these brands have made an effort to lower their prices to compete with Smittybilt. However, they’ve cut corners in the process. So, you can expect Smittybilt to still provide top-tier durability and towing capacity without costing a fortune.


Installation & Wiring for a Smittybilt Winch

Installing and wiring your new Smittybilt winch is an important step in making your truck or Jeep trail-ready. Fortunately, this manufacturer has taken extra steps to ensure that even a novice can accomplish this task in their home garage. This process should always involve following the mounting instructions listed in the installation manual. Beyond this, a video guide like this may help you better understand what this job requires of you.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Who makes Smittybilt winches? Where are Smittybilt winches made?

Smittybilt appears to manufacture their own winches, but those winches are made in a variety of locations. While some of Smittybilt’s most popular models are made here in the US, the majority are made overseas in China.

How do I determine which size Smittybilt winch do I need?

Sizing your truck or Jeep for a new winch should start by appraising your vehicle’s total weight. Then, multiply this number by 1.5 to find the proper weight capacity needed to tow your vehicle. Then, simply check to make sure that your chosen unit has the right mounting equipment for your front bumper, and you're good to go.

Can I use a Smittybilt winch on a truck?

Absolutely, and many truck owners like you do. While Smittybilt typically builds its winches with Jeeps in mind, they can easily be installed and operate with a truck on the line as well.

Do Smittybilt winches need maintenance and repairs?

Of course, regular maintenance is the best way to ensure that your new Smittybilt winch lasts through many off-road journeys to come. This includes cleaning the entire unit after each dirty or dusty excursion. All moving parts should be kept lubricated as well. This guide can provide you with even more insight into the most common repairs you’ll need to make.


Conclusion

I’ve made it fully clear, but in case you need to hear it again – you should be buying Smittybilt winches if you are serious about off-roading. This brand’s models are among the best when it comes to value and durability, which is why they are always a sure thing when I recommend them to my auto shop customers.

I believe that your next winch has “Smittybilt” on its label, so you should take a second pass at my reviews above and find the model that’ll keep your truck or Jeep secure in a pinch.

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