Best ATV Winch ‖ AutoDeets Ultimate Buyer’s Guide & Top ATV Winch Reviews
Ever found yourself in a tight spot, without a way to get out? Been alone in the wilderness away from civilization and nowhere near anyone who could rescue you from your situation? Or how about just on the farm, where you’ve wanted to move something a tad heavier than you can handle yourself?
You, my friend, need a winch!
Having a winch handy is a great asset, no matter what you’re doing. You can use a winch for a variety of applications, whether it’s just transporting things around a farm or saving yourself from the perhaps not-so-smart decision you made.
The pulling power and stability a winch offers can be used for much more than simple jobs and/or recreational measures. A winch will get you out of sticky situations without (too) much damage, and they’re relatively easy to use as well. There are a lot of great uses of winches, and many more benefits.
With so many products on the market, it’s hard to decide exactly which ones will work for your needs—and your budget. We’ll take a look at the top ATV winches out there today, and the pros and cons of each. Take notes as you read through, and by the end, you’ll have a clearer answer of which winch you want!
Before we delve into the top 7 ATV winches, let’s consider what applications you might have for your winch. Knowing your intended application is always a must before purchasing a winch. It’s always good to have more power than you need of course, but with power comes a pretty penny, so if you don’t necessarily need the top-of-the-line model with muscles as big as yours, there are a few mid-grade options available.
The Best ATV Winch For The Money (Full ATV Winch Reviews Below)
Winches are used a lot on personal vehicles for jobs where the might of one person—or many people—just isn’t enough. If you need more muscle, a winch is your best friend. Their pulling power will get the job done without bruising muscles and breaking backs.
ATV/UTV winches help farmers around their fields and in their daily tasks, just like ATVs and UTVs do. These vehicles are intended to shoulder the brunt of the work to be done. Whether it’s hauling feed, tools, crew members, or any other number of projects and tasks, ATVs and their winches are there to help. Winches allow more work to be done with less physical effort from their operators, which means it won’t be your back breaking when all is said and done.
Winches are often classified by pulling power, in pounds. This rating will tell you how much a winch can pull. The pulling power ultimately comes down to the thickness of the cable and its material makeup, the size of the drum, and the motor which turns it. Larger drums can hold more cable, which provides more leverage in a pull, but they also require bigger motors to be able to overcome the strain of the load and achieve pulling force.
While it might be hard to conceptualize just how much something weighs, consider that most ATVs ring in at about 400 pounds. Most vehicles are often 4 to 5 times that amount. ATV winches are typically rated below 5,000 pounds, as the weight and power of the vehicle and its motor only stretches so far. While it’s possible for a smaller vehicle to have a large amount of pulling power, there is a breaking point. All the same, ATV/UTV winches are a great addition to your favorite ute.
A lot of rock crawlers (i.e. Jeep owners) and off-road enthusiasts will attach winches to their vehicles as well. While some do it for looks and as a conversation point, most owners know the value of a powerful winch. Any time you get a large hunk of metal stuck in a recovery situation, you can never have too many winches on hand. A winch will retrieve your vehicle with ease, and minimize any shameful moments you might experience. Travel with a winch, and you won’t have to worry too much about getting stuck!
The best way to visualize a winch in action is to think of a single vehicle stuck in a ditch. Whichever way the vehicle is positioned, simply driving out of the situation is impossible. In this case, a winch on the vehicle can be used to pull it out. The winch rope or cable would need to be attached to a nearby tree or secure holding point that is capable of standing up to the pulling power necessary to retrieve the vehicle. When the winch line has been attached, the operator can simply winch the line onto the drum, thereby shortening the distance between the tree and the vehicle. Soon enough, your vehicle will be free!
The same idea applies to personal trucks and tow trucks equipped with winches. Having a winch allows you to leverage the weight of your vehicle against itself if you get stuck in mud, snow, or any other kind of natural hazard. Of course, having a winch on a tow truck is really the entire idea behind their use.
Because most trucks are heavier and therefore have more pulling power, they are able to rescue stranded vehicles from the side of the road, ditch, or any other recovery situation. By leveraging the weight of the truck itself, many tow truck drivers are able to right vehicles, pull them up to the road, and tow them away for repair or scrap. The next time you find yourself in need of a tow—and hopefully you won’t—consider the physics at hand. You just might have a new appreciation for the science happening before you.
This to-the-rescue mentality fuels a multi-million-dollar sector of the economy as well, in the form of heavy recovery vehicles designed to pull even the biggest loads out of the ditch. While it may be fun to watch these recoveries on TV, and marvel at the science at work, the presence of a winch is invaluable. When things go wrong, they don’t generally do it in a small way, so having a high-power winch on-hand is sometimes the difference between life and death, or loss and profit.
Okay, so having a winch is great, but how exactly does it work? Let’s take a closer look, because you’ll find the concepts aren’t so complex as you might think.
How a Winch Works
The mechanics of a winch are rather simple, once you get to thinking about it. You’ve got a cable or rope, which is wound around what is called a “drum.” While it’s easy to spool the line on the drum when there is no load attached to the end, a winch requires a motor to turn the drum, thereby pulling the load with it.
Think of a tug-of-war game: if players all work together and walk in the same direction, the rope will go one way rather easily, but if one team of players pulls while the other team simply holds onto the rope, the first team is dragging the weight of the other team, and it is the power of the entire pulling team that makes the work possible. Thus, winches require a motor to drive the action in order to pull weight in a forward direction.
Winches don’t just pull though. They can also be used like a crane, to lower materials and objects. If you’re going spelunking through the caves and crevasses of a mountain range, you can winch your body down from your ATV or truck into a lower space. This does require a bit of finessing, and definitely a good anchoring point, but all the same, winches are versatile in their movements and uses.
Beyond the cable/rope, drum, and motor, there are various accessories that also aid in the winching process. Some of these include a fairlead, snatch block, and more. A fairlead is a device that moves the cable around objects and helps to remove strain from the winch itself. A roller fairlead is used with steel cables, while a hawse fairlead is used with synthetic rope. Basically, a fairlead is another mounting point for your cable or rope.
A snatch block is a great tool in jobs where you need to double your pull. Simply attach the snatch block to the object you’re pulling at a secure anchor point, and run the cable or rope through the snatch block and back to your winch. Double the cable/rope means double the winching ability. This is also a great way to hedge your bets with a cable/rope you’re not sure about, because it’s better to increase your power than expect too much out of your winch line.
There are many other accessories for winches out there on the market today. But with so many options, for both winches and accessories, how do you know which one fits your application and needs? Let’s take a look at a few characteristics you’ll want to pay attention to when shopping for a winch.
A lot of people don’t realize it, but taking care of your winch can increase its longevity and minimize costly repairs. Would you rather replace small parts every so often, or have to invest in an entirely new unit each year? Consider your wallet and you might change your answer. Maintenance on most winches is an easy task that can be done before and after use in about 15-20 minutes, so it’s really not a lengthy or involved process. Let’s go over a few quick tips on how to take care of your winch.
The first thing to do is check your winch over before you go on a trip. Make sure all your electrical connections are working properly and free of debris, and that the connections themselves are solid and secure. Test out the power controls a few times and look and listen for any hiccups. If something seems off, it’s best to have a back-up winch on hand, whether it’s on someone else’s ATV or a replacement winch you have just in case.
Next, check your accessories bag and make sure all your parts got back into it after their last use. It’s easy to take the accessories out for cleaning or use elsewhere, and forget to put them back. Now, it is possible to winch without a snatch block or most other accessories you might have, but it is definitely harder if you don’t have the right tools with you. Be prepared for anything you encounter out on your travels by making sure all your accessories are back where they belong.
Checking your cable and/or rope before each use can be time-consuming, but invaluable. If you have the time, unwind your entire cable/rope and check for any frays or damage. An entire winching job could depend on a single hair. This is also a step best done before rolling the winch cable back up after use. Let’s take a closer look at that process next.
Once you’re back from a trip, wash your winch and cable down. Unwind the entire cable and make sure to rinse the drum as well. You don’t necessarily need to use specialized water for rinsing, because you can also lubricate your steel cable once it’s dry. Synthetic rope doesn’t need to be lubricated, but greasing your winch cable down can extend its life.
Once the winch line is completely dry, and after you’ve lubricated it if you so choose, wind it back on the drum neatly and properly, to prevent any jams or hang-ups. Remember how smooth that line pulled out when you first purchased your winch? That’s what you’re aiming for in this case. As you wind the drum, inspect the line to locate any damage. A discerning eye can mean the difference between making it out and having to replace potentially much more than just a winch cable. Replace your line if necessary, to always be prepared for what could happen.
As you’re washing your ATV and winch down, clean your winch accessories as well. Allow them to dry before storing back in your container, and make sure that if you take an accessory out, for whatever reason, you remind yourself to put it back before your next ride. Your winch and accessories are there to help you out in a pinch, so avoid the cursing and prepare for your next ride before you head out.
Now that you know a bit more about winches, how they work, and how to keep them in tip-top shape, let’s check out the top 7 ATV winches out there on the market today. Keep that checklist in mind as you review the following winches and perhaps you’ll be closer to your next purchase!
The first—and best—ATV winch on our list comes from Superwinch and is capable of pulling up to 3,000 pounds. With this winch, you’re sitting at about the middle of that 1,000-5,000-pound range we talked about, which is a good spot to be in. Superwinch even notes that this particular winch is great for casual snowplowing and many other ATV applications.
This winch comes with a roller fairlead, which is used with steel cable, as well as a mount plate, handlebar rocker switch, and hand-held remote. You’ll get 50 feet of 3/16-inch cable for this winch. There is a 12-foot lead on the rubberized remote. The 3-stage planetary gear train provides secure, dependable winching power, alongside the low-amperage, 1.2 horsepower permanent magnet motor, which is sealed against the elements. A free-spooling, ergonomic clutch provides smooth pulling action, and the drum has 100% automatic load hold and mechanical and dynamic braking action.
For quiet, dependable winching, check out this intermediate-level product from Superwinch. Though you’ll have to buy the mounting kit separately, this winch will only set you back about $140. Superwinch accessories are known for their easy installation, durable construction, and on this particular model, a 2-year limited warranty. At only 20 pounds installed, this ATV winch from Superwinch is a great option with a lot of power. Check it out if you’re looking for that extra pull and low cost.
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Superwinch is one of the largest privately-held manufacturers of winches. In producing winches for both small-time consumers and larger industrial corporations, they’re able to bring the best to the table. Located in both the United States and the United Kingdom, Superwinch is a strong global leader in the winching industry.
Not satisfied? Let’s take a look at another winch you might consider.
You can’t have a winch list without WARN showing up somewhere, and in this case, we’ve placed it in our top 3 winches for ATVs. As an industry leader in all things winching, WARN is headquartered in Oregon and serves over 65 countries with their unbeatable products. WARN is a trusted brand in the industrial, commercial, and heavy-duty worlds, bringing quality electric and hydraulic winches and hoists to tackle any job.
With a 2,000-pound capacity, this WARN winch doesn’t have as much pull as the Superwinch does, but it still offers great power, from a well-known name you can trust.
With 50 feet of 5/32-inch wire rope, this WARN winch has a fully-sealed, permanent magnet motor and smooth planetary gears. You’ll be able to tackle the roughest terrain without worrying about water killing your motor. The differential planetary gear train is advantageous because it allows you to pull off the job without the risk of jerking your cable around and it snapping. A fairlead plate is included with this winch, as well as a handlebar-mounted mini rocker control.
With a composite gear housing and all-metal gears, you can be sure this winch won’t slip during the job. The cable included is aircraft-grade, and the synthetic rope is lightweight. This winch comes with a dynamic brake for that extra muscle exactly when you need it. A true next-generation winch, the WARN Vantage 2000 sports a corrosion-resistant finish and stainless steel fasteners. This affordable winch is only $200.
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Begun in 1948, WARN is a powerful leader in the off-road world. With the first WARN winch in 1959, the company began a long-standing tradition of leading the industry and forging a path into the future with their high-quality products delivered at an affordable price. WARN has even contracted with the United States military to provide accessories for a variety of missions. You can be sure that with a name and long history like WARN’s, any winch they offer has earned its stripes and a place among some of the best accessories on the market today.
Here’s our next top ATV winch, which will round out our top 3 contenders. These winches comprise some of the best in ATV winching, but stay tuned for the remaining 4 as well. You’re sure to find a winch for your needs, no matter how big or small.
Our first cheaper option on the list, this winch kit from Champion comes in under $100. Capable of pulling up to 2,000 pounds, this winch is powered by a 1 horsepower DC motor. It’s amazing what just 1 horsepower can do!
The planetary system has a free-spooling clutch and a handlebar-mounted remote control for smooth pulling and the ability to walk around your jobsite, rather than having to stay in one spot. It’s always better to get a full view of your working site, to make sure you’ve accounted for all variables, so in this instance, a remote control is invaluable.
This dependable and durable winch kit includes the mounting channel, remote control, and roller fairlead. A 49-foot, 5/32-inch-wide galvanized aircraft-grade cable winds around a 1.2 by 2.9-inch drum capable of dynamic braking. In the event you need to stop the load from traveling any further, you’ve got that option with this winch. A heavy-duty clevis hook and handy strap are also included in this winch kit, which makes for easy pulling and less money spent buying necessary accessories.
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Champion boasts that this winch is capable of pulling 3.3 feet per minute with a full load, and 10.5 feet per minute with no load. That’s pretty quick for a winch this size! All the same, precision and a deft touch are key. Champion also offers a 2-year limited warranty with lifetime technical support. If you’ve ever got a question about your winch or are having trouble with the electronics, simply give Champion customer service a call. They’ll be happy to help.
For a company known both here in North America and in world markets abroad, Champion offers great products for all your winching needs, including this winch kit here. They’ve also got a lineup of generators, log splitters, and engines available, for recreational applications to the most serious of business ventures. If it’s a dependable tool you’re looking for, check out Champion’s inventory. Become a champion yourself, and find out just why Champion is one of the industry’s leaders in winches, from ATVs and UTVs to trucks and industrial applications.
Haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for yet? No problem! Let’s take a look at a few more options we recommend for any ATV owner.
Here’s another great winch from the experts at Superwinch. The Terra 35 is capable of pulling up to 3,500 pounds, which is right where you want to be if you’re an ATV owner. It might seem a bit like overkill, but it’s always better to have more muscle than you need, rather than find yourself stuck without enough power. At only $200, it’s an investment compared to our last contender, but still within reasonable range.
This Superwinch accessory comes with a roller fairlead, handlebar-mounted toggle, and handheld remote. A wireless remote is optional. With a 3-stage planetary gear system, this winch provides smooth pulling power and is capable of mechanical load hold and dynamic braking. This winch is 20 pounds installed, and has a limited lifetime warranty.
The Terra 35 is powered by a 1.6 horsepower sealed permanent magnet motor that is highly efficient with its low-amp draw. The winch features powers in and out and a rubberized remote switch with a 10-foot extension cable. The 50 feet of 13/64-inch wire rope is connected to a steel drum and an ergonomic, free-spooling clutch.
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The best thing about this winch is that Superwinch has fitted it with an all-steel planetary gear that is twice as wide as the competitor’s. It also features oil-pocket bronze bearings. With bigger gears comes more power, and that’s why this winch is able to pull up to 3,500 pounds. The Terra 35 also features multiple operation switching options and is designed to be compatible with most 4-bolt pattern ATV winch mount kits.
Another great buy for the price is this winch from XBULL. Costing you only $80, it includes a 1.5 horsepower permanent magnet motor capable of dynamic braking action. That means you can pause in your winching and readjust if needed, all without having to attach the load to a holding point as you reposition.
This winch also comes with a 2-piece wireless remote control, and has a power in and out feature. Having the 2-piece wireless remote means you can walk around your work site and take into account all the variables present. And of course, in the event you lose one of the remotes, or misplace it in another location, you’ve got another one on hand.
The winch itself is corrosion resistant and covered in tough on- and off-road guarding material. You won’t have to baby this model. The XBULL winch can handle all kinds of terrain and the best and worst of weather patterns.
The 3-stage planetary gear system on XBULL’s winch provides a smooth pull. In case of emergency, the winch has automatic load holding and is capable of winching up to 3,000 pounds on the high-tensile steel cable. Most ATV owners won’t necessarily need to use the full power of this winch, but it will be there in case you do.
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If you’re just looking for an entry-level model that you’d like to try out, check out this winch from XBULL. It’s one of the more affordable winches on our list, and yet it still offers a respectable amount of pulling power for the price. A rating of 3,000 pounds is a great thing to have for most day-to-day applications, as you won’t necessarily need to invest in a higher-powered winch if you’re only using it every so often.
Rounding out the bottom of the list is another great winch from Champion. With enough power to pull up to 3,000 pounds, this ATV/UTV winch has a 1.3 horsepower permanent magnet motor. The winch includes a roller fairlead, mounting channel, handlebar-mounted remote control, and a 2-year limited warranty with free lifetime tech support.
The 46-foot long 3/16-inch cable is wound around a 1.5 by 3.2-inch cable drum capable of dynamic braking. With planetary gears on this winch, you can’t go wrong. The ATV/UTV Winch from Champion is capable of pulling 4.3 feet per minute under load, and 8.9 feet per minute when free spooling. Pound for pound, this winch from Champion is capable of lots of pulling power in a quick and efficient way.
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At near $100, this winch from Champion is a great buy. Champion rivals WARN in many ways, offering similarly-capable winches at a reasonable price. You don’t have to pay brand name prices to get a brand-name-functioning winch. Choose Champion, and you’ll be set for any situation.
We’ve got just one more winch on the list. Hopefully by now you’ve been able to narrow down your choices and come up with a shortlist. But don’t go yet! Before you enter the store, check out this last—but not least—winch from Viper.
At the middle of the pack in terms of price, this Viper winch comes in around $160 and is capable of pulling up to 3,000 pounds. A 1.1 horsepower permanent magnet motor controls the 50 feet of 3/16-inch black synthetic Dyneema rope featured with this package. You can also choose steel cable if you prefer that option.
Synthetic rope is a better option in the case of ATV winches, because you won’t have to carry around heavy steel cable, and the rope itself won’t store up the energy of the pull as much as a steel cable would. Synthetic rope will fray more easily than steel cable, but with a winch of this size and strength, most customers will find it more than fits their needs.
Steel planetary gears and stainless steel hardware make this a great durable choice for those who hit the ground running. Customers will also get a rocker handlebar switch, contactor/solenoid, wiring, and hawse or roller fairlead, depending on your choice of cable or rope. The winch is capable of dynamic brake and mechanical load-holding, and features a waterproof handlebar switch.
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The entire assembly comes with a 1-year warranty and is great for any kind of winching needs. Whether you’re working hard or hardly working, this Viper winch is there to rescue you just in case. You can check out more Viper winches at Moto Alliance’s website. Winch mounts are sold separately, but this winch does come with all the necessary hardware and installation instructions.
There you have it! These are the top 7 ATV winches we’ve found on the market today. Let’s take one last look at those winches, ranked below on first available pulling power, and then cost. You can also compare and contrast these winches—and others—based on your own set criteria. Coordinate both lists with your winching needs, and you’ll have your options narrowed down already!
Top pulling power goes to the Superwinch Terra 35. Capable of pulling up to 3,500 pounds, it reigns supreme over the Superwinch LT3000ATV, the Champion 3000-pound ATV/UTV, the XBULL 4WD winch, and the Viper Midnight. Both WARN’s Vantage 2000 and Champion’s 2,000-pound kit can only pull up to 2,000 pounds.
XBULL’s 4WD winch comes in at the cheapest option, at only $80. Both Champion models listed here near the $100 mark, and the Superwinch LT3000ATV will set you back $140. Customers can pick up the Viper Midnight winch from Moto Alliance for about $160. The Superwinch Terra 35 and WARN’s Vantage 2000 top the list at $200 each.
With this in mind, if you’re looking for a mix of power and price, check out the Superwinch LT3000ATV winch, at 3,000 pounds of pulling power for about $140, or the Viper Midnight winch at $20 more for the same amount of oomph. Some of these winches might be out of your price range or a bit too much power for your application, while others are probably within your monetary limits and still capable of pulling off any task you encounter.
Take a closer look at the winches above the next time you’re in the market, and most of all, have fun out there, but be prepared!