Off-road driving is a thrilling experience that more people are turning to as a fun, adventurous activity.
For the true adrenaline junkie, it’s most exciting when the terrain you’re traveling on is particularly snowed, sandy, muddy, or otherwise uneven. But the higher the intensity, the higher the risk, and you can expect to end up stuck in the road at least once during your off-roading journey.
Even if the thought of being thrown around inside your vehicle as you go over dips and bumps in the road isn’t your thing, having a good-quality winch in your arsenal for your Jeep will certainly come in handy for occasional towing.
They attach to the front of your vehicle and can provide assistance to you or others when you need it.
We’ve researched and reviewed some of the best winches available and selected what we believe are five of the best for Jeeps.
We’ve compiled them in a list along with a Buyer’s Guide and some frequently asked questions, so you can set out for a long-distance journey or a day of off-road driving safe in the knowledge that you’re prepared for anything.
OUR TOP PICK
Designed for a range of vehicles, including Jeeps, this Zesupper electric winch has a 9,500 lbs. load capacity and a heavy-duty sealed contractor to ensure powerful and effective pulling.
It has fast line speeds thanks to the high-efficiency Dyneema synthetic winch rope, which can pull 6.4 feet per minute with a full load and 24.6 feet with no load. It is also extremely lightweight meaning it can float in water, and the winch system is IP67 rated so it can withstand water levels up to 3 feet if the weather turns sour!
The 3-Stage Planetary gear system guarantees fast and powerful pulling, and the easy to control features such as the automatic load-holding brake enhance the safety of this winch. It also comes with the option for wired or wireless remote control for further ease-of-use.
All in all, this winch performs impressively and has a lot of features to offer considering it comes at a lower cost than some of the other models in this list. We chose the Zesuper 9,500 lb. load capacity winch as our top pick because it’s an affordable, well-performing winch that offers great value for money.
- 3-Stage Planetary gear system
- Automatic load-holding brake
- Wired or wireless remote control
- Easy to mount
- Instructions don’t provide wiring diagrams but the wires are color-coded for easy connection to cables
Smittybilt have spent a lot of time and effort refining their winch systems and the GEN2 XRC series have been streamlined with durable, heavy-duty features for improved performance.
The GEN2 XRC 97495 comes highly rated with 4.6 out of 5 stars and nearly 2,000 reviews on Amazon. The electric winch has synthetic cable and is entirely waterproof to bail you out on even the rainiest of days, and with a 9,500 lbs. load capacity, it’ll have no trouble pulling larger Jeeps.
It has a 500AMP Solenoid to protect the 6.6hp motor as it supplies the current, as well as a 3-Stage Planetary Gear System for even stronger pulling power and line speeds that will get you out and back on the road in no time.
The Smittybilt 97495 is perfect for recovery and it comes with an installation kit included in addition to all the wiring needed to mount your winch easily to your jeep. The stainless steel hardware and aluminum crossbars are attractive and the textured, matte black coating protects it from rougher weather conditions and UV-ray damage.
Their confidence in the durability of their products is backed by a lifetime mechanical warranty and a 3-year electrical warranty for the original purchaser.
- 3-Stage Planetary Gear System
- Waterproof and UV-resistant
- Generous warranties
- Instructions are difficult to understand
- Some reported issues with customers needing replacements
Stegodon is a trusted brand in winch manufacturing, best known for offering great-quality winches that are highly popular in the off-roading industry. The Stegodon ST-13K-T1 is no exception and, being both waterproof and sand-proof, it will suit all your more adventurous needs.
This is a high-efficiency, electric winch with synthetic rope, and a mounting bolt pattern of 10.00±0.015" × 4.50±0.010”. The 500AMP Solenoid supplies the currant without causing any damage to the 6.4hp motor, which features 3-stage planetary steel gears to ensure a more powerful pulling power.
Another great feature of the Stegodon ST-13K-T1 is the high-sensitivity wireless remote control, with fast circuit speed and a pioneering clutch brake system for added control. The free spooling clutch will be a life-saver out on the road, particularly on muddy or wet surfaces.
- 500AMP Solenoid
- Heavy-duty sealed contactor
- High sensitivity wireless remote control
- Clutch brake system
- Backed by a lifetime of technical support
- Expensive option
- Tricky to mount on the front bumper
Whatever vehicle you own, the Rugcel LT4000ATV VDC can pull you to safety, as it’s specially designed to work with atv, uyc, car, boat, trucks, jeeps, and modified vehicles. It only has 4000 lbs rated line capacity, however, so make sure your vehicle doesn’t weigh more than about 2,666 lbs.
The synthetic nylon winch rope extra hard-wearing and 50-feet long for further distances, and the useful winch stopper prevents the 1.6hp 12v series young winch motor from pulling the cable in too far.
Winching is made easy thanks to integrated wireless control and the 3-stage planetary gear system. You’ll also find the mechanical brake provides added control alongside the free-spooling, ergonomic clutch, and these features enhance the winch’s efficiency.
Detailed instructions mean you won’t struggle to mount this winch to your jeep and it is completely waterproof to withstand harsher weather conditions. Their durability is backed by lifetime technical support and a limited 3-year warranty.
- 3-stage planetary gear system
- Free spooling clutch
- Affordable, budget option
- Only 4000 lb. pulling power
As the most expensive option on this list, it’s not surprising that the Warn 103252 offers incredible, high-standard performance, every time. It’s a recognized brand in the off-roading industry that is known for manufacturing high-powered, reliable winches that can provide help in any situation.
If you’re a keen off-roader who needs powerful pulling power, this winch is a great option. The fact that it has a 10,000 lb capacity and uses steel rope means this winch is perfect for pulling larger Jeeps or SUVs. It has a powerful series-round motor and lightening-fast line speeds thanks to its planetary gear system, resulting in efficient and effective pulling.
It comes with the option for wired or wireless remote control for easy user control and customers have praised how easy it is to install. The one-piece cast-aluminum tie-plate also looks great on the front of any Jeep thanks to its attractive design.
The winch is waterproof with a IP68 rating and is designed to resist damage by the elements, but it comes with a limited lifetime warranty for mechanical parts and 7 years on electrical, as well as excellent customer services should anything go wrong.
- Powerful 10,000 lb load capacity
- Planetary gear system
- Wired or wireless remote control
- Most expensive on this list
- Winch cable chafe guard not included
Best Winches for Jeep Buying Guide
Electronic vs hydraulic winches
If you like to find the bumpiest, roughest roads to go off-roading on then you’ll want to make sure you have a good-quality winch with you in case you run into any problems.
Electronic and hydraulic winches are the two main types you can purchase, and there has been plenty of debate about which type of winch is the better piece of equipment.
The main difference between electric and hydraulic winches is the duty cycle, which determines how long you can use your winch for. Hydraulic winches can run for long periods of time because they’re powered by your vehicle’s steering pump, meaning they can get you out of even the stickiest situations. Electric winches are powered instead by the electric motor and therefore do not have the capacity for extended use.
If you’re engine dies, don’t panic! This isn’t that moment in a horror movie when you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere before the spooky stuff starts, because even with a dead engine an electric winch can manage approximately 5 minutes of pulling time.
So, which is the best type of winch for a Jeep?
Hydraulic winches are typically used for commercial purposes or for vehicle rescue services, whereas electric winches are perfectly suited to jeep recovery and the occasional off-road ditch recovery.
You may be thinking to yourself, “obviously, the longer the rope length is the better”, and we couldn’t blame you for that assumption, but opting for a winch rope that is too long runs the risk of them jamming or catching as they pull, so try to stick to a length you think you’ll actually need.
The main types of winch rope are synthetic rope and steel or wire cable. Synthetic rope is generally considered to be the safer option, as it would have less velocity if it broke during a load due to it storing less energy and its much lighter weight.
Steel cable is extremely durable but the rougher, more abrasive surface which makes it perfect for pulling tree sumps is less ideal for Jeep towing. It is also prone to rust and is easily damaged by extended exposure to UV-rays or harsh weather conditions.
Rated line pull
As its main purpose will be to pull your Jeep, it is crucial to consider the pulling power when purchasing a winch. The rated line pull indicates the maximum weight that the winch is capable of pulling, and if your winch doesn’t have enough pulling power it will fail to tow your vehicle leaving you stuck in the mud.
To calculate the amount of power your winch needs to have in order to pull your vehicle you can use this simple formula: Gross Vehicle Weight x 1.5 = Minimum Rated Line Pull. You can find the winches rate line pull rating in the product information section.
As the name suggests, line speed refers to the speed at which the winch pulls the rope or cable when in use and is usually measured in feet per minute.
It’s worth noting that a faster line speed requires a higher amount of power while you’re winching, which is something to consider when purchasing a winch.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will synthetic winch rope last?
The average lifespan of synthetic winch rope is about 10 years depending on the level of usage and exposure to the elements.
You can extend this if the rope is still in good condition but 10 years is the recommended period before replacing it.
Will a winch drain the vehicle’s battery?
No, if the winch is not running it will not drain the battery.
Is it better to use wired or wireless remote control?
There is little difference between using wired or wireless remote control for your winch, and both provide easy control for the user.
One thing to consider is that wireless control requires batteries in the remote, so be sure to keep some spare batteries on you just in case they die.