Best Winch For Jeeps – A Definitive Guide

Winches, the off-road accessory that you rarely use, but when you are in a sticky situation, you wish you had one.

If you are a happy owner of a Jeep and like to go on adventures in the great outdoors with or without friends a winch is an accessory that can make you reach your destination and back home.

To understand what to look for in the search for the best winch for Jeeps we need to understand what a winch is, what it can do, and what specifications we need to focus on.

If you’re just looking for the short of it, we recommend the WARN 103255 VR EVO, it excels in every department and won’t let you down when you need it the most.

If you’re looking for a hydraulic or more affordable option, here are our other top picks:

WARN 103255 VR EVO 12-S
Best Electric Winch
WARN 103255 VR EVO 12-S
  • Powerful series-wound motor
  • IP-68 waterproof construction
  • Two in one remote with wired and wireless option
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Mile Marker 70-52000C H Series
Best Hydraulic Winch
Mile Marker 70-52000C H Series
  • 2 Speed
  • Can be used underwater
  • Free spooling
  • 12 000 lb
ZEAK 12000 lb Electric Truck Winch
Best Affordable Winch
ZEAK 12000 lb Electric Truck Winch
  • 12 000 lb pulling power
  • Variable line speed
  • 6HP DC motor
  • Durable ⅜’’ synthetic rope

Benefits Of a Winch on Your Jeep

You can pull heavy objects that are in your way on a trail. This can range from fallen over trees to big boulders, keep in mind you might be limited by the weight of your Jeep and the surface you are standing on when pulling heavy objects.

The winch can also help you load vehicles or objects onto a trailer by pulling them up onto it.

Keeping with the heavy objects topic you can also pull your Jeep out of a sticky situation as well, this can be from stuck in the mud, sand, water, and even rocks. 

The winch can aid you in tough situations, like crawling through tough terrain. Yes, you can do it without the winch but the winch helps relieve some stress from the drivetrain that can prevent premature damages.

To add to the above-mentioned reason is preventative damage winching, a good example is climbing a high angle incline or going down a steep incline. You can hook the winch onto something sturdy and use the winch as a “safety strap” that will prevent your Jeep from rolling over.

You can improve your maneuverability by hooking the winch onto a tree, rock, or land anchor and slide your Jeep’s nose or rear end on the spot.

Note: This isn’t advised to do regularly because it puts unnecessary strain on the wheel bearings and steering components.

In an emergency, you can lift or pull down your Jeep to access a certain part underneath your Jeep, for example hooking onto a sturdy branch of a tree and lifting the nose of the Jeep to fit a spare wheel.

Note: Always have something to prop up the Jeep in case the winch fails or the winch cable/rope snaps, for example, jack stands, one big rock, or a wheel. This is just limiting the risk of the Jeep falling on top of you.

The Two Sorts Of Winches For Jeeps

Hydraulic

This is the most expensive sort of winches you can buy for your Jeep and the most permanent one as well. 

The reason why it is so expensive is that they are built with more heavy-duty focused work in mind, so they are over-engineered compared to electric. Since hydraulic winches are connected to your Jeep’s power steering system it is also the most permanent winch option, because it is plumbed into the hydraulic system.

Pros of hydraulic winches

  • The most heavy-duty option.
  • No overheating issues.
  • As long as the Jeeps motor runs the winch will work.
  • Extreme temperatures don’t affect its performance.
  • Can be used frequently with no issues.
  • Can be used underwater.

Cons of hydraulic winches

  • If the Jeeps motor can’t run it won’t work.
  • It is the most expensive option.
  • Not a wide variety of brands.
  • If the Jeep has a leakage in the hydraulic system the winch won’t work.
  • If installed incorrectly won’t work at all.

Hydraulic Options

Recommended
Mile Marker 70-52000C H Series Hydraulic Winch

The name Mile Marker should be a name that you have heard in the offroad scene and even in the military.

They are over 30 years in the winching business and they are even the supplier to the US military.

So quality is not a problem here and since the design is like most electric winches, finding a suitable location for it on your jeep is easy and that is also the reason it is the recommended hydraulic option.

Pierce Planetary Hydraulic Winch PSHV18000

The Pierce is the heaviest duty one of the two options, they have been in business for over 40 years and are a family-run business from Texas.

The design is very reminiscent of the old WW2 army truck winches.

This makes mounting it on your Jeep a bit of a hassle.

Note: Hydraulic lines and fittings are, in most cases, not part of the product package, so consult with the seller beforehand on what you need to buy as well.

Electric

This is the most common type of winch you will find on any offroader, and for a good reason.

It is easier to install, cheaper, and not as permanent as the hydraulic versions.

There are also two versions of winches that fall under electric and that is the two different electric motor types. You get PM (Permanent Magnet) motors and SW (Series Wound) motors.

The cheaper winches use the PM motors that can overheat more easily compared to the SW motors, so keep that in mind when shopping for an electric winch.

Pros of electric winches

  • Cheaper option.
  • Many brands to choose from.
  • Can be easily removed and installed into another vehicle compared to hydraulic.
  • Can be operated while the Jeep is turned off, it only needs 12V power.

Cons of electric winches

  • The performance of the winch is affected by extreme temperatures.
  • Can overheat, the time it takes differs for each brand and model.
  • If installed incorrectly can cause electrical issues or even electrical fires.
  • Can’t be used frequently due to overheating issues.

Electric Options

Recommended
WARN 103255 VR EVO 12

The biggest name in the winching world.

There isn’t much you can fault on the WARN 103255 VR EVO.

It’s not every day that you see 5-star ratings on products but this is what you can expect of WARN.

Class-leading performance and amazing customer care are something that will keep you coming back to WARN products.

With a 7 year electrical warranty, you can go offroading with the peace of mind that when you start winching the WARN will work.

ZEAK 12000 lb Electric Truck Winch

This is the cheapest 12 000lb electric winch with the best buyers rating.

It comes with a 1-year warranty.

For the price you can’t complain, this isn’t the sort of winch I would use on a daily basis, but for the one to three times a year you might get stuck with your Jeep, it is a good investment.

 

The Rope Options

The options here are steel and synthetic, each one has its pros and cons. Let’s have a look at what their differences are.

Steel Rope/Cable

This is the most durable rope/cable option, it can withstand abrasive terrains like sand, mud, and rocks.

The biggest drawback is weight and safety. When a cable is handled it can cut or pinch your skin so always wear gloves when handling it.

When the cable breaks due to its weight it becomes a very dangerous projectile that can go through car body parts and cut through your skin with ease. 

Our pick: VULCAN Classic Fiber Core, check it out on Amazon here.

Synthetic Rope

This is the safest and easiest to handle option, you don’t need to wear gloves when handling, and also really light. 

It has numerous drawbacks though, it is quite susceptible to chemicals, UV exposure, heat, and abrasion. It is also recommended to wash the rope after using it in muddy and sandy conditions, and there is regular maintenance to take care of it.

Our pick: ALL-TOP Synthetic Winch Rope, see it on Amazon here.

Always use a rope/cable damper even with synthetic ropes, this will limit the damages caused by rope/cable recoil when it snaps. Warn winch dampers are very durable and weigh down the rope/cable very well when it snaps, this is a must-have product with any winch.

Here is a link to the rope damper we recommend on Amazon.

Final Thoughts On The Best Winch For Jeeps

As we have seen there’s a lot to look at when buying a winch, if you are budget-minded and would only use a winch once in a blue moon then go for the cheap and cheerful Zeak.

If you use a winch daily and for long periods then the Mile Marker H12000 is your best bet to keep on winching for years to come.

But with all the pros and cons of the different winches the WARN 103255 VR EVO outshines its competition, with ease of installation, great warranty, customer care, and being capable enough from the basic offroad trips to even more hardcore obstacles.

Hopefully, this article helped you choose the right winch for your Jeep.

Best winch for Jeeps

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best winch in the market?

The biggest and most popular name in winching is WARN, they make many models of winches, ranging from small ATV winches to Semi-Truck recovery winches and even hydraulic and electric versions.

Is synthetic rope better than cable?

For ergonomics, yes, it is lighter and safer than cable. So you can handle it without gloves and the recoil when it snaps isn’t as dangerous as a cable. In durability it is worse than a cable, it is quite susceptible to chemicals, UV exposure, heat, and abrasion and needs maintenance to keep it in good condition.

How long will a synthetic rope last?

In short, 10 years, but the life of it is connected to how frequently it is used and how you take care of it. Under heavy and frequent use it might even just last one or two years. The biggest plus point of a synthetic rope is when it snaps you can tie the two pieces together again in an emergency.

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