We’d be pulling your leg if we didn’t say we got stuck from time to time when we head out in the 4WD. More often than not, we’re able to get ourselves out with a bit of digging. But when we’re stuck, and we mean really stuck, we’ll need something with a bit more pulling power than a snatch from Damo’s Ranger. That’s why we reckon a winch is the most important bit of recovery gear you’ll ever buy.
If you’re asking this question, the answer is probably you. Regardless if you love dune bashing or going down muddy fire tracks, if you’re serious about 4WDing and plan on going off-road, you need a winch.
For those of us new to the winch game, a winch is a coiled line with a heavy-duty metal hook on the end. It’s powered by a small electric motor that runs off your own 4WD’s battery. Depending on the power of your winch, it can pull everything from logs blocking the track, to hauling your LandCruiser and your mates Ranger out of a deep bog.
To mount most winches to your vehicle, you’ll typically need some sort of winch bar, which is the same as a bull bar, but it has mounting plates inside the framework already, meaning a winch can just bolt right on. Otherwise, a winch can be mounted to a standard bull bar, it may just require some extra work.
But, before you rush off and buy the first winch you see, there are a couple things you need to consider.
The line of a 4WD winch will come in one of two different types: aircraft-grade braided steel cable or synthetic rope, usually made from woven nylon or Dyneema. Each type has its benefits, with the rope being seen as ‘safer’ than cable, as it holds less potential energy when pulling out your mate’s overweight Patrol.
Synthetic winch rope weighs far less than steel winch cable, but requires more tender loving care, and is prone to weakening through exposure to water, heat, chemicals and other abrasions. On the other hand, steel winch cable is extremely durable but can develop rust and sharp metal burs if not maintained. We always recommend using gloves when handling your 4WD winch and other recovery gear.
Although we use the metric system in the land down under, winch power is typically measured in pounds. Winch power can vary from anything between 8,000lbs (3.6 tonnes) to 14,000lbs (6.3 tonnes) and is determined by the power of the winch’s motor and the strength of the line used on it.
The two most common winch powers are 9,500lbs (4.3 tonnes) and 12,000lbs (5.4 tonnes). When choosing the power of your winch, consider the weight of your vehicle and any others you may need to pull. If you plan on towing an off-road caravan or off-road camper trailer on your adventures, you will need a high-power winch to pull both your 4WD and your trailer.
As a general rule of thumb, smaller 4WDs only need a smaller winch (9,500lbs) while larger 4WDs and vehicles towing a trailer require a big winch (12,000lbs). That being said, it is sometimes better to be over prepared and so there’s little harm in getting the most powerful winch you can mount on your 4WD.
A 4WD winch is just one piece of the muddy puzzle to getting yourself out of a bog. Browse our huge range of pulling straps, recovery points, winch parts and recovery kits to get yourself out of the mud, sand or rocks, and back onto the track!