Beginners often wonder, “Do you need a winch for overlanding?” Overlanding involves driving over varying terrain, including sand, mud, snow, and more. Using a winch can make a significant difference, so many experts keep one at the front of their vehicle at all times.
You need a winch for overlanding to prevent getting stuck in a variety of hazardous conditions. Getting stuck in the mud, sand, snow or irregular off-road trails can quickly end an otherwise fun adventure.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn the following info about using winches for overlanding:
- When you would need a winch, and what you should look for when getting one
- The best winches on the market
- Size recommendations and costs for most vehicle owners
Times You’ll Need a Winch for Off-Roading
Winches are some of the most useful tools for off-roading and overland. If you’re wondering if you should get one, you’re in the right place. There are countless situations that you could use a winch on (or off) the trail.
Here’s a list of times you’ll need a winch for off-roading:
- If you’re driving in the mud, you should get a winch. Dirt and mud are extremely common when it comes to overlanding and off-roading. If you want to drive off the paved road, you’re bound to encounter mud pits. Winches can pull the vehicle when the tires aren’t getting traction.
- Winches are an excellent tool for snowy or sandy driving. Fresh, icy snow presents a challenge for any vehicle. Even if you have a 4×4 and snow tires, there’s a chance that you might get stuck. Attach a winch to your vehicle so you can pull it out with a nearby tree stump or boulder in case of emergencies.
- Overlanders who enjoy steep inclines and declines should use a winch. If you love to drive up and down steep hills, you might get stuck. Winches provide peace of mind, knowing that you won’t lose your vehicle or have to call for help.
Winches can be an invaluable part of your overlanding kit. Safety should be at the forefront of your thoughts, including how you can get out of a sticky situation. If you’re ready to get a winch, proceed to the next section and learn what you need to look for.
What Should I Look for When Buying a Winch?
Knowing what to look for when buying a winch will keep you from spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on the wrong gear. Fortunately, you’re about to discover the various key components of buying winches online or at a store.
- Choose between electric or hydraulic winches. Hydraulic winches typically provide more power, but they’re a bit pricier than electric winches.
- Find out what size you need. Many sources recommend getting a winch slightly bigger than your vehicle’s weight because it’ll be pulling mud, snow, or sand along with it.
- Pick cables or ropes for your winch. Ropes are tougher and cheaper than cables, which is why so many people get them. However, cables reduce heat buildup, which can be a big deal if you’re using them in hot weather.
- Determine how you’ll use the winch. If you want to get out of a rut quickly, you’ll need a much bigger winch. Also, long ropes will allow for numerous tying styles that you might not have with short cables.
- Decide where you will place it. You can put a winch behind the bumper for cosmetic purposes (and it prevents scraping), or you could get a winch that sits high over the vehicle’s front side.
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Winch on a Truck?
Since you can find a cheap winch, it’s understandable that so many people try to cut corners and get low-end products. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. Snapped cables and bent bumpers are far from rare in the world of low-quality winches. Realistically speaking, winches cost between $250 to $1,000, or more.
If you want high-end steel that won’t bend or rust within a year, then you should expect to spend at least $700. Consider the winch as a life jacket for your vehicle. Would you cheap out on a device designed to prevent your vehicle from getting stuck, falling down a hill, or losing its grip?
Installation costs vary between $75 to $300 or more, depending on the company’s reputation, how they charge their customers (hourly vs. fixed prices), and the winch style that you choose. Again, top-of-the-line companies will charge more, but you’ll get a much more secure and long-lasting installation.
The total cost of buying and installing a winch ranges from $350 to $1,300 or above. If you want all the bells and whistles, you should expect to be on the high end of the price range.
How Big of a Winch Do I Need for My Truck?
Warn suggests that the best way to determine your winch’s size is to multiply your vehicle’s gross weight by 1.5. This gap will allow you to accommodate gear, mud, and other debris you collected along the way. It’ll also accelerate the removal process, so you’re not spending hours trying to get out of the mud, snow, or sand.
Some people try to cut corners by getting a winch that’s the same size as their vehicle’s weight. For example, if your truck weighs 5,000 pounds (2,268 kgs), don’t get a winch rated for 5,000 pounds (2,268 kgs). Instead, you should get one that’s rated for 7,500 pounds (3,402 kgs). You can bring extra water, food, and supplies without overworking the winch if you get stuck.
Best Overland Winch? (Warn Winches)
Warn produces the best winches on the market, hands down. They focus on durability, ease of access, and longevity, so you never have to call for help. Instead of waiting for someone with a more reliable winch to come help you, you’ll be prepared for the worst. Let’s explore a handful of their top-notch winches below.
More info: warn.com
- VR EVO winches: Their standard options are made with waterproof materials, heavy-duty pulling capacities, and reliability. It might be the base model, but the VR EVO tops the best that most companies have to offer. Choose between synthetic and steel rope, then mount your new winch in no time.
- Zeon winches: Zeon winches focus on speed and mid-weight vehicles to quickly pull your truck out of a rut. They’re designed with synthetic rope and galvanized steel wire to provide optimal results when you need them the most.
- Zeon Platinum winches: Zeon Platinum winches are considered among the best of all winches worldwide. They’re made with synthetic or steel rope, water-resistant materials, and wireless remotes for quick, easy removal.
- Heavyweight winches: If you drive a massive vehicle over 8 tons (7,258 kilograms), then Warn’s heavyweight winches are for you. Like many of their predecessors, these winches are designed with steel or synthetic ropes and high-quality materials from end to end. Whether you want speed or high capacity, there’s no arguing with 16,500 pounds (7,484 kilograms) of force.
As you can see, there’s no reason not to get a winch. They’re an essential component for most overlanding adventures, so why not keep you and your vehicle safe from getting stuck? You can easily operate a winch in a matter of minutes.
Here’s a quick recap of the post:
- Overland winches pull your vehicle out of mud, snow, or steep slopes.
- You can attach an electric or hydraulic winch to the front of your truck.
- Make sure your winch is slightly bigger than your vehicle’s weight.
- Professional installation costs a bit more, but it guarantees top-notch results.
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Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.