For serious off-road enthusiasts, installing a lift kit and mud tires is the norm. However, it is also important to equip your Jeep with a powerful vehicle recovery system.
Yes, I’m talking about the best Jeep winch. With literally tons of brands and models to choose from, selecting the best Jeep winch is like picking a treat at the candy store. Let it be known there is no single best winch for Jeep vehicles or any type of off-road machine.
It will all depend on a number of factors including the winch capacity (which should be higher than the GVW or gross vehicle weight), line length, and the type of winch motor.
So before we get to the nitty and gritty of the best Jeep winch, it is highly important to discuss the technical details of a particular winch.
|Smittybilt X20 Waterproof Winch
|WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S
|X-Bull Electric Winch
**Below, you’ll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Jeep Winch
It really doesn’t matter if you have a Jeep Wrangler YJ, TJ, JK, or JL. Hell, it doesn’t even matter if you’re rocking an SUV or pickup truck. Choosing the best winch for any type of off-road vehicle should heavily depend on the maximum pulling capacity of the winch.
Understanding The Rated Line Pull Or Winch Capacity
True off-roaders know the curb weight and GVW or gross vehicle weight of their off-road machines by heart. That’s a known fact. The rated line pull is the maximum pulling capacity of the winch. It takes into account the mechanical integrity of the winch along with the tensile strength of the line.
But how do you determine the perfect winch capacity for your Jeep? Easy. Simply take the gross vehicle weight of your machine and multiply the number by 1.5 to get the answer.
For example, if the GVW of your rig is close to 4,000 lbs. you should opt for a 10,000 lbs. winch. This ensures the winch is strong enough to get your vehicle out of precarious off-roading scenarios.
However, it goes more than just winch capacity. The rated capacity of the winch only applies to the first layer of cable, which is the one located closest to the drum of the winch. What this means is the first layer of the cable has the most pulling power to utilize the lowest gear ratio of the winch. There are three to four layers of cable in a typical winch, so it is important to keep this in mind.
Winch Line Length
Of course, a winch should have a sufficiently long cable, right? Not necessarily. While having a long line in the drum is preferable (it allows the winch to reach a farther distance for demanding recovery scenarios), having too much line length will ultimately result in less pulling power.
Having too much cable also means the line can easily get jammed or kinked in the drum. The rule of thumb is to have no more than 100-feet of cable on the drum. If you prefer to use a winch that utilizes synthetic rope, it is highly advisable to have an extra 50-foot of cable. This can be used as an extension only and will prevent the line from getting stuck or gnarled up in the drum.
Winch Gear Ratio
It’s not just about the horsepower rating of the winch motor. The real power of the winch is harnessed by the gear ratio. High gears mean higher line speeds (the speed at which the line is pulled) but less torque or pulling power. Low gears mean more pulling power at the expense of line speed. This is a compromise that you need to understand.
Choosing the best Jeep winch means getting a kit with a powerful motor and taller gear ratios. But then again, there’s a catch. In order for the winch to be powerful and fast, it needs to draw a lot of electrical power. If the electrical system in your Jeep is unable to handle the added amperage load, the winch will simply die after just a few minutes of operation.
Is An Electric Winch Better Than A Hydraulic Winch?
Not necessarily. It will all depend on the intended application. Most commercially available winches are electric and should be more than adequate for occasional off-road use. But for commercial or farm applications that require the winch to be operated day-in and day-out, you can’t go wrong with a hydraulic winch.
5 Best Jeep Winches Reviewed
Here are my choices for the best winch for your Jeep Wrangler YJ, TJ, JK, or JL.
Perhaps the biggest reason for choosing the Superwinch LP10000 is value for money. Superwinch is also offering the LP8500 (with an 8,500 lbs. capacity) for less than $300. On the other hand, the LP10000 (10,000-lbs. pull rating) is offered for less than $500.
But don’t let the affordable price fool you. You get a ton of features in the Superwinch LP10000. This kit is equipped with a powerful 5.1-horsepower series-wound electrical motor. So why is this important?
Electric winches are sold with two types of electric motors: PM (permanent magnet) and SW (series wound). Simply put, SW motors can offer more pulling power. Series-wound motors are also engineered for heavy-duty use and are unaffected by extremely cold weather. Perhaps the only downside to SW electrical winches is the heavy amperage usage.
PM motors are fine for occasional and medium-duty winching. This type of winch is also more energy-efficient and are capable of drawing up to 15% fewer amps than SW motors. However, PM winches have a tendency to produce less power when exposed to cold weather. It can also easily break down when succumbing to extreme heat or abuse.
With that being said, the Superwinch LP10000 is clearly designed for heavy-duty off-road use. It even comes equipped with a 12-foot rubberized handheld remote control for safer operation. This winch kit is equipped with an 85-foot 3/8” steel wire rope with a heavy-duty latched look. Best of all, all the critical components in the Superwinch LP10000 are weather-sealed to ensure all-weather reliability and durability.
- 10,000-lbs. rating
- Powerful and reliable electric motor
- Good for Jeeps, RVs, and boats
- Affordable price
- Plastic roller fairlead
The best thing about the Smittybilt X20 is the waterproof construction. This means you can use this winch if your Jeep gets stuck in the middle of a river crossing. What’s more, this winch also comes with a more powerful 6.6-horsepower series-wound amphibious motor along with a three-stage planetary gear system.
And while the Smittybilt X20 is a bit more expensive than the Superwinch LP10000, you also get more features for the money. This kit has the same 10,000-lbs. load capacity but it comes with a 98.5-feet synthetic rope with a diameter of 3/8”.
This winch also comes with a durable and lightweight aluminum fairlead and oversized tie roads for maximum strength. It even comes with a remote switch and 12-foot lead so you can operate the winch at a safe distance.
In all honesty, the Smittybilt X20 also offers great value for money. For just under $550, you get a powerful and IP68 waterproof winch with an excellent 5-year warranty.
- Weatherproof/waterproof performance
- Powerful series-wound motor
- Integrated wireless remote control
- Flimsy wireless switch
There are ordinary winches, and there are WARN winches. If you don’t know anything about the best Jeep winches, there is one brand that stands out from the rest. The WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S is the most modern and technically advanced winch to be ever conceived by the brilliant engineers at the WARN factory.
The specs alone will make any off-roader shout with glee. First off, the WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S has a 10,000-lbs. capacity. This winch does not utilize a manual clutch. It has a line speed that is up to 20-percent faster and is IP68 waterproof for true all-weather and all-terrain capabilities. In fact, this winch has a line speed of up to 44-feet per minute, which is outstanding in the world of heavy-duty winches.
But the biggest conversation piece in the WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S is the advanced wireless remote control. This alone makes it one of the best Jeep winches for demanding off-road recovery. Using the remote control will not only allow you to operate the winch, but you can also control the clutch. You can also hook up other accessories to the remote (lights, auxiliary gear, or an air compressor) so you can also control the devices wirelessly as you operate the winch. The remote also provides crucial information such as the winch motor temperature, battery strength, and clutch status.
But that’s not all. The WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S also comes with 100-feet of WARN’s very own Spydura synthetic rope with a polished aluminum hawse fairlead.
But like all good things in life, there’s a small catch: the WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S will cost approximately $1,700. This makes it one of the best yet most expensive winches for your Jeep Wrangler.
- Superior quality
- Faster line speed
- Powerful series-wound electric motor
- Exorbitant price
If your Jeep deserves a WARN winch but you’re not prepared to part with thousands of dollars, check out the WARN VR8. This kit will cost around $520 and has an 8,000-lbs. capacity. But like all WARN winches, the VR8 is not spared from major technological and engineering advances.
The WARN VR8 is equipped with standard duty synthetic rope that is pre-wound onto the drum. The winch line features a tie plate that eliminates conventional tie rods for added strength and durability. This kit is also equipped with a three-stage planetary gear drive with an automatic direct drive cone brake system to ensure faster line speeds and smoother operation.
But the biggest reason for choosing a WARN winch is the warranty. The WARN V8 is offered with a limited lifetime warranty on mechanical parts and a 7-year warranty on electrical parts of the winch. Another plus for this winch is the small and compact design. All the stars were pointing in the right direction when WARN conceived the VR8.
- Compact size
- Powerful motor
- Affordable price
- Superb build quality
- Minor issues with fit and finish
If the price is a serious issue in choosing the best Jeep winch, take the time to closely examine the features of the X-Bull Electric Winch. For less than $400, the X-Bull offers a 13,000-lbs. load capacity. It also comes with 85-feet of Dyneema synthetic cable. If you’re not familiar with this type of cable, it is a synthetic rope that is touted to be 10x stronger than a steel rope. Due to the synthetic construction, it is also 1/10th of the weight of a comparable steel rope.
This makes the X-Bull around 20-lbs. lighter than other heavy-duty winches. This winch kit even comes with a pair of wireless remote controllers. The X-Bull also features corrosion-resistant materials and waterproof construction.
Smooth pulling power is ensured courtesy of the three-stage planetary gear system. The X-Bull is also equipped with an automatic load-holding braking system form maximum safety in tough recovery scenarios.
If you’re on a tight budget but need a powerful, heavy-duty, and high-capacity Jeep winch, it’s hard to go wrong with the X-Bull Electric Winch.
- Affordable price
- High load capacity
- Lightweight construction
- Minor issues with the build quality
All the products in this list of the best Jeep winch offer abundant features, solid pulling power, and all-weather performance. But if I really have to choose, my money will be on the WARN VR8. But if money is no object, my bet will be the high-tech and seriously capable WARN Zeon Platinum 10-S.