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Best Winch for Jeep – Buyer’s Guide and Review

It may be hard for those who have never discovered the joy from conquering an off-road to imagine the thrill and the challenge that such rides bring into your life. However, if you are a Jeep Wrangler owner, you already know all the perks of those muddy off-roads and ragged terrains. In the majority of cases, inexperienced drivers rely on their vehicles solely. Still, even the toughest Jeep may get occasionally stuck and needs a helping hand, or rather a helping rope.

A practical and durable winch for Jeep is like a first aid kit for the driver. There is a reason why the winches are many, and if you are new to the industry, it may be hard to figure out which one is that perfect one for your vehicle. Taking all that into consideration, we have compiled this useful guide that will help you choose the best winch for jeep wrangler in almost no time. Take your pick!

Best Jeep Winch 2020 (Updated November, 2020)

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Editor’s Choice

Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity

1) Smittybilt 97412 XRC GEN2

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WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope

2) WARN 89120 ZEON 12

  • Best Features:
    – Reduced rope wear technology
    – Bigger winch drum installed
    – Improved reliability
  • Load Capacity: 12000 lb.
    (5 454 kilograms)
  • Rope Type: Steel Cable, 0.375-inch
    x 100 feet (8mm x 30.5m)
  • Remote Type: Remote switch,
    12′ (3.7m) Lead
  • Available  Options:
    12000 lb. Load Capacity (Synthetic Rope)
    12000 lb. Load (Budget Version)

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Badland ZXR 12000 lb. IP 66 Weather Resistant Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake

3) Badland ZXR

  • Best Features:
    – Sleek and innovative design
    – Motor remains cooler longer
    – Increased line speed
  • Load Capacity: 12000 lb.
    (5 454 kilograms)
  • Rope Type: Steel Cable,
    0.375-inch x 65 feet (8mm x 20m)
  • Remote Type:Remote Switch,
    12′ (3.7m) lead

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RUGCEL WINCH Waterproof IP68 Electric Winch with Hawse Fairlead,Steel Wire Rope

4) RUGCEL

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X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch-13000 lb. Load Capacity

5) X-BULL

    • Best Features:
      – Quality-nylon rope
      – Reliable brand
      – Better rope payout
    • Load Capacity: 13,000 lbs.
      (5896 kg)
    • Rope Type:Synthetic Rope,
      0.375-inch x 85 feet
      (8mm x 26m)
    • Remote Type:
      – Wireless Remote Control (90feet)
      – Remote Switch, 12′ (3.7m) lead
    • Color: Black / Orange
  • Available  Options:
    13000 lb. Load Capacity (Steel Cable)
    12000 lb. Load Capacity (Steel Cable)

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1. Smittybilt 97412 XRC GEN2 – Best 12000 lb Winch

Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity

There is a reason why there are so many Smittybilt winch reviews that can be found online. The fact is that the company is the one which has been on the market for almost 50 years. Such a legacy can only speak about the quality and professionalism of the items they produce.
Smittybilt 97412 XRC GEN2 is the latest innovation from the manufacturer available on the market. However, it has already gained a lot of popularity. First things first, it is a 12000-pound winch. Why should it matter? Well, this is an average winch that can suit the majority of needs and purposes. Also, it comes packed with a lifetime mechanical warranty, which is undoubtedly lovely, and a 5-year electrical one, which is not bad too.

Product Rating
Easy to Use
4.8 / 5
Value for Money
4.9 / 5
Performance
4.9 / 5
Durability
4.8 / 5
Result
4.9
Pros & Cons
The item is fully waterproof
Pleasant benefit on a form of mechanical as well as electrical warranty
Recognized and reliable brand
Potent line pull
Average line length
Plastic box on the top is breakable

Best Features

  • Modernized wireless remote control for you increased safety
  • The winch is packed with a 3-stage planetary gear system
  • Perfectly innovative 500AMP Solenoid



Smittybilt 97412 XRC GEN2 Specs
Load Capacity: 12,000 lbs. (5443 kg)
Remote Type: Remote switch, 12′ (3.7m) Lead
Duty cycle: 2.5”/10.0” (6.3 cm/25.4 cm)
Rope Size: 0.375-inch x 80 feet (8mm x 24.4m)
Mounting Pattern: 10.0” x 4.5”
Dimensions: 22.3″ L x 6.4″ D x 9.4″ H.
Motor: 12V DC, 6,6 hp Series wound
Gear Ratio: 193:2:1
Brake Type: Automatic in-drum
Weight: 89 lbs

Other Available Options:

In case the given characteristics do not suit your needs, there are other items from the manufacturer on offer, too, so that you can pick the winch that fits your vehicle perfectly.

9500 lb. Load Capacity  (Steel Rope)
10000 lb. Load Capacity  (Steel Rope)
12000 lb. Load Capacity (Synthetic Rope)
15500 lb. Load Capacity (Steel Rope)
17500 lb. Load Capacity (Steel Rope)

Expert Recommendations
John Peterson
John Peterson
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Many drivers rely on the brand rather than the given characteristics of the winch, with Smittybilt, you can be 100% sure in the quality of the suggested winch.

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2. WARN 89120 ZEON 12 – Best Premium Class Winch

WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope

If you are looking for a winch that can withstand literary anything, then warn jeep winch should be the one on your list. The truth is that it is a premium class winch, and that means that it is going to cost a pretty penny, but in the long run, it will pay shortly off, especially if you are an adventurous off-road driver.
Today we are going to have a closer look at the popular warn 12000 lb winch and the reasons why it is so requested despite the price. To begin with, the innovative design should be mentioned. However, apart from the outside look, the insides are well-packed too. The manufacturer has put even more thought into the durability as well as the performance of the warn winch for jeep wrangler.
It is a single-line winch with a pulling capacity of 12000 pounds. The steel rope is created to assist you or your friends in the most difficult of the situations. It should be added that as compared to other models, this one comes with a convertible control pack. In case you do not know what it is supposed to do – it can be attached to the winch, or it can be mounted remotely.

Product Rating
Easy to Use
4.9 / 5
Value for Money
4.7 / 5
Performance
5 / 5
Durability
4.9 / 5
Result
4.9
Pros & Cons
Fast and reliable pulling power
Sleek powder-coated design
Sealing of the winch is improved to ensure that all the elements out
Lifetime Warranty is limited

Best Features

  • Comes with a larger winch drum
  • Rope wear is reduced to a minimum
  • Rope anchor ensures simple and straightforward installation



WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Specs
Load Capacity: 12,000 lbs. (5443 kg)
Remote Type: Remote switch, 12′ (3.7m) Lead
Drum D/L: 3.15”/9.0” (8.0 cm/23.6 cm)
Rope Size: 0.375-inch x 100 feet (8mm x 30.5m)
Rope Type: Steel Cable
Mounting Pattern: 10.0” x 4.5”
Dimensions: 24.25″ L x 7.15″ D x 10.52″ H.
Motor: 12V DC, 6,6 hp Series wound
Gear Ratio: 162:1
Brake Type: Automatic mechanical cone
Weight: 98 lbs

Other Available Options:

Truth be told, Warn does not specialize in premium winches only, if you are interested in a budget option, we advise you to check WARN 103254 VR EVO 12 winch out. Besides, if steel rope is not your cup of tea, a synthetic variation is also available.

12000 lb. Load Capacity (Synthetic Rope)
12000 lb. Load (Budget Version)

Expert Recommendations
John Peterson
John Peterson
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If you are willing to invest a little extra to get a super winch then, ZEON 12 is the one to consider. The quality and the potency of the winch is clearly supreme, and there is a little chance that you will ever regret the purchase.

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3. Badland ZXR – Best Trusted Winch Brand

Badland ZXR 12000 lb. IP 66 Weather Resistant Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake

One of the many complaints that off-road drives post about their winches is that they heat up very quickly. Even though it is recommended to give your winch some rest every couple of seconds, for some, it is not enough, and that is why many winches turn to break easily. Badlands 12000 winch is designed in such a way that it takes it twice the regular time for the motor to overheat. Such a feature speeds up your vehicle’s recovery faster and simpler. When we were working on this badland winch review, we came across a peculiar feature that may interest many – the winch features automatic load-holding brake so that it is safer to use.

Product Rating
Easy to Use
4.5 / 5
Value for Money
4.4 / 5
Performance
4.4 / 5
Durability
4.1 / 5
Result
4.4
Pros & Cons
Supreme weather-resistance
Simple but modern designs
98% of users are highly satisfied with the quality and operation of the winch
Rope length is shorter when compared to other winches

Best Features

  • The motor is designed to stay cooler longer
  • It is equipped with aircraft-grade wire rope
  • Fast line speed ensured by a 3-stage planetary gear system



Badland ZXR Specs
Load Capacity: 12,000 lbs. (5443 kg)
Remote Type: Remote switch, 12′ (3.7m) Lead
Rope Size: 0.375-inch x 65 feet (8mm x 20m)
Rope Type: Steel cable
Mounting Pattern: 10.0” x 4.5”
Dimensions: 21″ L x 6.30″ D x 10.12″ H.
Motor: 6 hp Series wound
Gear Ratio: 265:1
Brake Type: Automatic Load-Holding
Weight: 84 lbs
Expert Recommendations
John Peterson
John Peterson
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Those who askes whether we will recommend the rope, well we see not the reason why we shouldn’t. It is not a budget option, but it is still affordable, and the features it is packed with will save you from any unwanted outcome.

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4. RUGCEL – Best Winch for the Money

RUGCEL WINCH Waterproof IP68 Electric Winch with Hawse Fairlead,Steel Wire Rope

Very often, those who are looking for a new winch for jeep wrangler pay a lot of attention to the brand name. On the one hand, that is a thoughtful approach, on the other – there is plenty of fish in the sea. Rugcel is not a very famous name so far. However, the atv/utv winch that they have on offer are quality ones that come for a fair price.
To begin with, the 12 000-pound winch is the most requested one due to its practicality and price. The one that Rugcel offers is a synthetic rope winch that can get you out of any problematic situation. The winch comes packed with a mechanical brake so that increased control is grated. Besides the wireless control makes things even simpler for those who have less or no experience in handling a winch.

Product Rating
Easy to Use
4.7 / 5
Value for Money
4.9 / 5
Performance
4.8 / 5
Durability
4.6 / 5
Result
4.8
Pros & Cons
Longer rope when compared to average winch models available
Sleek and innovative design
Fit for the vehicle as well as utility use
The brand name is not that well-known so far

Best Features

  • Durable and efficient synthetic rope winch
  • Improved waterproofness
  • Great price for supreme quality



RUGCEL Specs
Load Capacity: 12,000 lbs. (5443 kg)
Remote Type: Wireless Remote Control (90feet) / Remote Switch, 12′ (3.7m) lead
Drum D/L: 2.5”/8.8” (6.3 cm/22.4 cm)
Rope Size: 0.375-inch x 100 feet (8mm x 24.4m)
Rope Type: Synthetic Rope
Mounting Pattern: 10.0” x 2.68”
Motor: 12V DC, 6,6 hp Series wound
Gear Ratio: 265:1
Brake Type: Dynamic
Weight: 58 lbs

Other Available Options:

In case a 12000-pound synthetic rope does not fit your needs, there is a list of other options that the manufacturer has on offer too.

12000 lb Load Capacity (Steel Rope)
13500 lb Load Capacity (Synthetic Rope)
13500 lb Load Capacity (Steel Rope)

Expert Recommendations
John Peterson
John Peterson
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If you are looking for a quality winch and you do not want to overpay – Rugcel synthetic rope winch is the one to consider. It is completely modernized according to the recent standards and can effectively deal with any set tasks related to vehicle and utility winching.

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5. X-BULL – Best Performance Winch

X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch-13000 lb. Load Capacity

Those of you who would ask – what is the jeep top winch, the answer would be X-Bull, and there would be not a single second of hesitation. Why is that? Well, simply because it seems that the manufacturer has done its best to pack the winch with anything possible. There are so many characteristics to this winch that it is hard to figure out where to start.
First things first, professional off-road drivers would name a 13000-pound winch to be the best performance one, and 12000-pound one would be left to the second-best place. However, in the case with X-Bull synthetic rope, things change.
The given winch is provided with supreme power which results is such great performance. No matter the trouble you get yourself into – X-bull synthetic winch will help you out.

Product Rating
Easy to Use
4.8 / 5
Value for Money
4.8 / 5
Performance
4.9 / 5
Durability
4.6 / 5
Result
4.8
Pros & Cons
Sealed heavy duty contractor
Stylish design and vibrant rope color
Improved rope payout
The price is a little higher when compared to other models

Best Features

  • The winch is equipped with a braker so that it is safer than the others
  • The synthetic rope that is made of quality material
  • Wireless winch remote control comes with the winch



X-BULL Specs
Load Capacity: 13,000 lbs. (5896 kg)
Remote Type: Wireless Remote Control (90feet) / Remote Switch, 12′ (3.7m) lead
Rope Size: 0.375-inch x 85 feet (8mm x 26m)
Rope Type: Synthetic Rope
Mounting Pattern: 10.0” x 4.5”
Dimensions: 21.3″ L x 6.3″ D x 8.6″ H
Motor: 12V DC, Series wound
Brake Type: Automatic Load-Holding
Weight: 60 lbs

Other Available Options:

X-bull 12000-pound synthetic rope winch is not the only option that the brand has invested into if you think that you need something a little more powerful – check the other options out!

13000 lb. Load Capacity (Steel Cable)
12000 lb. Load Capacity (Steel Cable)

Expert Recommendations
John Peterson
John Peterson
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Those of you who often find yourself under unexpected off-road conditions are bound to have a reliable and powerful winch in your trunk. If you are able to spend a little extra on the item, then a synthetic rope winch from X-Bull is the one that we would advise.

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Buyer’s Guide – What Should I Look for When Buying a Winch?

Many drivers think that as long as they know how to how to install a winch on a jeep, there should be no issues arising when it comes to picking the item up. However, things are rarely that simple, and there are some essential tips to consider when you are to get yourself a winch. We are going to discuss the main factors for you to pay attention to and to be aware of.

How strong a winch do I need?

How strong a winch do I need?

No matter how great a rating of a specific winch can be, it will be a waste to invest into if it won’t be able to pull your vehicle out when stuck. It does not take a genius to figure out that the heavier is the vehicle, the stronger winch is needed. However, the question remains – how much more reliable? The answer to that is quite simple and basic. To figure out strong your winch should be, you should consider your GVW (gross vehicle weight) and add 30% to it. So, if your GVW is approximately 6700 pounds, a winch with a lesser load capacity than 8000 pounds will be of no use for you. Anything higher than 8000 pounds will work out just fine for you.

Steel Winch Cable Vs. Synthetic Rope

Steel Winch Cable Vs. Synthetic Rope

Just like in the case with any other item on the market, there are different options and models to choose from. In the case of winches, they can either be steel or synthetic ropes. What is the main difference between the two? Let’s have a closer look:
Steel cables – not so long ago, these were the only winch lines available. They are quite strong and durable. But there is a significant disadvantage to them too – they are very heavy. Besides, a line like that can easily crush if you happen to spool it in the wrong way.
Synthetic ropes – these ropes are relatively new to the market, but many users are in complete awe about them. They are a lot lighter and more durable when compared to steel winch ropes. Besides, you can easily substitute a steel rope for a synthetic one.

What size winch line do I need for my Jeep?

What size winch line do I need for my Jeep?

There is a popular misleading assumption that the longer is the line – the better. If you are a beginner to the winch world, you do not know that simple fact that the first wrap of the winch drum is the stronger, with every next wrap it gets harder and harder for the drum to turn. If the line is too long, it can lead to both winch as well as winch line breakage.
Also, many users neglect that simple fact that the line diameter matters too. The stronger is the line, the thicker should be the line. However, when the line gets thicker, it tends to take up more space on the winch, which leads to the simple conclusion that thicker liner should be shorter otherwise, the winch won’t be able to deal with it.

Winch Protection

Winch Protection

That simple fact that a winch is designed for your protection may lead you to the assumption that the device itself does not need any protection itself. The truth is that, no matter whether corrosion- or water-resistant the winch is, it still needs to be appropriately stored. If the jeep winch cover does not come as a winch set – you are bound to purchase it separately to protect your winch and make it serve you longer.

Price

Price

Not every off-road driver is able to spend a lot on a winch, that is why there is always the best budget winch on the market. It is true that such winches can be a little weaker or less durable, but they are still designed to carry out their primary functions. Average pricing for quite durable and good quality winches rangers within $900. Anything that exceeds the mentioned above price are supreme-quality winches that are designed to serve you well for a long time.

FAQ
How to keep winch cable from rusting?
John Peterson
Many drivers tend not to clean their cables when they are re-spooling them since it is considered that a well-spooled cable from a trusted manufacturer is not supposed to rust. However, if you are a responsible driver and you wish to take extra care of your winch cable, we suggest that you run it through some motor oil-soaked rag while re-spooling.
How long does synthetic winch rope last?
John Peterson
There is no one-for-all answer when it comes to rope’s lifespan. There is a range of factors that affect that lifespan: frequency of use, storage, brand, type of line, and so of. The average lifespan of a winch would be up to 5 years, but at times a winch can serve you as long as 10 years.
How do you keep winch cables tight?
John Peterson
There is a lot that depends upon the winch maintenance, so that you need to ensure that you do it right. First of all, you need to watch if it is wrapped on the drum correctly. If you see that the cable is not as tight as you would like it to be, there is no harm in re-spooling it.
Can I put a winch on a stock jk bumper?
John Peterson
Both technically and practically, it is possible to put a winch on a stock bumper. However, you need to keep in mind that fact that in some countries, a jeep winch bumper is not street legal. That is why it is advised to mount an off-road winch between the frame rail instead. In such a way, all the force, as well as the stress, will be distributed evenly so that no damage will be caused.
Do I need a mounting plate for my winch?
John Peterson
Depending upon the vehicle that you are using, you can either have a jeep winch plate built-in, or you may need to install one on your own.

Conclusion

Just as fun and challenging off-roads are so dangerous and unexpected, they may turn out to. It is safe to say that Jeep drivers are the ones to be most likely suck somewhere in the middle of nowhere wheels deep in the mud. That is why such an item as a practical winch is a must-have for almost anyone. It does not matter whether it is a winch for jeep jk or a winch for jeep tj that you are looking for – all the best options are gathered here. Just browse the Buyer’s Guide and read the reviews to find that one perfect winch that is still missing from your trunk!

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How to keep winch cable from rusting?
Many drivers tend not to clean their cables when they are re-spooling them since it is considered that a well-spooled cable from a trusted manufacturer is not supposed to rust. However, if you are a responsible driver and you wish to take extra care of your winch cable, we suggest that you run it through some motor oil-soaked rag while re-spooling.
How long does synthetic winch rope last?
There is no one-for-all answer when it comes to rope’s lifespan. There is a range of factors that affect that lifespan: frequency of use, storage, brand, type of line, and so of. The average lifespan of a winch would be up to 5 years, but at times a winch can serve you as long as 10 years.
How do you keep winch cables tight?
There is a lot that depends upon the winch maintenance, so that you need to ensure that you do it right. First of all, you need to watch if it is wrapped on the drum correctly. If you see that the cable is not as tight as you would like it to be, there is no harm in re-spooling it.
Can I put a winch on a stock jk bumper?
Both technically and practically, it is possible to put a winch on a stock bumper. However, you need to keep in mind that fact that in some countries, a jeep winch bumper is not street legal. That is why it is advised to mount an off-road winch between the frame rail instead. In such a way, all the force, as well as the stress, will be distributed evenly so that no damage will be caused.
Do I need a mounting plate for my winch?
Depending upon the vehicle that you are using, you can either have a jeep winch plate built-in, or you may need to install one on your own.