Today we are going to talk about winches, especially the difference between a plastic line and a steel cable, but also some other properties of winches. There are several choices you have to make when purchasing a winch, but the biggest one is the type of line you will want for your Jeep.
Steel vs Synthetic
The traditional cable will be a steel cable, and most of that cable will be relatively the same diameter and breaking strength. There are a couple of advantages to having a steel leash like this, and one of them is that it doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. You don’t really have to worry about it when you’re in front of your jeep. You can run one, and until it starts to fray or looks pretty ragged, you don’t have to swap it out. This will hold up really well and it will take a long time.
But one of the big disadvantages of a steel rope is that it will stretch under load, store energy, and if that rope breaks under load it will snap back. It can hit someone. It can cause damage or injury, and of course, no one wants to see that. There are ways to mitigate this by using weight in the middle of the winch line to be a bit more secure, but you will never get rid of this problem.
But this is where a synthetic line comes into play. A synthetic line has roughly the same strength as a steel cable. It still stretches like steel under load, but if it breaks it will fall to the ground even under load. It’s completely harmless. A couple of the other advantages of the synthetic line are the fact that it is lighter. It won’t kink or splinter as a steel cable does. And because it’s lighter, it’s easier to pull up a steep hill, especially when that hill is covered in mud.
One of the downsides to synthetics is that they are a little more difficult to maintain. You have to make sure that you keep it nice and clean. It won’t last as long on the front of your Jeep, and if you swap it out it will also be more expensive than steel. So definitely a few compromises. In my opinion, synthetic is the way to go. Well worth spending a little extra money to make it even more useful and a lot safer too.
Important winch features
Once you have decided which line to choose, there is one more decision to make as to what weight capacity you want the winch to pull. The general rule of thumb for a winch is that it should pull about one and a half times the load weight of your Jeep.
When you have a four-door JK or a four-door JK that is loaded with a ton of armor. You might want to bury your Jeep in mud up to the axles, then higher pulling power is what you want, and this one has 12,500 pounds of pulling power. This will of course be much stronger. When looking at winches, there are a few other things you should consider about how waterproof they are.
The nautic winch of the Rugged Ridge. This is a new range of winches from Rugged Ridge, and this magnet package is completely waterproof and dustproof too. So if you’ve mounted it here, submerged the jeep, drive it and it rains, you don’t have to worry about water interfering with these electronics.
This one from Barricade, not so well sealed. You will actually see a lot of people assembling this from a distance, putting it under the hood to keep it dry because again it won’t be waterproof.
The nautic winch will also have many cross braces. If you get really up close and look at the body of this winch it will look a lot beefier. It’s going to be a lot stronger than Barricade because of the cross-bracing built into it.
Pros and Cons
Another thing to consider with winches is your line speed. Depending on how you use your winch for Jeep, you may not be so concerned about a really fast pull, although it is a pleasant convenience. Some of the more expensive winches on the market will pull pretty quickly even under load. Again, some of the cheaper and more budget-friendly winches will pull a little slower depending on how often you use your winch, which may or may not be a big consideration.
One of the newest things winches do is wireless remote control, and that’s what we have here on this Barricade winch. There is a switch on the front that allows you to turn the winch off completely, turn it on for the wired remote control, or turn it on for the wireless remote control.
The disadvantage of wireless remote control is always that you have to store batteries in it. But as long as you keep the batteries fresh, this way you can squirm from inside the vehicle or from a safe distance without having to worry about being within 12 feet with that tether. But your batteries are dead, you drop it into a puddle of mud, you have your wired remote control backup, which is always very nice.
The Rugged Ridge Winch doesn’t come with wireless remote control, but they do provide you with remote control with a nice long 12-foot cable so you can stay out of the way of the danger zone while winching. I like this remote control very much. It has a really sizable toggle switch. It’s pretty easy to hold. Some of the less expensive winches on the market feel really cheap. It feels like you’re breaking this thing even if you just tossed it into your center console.
As for the winches, they are really all installed in a very similar way. You will either need to install a winch mounting plate on your factory bumper or have a bumper suitable for the winch. Once you have that installed these just screws these down with four screws, and there are only two wires that you need to run to your battery to power these things. So installation is going to be pretty straightforward, and you can have a winch installed on your Jeep to get you out of a sticky situation pretty easily and quickly.