You often hear about those situations where some poor fisherman gets their truck stuck on the beach and a few hours later the surf of the rising tide pounds over it. Such stories are true. I’ve seen it happen along the coasts more than once.
That’s why I always say the best first-buy for a sportsman’s vehicle is a winch. It pays for itself and is a year-round tool that’s around for years. The biggest decision most fishermen face isn’t whether to get a winch, but rather which one is the best choice for them.
What I base a winch selection on for pickups and SUVs is the vehicle’s “gross vehicle weight rating” (GVWR), which is the weight of the truck and its maximum payload capacity noted on the vehicle’s door tag, or in the specifications pages of the owner’s manual.
Then, I add 25 percent. For example, a 2008 GMC Sierra Crew Cab 4x4 has a GVWR around 7,300 pounds. Multiplying GVWR by 1.25 comes to 9,125. So, a winch with a 9,000-pound capacity would work fine for most situations.
For you Ford lovers, a winch for a new F-250 Super Duty Diesel 4x4 Crew Cab, which has a 10,000-pound GVWR, should have a pulling capacity of 12,500. Likewise, a Toyota FJ Cruiser (5,600-pound GVWR) should have a winch with a 7,000-pound capacity. A winch rated for 6,000 pounds would be fine for a rig such as the Jeep Wrangler.
The Ramsey Patriot 9500UT is a 5 1/2-horsepower planetary-style winch that delivers 9,500 pounds of pulling power from the first layer. Its clutch engages automatically when operated by the Ramsey wireless remote control. That’s an industry first.
Warn’s PowerPlant Dual Force winch system integrates a high-volume, state-of-the-art air-compressor mounted just above the cable drum and uses the 4.6-horsepower, 12-volt motor to power the compressor head. So, not only do you have a big winch, you also have a big air-compressor just a flip of the winch clutch lever away.
Mile Marker’s SX9.5/SX12 are identical-looking low-profile, heavy-duty winches that feature the latest in electronic circuitry with external LED display to keep you informed of how the winch is operating. The SX9.5 is rated for 9,500 pounds, while the SX12 is rated to pull 12,000 pounds. Inside each there’s a strong planetary gear system, and each comes with keyless remote operation so you never have to be in harm’s way during the winching process.
Fishermen rarely get an ATV stuck. But should it happen, you’ll be quick to learn the value of having a winch on such a heavy machine. It’s pretty easy to get the proper ATV winch because the choices in style and puling power are somewhat limited compared to those available for vehicles.
From my ATV winching experiences—and I’ve had my share—the amount of cable on the drum is far more important than the pulling capacity. ATVs have this uncanny knack for getting buried five feet farther from the nearest tree or stump than the winch cable is long. In my opinion, the winch should have at least 45 feet of cable (or synthetic line) on the spool.
When it comes to pulling power, always try to get at least double the weight of whatever it is you’re riding. A 1,500-pound winch is okay for the under-400cc ATVs, and 2,500-pounds of pulling power is good for today’s big 4x4 utility quads.
On the bigger side-by-sides and UTVs, which can easily top 1,500 pounds, get as much winch as is available; a winch with 3,000 pounds capacity is the minimum, while a 5,000 pounder makes quick work of worst-case scenarios.
Among the newest ATV winch offerings that catch my attention is the Mile Marker VMX 2.5 ATV winch. This 2,500-pound-capacity model is the world’s first variable-speed ATV winch, enabling precision line retrieval speed for the ultimate control and safety. The gear train is heat-treated steel and the electric motor waterproof.
From the Warn Powersports side comes the XT-series winches, which have pulling capacities of 1,500, 2,500 and 3,000 pounds. The Warn XT-series winches come standard with synthetic line, which is much easier to handle than cable. The XT30, the flagship of the XT-series, has a wireless control system.
The 4,000-pound-capacity Warn RT40, another new ATV winch, has wire rope and is designed specifically for today’s heavier UTVs and side-by-sides. Also new is the stand-alone Warn Wireless Control System that will work with any Warn Powersports winch with a contactor.
For those who have multiple-passenger or heavily loaded UTVs, the Ramsey Honcho 5000 offers the most pulling power in a compact package. With 60 feet of cable and 2 1/2 tons of pulling power, it can easily get the biggest UTV or side-by-side unstuck. A limited lifetime warranty is also quite attractive.