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ProMark Offroad Blog

Winch Accessories for Winter Off Roading

Once you have chosen the winch that is right for you and you have properly installed it, you will want to turn your thoughts towards winch accessories. The winch is a handy, off-road addition to your vehicle especially if you will be spending time off road during the winter. The winter months provide some great opportunity for fun outdoor activity, but without the right tools and accessories, winter off-roading can actually be dangerous. There are a few items that will increase your enjoyment and ease of using your winch this winter as well has help keep you safe in the snow and ice.
Synthetic winch ropes are an important addition to your off roading tool box. Ropes have a great little tendency to just disappear or get misplaced. This is why it is important to have a good stock of winch ropes so that you do not get caught in a bad situation. Ropes and rope accessories come in a lot of different amounts and lengths. Our synthetic winch rope kits will help you make sure you have all of your winch rope needs met before you head out.
Winch Control Kits
There are a few different ways to activate and control your winch once it has been installed. One of the easiest ways to operate your new winch is with one of Pro Mark’s remote winch control kits. These kits allow you the ability to control your winch via remote up to 75’ away. Most of these remote kits include a wireless keychain remote that can go anywhere you can go. This is a winch accessory that not only makes off roading more convenient, but could in the case of an injury; also add to your chances of getting yourself out of a bad situation.
Winching Tools
Winching tools are really a must if you plan to spend a good deal of time off roading this winter. Having the right tools at the right time can mean the difference between an awesome day off road, or getting stranded in the snow in the middle of winter. Pro Mark offers several complete winching tool kits that will include everything you need to keep your winch working properly. Many of these kits also include tree straps and snatch blocks which will complete your necessary winch accessories.
Winch Covers
Winch covers are a nice addition because a good quality Neoprene cover will protect your newly installed winch from damaging rain, debris or moisture from snow and ice. These are all hazards when off roading in the winter. Keeping the winch protected and clean will ensure its functionality for many seasons to come.
Winch Maintenance
Depending on your specific needs, Pro Mark offers several other products which will help keep your winch running smoothly and ensure that your off roading experiences this winter are both enjoyable and safe. Contactors, fairleads and line stoppers can all be purchased at Pro Mark. Our fast delivery and excellent customer service will have you off road before you know it, enjoying all that these icy winter months have to offer.

Winching your Vehicle out of the Mud

Whether you’re a hunter, fisherman or avid adventurer, if you do any type of activity that involves off-roading or venturing off into rough country, at some point or another you’re likely to get stuck in the mud. And it doesn’t matter if you’re in a four-wheel drive vehicle or ATV that’s designed for offroad situations, you can’t always get out of such situations without a little bit of help. That’s when an ATV winch comes in handy.
A winch is a piece of equipment that typically attaches to the front of a vehicle. It’s a mechanical instrument that winds wire around a drum, while keeping steady tension on the line. And if you’re caught in a tricky situation, where a tow truck can’t feasibly reach you safely, a winch may be the only thing that saves your vehicle from being permanently stuck in the mud. So just how exactly would you go about winching your vehicle out of the mud? Keep reading to find out.


How To Winch Your ATV

  • Selection: Before you can rescue your own vehicle from the muddy abyss, you need to make sure that you have the right type of winch installed on the front or rear end of your vehicle. Electric winches are classified by Rated Line Pull, or RLP, ratings. Generally speaking, you should select a winch that has a RLP of between 1.25 and 1.5 times the weight of your vehicle. This ensures the RLP is great enough to not only pull the weight of the vehicle, but to also work against the resistance you’re sure to get when it is stuck in something. So know how much your vehicle weighs when fully loaded, don’t simply just go by curb weight. We recommend a winch with at least 75 feet of cable.
  •  Using it: So you’re stuck in the mud out in the backwoods. What’s the key to using a winch? The first step is to select a strong enough anchor. Simply put, if the anchor breaks as you’re winching you’re vehicle, you’re doomed. So choose a tree or a large boulder to use as the anchor. Then, for a single-line pull, run the clevis through the protector loops and lock it in with a pin. The winch should then be put into free spool, so wire rope can be pulled out of the drum. There’s a hook at the end of the wire rope which should now be put into the clevis. After this is done, slowly take up the slack and then power it into a full load. You can also administer a double-line pull which allows for some extra oomph in situations where the vehicle is really, truly stuck.
When you travel off the beaten path, you should prepare for the unexpected. And when the unexpected comes about, a winch can come in really handy for getting yourself out of sticky situations. Just make sure you know how to use the device and that you’re properly caring for it and maintaining it.

Most Common Winch Issues and Solutions

When operating and maintaining your winch, either on an independent machine or on your vehicle, there are a few different issues that commonly pop up. Things like kinks in the rope or winch chain, rusting in the winding mechanism, or even gear and motor failure are the most common issues to watch out for. Some of these issues can be prevented but others are related directly to the age of the machine, the make, the model, and more factors that cannot be predicted or prevented.
The easiest way to prevent any issue with your winch is of course proper care of your winch prior to use. This means regular cleaning, service, and maintenance to replace parts that may have worn out or that are getting a bit old. With something like a kink or knot in your winch rope or chain, this is often an on the spot repair. Often, when a winch is not properly rewound or when the rope has too much slack or tension, it can become tangled causing knots and kinks that make for a difficult re-spooling process and therefore, loss of leverage. The best way to prevent this is of course to make sure your rope maintains the proper tension while in use and while being re-spooled. Another cable issue that might pop up is of course breakage. This again can be related to the spooling technique or more simply to the age and level of use with the cable. Older cables that are made of nylon or fiber can become worn and frayed and even dry rotted which means that a rope or cord could easily snap while being used.
Another issue to watch out for is of course gear failure. This can occur when a gear is worn, old, or when it is not properly lubricated. Often when a gear slips or fails, there is some sort of tell tale signs that this failure is on its way. The best way to fix gear failures is of course to make sure you routinely check your gears to make sure they are catching and that they are not grinding upon one another. When a gear slips or grinds, it is often accompanied by a loud noise indicating that there is something wrong with the gear mechanisms.
The last issue, motor failure, is far less simple to diagnose and catch prior to a complete blow out. Again, the best way to prevent a motor blow out is to routinely check your motor and your winch to see that it is working properly. By running your winch every week you can spot check for issues that may pop up and you can even take the time to perform routine maintenance. If you are at any time unsure how to remedy a problem that pops up with your winch, it is always better to talk to a professional and get proper help to prevent further damage to your winch that may be irreversible.

Why Your Jeep Should Have a Winch

As the most popular aftermarket Jeep part, the winch is a versatile tool that can save lives and property.  Unexpected opportunities to assist other motorists and perform important work tasks will arise and you will be prepared.  Consider these uses for your Jeep winch.

  • Lift the hard top – Jeeps equipped with a winch can transform the vehicle from covered to open-air without assistance.  The winch can manage the weight of the hard top safely and quickly.  Without the winch, a friend or family member would have to help the owner to lift the Jeep hard top.
  • Clear heavy debris – Following high winds, trees and other debris can be moved to a safe location using the Jeep winch.  With practice, the Jeep owner will learn to select the order in which each piece should be moved.  Moving trees from the street near the house can be beneficial for access when emergency vehicles arrive.
  • Remove stumps and shrubs – After soil removal, the remaining roots and stump of a shrub or tree can be removed using the winch.  Axes and chainsaws will not be required.  Heavy straps and chains can be attached to the stump before attaching the winch cable.
  • Lift Jeep from mud – Off-road adventures require the ability to free the Jeep from precarious positions.  Rain, snow and thawing conditions can cause the Jeep to become stuck.  A winch can provide help when no one else is available.
  • Assist other motorists – Arriving first on any scene requires preparedness for the unexpected.  Jeep winch owners can remove obstacles and provide solutions before the authorities arrive at the scene.  Pulling a vehicle from water can save lives and property.
  • Position tarps – Handling large objects, such as tarps, is easier when the winch provides lifting and holding power.  Jeep owners will find countless uses for the winch when camping or spending time with the family.
  • Drag boats – A boat trailer can have mechanical problems once the boat is out of the water. The jeep winch provides lifting and pulling power according to the Jeep owner’s needs.  The winch cable provides maneuverability for the boat owner who encounters a power problem near the dock.
  • Perform mechanical tasks – Working on vehicles requires heavy lifting to secure vehicles, motors and tools.  Certain major repairs require significant lifting force to complete.  Winch owners can use the Jeep winch to work on a car in a safe manner without assistance.
  • Clear roadway – Adventures in the back country require the ability to move large trees and rocks from the path.  The Jeep winch is capable of moving large obstacles without assistance from other people.

Prior to selecting the winch, the Jeep owner will want to determine the lifting capacity of each model.  An appropriate size is required to complete each task without damaging the winch mechanism.  The Jeep owner has many choices between powerful winches and accessories.  Every need cannot be anticipated, but ownership of ATVs and snowmobiles require significant winch power.

How Strong Should Your Winch Be?

Determining the winch strength you need in order to deliver the results you want depends on several factors. For some guidelines on how to find the best winch for your needs, read on below for a few basics to keep in mind.

Line Pull Rating
Each winch is rated with a line pull rate. This figure is typically the capacity of the first layer of the winch strength cable that is located the closest to the drum. When figuring the rated weight of a winch, it is important to take the gross weight of your ATV – that is, the curb weight, plus any accessories or gear you might have installed on it, as well as your own weight – and multiply that figure by 1.5. This gives you the added winch pulling power you will likely need if you wind up bogged down in a mud pit somewhere.

Length of Line
While you might want lots of line so you can reach further, there are distinct disadvantages to having excessive amounts. For one thing, to get the most pull from the winch, you need to release lots of line. However, the more line you have played out, the more likely it can get jammed up in the winch mechanism or snarled as you are trying to use it. One solution is to purchase a winch with less line, but to carry extra that can be spliced to the winch with a eye splice while you are on the go.

Line Speed
Most winches are quick to offload, a feature that lets you quickly get to work freeing your ATV. The speed under which it works when loaded is another matter completely. Almost all winches will slow down significantly when pulling in a load. If having a quick load speed is important to you, remember that there will be a tradeoff in that it will require a great deal of electricity in order to reach greater speeds.

Winch Motors
Winches come in two basic types of electric motors: series wound (SW) and permanent magnet (PM). SW winches are designed for heavier duty use, as well as the off roader, who is out in the field every weekend, expecting power and performance. For the person who goes off roading only occasionally or who is very careful with their winch, a PM model could be a good choice. Be aware, though, that these models tend to lose power when the temps dip. In addition, they deliver up to 15% fewer amps than SW winches.

When it comes to purchasing a winch, it is best to go with quality and pulling power over a cheaper version. If you go into the buying process with the thought that you will use the winch more than you planned, you can’t go wrong.

Why it is Important to Have a Winch- Don’t Leave Your Buddy Behind

Nothing is more frustrating than heading out on a weekend off-roading adventure, for someone to end up stranded. Whether it’s you or your buddy that is hung up in mud or stuck in another sticky situation, you’ve got to be able to handle the issue yourself. Most of the fun places to off-road are very remote and getting help out to where you are can be difficult. Most commercial towing vehicles can’t get to these remote spots, and many people don’t have a buddy with heavy-duty equipment at the ready to perform a rescue. When you are off-roading, you may also not have an exact handle on your location, and a lot of GPS systems don’t work without a strong cell signal. You may also be far from cell towers, so you can’t call someone to come help you anyway. This is why it’s imperative that you have a good winch installed on your vehicle to help you out of a jam.
Having a good winch installed on your vehicle is imperative if you or your buddy gets in a tight spot and needs a hand getting loose. There are other benefits that come with having a winch handy when you are off the beaten path. Trees may fall and get in the way. Turning around and going home is definitely no fun, and you don’t want to damage your vehicle by trying to plow through an obstacle. Your winch can help you move these obstacles and move on with your adventure.
As with any piece of equipment that you add to your vehicle, proper planning is imperative. Don’t be influenced by price; a good winch is worth every penny that you’ll spend on the purchase and installation. Make sure you have the right size winch for your vehicle. A winch that can’t handle the full weight of your vehicle, plus any mud that is bogging it down isn’t worth much. You should also ensure that your winch is installed properly. And finally, familiarize yourself with the equipment before you head out, so you know how it works. This will help you avoid a bad situation that is only exacerbated by equipment damage or failure due to an operator that is unfamiliar with the equipment or improper installation.
If you are looking for a high-quality winch for your 4×4 vehicle, we have what you need. No matter the size, or application, ProMark Offroad has something to fit your needs. We’ve also got a wide variety of related accessories to help you have the most fun possible when you are out and about in your off-road vehicle. Check out our inventory online and order through our secure website. You can also give us a call, or use our online customer service feature to place an order or get assistance with your questions.

Winch Pulling Power and Snatch Blocks

Snatch block

Use a snatch block to double your winch's pulling power.

Want to know how you can increase the pulling power of your ATV or truck winch? Meet the snatch block. This little powerhouse can almost double the rated load capacity of your winch, without even breaking a sweat.

What Is a Snatch Block?

A snatch block is basically a pulley with a metal casing designed to give you more flexibility in winching—whether you need to redirect a pull or get more power and reduce the strain on your winch. It’s compact enough to easily store inside your vehicle.

How Do I Use a Snatch Block?

To use a snatch block, spool out a few feet of cable, thread the winch cable through the pulley, and attach the hook to a recovery point on your vehicle. The winch line should travel through the block on the pulley and back to the vehicle.

Then grab hold of the snatch block and walk the cable and pulley out to your anchor point. Wrap a tree strap or chain around your anchor point and attach the snatch block to the strap/chain with a D-shackle.

Safety Tips

Make sure the recovery point on your vehicle is rated high enough to handle the full force of the pull. Your winch’s line speed will be slower with a double line pull, but the stress on your winch will be reduced and the power will be greater—both because of the snatch block and because you have more winch line out.

Tips for Using a Recovery Winch Rope

Winch rope

The winch rope should spool in tight, even rows onto the drum.

1. Don’t spool out all of the cable.

Always keep at least 5 wraps on the drum. Leaving a few wraps on the drum helps anchor the winch cable in place. The rope attachment to the drum is not designed to hold a load by itself.

Expert Tip: If your cable is too short, choose a closer anchor point, use a longer tree strap or chain, or hook up a cable extension.

2. Avoid continuous side pulls.

They place a strain on your recovery winch and allow the rope to pile up on one end of the drum. If the rope gets pinched in the winch housing, your rope or winch could be damaged.

Expert Tip: As much as possible, rig up the pull in a direct line from the stuck vehicle. Use a pulley block to redirect the pull if needed.

3. Avoid shock loads.

Use the winch remote to take up any slack in the rope. The rope should be under tension before beginning the winching process. Shock loads can momentarily exceed the winch rating, which is dangerous for your equipment and for any bystanders.

Expert Tip: Pulse the winch remote intermittently to wind the rope until no slack remains.

4. Watch how the winch rope spools onto the drum.

Don’t let it pile up on one side or get nested into the inner layers. The winch cable should spool in tight, even rows across the drum.

Expert Tip: If the cable stacks unevenly on one side of the drum, spool out the uneven section of rope and reposition it to the opposite end of the winch drum.

5. Never use a winch rope for towing or snatching another vehicle.

Use a snatch strap to free a stuck vehicle with a shock load, and use a tow rope to tow another vehicle at a slow, steady pace. A winch rope is also not meant to hold a load in place.

Expert Tip: Snatch straps are stretchy (to handle shock loads), while tow ropes do not stretch (to pull another vehicle behind you).

Recovery Winch Safety

Recovery winch

Always use the winch hook strap to spool out cable.

No matter how long you’ve been an offroader, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your winch safety skills. A recovery winch is a powerful tool that should be handled with respect.

1. Keep your distance.

Always stand clear of the rope, hook, and winch. Although it’s unlikely that the winch or cable will fail, it’s best to make sure that you and others are out of harm’s way.

2. Watch your fingers.

Keep clear of the winch, taut wire rope, and hook when operating the recovery winch. Never put your finger through the hook. If your finger gets caught in the hook, you could lose your finger. Always use the hook strap to guide the wire rope in or out.

3. Take breaks.

If the motor becomes uncomfortably hot to the touch, stop and let it cool down for a few minutes. Don’t continue to power the winch if the motor stalls, and do not exceed the maximum line pull rating for the winch. Shock loads must not exceed this rating.

4. Avoid accidents.

Make sure the winch clutch is disengaged when not in use to prevent unintentional starting. The clutch should be fully engaged when in use.

5. Check for damage.

Before using your recovery winch, you should check the winch housing and cable for any signs of damage. If you see damage, do not use the winch. Repair or replace the winch before using again.

6. Watch your hands.

Wear leather gloves when handling the winch cable and when respooling. Don’t let the cable slide through your hands. Sharp burrs can cut through the gloves and rip up your hands. Be careful not to approach the winch too closely. On hidden winches, spool in the cable under power, but keep your hands clear of the opening.

Offroad Recovery: Anchoring the Winch

Winching out

Winching out with a Jeep recovery winch

When your vehicle gets stuck and you need to winch out, the first step is choosing an anchor point. Since where you get stuck is beyond your control (except for daredevils who deliberately try to get stuck), every situation is different. You might have the perfect anchor point in front of you, or you might be stuck in a sand pit with no trees or rocks in sight. Depending on what’s around you and who is riding with you, your anchor point might be a rock, a stump, a ground anchor, or another vehicle.

Natural Anchor

Natural anchors—rocks, trees, stumps, etc.—are one of the best choices for an anchor point. Since it doesn’t involve another vehicle, there’s less risk of damaging your friend’s rig or ATV if something goes wrong. Make sure the rock, tree, or stump is large enough to withstand the force of the recovery winch. Hook the cable as low as possible, at the thickest part of the natural anchor. Be responsible to the environment by using a tree strap instead of a chain to hook around a live tree. Also, never hook the cable around an object and back onto itself. This will weaken or damage the cable.

Anchoring to a Vehicle

When there are no natural anchors within reach, a second vehicle becomes your anchor point. If possible, position the recovery vehicle directly in line with the stuck vehicle for a straight line pull. Put the recovery vehicle in neutral, apply the hand brake, and block up the wheels to prevent the vehicle from sliding. Hook up the recovery winch, and you’re ready to go.

Deadman Anchor

As a last resort, use a ground anchor (also called a deadman anchor). You can either buy a ready-made ground anchor (such as the Pull-Pal) or bury an object such as a log, a spare tire, or stakes or axles tied together. Since a deadman anchor involves digging into the ground and since it takes more effort than your other options, it’s not your first choice. But when it’s the only way out, you do what you have to do.

Dig the hole or drive the stakes in at an angle away from the stuck vehicle. If you’re burying an object, dig a hole deep enough to completely submerge the object below ground level. Tie a chain to the object. Dig a narrow trench for the chain, and hook the winch cable to the chain.