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ProMark Offroad Blog

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.

A Beginner’s Guide to Using a Winch

Knowing how to use a winch ensures you get out quickly and safely. Every beginner can use a handy guide to learn how to use a winch.

Take reasonable precautions to protect yourself and others. Everyone participating in winching, from hookup to re-spooling, should wear leather gloves. Name one person as the boss of the winch controls to reduce confusion; name another as the rope person if possible. You can reduce failures that could result in injury by setting up properly, couple with reliable accessories, and do not overload winches.

Connect the winch’s remote to its designated port. Route the winch rope in a way that avoids pinching the remote control; the route will depend on where you stand.

Unwind a couple feet of winch rope; create enough slack to disconnect the winch from the anchor point.

Select a sturdy anchor point. Natural, secure features, such as trees, large rocks, or stumps work best. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to anchor to chains wrapped around deeply buried logs or trees. Envision a line between your vehicle and the anchor point: choose a line that is straight, has relatively even terrain, and is free from large obstacles. Take your time – this could be the most important step to pulling out your Jeep, ATV, snowmobile or other vehicle.

Using the winch controls, disengage the clutch and pull the winch rope in a straight path toward the anchor point. Look for any rocks, branches, or other obstructions that could get in the way.

Wrap a winch strap or choker chain in a U-shape around the lowest part possible of the anchor point. Slide a D-shackle through the ends of the strap or choker. Secure the shackle bolt. Do not over-tighten the shackle bolt; the bolt will continue to tighten as weight is applied.

Whenever possible, leave the vehicle running with a person at the controls. This driver may be able to apply the gas and assist the winching operation.

Slide the winch hook through the D-shackle. Re-engage the winch clutch. Use the remote to reel the rope back into until there is slight tension on the line.

Toss a heavy blanket over the line to prevent the rope from whipping wildly if it breaks – use quality synthetic ropes to reduce this risk. Once you place the blanket on the rope, everyone should stand clear of the operation.

Use the remote control to spool the rope slowly back into the winch. Continue reeling in the rope until the vehicle reaches stable terrain. Stop reeling when the vehicle reaches a place where a driver could drive it out under its own power.

Apply the emergency brake in the vehicle. Disconnect the wire rope from its anchor. Apply slight tension to the line as you walk it inward, using the remote to reel in the slack. Make sure the line does not become tangled and keep hands and other body parts away from the drum or cable during re-spooling.

Practice your winching techniques with someone who has done it before. Use quality winching tools and ropes for best results.

Choosing the Right Winch for you

If you’re fixing for old St. Nick to leave a winch under the tree for you this year, you may be wondering just which one he should be stuffing down your chimney. While the final choice is yours, you may need to stick to some basic guidelines when deciding which ProMark Offroad winch is going to make all that good behavior worthwhile. The most important factor is that

ProMark Offroad offer a wide range of truck and Jeep winches at incredible prices.

ProMark Offroad offer a wide range of ATV, truck and Jeep winches at incredible prices.

your winch must be up to the challenge of getting you out of a tight spot. Buying a winch that isn’t big enough for your vehicle will mean you get to take a long hike back home.

What size winch should I buy?

There is a very simple formula for working out the size of winch you need. Just multiply the gross weight of your vehicle (plus the weight of your passengers and gear) by 1.5. This will be the smallest winch you can buy. If you plan to ride offroad in muddy areas, you will need an even bigger winch than you would if snow is your only concern.

You should also consider the size of your vehicle so that you don’t buy a winch that is too big to fit. If you are still unsure, visit our website here for live customer support. (See the tab on the left hand side.) Our experts can help you to select the right winch for your vehicle and terrain.

ProMark Offroad Winches

Once you know what you are looking for, ProMark Offroad has a wide selection of ATV winches, truck winches and Jeep winches for you to choose from. Better still, they offer free shipping to the lower 48 states and a limited lifetime warranty. Get the best value for money from the guys who do it best at ProMark Offroad.

Choosing the Best Jeep Winch

You thought your approach angle was spot on as you traversed the line that you had spied out. As anyone who has ever spent even the smallest amount of time off-road can tell you, however, the best laid plains and approaches, don’t always work out, and there comes a time to pull out the Jeep winch to tow you out of your miscalculation. When that happens, you want to have the absolute best winch on the market to drag you out of that mistake.

Jeep CJ with ProMark winch

Jeep CJ with 10K Silverback ProMark winch

When the Road Starts to Tilt, You Need to be Ready For It…

When the mud’s hitting the proverbial fan and you find yourself axle-deep in muck, is not the best time to start worrying about whether or not you picked the right winch to install on your 4 x 4. As you pour out of the driver’s side of the truck, and water is pouring into the passenger’s side, you need to know that you made the absolute best decision your budget could afford.

The recovery system you install on your rig can mean the difference between whether you will get to see your own bed tonight, and whether you’ll be spending the night out in the sticks, so it makes sense to get the decision right. When you’re picking your winch, it’s a good idea to keep a couple of fundamental factors in mind: winch capacity and type of motor.

Winch Capacity

Your first consideration should be to your new winch’s capacity to deal with your vehicle’s weight. As a rule of thumb, manufacturers suggest taking the vehicle’s gross weight and multiplying that amount by 1.5 to get the baseline for your minimum winch size. As such, a Ford F-550 weighing in at 6,500 pounds would require a minimal winch capacity of 9,750. That being said, if you find yourself attempting to winch yourself out of a mud bog, you will quickly realize that that 1.5 rule of thumb will quickly fall by the wayside.

Type of Motor

An accurate assessment of how often and where you plan on using your jeep winch should guide your choice in selecting the type of motor you will require. For instance, Mile Marker offers excellent options on a wide range of Jeep winches from electrically powered models to hydraulic winches depending on your planned activities.

Go Online for the Best Deal on Jeep Winches and Accessories…

If you are in the market for quality jeep winches, then your first stop should be with the experts at Promark OffRoad for the widest selection of available off-road products and accessories. With great prices and free shipping, they take the stress out of buying your first winch. Since 2003, their vision has been to provide premium quality off-road products at affordable rates, and that vision is being realized each and every day as measured by customer satisfaction rankings. When it comes to off road gear, forget the everyday and go the extraordinaire with Promark OffRoad’s guarantee of excellence.

ATV Winch Buying Guide: What Size Winch?

A 1500lb winch is a good size for sport quads.

A 1500lb winch is a good size for sport quads. (photo by Adam G.)

When you get stuck in the middle of nowhere or need to drag a deer out of the thicket on a hunting trip, you’ll be glad you have an ATV winch on your quad. Here are some tip to help you make sure the winch you buy is big enough to handle the job.

How heavy is your ATV / UTV?

The first thing you need to know is the weight of your ATV, UTV, or side-by-side. The heavier your quad is, the more winch power you’ll need to pull it out.

Winch Size Recommendations:

  • Sport ATVs: 1500 lb – 2500 lb
  • Utility ATVs: 2500lb or larger, depending on size
  • UTVs: 3500lb or larger

Smaller ATV winches (starting at 1500 pounds) tuck nicely into the tight mounting space on sport quads and smaller ATVs.

For ATVs and UTVs, you’ll want more pulling power. Winches up to 4500 lbs are available for the heaviest quads.

How do you plan to use your winch?

What size winch you need depends partly on how you plan to use the winch. Pulling an ATV out of the mud requires more winch power than lifting and lowering an ATV plow.

Figure out how much heavy pulling your winch will have to do. Mud, sand, and other sucking forces require more winch power, so buy a larger winch if you’re into mudding, sand dunes, and bogs.

Choosing the Right Winch

Jeep winch

Choosing the right winch is about more than just load capacity.

It’s finally spring…and time for mud season! Are you ready? The right winch can get you out of the mud, move logs on your back forty, and load that old tractor onto a trailer bed.

Choosing the Best Winch

Choosing a winch depends on how you plan to use it. Winches can be used for a variety of applications, including pulling out stuck vehicles, moving deadwood, lifting a snow plow, and winching an old car onto a trailer, just to name a few.

Some types of winching place more strain on the winch. Rolling loads offer the least resistance, while stuck loads place the most strain on your winch. The sucking forces of mud and sand require the winch to work that much harder in order to pull out a stuck vehicle. Take this into account when you choose the pulling power of your winch.

Winch Brakes

If you expect the winch line to hold weight without creeping under heavy loads or on steep angles, be sure to get a winch with both mechanical and dynamic braking. Every winch includes a dynamic brake, which is an automatic in-the-drum braking system. Some winches also include a mechanical brake, which is a physical brake that works similar to the brakes on your car.

If you winch at steep angles, under heavy loads (close to the max winch capacity), or with a snow plow system, we recommend getting a winch with both dynamic and mechanical braking. The mechanical brake will hold the load better and prevent slipping.

Winch Line

When it comes to winch line, you have a choice between traditional wire rope and the newer synthetic rope. Steel rope is durable, resistant to abrasion, and holds up well under exposure to UV rays and the elements. Synthetic rope is less well known; however, it is gaining popularity in the offroad world due to the fact that it’s safer than wire rope (no dangerous recoil action), very lightweight (plus it floats in water), and easy on your hands (no burrs, stray wires, or burns).

What Size Recovery Winch?

8000 pound recovery winch

This recovery winch has 8000 pounds of pulling power, generally the minimum rating for a recovery vehicle.

One question we get asked fairly often from Jeep and truck owners is, “What size winch should I get?” While the general advice from most winch manufacturers and offroad experts is to multiply the gross weight of your vehicle by 1.5, the fact is that this may not be enough pulling power for how you will be using your recovery winch.

Calculating Winch Size

For light duty winching, 1.5 times the GVW might be fine, but for heavy duty winching, you’ll need a larger capacity truck or Jeep winch. When you factor in things like mud, bogs, inclines, pulling out rigs that are heavier than yours, and not being able to unwind the cable to its full capacity, you might find that you need a winch size 2 or even 2.5 times the gross weight of your vehicle. The resistance force from a mud hole or a steep incline can double or even triple the weight of your vehicle, requiring far more recovery power to get back out.

Advantages of a Heavy Winch

One of the advantages of choosing a heavy winch is that the larger the winch motor, the less work it has to do in order to pull you out. A bigger winch motor equals less demand on the winch, which means it can pull for longer periods of time without overheating and will most likely have a longer lifespan than a smaller winch motor that is overworked. Larger capacity winches also draw fewer amps and lighten the load on your electrical system.

Another advantage to a heavy winch is that not every pull will allow you to unwind the cable to the last row, where the maximum line capacity is rated. The less cable you spool out, the less power you will get from your winch. That means a winch rated at 10,000 pounds at the first layer can drop down to a rating of less than 8000 pounds at the second layer.

Recommendations for Heavy Duty Winching

If you winch in these conditions, choose a winch with at least 2x GVW, or the largest capacity winch that your rig can handle.

  • Mud and bogs
  • Steep inclines
  • Heavy duty winching and/or frequent use
  • Pulls with several wraps of cable still left on the drum
  • Recovery of vehicles heavier than your own

Which Winch Should I Buy?

The winch you buy could make the difference between getting back on the trail fast and making a long hike back to the trailhead. You want to make sure your winch is up to the challenge. At ProMark, we get a lot of questions from offroaders about what size winch to get, which type of cable is better (synthetic or steel), etc. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding which winch is best for your 4wheeler or rig. Ultimately, the choice is yours. But here are a few guidelines to help you out.

3000 lb XTR Synthetic Rope Winch Package

3000 lb XTR Synthetic Rope Winch Package

What size winch do I need?

To get a basic idea of how much winch power you’ll need, multiply the gross weight of your vehicle (plus the weight of all the gear and people you’ll be carrying) times 1.5. That’s the minimum winch capacity that you’ll need. Depending on how you plan to use your ATV or recovery winch (mud, wet sand, etc.), you may need more power. The sucking force of mud or sand requires a lot more power to free your vehicle.

What size winch you need also depends on the size of your mounting space. If the winch is too big, you may need to make some modifications or find a smaller body winch. The winch model and location of the drum may also make a difference as to how well the winch will fit inside the mounting space.

Synthetic rope or steel cable?

The debate is hot between synthetic and steel. Some guys swear by synthetic winch rope for its safety, lightness, and strength. Others prefer steel cable for its long history in the world of offroading.

Both types of winch line have their strengths and weaknesses. Synthetic cable is lighter and more flexible than steel cable, floats in water, won’t slice your hands with burrs, and can be easily spliced, among other benefits. Steel cable requires less maintenance, retains its circular properties under tension for neat and easy spooling, and has a long history of use in off road situations.

10K Silverback Recovery Winch

10K Silverback Recovery Winch

Do I need a mounting plate?

The safest and most secure way to mount your winch is to use a mounting plate. You can purchase either a universal mount plate or a custom mount plate that is designed to fit your vehicle. You also have the option of a multi-mount winch plate that allows you to move the winch from front to rear. If you choose not to use a mount plate, you must mount the winch to a flat, secure surface that is able to withstand the pulling force of the winch.

What about maintenance and repairs?

Offroad winches require very little maintenance. Keep it clean and dry with a winch cover to prevent corrosion and damage from the elements. Check the winch cable before and after use for any signs of damage. Clean the cable after use and allow it to dry before respooling. Check the tightness of the electrical connections and mounting bolts every few months, and remove any dirt or corrosion from the connections.

If your winch has been repeatedly exposed to harsh conditions, you may need to take it apart every so often to clean and re-lubricate it. A harsh grinding sound in the motor is one indication that your winch needs to be cleaned and serviced. All ProMark Offroad winches can be repaired and serviced by our technicians. Check to see if your winch is still under warranty before contacting us for repairs.

What Is the Difference Between a Winch and a Hoist?

XT 4000 lb ATV winch

This XT 4000 lb winch is designed with a dynamic braking system and is not approved for use as a hoist.

They might look fairly similar, but winches and hoists are made for two different purposes. A winch is designed to pull a heavy load across a fairly level surface or a slight incline. A hoist is designed to lift a load vertically or up a sharp incline (greater than 45 degrees).


The main difference between a winch and a hoist is the braking system. Most offroad winches are made with dynamic brakes, meaning that the gear system is designed to automatically hold the load. A dynamic brake uses the gears in the winch to provide resistance, acting as a brake. But with this type of braking system, the winch line could bleed out slightly under a heavy enough load. Dynamic braking is not safe for suspended loads. If you try using your winch as a hoist, the load could slip, creating a danger hazard, or the gears could strip out, damaging the winch.

A hoist, on the other hand, includes a mechanical braking system, which is a physical brake that locks the spool in place so that there is no line bleed. In addition, there is no freespool mechanism available on a hoist.

Some specially-manufactured winches are designed to double as a hoist. In order for these devices to act as a hoist, the device must include a locking brake and no freespool mechanism (or the freespool must be completely removed or disabled). Never use a winch as a hoist unless the manufacturer specifically states that the winch is approved for use as a hoist.

Electrical Requirements for Winches

Winching Tip of the Week from ProMark Offroad


Winching Tip of the Week: Make sure your battery and alternator are up to the challenge of winching.

Silver Back Recovery WinchElectrical winches use a lot of power. Make sure your battery and power supply meet the electrical requirements for your winch model. Check the specifications for your winch supplied by the manufacturer to make sure your battery and power supply are able to handle the electrical load, or you could risk damaging your winch, battery, or alternator.

If the winch is under heavy use, consider upgrading to dual batteries and a heavy-duty alternator for best performance.