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ProMark Offroad Blog

Tips for Winching your Truck out of the Snow

With the winter snowfalls almost upon us, it’s time to rethink your strategy for getting your vehicle out of the snow should your truck get stuck. It’s important that you follow tried and

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

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

trusted winching techniques to ensure your own safety and to prevent damage to your truck.

Prevention is better than cure

Before the snows come in, take some time to survey any routes you may take off road during the winter months. Take note of stumps, rocks and ravines which may get covered by snow and could wreak havoc on your truck.

Winching techniques

Always service your winch and check that it is securely attached and in good working order before heading out.

Dig out the snow around the tires so that it is easier for your truck to pull itself out.

Turn the wheel where possible so that the tires are pointing in the direction you wish the truck to go.

Use a tree strap if you intend to attach the winch to a tree. A tree strap will help to protect the tree and prevent damage to your winch cable or rope.

Start the truck and gently accelerate when you turn on the winch. Gentle acceleration will help ease the truck out of the snow and reduce the strain on your winch motor.

Decide beforehand where you will pull the truck out to. Ensure that your new parking spot is clear of snow and other debris.

Never hold the winch rope of cable as you could injure yourself. Stand well away from the winch when in use as a snapped cable can whip around and cause injury.

Consider using snow tires in places with heavy snowfall throughout the winter.

Truck and Jeep winches from Promark Offroad

Electric recovery winches, including jeep winches and truck winches from trusted brands like Promark Offroad, Superwinch and Mile Marker. Cable or synthetic rope winches with up to 17,500lbs capacity.

Should I Use an ATV Winch or Snatch Strap?

ATV winch

An ATV winch works better than a snatch strap for some pulling situations.

Every “stuck” situation is different. Sometimes you’ll need to use an ATV winch to get out, and sometimes a snatch strap will do the trick. Both are effective, but sometimes one works better than the other. Here are some tips on figuring out which recovery tool to use.

Can the pulling quad get enough traction?

If the ATV doing the pulling work can get enough traction, then you might be able to use a snatch strap, depending on how bad the ATV is stuck. If it’s mired deep in mud, you might have to use a winch to pull the quad out.

If there’s a chance that the pulling ATV will get stuck during the snatching process, use an ATV winch instead.

Using a snatch strap is quicker than using a winch, but it can be dangerous if done improperly. Make sure you attach the snatch strap to a secure towing point on the vehicle—definitely not the bumper or axle. Also, don’t jerk too hard or fast. That’s usually when things get bent or broken.

Can the pulling quad get close enough to the stuck quad?

Sometimes the stuck ATV is in a place that’s hard to get to. If you can only get within 30 feet of the stuck ATV, that’s when an ATV winch comes in handy. Using a snatch strap requires being able to get within a strap length of the stuck quad.

Do you ride alone?

If you ride alone, you’ll definitely want to install an ATV winch on your quad. Use a tree strap and shackle to rig up to your anchor point. If there’s no trees or rocks in sight (or they’re not big enough), make your own anchor point with a Pull-Pal or other anchoring device. In a pinch, you can make a deadman anchor by burying a log or axle in the ground, but avoid this if possible, since it takes a lot of time and disturbs the natural environment.

More ATV recovery tips

  • Never yank with a winch cable or synthetic rope. The winch line is not designed to withstand shock loads.
  • If the stuck ATV is mired in mud or sand, secure the pulling ATV to a tree using a tree strap. This will prevent the pulling ATV from getting dragged towards the stuck quad, and it reduces the strain on your clutch.
  • When using a snatch strap, don’t jerk excessively hard or fast. It’s dangerous and could lead to breaking or bending something on the ATV.
  • No matter which recovery tool you use, make sure you rig up properly. Attach to a secure towing point on the frame. Don’t hook up to the bumper, axle, or any other part that could break.

1500 lb to 4500 lb ATV winches

Getting stuck is no problem with an ATV winch from ProMark Offroad, Superwinch, or Mile Marker. Choose from a 1500 lb ATV winch all the way up to a 4500 lb winch for UTVs and side by sides. Free shipping on all orders to the lower 48 U.S.

Winching Tips for ATV, Truck, and SUV Offroad Recovery

Electric winch

An electric winch gets you out in no time.

An electric winch is one of the best ways to get out of a “stuck” situation. Here are some tips on rigging up for the pull.

  • If you’re winching over a long distance, stop winching every so often to give the motor a chance to cool. 12V electric winches aren’t designed for prolonged periods of use. They need a break once in awhile to keep the motor from overheating. Overworking your winch will also shorten its lifespan. If you use your winch for operations that require continuous pulling, consider a hydraulic winch.
  • Whenever possible, line up the recovery vehicle for a straight pull. Pulling at an angle can bend the winch plate, damage the winch rope, cause the rope to pile up on one side, or do other damage. Pulling at an angle is hard on your winch. Instead, use a snatch block to redirect the pull and guide the cable straight into the drum.
  • Never use the winch hook as an attachment point. Use a D-ring to attach the loop on the end of the cable to the attachment point, chain, or tree strap.
  • If you’re using the winch frequently on a trail ride, you can wrap the cable around the bumper instead of spooling it back on the drum. When the ride is over, spool the cable in with enough resistance to make the cable lay tight and even on the drum. For example, you can attach the winch cable to a tree or lamp post and power in the cable as you guide the vehicle in a straight line towards the anchor point. When you get close to the anchor point, reel in the remaining length of cable by hand.
  • Keep your battery charged up and the vehicle running while you winch. Electric winches use a lot of power. If you use your winch for heavy duty operations, you might want to consider a dual battery setup and a high output alternator.

Rigging Up for Offroad Winch Recovery

Recovery winch

A recovery winch makes it quicker and easier to get out and back on the trail.

Getting stuck is just a part of the adventure of offroad driving. In fact, for some drivers, if you don’t get stuck, you’re not riding hard enough. A recovery winch can make it quicker and easier to get out and back on the trail. Here are some tips on rigging up for a pull for a safe recovery operation.

1. Wear gloves.

Tough as you think you are, we recommend wearing thick leather gloves any time you handle steel winch cable. Why? The individual wires can come loose or tangle up and create burrs that slice into your hands. A wire rope can also burn your hands in hot weather or freeze your hands in icy conditions.

2. Release the clutch and spool out the cable.

Rotate the clutch until it’s in the free spool position. This allows you to spool out the cable by hand and saves your battery. Attach the hook strap to the winch hook, and grab the strap to spool out the cable. Pull out enough wire rope to reach your anchor point.

3. Secure the winch cable to the anchor point.

Using a tree trunk protector or choker chain and a D-shackle, attach the wire rope to your anchor point. Wrap the chain or tree strap around the anchor point and use the D-shackle to connect the two ends and the hook loop. Don’t over-tighten the D-shackle.

4. Engage the clutch.

Rotate the clutch to the engaged position to lock the winch drum. This allows you to power the winch using a remote control or wireless remote. If you are using a corded remote, connect the cord to the recovery winch.

Recovery winch accessories

Winch accessories give you the tools you need to rig up a pull.

5. Take up the slack.

Use the remote to slowly wind in the cable under the wire rope is under tension. There should be no slack in the rope. Once the rope is under tension, do not step over the rope or straddle it. Stand clear of the rope for safety.

6. Double check the anchor point and rope.

Make sure everything is attached correctly and all connections are secure. The wire rope should be neatly wound on the winch drum, with no birds-nest tangles or piling up on one side.

7. Dampen the rope.

Place a heavy moving blanket, tree limb, or other weight over the wire rope to absorb energy in case the rope should break. Even with an anchor weight, you should stand well clear of the rope during the winching process.

8. Clear the area.

Make sure all bystanders are standing well away from the winching operation. They should never be standing behind or in front of the vehicle or near the wire rope or anchor point.

9. Start winching.

Let others involved in the winching process know what you plan to do before you start the recovery. Use the winch remote to begin winching at a slow and steady pace. Check the wire rope periodically to make sure it is winding correctly onto the drum. Don’t let it pile up too high on one side. Keep winching until the vehicle is free of obstructions and on stable ground. If you are winching over a long distance, take a break every so often to allow the winch motor to cool down.

Recovery Winch Operation and Safety Tips

Jeep recovery winch

Jeep recovery winch

Even experienced winch users need to be reminded of the basics sometimes. Your safety and the safety of those around you is the most important consideration in the winching process. See below for tips on operating and using your recovery winch safely.

1. Dress for the Job.

  • Don’t wear loose clothing or jewelry. They can get caught in moving parts.
  • Wear leather gloves when handling winch cable. Don’t handle cable with your bare hands! Loose wires, barbs, and extreme temperatures can cause burns or injuries.
  • Wear sturdy, non-skid footwear.
  • Keep long hair pulled back, and keep long beards out of the way.

2. Keep Your Distance.

  • Make sure everyone in the area is standing well clear of the winch cable and load during the recovery process. We recommend a distance of at least 1.5 times the cable length. If the cable pulls loose or breaks under load, it can lash back and cause serious personal injury or death.
  • Don’t step over the winch cable.
  • Watch your footing and keep your balance at all times.

3. Don’t Abuse the Winch.

  • If the motor gets uncomfortably hot to the touch, stop winching and let the motor cool down for a few minutes. Electric winches are designed for intermittent use.
  • Shut off power to the winch if the motor stalls.
  • Stay within the maximum line pull ratings for your electric winch. Shock loads should not exceed these ratings either.

4. Avoid Unintentional Starting.

  • Disengage the winch clutch when not in use.
  • Make sure the clutch is in the fully engaged position before use.

5. Repair Damaged Parts.

  • Before using your winch, you should inspect the winch and cable carefully for any damage.
  • Repair or replace damaged parts before using your winch. Contact the manufacturer or an authorized service center for repairs.
  • Use only identical replacement parts when repairing your recovery winch.

6. Respool the Cable.

  • Wear leather gloves when respooling the winch cable. To respool correctly, you need to keep a slight load on the cable. Hold the winch cable with one hand and the remote control switch with the other. Start as far back and in the center as you can. Walk towards the winch, keeping load on the cable as the winch is powered in.
  • Don’t let the cable slide through your hand, and be careful not to approach the winch too closely.
  • When your hand gets within a few feet of the winch, turn off the power using the remote and repeat the process, grabbing the cable again as far back and in the center as you can.
  • Keep spooling in the cable until only 3 feet of cable remains in your hand.
  • Disconnect the winch remote (or shut off the wireless remote) and finish spooling in the cable by rotating the drum by hand with the clutch disengaged.
  • On hidden winches, spool in the winch cable under power, but keep your hands clear.

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.

Winch Recovery Rigging

Winch Recovery Kit

Winch Recovery Kit

Knowing how to rig up for a pull is important for the protection of yourself, those around you, and your vehicle and equipment. Even if the pull is relatively light, don’t compromise your safety by rushing the recovery process or rigging up improperly. Here is a basic outline of the steps involved in rigging up your winch for recovery.

  1. Wear gloves. Before handling wire cable, dig out a pair of thick leather gloves from your winch recovery kit. They could save your hands from a few burrs, cuts, and slices.
  2. Move the clutch to the free spool position. This lets you spool out as much cable as you need for the recovery, without using up your battery power. Make sure the clutch is fully disengaged before free spooling.
  3. Grab the hook strap. If the hook strap is not attached, free the winch hook and attach the hook before free spooling. Holding on to the strap prevents your fingers from getting caught in the winch hook or fairlead opening and protects your hands from the wire rope.
  4. Spool out the cable. Make sure you spool out enough wire to power the pull. The more cable you unwind, the more power you will get from your winch. Leave at least 4-5 wraps on the drum to keep the cable from coming off the drum.
  5. Rig up to the anchor point. Use a tree strap or choker chain (depending on what your anchor point is) to secure the cable to the anchor point. Do NOT wrap the cable around the object and hook it back onto itself. Use a D-shackle to attach the cable to the two ends of the tree strap or choker chain.
  6. Engage the clutch. Rotate the clutch lever to the engage position to power in the cable.
  7. Attach the remote control, if needed. If you are using a corded remote, plug the remote into the winch. Keep the cord from getting tangled up in the cable or winch.
  8. Power in the slack. Put some tension on the rope by pulsing the remote and powering in slowly until all the slack is out of the rope. Once the rope is under tension, never step over it.
  9. Double check your anchor. Check all of your connections and equipment to make sure they are secure before starting the pull.
  10. Lay a weight over the rope. Use a moving blanket, back pack, tree limb, or other heavy object to keep the wire rope from snapping in case it breaks.

Once the area is clear of bystanders, you are ready to start winching!

Winching Techniques: Use a Pulley Block to Double Pulling Power

Pulley block

Using a pulley block can give you almost double the pulling power.

Pulling power decreases as the number of layers on the winch drum increases. The more winch power you need, the more line you need to spool out.

So what if your anchor point is too close to the recovery vehicle? Or what if you have almost all of the cable spooled out, but you’re still not getting enough power to make the recovery?

A snatch block (also called a pulley block) can almost double your winch power. And since it doubles the amount of winch line that you need to spool out, you can choose a closer winch anchor without losing pulling power.

To rig up a double line pull, spool out a few feet of winch line and attach the winch hook to a tow hook or recovery point on the front of your vehicle. Open the snatch block and run the cable through the block. Walk the snatch block and cable out to your anchor point, and secure the snatch block to the anchor point using a clevis and tree strap or chain. Follow proper winching techniques to complete the recovery.

What’s the downside to rigging up a double line pull? A slower recovery. But even a slow recovery is better than leaving your truck in the mud or waiting for someone to come and rescue you.

Offroad Winching and Respooling Tips

Recovery winch accessory kit

Use the leather gloves in your recovery winch accessory kit to respool the cable.

Winching Tips

Observe your winch while winching, if possible, while standing at a safe distance. Stop the winching process every 3 feet or so to make sure that the cable is not piling up in one corner. Jamming the cable against the winch housing can break your winch or damage your cable.

The uneven spooling of cable while pulling a load is not a problem unless there is a cable pileup on one end of the drum. If this happens, reverse the winch to release the tension on the cable and move the anchor point further to the center of the vehicle. After the job is done, you can unspool and rewind for a neat lay of the cable.

Neat, tight spooling prevents cable binding, which is caused when the cable is pinched between other wraps of cable while under load. If this happens, alternately power the winch in and out. Do not attempt to work a bound cable under load; free by hand.

Respooling the Cable

Wear thick leather gloves while respooling to protect your hands. To respool correctly, it is necessary to keep a slight load on the cable. Hold the cable in one hand and the remote control switch in the other. Starting as far back and in the center as possible, walk towards the vehicle, keeping a load on the cable as the winch is powered in.

Do not allow the cable to slide through your hand, and be careful not to approach the winch too closely. When your hand is at least a few feet from the winch, stop powering in. Let go of the cable and walk back to the end of the cable, or as far back as possible, and continue rewinding the cable. Spool the cable in until there is only about 3 feet left in your hand. Disconnect the remote control switch and finish spooling in the cable by rotating the drum manually with the clutch disengaged. Secure the winch hook to an anchor point on the vehicle to prevent the hook from getting caught in the fairlead or rattling around while you drive. On hidden winches, spool in the cable under power but keep your hands clear of the winch.

Rigging Up a Winch Snatch Block

Winch snatch block

Make sure your winch snatch block is rated high enough for the force of the pull.

A winch snatch block can come in handy when you need to redirect a pull, rig up a double line pull for more power, or spool out more cable for maximum single-line pulling power. A snatch block is a basic winch tool that every offroader should own. It makes your winch more versatile and can give you the extra power and direction you need to get out safely.

How to Rig Up a Snatch Block

  1. Free the winch hook and feed out several feet of cable.
  2. Attach the winch hook to your vehicle’s tow hook (make sure it is attached to the vehicle frame and not the mounting plate).
  3. To open the snatch block, rotate the side plate until there is opening to attach the cable.
  4. Run the cable through the snatch block so that it fits into the metal groove on the wheel.
  5. Rotate the side plate so that the two side plates are lined up together.
  6. Disengage the clutch and use the snatch block to feed out enough cable to reach your anchor point.
  7. Secure the snatch block to the anchor point by using a tree trunk protector or choker chain and a clevis/shackle.

Make sure your snatch block is rated for the capacity of the pull. Remember that if you rig up a double line pull, you are asking your snatch block and other rigging parts to handle up to twice the capacity of your winch. If a snatch block breaks under load, it can do an incredible amount of damage. Always take safety precautions and stand clear of the winch line under load.