Superwinch unveiled its new premium EXP winch models at SEMA last year, but in all honesty, I missed it. That’s a tragedy, too, because the interwebs are mum on much detail (including pricing, which I’m betting hasn’t been set, though I’d expect a Warn Zeon-level cost) about this cool new winch. Superwinch, though, recently shared a video by FourWheeler on their Facebook page highlighting its ground-breaking features. Check it out!
The SEMA Show is always a hotbed for new products, and that continued for 2016—the show’s 50th anniversary. WARN had several exciting new products to showcase, so let’s take a quick look.
We’ve looked at high-end and mid-range winches, which leaves one final category to explore. Each of today’s winches has the quality and features Jeep enthusiasts expect, but come in at a price point under $500.
As with our previous winch reports, these economy models all feature synthetic line for its strength and added safety factor. Three of today’s four models register pull ratings of 9,500 pounds, sufficient for a two-door Jeep JK, while the lightweight of the bunch comes in at 9,000 pounds.
One final note: As the price point comes down, manufacturers must look for ways to boost efficiency while saving production cost. Such corner cutting is often revealed by withholding specifications or data points that are disclosed among higher-end products. As before, specifications that are not commonly available on the manufacturer’s website or via a search of common enthusiast retail sites and web forums are marked with a “***”. The reader can make his or her own determination how vital a missing piece of information is.
Here are the contenders:
Quadratec 9500 Stealth
Superwinch Tiger Shark 9500sr
Building upon our recent examination of several high-end winch offerings, today we examine several mainstream winches. Each has the quality and features Jeep enthusiasts expect, but come don’t carry their big brothers’ hefty price tags.
As with the first group of winches we looked at, our mainstream models all feature synthetic line for its strength and added safety factor. Two of today’s models register pull ratings of 8,000 pounds, sufficient for a two-door Jeep JK, while the remainder are of the 10,000- and 10,500-pound variety. Our so-called mainstream winches carry manufacturer’s suggested retail prices between $501 and $999.
One final note: As the price point comes down, manufacturers must look for ways to boost efficiency while saving production cost. Such corner cutting is often revealed by withholding specifications or data points that are disclosed among higher-end products. For this reason, specifications that are not commonly available on the manufacturer’s website or via a search of common enthusiast retail sites and web forums are marked with a “***”. The reader can make his or her own determination how vital a missing piece of information is.
Here are the contenders:
Engo EPF 10000s
MileMarker SEC8 Scout
Rugged Ridge Spartacus 10.5
Smittybilt X20 Gen2
Smittybilt capitalized on the success of its waterproof X20 model by launching a successor that features a 6.6-horsepower motor that is completely sealed against the elements. That waterproofing extends to the 500-amp solenoid pack, which can be mounted in either of two locations using the included brackets. The X20 Gen 2 also boasts a new controller that can be operated via a traditional 12-foot cable or unplugged for easy wireless functionality.
Warn VR 8000s
One of the most substantial investments you’ll make in the life of your Jeep is the winch.
These powerful electronic (or hydraulic) drums must live up to some very high expectations. They have to be powerful enough to get us out of whatever we get into, must be unquestioningly reliable for a lifespan measured in decades and shouldn’t drain the kids’ college fund in doing it. Oh, and some of us would like our winch to look attractive — or, at least, not garishly unattractive — to boot.
And, with a seemingly endless variety of winches from which to choose, what is a Jeep enthusiast to do?
We’ve compiled the features and specifications of more than a dozen models from nine manufacturers for a feature comparison. The 15 models listed will be broken down into three price categories — premium, mainstream and economy — to produce, hopefully, the most realistic apples-to-apples comparison possible.
With one exception, all the winches in today’s group come loaded with synthetic line. Given its safety and weight savings over steel cable, it’s simply difficult to recommend a winch with wire rope to anyone who isn’t the most extreme rock crawler or a competitive racer. Some, like the winches in today’s selection, boast a name-brand synthetic rope, while a few of the less costly drums in subsequent reviews utilize more generic synthetic fibers. A properly outfitted winch should have a pulling capacity 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle on which it’s mounted. With a modified two-door JK coming in around an average 5,500 pounds (much higher for four-door Jeeps), we’ll examine devices with a pulling capacity of 9,000 to 10,000 pounds.
Let’s get started. There’s no better place to start than the top. Our premium winches all carry manufacturer’s suggested retail prices north of $1,000.
Here are the contenders:
Warn Powerplant 9.5
Ramsey Patriot 9500
Warn Zeon 10s
For those who regularly venture off the beaten path, serious-duty winches like those above are worth the investment. Still, that doesn’t lessen the fact that it is a very significant sum to invest in any single product that will potentially face scorching heat, water, mud, ice and more. That all but one of the competitors in today’s self-imposed “premium” category come from the same manufacturer, Warn, only highlights the primary complaint lodged against them by enthusiasts — price. Are Warn and Ramsey worth the premium their iconic nameplates and domestic production demand, or are today’s inexpensive Chinese-made units just as serviceable?
The debate rages on, with no end in sight.