winch

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!

Redesigned VR Series among new Warn products to debut at SEMA

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.

via New WARN Products Debut at the 2016 SEMA Show — Warn Industries Blog

Winch comparison, Part III: Economy winches

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.

Ground rules

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:

barricadeBarricade 9500

The Barricade 9500 boasts a 5.5-horsepower series-wound 12-volt electric motor and durable three-stage planetary gear box with a final 195.4:1 gear ratio. The clutch is a proven sliding-ring gear design, while the automatic brake is housed inside the 8.8-inch-long drum. The 9500 comes with a winch cover and 94 feet of Safety Orange synthetic rope. Barricade Off-Road offers a limited lifetime warranty on mechanical parts and one-year warranty on the 9500’s internal electronics.
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Cost: $499.99
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 44 lbs.
Rope: 94′ of synthetic (unspecified diameter)
IP rating: ***
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 195.4:1
Clutch: Sliding ring gear
Brake: Auto (inside the drum)
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 8.8″
Battery leads: ***
Finish: Glossy powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 21.5L x 6.5D x 8.6H
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9000sQuadratec 9000s

Quadratec’s Q-Series Winches ship with Dyneema synthetic winch line, an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene fiber developed in the Netherlands more than 20 years ago. The 9000s also includes a 12′ ballistic nylon chafe guard to protect the winch line from abrasions. Other features include a billet aluminum hawse fairlead and hook. The familiar 9000s ensures easy operation, while the 9,000-pound pull capacity ensures you have enough power to get you out of whatever your Jeep gets you into.
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Cost: $449.99
Rated line pull: 9,000 lbs.
Weight: 63.5 lbs.
Rope: 94′ of 3/8″ Dyneema synthetic
IP rating: ***
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 212:1
Clutch: ***
Brake: ***
Drum diameter/length: 2.64″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: ***
Finish: Powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 22.44L x 6.6D x 11.22H
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StealthQuadratec 9500 Stealth

Billed as a special 25th anniversary model, the Stealth is a blacked out version of the company’s popular q9500i integrated-solenoid winch. It includes a black powder coated Hawse fairlead, hook and unique decals. Like all Quadratec synthetic winches, the Stealth arrives with 90 feet of Dyneema synthetic rope, which is 15 times stronger than steel by weight, and a rugged 4.8 horsepower motor. The entire package is backed by Quadratec’s limited lifetime warranty.
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Cost: $499.99
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 63.5 lbs.
Rope: 90′ of 3/8″ Dyneema synthetic
IP rating: ***
Controls: Fixed-solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 212:1
Clutch: ***
Brake: ***
Drum diameter/length: 2.64″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: ***
Finish: Glossy powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 22.44L x 6.6D x 11.22H

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Featured Image -- 3102Superwinch Tiger Shark 9500sr

Superwinch’s budget-minded Tiger Shark model offers many features found in more costly winch models, but at a bargain price. And, while the company doesn’t advertise the Tiger Shark as a waterproof winch, the unit’s IP67 ingress rating affords extra peace of mind when taking on mud or deep-water crossings. Additionally, Superwinch wisely placed the automatic brake outside the winch drum, which can dramatically extend the life of the synthetic rope.
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Cost: $499.99
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 54.8 lbs.
Rope: 80′ of 3/8″ synthetic
IP rating: 67
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 218:1
Clutch: ***
Brake: Auto-mechanical cone (outside the drum)
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 4 gauge, 72″
Finish: Textured powder coat
Warranty: Limited 2-year
Dimensions: 20.8L x 6.3D x 9.2H

Winch comparison, Part II: Mainstream winches

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.

Ground rules

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-77-10000S-2 Engo EPF 10000s

A popular choice among budget-minded Jeep enthusiasts, the Engo EPF uses hydro printing to give the solenoid box a carbon-fiber look, stainless steel fasteners and an aluminum Hawse fairlead on models equipped with synthetic rope. Engo winches include a limited lifetime warranty on mechanical components and a one-year electronics warranty.
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Cost: $696
Rated line pull: 10,000 lbs.
Weight: 63 lbs.
Rope: 85′ of 3/8″ synthetic
IP rating: ***
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 265:1
Clutch: ***
Brake: Auto
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 8.8″
Battery leads: ***
Finish: Carbon-fiber-look laminate
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 21.9L x 6.3D x 7.7H
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winch_sec8_scoutMileMarker SEC8 Scout

Florida-based MileMarker brings its no-frills 8,000-pound winch to our lineup ready for action. The SEC8 includes a series-wound motor, 4.8-horsepower motor, submersible 500-amp solenoid and a 152:1 gear ratio. The Scout is among the more attractive designs in this group, with its blacked out appearance accented only by the company’s trademark orange accents. The 100 feet of Dyneema synthetic rope is protected at the end closest to the removable permanently affixed hook by a chafe guard.
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Cost: $651.06
Rated line pull: 8,000 lbs.
Weight: 57.5 lbs.
Rope: 100′ of 5/16″ Dyneema synthetic
IP rating: ***
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 152:1
Clutch: ***
Brake: ***
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: ***
Finish: Unspecified black
Warranty: ***
Dimensions: 21.5L x 6.25D x 8.0H
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rugged-ridge-spartacus-winchRugged Ridge Spartacus 10.5

Rugged Ridge has expanded its winch offerings with the introduction of the Spartacus series of heavy-duty winches. The 10,500-pound-rated model features a 6.6-horsepower series-wound motor and three-stage planetary gear box with a 218:1 gear ratio. The automatic load-holding drum is mounted inside the drum. (Though not uncommon in the industry, out-of-drum brakes are preferable with synthetic rope to avoid excessive heat build-up in such close proximity to the rope.)
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Cost: $599.99
Rated line pull: 10,500 lbs.
Weight: 65.5 lbs.
Rope: 90′ of 7/16″ synthetic
IP rating: ***
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 218:1
Clutch: ***
Brake: Automatic (in-drum)
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: ***
Finish: Argent powder coat
Warranty: Five-year limited
Dimensions: 21.1L x 6.3D x 8.6H
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X20Smittybilt 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.

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Cost: $550
Rated line pull: 10,000 lbs.
Weight: 99 lbs. (official)/67 lbs. (user-observed)
Rope: 98.5′ of 3/8″ synthetic
IP rating: 68
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 218:1
Clutch: Sliding ring gear
Brake: Automatic (out-of-drum)
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 4 gauge, 72″
Finish: Textured powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 22.3L x 5.4D x 9.4H
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VR8000Warn VR 8000s

Warn’s entry-level winch touts its 8,000-pound pull capacity, making it a respectable choice for Jeeps and light trucks. VR Series winches feature quick line speeds and are available with Warn’s trademark Spydura synthetic rope. As with all Warns, VR winches include the Oregon company’s limited lifetime warranty.
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Cost: $729.99
Rated line pull: 8,000 lbs.
Weight: 62 lbs.
Rope: 100′ of 3/8″ Spydura synthetic
IP rating: ***
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 216:1
Clutch: Sliding ring gear
Brake: Automatic direct drive cone
Drum diameter/length: 2.625″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 2 gauge, 72″
Finish: Powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 20.8L x 6.3D x 6.97H

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Up next:

Entry-level winches from Superwinch, Barricade and Quadratec.

Winch comparison, Part 1: Premium winches

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.

Ground rules

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:

9_5xpWarn XP-s

The Oregon-based manufacturer bills the XP-s as an “extreme performance” winch, targeted at users to punish their equipment. It boasts the fastest line speed of any Warn winch under load and a motor that Warn claims is the strongest and most durable in the industry.
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Cost: $1,749.99
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 68 lbs.
Rope: 100′ of 3/8″ Spydura synthetic
IP rating: N/A
Controls: Contactor
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 156:1
Clutch: Sliding ring gear
Brake: Auto mechanical cone
Drum diameter/length: 2.625″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 2 guage, 72″
Finish: High-gloss powder coat over primer
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 22.7L x 6.3D x 7.7H
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PowerPlant-9Warn Powerplant 9.5

The Warn Powerplant line combines a traditional winch with an onboard air compressor to provide maximum utility. Unavailable with synthetic line, the Powerplant is the only winch in this comparison to use steel cable. While it remains a popular choice, Powerplant is a love-it-or-hate-it object among enthusiasts, some of whom fear losing the functionality of both devices if either the winch or compressor were to fail.
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Cost: $1,690
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 100 lbs.
Rope: 125′ of 5/16″ steel cable
IP rating: N/A
Controls: Contactor
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 156:1
Clutch: Sliding ring gear
Brake: In-drum
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 2 gauge, 72″
Finish: Flat powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 24.3L x 6.7D x 13.46H

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9_5ctiWarn 9.5cti-s

Ever popular among Jeepers, the 9.5cti is a strong thermometric winch that delivers breakneck line speeds and capacity to handle long duty cycles. Its contactor control offers longer life and superior moisture survivability compared to a more traditional solenoid design. The cti-s includes a redesigned remote control with a 12-food lead.
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Cost: $1,599.99
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 66 lbs.
Rope: 100′ of 3/8″ Spydura synthetic rope
IP rating: N/A
Controls: Contactor
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 156:1
Clutch: Sliding ring gear
Brake: Auto mechanical cone
Drum diameter/length: 2.625″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 2 gauge, 72″
Finish: High-gloss powder coat over primer
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 23.1L x 6.3D x 10.4H
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Patriot9500-w-SyntheticRamsey Patriot 9500

Among the oldest names in American winch makers, Ramsey’s Patriot 9500 is everything off-road enthusiasts have come to expect from the storied brand, with all of the modern features they demand. The Patriot 9500 comes loaded with 100 feet of Technora synthetic rope in 3/8-inch diameter, attached to an oversized half-inch clevis hook with built-in safety latch.
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Cost: $1,329.99
Rated line pull: 9,500 lbs.
Weight: 80lbs.
Rope: 100′ of 3/8″ Technora synthetic rope
IP rating: N/A
Controls: Solenoid
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 138:1
Clutch: Semiautomatic
Brake: Auto mechanical cone
Drum diameter/length: 2.5″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 2 gauge, 72″
Finish: Grey powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 22.66L x 6.12D x 9.94H
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ZEON10-SWarn Zeon 10s

Easily the most stylish — and among the largest — designs in the bunch, Warn’s Zeon series boasts serious pulling power and a weatherproof IP68 ingress rating. Its cast-aluminum housing differs from most winches, in that it centers the drum rather than offsetting it to one side. Zeon’s large-diameter drum reduces wear on its Spydura rope and features an integrated rope anchor for easy installation.
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Cost: $1,199.99
Rated line pull: 10,000 lbs.
Weight: 75 lbs.
Rope: 100′ of 3/8″ Spydura synthetic rope
IP rating: 68
Controls: Contactor
Geartrain: 3-stage planetary
Ratio: 216:1
Clutch: Rotating ring gear
Brake: Auto mechanical cone
Drum diameter/length: 3.15″ / 9.0″
Battery leads: 2 gauge, 72″
Finish: Satin powder coat
Warranty: Limited lifetime
Dimensions: 24.25L x 7.15D x 10.52
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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.

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Up next:

Mainstream winch models from Engo, Mile Marker, Rugged Ridge, Smittybilt and Warn.