5 Best Winches Under $1000 – Power Up Your Off-Road Adventure

Winches are great machinery for off-road enthusiasts, providing them ease in recovering their stuck vehicles. Whether an industrial worker or an off-roader, having a winch in your tuck is the best option for getting unstuck or moving heavy material. For owning such machinery, you don’t need to spend much when you can get the best winches for under $1000. During passing through the muddy or difficult track, having the right winch in your truck provides peace of mind. The primary purpose of designing this machinery is to pull the heavy equipment or vehicles. Besides getting unstuck, the heavy vehicle winches can be used for various tasks, including moving heavy equipment and hoisting materials to high places.

Winches are available in various types. All you need to do is define your situation and find the right one. Winches can be powered by electricity and hydraulics. They also come in different load capacities, ranging from a few hundred pounds to several tons. They are typically mounted to a vehicle or a fixed structure and are controlled by a wired or wireless remote. However, before buying any winch, you need to consider different factors. These include load capacity, waterproofing, control options and rope or cable materials.

We bring the list of the best five winches based on our experience. We tested each winch and defined the specific factors you can consider before getting one.  

Image Product Features Price
Smittybilt X20 Gen2 Winch Smittybilt X20 GEN2 Load Capacity= 10,000 lb.
Horsepower= 6.6 hp
Rope Type= Synthetic
Water Resistant= Yes
Remote Control= Wireless
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Zesuper 12V 13000 Winch ZESUPER 12V 13000 Load Capacity = 13,000 lb.
Horsepower = 6.4 Hp
Rope Type = Synthetic
Water Resistant= Yes
Remote Control= Wireless
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Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 Winch Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 Load Capacity = 3500 lb.
Horsepower = 1.6 Hp
Rope Type = Steel Wire
Water Resistant= Yes
Remote Control= Handheld
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Warn 96805 Vr8-S Electric Winch WARN 96805 VR8-S Electric Winch Load Capacity = 8,000 lb.
Rope Type = Synthetic
Water Resistant= Yes
Remote Control= Wireless
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Warn 101140 Axon 45-S WARN 101140 AXON 45-S Load Capacity = 4500 lb.
Rope Type = Synthetic
Water Resistant= Yes
Remote Control= Wireless
Check Price on Amazon

#1 Editor’s Pick: Smittybilt X20 GEN2

Due to its high capacity, we listed the Smittybilt X20 GEN2 winch at the top. It has a 10,000-pound load capacity and is built with a 6.6 horsepower amphibious motor, making it powerful enough to handle challenging situations and a popular choice among off-road enthusiasts like you.  One of the standout features of this winch is its wireless remote control, which allows the users to operate it from a distance. This feature provides ease while performing the winching process, as you can stand at a safe distance.

Additionally, it can be operated manually. It also features a three-stage planetary gear system for speeding up the towing process. Ideal for two-door and four-door jeeps.

The X20 GEN2 is also designed with IP68-rated waterproofing, making it capable of handling extreme weather conditions and muddy or wet environments. Most importantly, it comes with a synthetic rope that is lighter than any metal rope, reducing the winch’s overall weight and making it super easy to carry out. The length of the synthetic rope is 98.5 feet, providing enough distance to snatch onto the nearest tree. The Smittybilt X20 GEN2 winch is at the top of the list due to its durability and ease of use.

Our Experience

We decided to install it on our Jeep to check the performance of the Smittybilt X20 GEN2. The installation process was simple, as it came with proper instructions. We decided to take our jeep to the thoroughly muddy area where our jeep got stuck. We decided to check this winch’s performance in a similar situation.  At one point, the jeep was buried in the mud then we decided to make the winch in action. We found a dead tree to use as an anchor and attached the winch cable with the help of a hook.

The wireless remote of Smittybilt X20 GEN2 allowed us to operate the function by standing at a safe distance. The vehicle’s pulling was super cool and smooth and completed within a few minutes. With the help of a wireless remote, it was super easy to control the vehicle’s directions while towing. It has a waterproofing function, so we noticed that this winch was perfectly designed for underwater work.

As for the installation of this winch, that was completely easy and took almost two hours. In the first step, you need to install the control box at the given position on the winch machine. But you can change the location according to your needs. Attaching the wires to the motor was easy as they are specified in different colors. Then we fixed our winch onto the bumper by fixing the bolts in the bottom. The next thing was done was to join the wires to the batteries. Finally, after attaching the fairlead, we connected our synthetic cable to the drum by unlocking the spool and turning the winch on to check its functionality.  

What We Like

  • Easy to install
  • Wireless function provides ease during winching
  • Quick towing speed
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty

What We Don’t Like

  • The remote batteries die fast
  • Need to improve the two-screw design

2.   ZESUPER 12V 13000

The second winch on our list is the ZESUPER 12V 13000.  With a heavy load capacity of 13,000 pounds, this winch is suitable for vehicles such as 4WD, SUVs, jeeps and trucks. This winch is powered by a 6.4 horsepower motor and is equipped with a 3-stage planetary gear system, which provides robust and reliable pulling power. Another standout feature of the ZESUPER 12V 13000 is its wireless remote control, which allows you to operate the winch up to 150 feet.

The indicator light in the remote control allows the user to use the winch at night and in dark places.  It can stand in extreme weather conditions because of its high-rated waterproof body.

The ZESUPER 12V 13000 comes with a synthetic rope, which is lighter and stronger than traditional steel cables. It can pull heavy or fully loaded vehicles with a line speed of 7 feet per minute. This winch is selected based on reliable pulling power and durable construction.

Our Experience

We installed this winch to the Napalm by following the given installation process. The installation of the winch was easy and handy. The installation process was almost similar to the winch mentioned above. The winch comes with a wireless remote. However, after fixing this, we checked this winch to recover one of our team member’s jeeps. The weight of the jeep was around seven thousand pounds.

Unfortunately, his jeep got stuck on a rock. We used the winch as the self-recovery position. The jeep was stuck on the rock and slick mud, and it seemed difficult to get free the jeep. But with the help of ZESUPER 12V 13000, we recover the vehicle in no time. The experience of this winch was delightful.

What We Like 

  • Provides excellent control
  • Perfect for any situation
  • Backed up with lifetime technical support
  • Available in two different colors
  • Easy installation

What We Don’t Like 

  • Provided without hooks
  • No proper instructions

3.   Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35

The third winch on our list is the Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35. It could be the best choice for those who need a reliable and powerful winch for their small vehicles. With a load capacity of 3,500 pounds, it is suitable for lighter loads and smaller vehicles. It is ideally suited for ATVs, UTVs, trailers, and other small cars. A 1.6 horsepower motor powers this winch, and it is also built with a 3-stage planetary gear system which can provide strong pulling power. Due to its dynamic brake control, the winching process is smooth with the Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35.

It also comes with a handheld remote control, which allows you to operate the winch from a safe distance. This winch is built with weather-sealed construction, which protects it from the sand elements and ensures that it can stand in wet and muddy environments. Additionally, the winch comes with a 50-foot steel cable and ergonomic cam action free-spooling clutch that allows the user to disengage the motor quickly.

Our Experience

We tested this winch on its compatible vehicle, which is ATV-Honda. While trailing on the snow, the ATV got stuck on the road full of snow. The winch stuck on the road and almost totally sunk into the snow. To recover this vehicle, we secure the cable onto the tree. Turn on the vehicle’s engine and start towing the car with the help of a remote. Within a few minutes, a vehicle was free to move further. So having a Superwinch 1135220 Terra 35 is the best step to recover the smaller vehicle. Overall experience with this winch was super easy and handling. 

What We Like 

  • Have wider gears to provide more engagement
  • Highly efficient at low amperage draw
  • Suitable for tight spaces
  • Easy to install

What We Don’t Like 

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • No mounting plate

4.   WARN 96805 VR8-S Electric Winch

We put The WARN 96805 VR8-S Electric Winch in the fourth position due to its reliable and robust function. It has an excellent load capacity of 8,000 pounds, making it suitable for a wide range of vehicles and applications. It is the perfect option for jeeps, trucks and SUVs. Powered by a 12-volt DC motor and built with a 3-stage planetary gear train, providing a robust and smooth control. It also has an automatic direct drive cone brake system to maintain fully rated weights.

The WARN 96805 VR8-S features a wired remote control, which allows you to operate the winch from a safe distance. The remote control has a 12-foot cord and is ergonomically designed for comfortable use. The VR8-S is designed with a waterproof Albright contactor, which means it is highly reliable and can handle extreme weather conditions. It also comes with a durable synthetic cable, which is durable and robust enough to handle challenging situations. Additionally, you can get the fastest winching speed from this winch.

Our Experience

The fourth winch was tested in a cold area with a high snow level.  The WARN 96805 VR8-S Electric Winch was a super crazy helper in recovering the stuck vehicle. It was a car that was severely stuck in the driveway. The driveway was on the slope and needed extra care while recovering the car. Then the car was hooked by the cable of the VR8-S winch that was already installed on one jeep.

Due to snow, both vehicles could slip after recovery. Therefore, we secure the jeep by hooking it up with one solid support like a dead tree. When all the things are set up, we start the pulling process with the help of remote control. After some time, the car was unstuck from the driveway and free to go. Working with this winch was an extraordinary process. So when you find yourself in such a situation and have installed WARN 96805 VR8-S Electric Winch, it could be your trip’s best partner.  

What We Like 

  • A pre-wired setting allows a quick installation
  • Lightweight winch can quickly move from one place to other
  • Comes with a control pack for different mounting options
  • Low profile look
  • Backed by a seven-year electrical warranty

What We Don’t Like 

  • Limited lifetime warranty

5.   WARN 101140 AXON 45-S

The winch that falls on the fifth position in our list is the WARN 101140 AXON 45-S. It is the most favorable winch with high performance, built to handle harsh conditions. It is totally ideal for oversized vehicles, including big ATVs, as it has a high load capacity of 4,500 pounds. Like the other top winches, it is also equipped with a 3-stage planetary gear with Load-holding mechanical brake, allowing smooth control. A 12-volt DC motor powers the winch to get a higher pulling speed.

The WARN 101140 AXON 45-S features a corded remote and a dash-mounted switch control, providing users with easy operation. This S series winches are lighter due to pairing with 50ft Spydura synthetic rope and Hawse fairlead. Additionally, the winch comes with a digital control system, which provides advanced feedback and control during winching operations. Most importantly, it is designed with IP68-rated waterproofing, which helps to keep all the elements out and makes it ideal for handling extreme weather conditions.

Our Experience

We tested this winch for an ATV. It could be the best option for recovering small vehicles from muddy locations. One of our ATVs was stuck in the mud. This heavy-duty winch is necessary to get suitable objects out of tight areas. We attached the rope to the anchor to secure the rope so the tension could be built in the string. With the help of the remote control we turned on the winch. After a few minutes, the vehicle started moving forward and became free. Our experience with this winch was perfect.

What We Like

  • Comes with an advanced digital system
  • Highly corrosion resistant with black powder coating
  • Highly efficient motor system
  • Easy installation process

What We Don’t Like

  • No warranty is mentioned

How Winch Works? – Read Detailed Guide

You may know that any off-road trip is complete with having the proper winch, but you may need to learn how a winch works. We bring a detailed guide to working with winches.

A winch is a device used to lift or pull heavy objects. You may find these on the trucks of off-roaders who always have a chance of getting stuck in muddy areas. Winches are great options for getting unstuck from such situations. For centuries these have been helping human beings in different industries. With time, the simple technology has been shifted to modern technology that updates the functionality of winches. These come in different sizes and configurations depending on the intended application. Before understanding its function, let’s go through its essential components.

Essential components of the Winch

A winch works based on some essential components. Each component has its part in performing a complete winching process. These components are:

The drum:

The drum is the cylindrical device that holds the wire or cable to lift or pull the load. Winch includes a spool that can rotate the drum in a circular motion to wind the rope.

A motor or power source:

The motor or power source provides the necessary energy to turn the drum. It could be only fit for some winches as some electric winches have a motor to speed up the process.

A gear train:

The gear train is a set of gears that increase the motor’s torque, allowing the winch to exert greater force. This force is used to pull in heavy materials and vehicles.

A rope:

The synthetic or steel rope is used to hook up to the heavy objects and allow the system to pull up the heavy objects with the help of all other winch components.

A Control system:

The control system of the winch allows the user to start, stop, and control the speed and direction of the winch. These are available with two or more solenoids.

General functioning of the Winch

The motor will be turned on when the rope is securely attached to the object or vehicle you plan to tow. This motor or power source rotates the drum. As the drum rotates, the cable or wire is wound around it and helps to pull in the object. The faster the drum spins, the more tension will create on the load by the cable. The gear train of the winch increases the torque produced by the motor, which allows the winch to exert more force on the bag. Its control system controls the speed and direction of the winch. Adjusting the speed and direction of the winch allows the users to lift or pull the load with greater precision.

However, winches are available in various types. The functionality and components can vary according to the style.

Different Types of Winches

There are several different types of winches, including hydraulic, electric, and manual winches. But before buying, you need to understand what style suits your applications. All kinds of winches have the same components except one on which they perform tasks or produce pulling power. Some common types of winches are given below.

Electrical winches

Electrical winches come in various sizes and configurations, depending on the intended application. These are famous in different industries due to their efficient lifting the heavy objects.

As the name suggests, an electrical winch works on electrical power. This power can be obtained from the batteries or a generator. Some electrical winches come with built-in batteries. In such winches, a motor consisting of a collection of coils is attached. This coil collection is a stator and comes with a permanent magnet. This stator generates a polarised magnetic field within the motor. As a result drum of the winch starts spinning.


One of the advantages of electrical winches is that they are easy to operate and require minimal maintenance. They don’t need any extra accessories to perform the task. All you need to get is the right size of batteries. Additionally, electrical winches are versatile and work faster than other winches. They are lightly weighted and provide ease of carrying while travelling.


Besides the advantages, electrical winches also have some disadvantages. These are only perfect for using an extended period with intervals as they quickly overheat. The second disadvantage of electrical winches is that they are unsuitable for carrying hefty loads. For such an application, you may require another type of winch.

Hydraulic winches

Hydraulic winches are the most powerful winches that can pull heavy objects. In this context, they are more efficient than other winches.

Hydraulic winches use hydraulic power to turn the drum. This hydraulic power is generated through a specific hydraulic part of winches that carry the fluid. This fluid could be oil. The pressure caused by the fluid can be passed between the generator and the pump that help to generate the power. Sometimes, to increase the efficiency of the hydraulic winch, you need to pair this up with the gear train. It will also allow the user to control the speed of the spool.


One of the essential advantages of these winches is that they do not require any battery or electrical machinery to work properly. In this way, you can save the electrical expenses. Secondly, unlike electrical winches, these do not heat up quickly and can work for extended periods. Thirdly, these are perfect for heavy-duty projects like the marine industry and can function underwater.


One disadvantage of this machinery is that it requires proper concentration and installation time. You may need extra components for installing such winches. The other disadvantage of this winch is that they require adequate research and knowledge for performance, as the user should understand the different switches on the winch.

Manual winches

Manual winches are the simplest type, operated by hand, and do not require any external power source. These are perfect for light-duty applications.

To operate this winch, you don’t need any external force instead, and this depends on the user’s strength. This device comes with a lever or cranks that help lift and tow. When the winch starts lifting heavy loads, this lever returns the tow line onto the spool. To perform the function perfectly, you must align the anchor, object and machine in a straight line.

Now secure the anchor by wrapping it around something solid, then attach the winch to the belt and extend the tow line. Afterwards, you can attach the hook to the object and lift it up quickly.


Manual winches are typically smaller and more portable than hydraulic or electrical winches, making them ideal for applications where mobility is essential. These are also perfect for in-hose jobs for lifting lightweight objects.


Manual winches do have some disadvantages. They require physical effort to operate, which can be a limitation for heavier loads or extended use. They also provide a different level of precision or control while towing objects or vehicles.

Some Necessary Accessories For Your Winch

In addition to the winch, you require extra accessories to perform the task quickly and efficiently. These accessories are necessary for complete performing the job efficiently. With these components, you can make your simple winch machine into an extraordinary machine that will pull or haul objects or any vehicle in less time. We will describe the necessary accessories below. Some are necessary to safely perform the task while others enhance the machine’s versatility and provide convenience.

1.    Hook strap

These are necessary to keep your hand and fingers safe. As the wire rope is being spooled in, an extreme pulling power generates that can harm the hand or finger of the user. Hook straps use to protect the fingers from such incidents. Place the pin into the loop and hold the belt with your thumb and forefinger instead of the circle.

2.    Gloves

Gloves are necessary objects to protect the hands while dealing with the winches. Coping with the winch and wire rope without gloves can cause barbs after constantly dealing, leading to severe injuries. So it is necessary to wear the safety gloves before holding the rope.

3.    D-Shackles/Clevis

The D-Shackle is ideal for safely attaching the wire ends straps and snatch blocks. It also provides security for not falling off the object during towing. Additionally, this comes with a tiny threaded needle that makes removing it from the winch easy.

4.    Snatch Block

A snatch block can enhance the efficiency of the winch in different ways. These are used for multi-purpose. Firstly, a snatch block can increase the pulling power of the winches. Secondly, you can attach this to change and control the direction while pulling.

5.    Choker Chain

Another necessary component is the choker chain. These chains help hook up with a vehicle or any solid support.

6.    Tow hooks

Tow hooks are attached to the surface of your vehicles by screwing. While connecting there, it can serve as the connection point for additional components, such as wire hooks, straps, and chains.

7.    Heavy blanket

Frequently using the tow line can get rages and lead to severe conditions during the towing process. To avoid harmful situations, a heavy blanket is the best option. These have ability to absorb the energy if the two lines break. Make sure to place it on the wire before turning on the machine.

Safety tips for using Winches

  • Don’t forget to wear gloves.
  • Try to stand far away from the cable performing the process.
  • Avoid using a dead tree for getting support.
  • Never winch too quickly or after short time intervals.
  • Don’t forget to use a damper.
  • Never link a non-structural point to the stuck vehicle.
  • Never drive the vehicle that is performing the winching process.

Comparison between 2 Best Picked Winches

Now we will provide you with a brief comparison between our top-picked winches.

Smittybilt X20 GEN2

Based on our experience, this winch is ideal for different loads. The load size can be. This winch can manage differently from 12000 to 17500 load sizes. It comes with a synthetic rope with a great length that is ideal for performing towing tasks from a distance. This machine has a dual operating system. One is a remote control, and the second is a manual.  So when you get the batteries out, you can manually tow the vehicle. It features a 6.6 horsepower motor that comes with a dynamic brake system. In short, it is the ideal winch for performing heavy-duty tasks. Its waterproof rating is very high (IP68).

ZESUPER 12V 13000

The second winch that is our top pick is the ZESUPER 12V 13000. It is also suitable for heavy-duty tasks. This can vary in load size, and one-size fixes all. It features synthetic rope that is better in performance than any metal rope. Besides it worked on 6.4 HP motor systems. It has a Waterproof IP67 rating, less than the previously described winch. However, this winch model comes with two types of remote control systems, one is wireless, and the other is a corded remote.


1.    How to hook up a winch?

The winches come in a box and need to align before attaching to the vehicle. When you join all the winch parts, then you can hook up the winch to your cars. First, you must place the winch on the bumper and screw it with bolts. To attach the winch to the car’s battery, you need to carefully connect the winch’s positive terminal to the storm’s positive terminal. Similarly, attach the negative terminals and secure the wires at the safe point.

2. What winch size do I need? 

The size of the winch you need depends on several factors, such as the weight of the load you want to lift or pull and the distance you need to move the load. It will also depend on the type of winch you are choosing. Generally, you should choose a winch with a load capacity of at least one and a half times the load of the vehicle you want to move or tow. It will ensure the winch has enough power to lift or pull the car safely and effectively.

3. Will a winch drain my battery?

Yes, a winch can drain the battery if you don’t plan your process. To run the function smoothly, you need to check the amp usage of the winch and the handling capacity of the battery. If your winch can draw more amp than the battery can handle, then your battery will drain out. The best option to avoid such situations is installing a second battery, specifically when running the winch for longer. 


In short, before buying any winch for your vehicle, you need to consider different factors. These factors could be the type of winch, load capacity, type of rope and the control system of the winch. If you don’t get the proper winch, recovering your vehicle from the muddy tracks while trailing will be difficult. The above-given list of best winches is based on a detailed examination that our experts handle. All the winches have benefits, but you should pick the one perfectly suitable for your vehicle and task condition. To get the best winch, you don’t need to spend a high cost to get the best winch because you can get the ideal machinery for under $1000.

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