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Tackling the Trails: The Ultimate Guide to Off-Road Winches

Posted by IAG Off-Road on Nov 16th 2023

Tackling the Trails: The Ultimate Guide to Off-Road Winches

Whether you're traversing a steep mountain side or trying to get past a fallen tree, a winch is your best defense when it comes to tackling obstacles and reaching your destination. Choosing the right winch set up will set you up for a safe and successful journey, so we've compiled a list of tips, tricks and products to help you find the right winch and to make sure that you're getting the most out of your recovery gear.


There's about a million uses for a winch, especially when off-roading. A front-mounted winch can pull your vehicle out of a tight spot, or you can rig it to pull another truck to safety. Moving obstacles out of the way is easy with the pulling power of a winch, but the first step is finding the right product for your truck. The first thing you'll want to consider is the weight of your vehicle. Winches are designed with different powered motors for varied pulling power. Generally speaking, where winches are concerned, it's always better to have a bit of extra pulling power in your winch, and one of the most popular winches available on the market is the Superwinch Tiger Shark 11500 Winch. The Tiger Shark makes it easy to pull a large vehicle like a Ford Raptor because the pulling capacity of 11,500 pounds is almost double of what a Raptor weighs.

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Product image of Superwinch Tiger Shark 11500

Toyota off-road vehicle with winch and recovery damper, lifestyle image.


There are a variety of uses and applications that will affect which type of winch will work best for you. Before throwing down on a new winch, you'll want to consider how you'll be using your winch and sort through a few features to make sure you're getting the right tool for the job. Keep reading and we'll explore the options.

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While synthetic rope is more prone to abrasion, steel winch cables can rust, kink and develop burrs if not correctly cared for. They are almost evenly matched for durability, but it should be mentioned that synthetic rope does not store energy while under load. If a synthetic rope snaps while loaded up, it will just fall to the ground, while a steel cable can recoil and cause injury. A good winch rope option would be Rugged Ridge's synthetic replacement rope, which is stronger and lighter than wire rope and never kinks or splinters. They also feature a protective sleeve that prevents it from over heating on the winch drum.

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Photo of Rugged Ridge synthetic winch rope

Lifestyle photo of remote in use for remote controlled winch


Trying to find the perfect winch means that you'll need to consider how you'll be using it. If you're just dragging trees and debris out of your way, a winch with a cable powered remote should suffice. For more technical jobs like disentangling a snagged Jeep from a rock bed, you'll want to bring your wireless remote. A wireless remote like this one from Superwinch will allow you to operate your winch from a safe distance, without the worry of a whiplashing steel line. It can also give you the flexibility to move to a better vantage point to keep an eye on all those moving parts.

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For those of you who are lucky enough to own a Ford Truck or Bronco, Warn makes some great high powered winch options that mount directly to your stock vehicle. Ford and Warn engineers developed these winches to have an OEM level of fit, finish, durability, and vehicle integration to perfectly compliment your Ford off-road vehicle, while giving you all the functionality of the superior product that Warn is known for.

We have a great selection of 2021+ Ford Bronco upgrades, click here-

Image of Ford super duty pick up truck with Warn winch

Lifestyle photo of remote in use for remote controlled winch


Once you've decided on a winch, you'll need to consider how it will will be mounted. There are lots of options out there, so finding the right mount for your vehicle should be relatively easy. While price may be a factor, it's never a bad idea to protect your investment with a multi use product like the IAG I-Line Modular Front Bumper Winch Mount, which adds a bit of front end protection, as well as a solid place to keep your winch safely mounted.

For more winch mount options, click here-


With your winch mounted up and ready to go, you'll want to make sure to bring along a good recovery kit to make it easy for your winch and vehicle to handle the force of additional loads. ARB has put together a comprehensive kit of snatch straps, snatch blocks, shackles, tree blocks and more to keep your vehicle safe from damage and your winch from getting over worked or over powered.

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Lifestyle image of ARB recovery kit

Lifestyle photo of ARB recovery damper


A recovery damper is another great product to add to your list of winch accessories. In the unlikely event of a wire rope or strap failure, a recovery damper will absorb most of the energy in the cable or strap, significantly reducing the recoil and risk of injury. ARB's damper doubles as a gear tote when rigging up your vehicle to a winch.

We also have a full selection of recovery boards-


You've got your winch, your remote, a recovery kit and you've filled up with gas. One small easy item that you definitely don't want to leave off your list is a good pair of recovery gloves. They'll make all the difference when you're operating winches, pulling out your rope lines or just working around the campsite. ARB's Recovery Gloves will make a great addition to your recovery kit and will keep you from getting rope burns or pinches or cuts from winch cables. You'll be glad you brought them!

We even have protective covers for your winch, click here-

Lifestyle image of ARB recovery gloves

We're here to help! Reaching your destination is easy with the right gear, and we're here to help you find exactly what you need. We have a great selection of winches and accessories to choose from, and as always, if you have any questions or need some advice, IAG Off-Road has the expertise you need. Feel free to give us a call at (410) 840 - 3555 or shoot us an email at - we’d love to help!

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