How to Pick the Right Winch for Your Jeep Wrangler

How to Pick the Right Winch for Your Jeep Wrangler

A self-recovery winch is one of the best investments you can make for your Jeep Wrangler. While it’s a tool that you hope to not need frequently, it’s a critical item can keep you (and help others) progressing down the trail. Before equipping your Jeep Wrangler with a winch however, there are a few things you need to consider. While Rough Country offers a variety of winch mounting solutions for every generation of Wrangler, you’ll need to factor in the following before settling on a winch for your Jeep.

Weight Rating

Vehicle recovery winches are categorized by weight. These ratings typically span from 8,000 to 16,500 pounds. To ensure that you purchase the correctly rated winch your Jeep, you must first know the vehicle’s curb weight. A 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon fit with the 2.0L engine and automatic transmission for example has curb weight of appx 4,500 pounds. To determine which winch would be the best fit, a good rule of thumb is to multiple the curb weight by 1.5. In this case that would give you 6,750 pounds. This means you would need a winch with a minimum of that number. If you want to err on the side of caution you can multiple by 2, which in this case would give you 9,000 pounds. So, a Rough Country 9,500LB Pro Series winch would be a great option for that application.

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They say electric is the future, and when it comes to off-road winches for your Wrangler, this is definitely the case. Electric winches are easier to package, cost less, and only require a 12-volt battery for a power source. Given the complexity and expense associated with a hydraulic winch, they are rarely used on recreational off-road vehicles. 

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There’s still plenty of debate in the off-road community over which is better to have spooled around the winch drum- steel cable or synthetic rope. Both are perfectly safe and strong when used correctly. Steel cable is heavier, but more resistant to abrasion over rope. It also requires less maintenance over rope and cost a little less. The big draw for rope is that it’s significantly lighter and much easier to use. It will however require greater care as dragging it across an obstacle can damage it more easily. It’s also more susceptible to UV damage over cable. Rough Country offers both in their winch line, so you can opt for which ever is best for your needs.

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IP Rating

As you might imagine, electrical equipment doesn’t play well with water. So it’s critical that electrical controls on the winch stay out of the elements. This is why you’ll see an IP67 rating associated with Rough Country winches. This is one of the highest levels of protection, ensuring that water and dust doesn’t get where it shouldn’t.

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The winch’s gear ratio, horsepower, and load forces on the drum all affect how quickly your winch will spool you out of a tough situation. Gear ratios usual span from around 150:1 to 3:20:1. The lower the number, the faster the winch will spool in (unloaded). The challenge with a lower number is that you sacrifice power for speed. Think of this as using High Range versus Low Range in your 4x4. You can obviously go faster in High Range, but more often than not, you need the extra gear reduction that Low Range provides on the trail. This is the same case for the winch. Rough Country uses a 5.5 horsepower motor and gear reduction ratio of 265:1 throughout its winch line. This provides a great balance of power and speed.

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