UTV Winch Buying Guide for 2024

As an Amazon Associate I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you.

When you’re out exploring trails on your utility terrain vehicle (UTV), there’s always a chance you might encounter a challenging situation, be it steep inclines, deep mud, or obstacles blocking your path.

In these scenarios, a reliable winch can be a lifesaver, allowing you to extract your UTV from tricky situations and continue your adventure.

To help you find the best winch for your UTV, this buying guide offers key insights into the technology, performance, and features to consider before making a purchase.

You can also check out our top picks for the best UTV/Side by Side winches on the market.

Your UTV’s weight plays a significant role in determining the right winch for your vehicle. As a rule of thumb, opt for a winch with a minimum capacity of 1.5 times your UTV’s weight.

For most UTVs, a winch with a 4000-pound capacity is typically adequate, but if you plan on navigating through muddy terrains or have a heavier UTV, you may want to consider a winch with a higher capacity. Additionally, take note of factors such as the winch’s build quality, its remote control features, and power consumption.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of selecting the best UTV winch for your needs while providing product recommendations and comparisons to make your decision-making process as smooth and informed as possible. Armed with the knowledge from this guide, you’ll be well-prepared to make a confident investment in a winch that suits your specific requirements and enhances your UTV’s capabilities.

UTV Winch Basics

When selecting a winch for your UTV or ATV, it’s crucial to consider the weight of your vehicle and the type of riding you’ll be performing. The pulling power of the winch should be sufficient to handle any situation you might encounter. A quick way to determine the necessary pulling power is to multiply your vehicle’s weight by 1.5.

ATV winches typically have capacities ranging from 2000 to 3500 pounds. For UTVs, you should start by looking at winches with at least 4000 pounds of capacity. If you plan on riding in muddy conditions, we recommend stepping up to a slightly larger capacity to account for additional resistance.

Some factors to consider while choosing a UTV winch are:

  • Pull Rating: Make sure the winch has a pull rating that can handle your vehicle’s weight. As mentioned earlier, multiply your UTV’s weight by 1.5 to find an appropriate pull rating.

  • Mounting: Go through the product’s mounting instructions to determine the ease of installation. Choose a winch with a mounting system compatible with your UTV or ATV.

  • Remote Control: Opt for a winch with a handheld remote control to operate the winch from a safe distance.

Remember, getting the right winch for your UTV or ATV can enhance your riding experience and make it easier to tackle challenging terrain.

Factors to Consider When Buying a UTV Winch

Motor Type

When buying a UTV winch, one of the first things to consider is the motor type. There are two common types of winch motors: permanent magnet motors and series-wound motors. Each type has its pros and cons:

  • Permanent Magnet Motor: These motors are typically more budget-friendly and lighter in weight. However, they may not be as durable as series-wound motors, especially under heavy usage.
  • Series-Wound Motor: These motors are generally more powerful and durable but come at a higher price and heavier weight.

Consider your intended usage and budget to determine which motor type is the best fit for your needs.

Pulling Capacity

It’s crucial to have a winch with sufficient pulling capacity for your UTV’s weight. A good rule of thumb is to choose a winch with a capacity rated at 1.5 times your UTV’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). This will ensure your winch can handle not only your UTV but also any additional load you may need to pull.

Rope Type and Material

There are two main types of winch rope: synthetic rope and steel cable. Each type has its unique benefits:

  • Synthetic Rope: This material is lightweight, easy to handle, and stronger than steel cables. However, synthetic ropes may be more prone to damage from heat or abrasion.
  • Steel Cable: This material is highly resistant to heat and abrasion, making it more durable. Steel cables are also generally cheaper than synthetic ropes but are heavier and more challenging to handle.

Consider the type of terrain and conditions you will encounter when choosing the rope type and material for your winch.

Waterproof Rating

Waterproof ratings are essential when using your UTV winch in wet or muddy conditions. Look for winches with an IP-67 or IP-68 rating, which will provide protection from water and dust. Also, consider if the winch features automatic braking or deer rut system for safer operation while hunting.


Lastly, consider your budget when selecting a UTV winch. There are various options at different price points, so determine your specific needs and find a winch that fits within your budget without sacrificing essential features. Remember that investing in a quality winch can save you from potential trouble down the line.

By considering motor type, pulling capacity, rope type and material, waterproof rating, and price, you will be better equipped to find the perfect UTV winch that meets your needs and budget.

Winch Installation and Mounting

Mounting Plate Options

When installing a UTV winch, you need to consider the mounting plate options. A winch mounting plate is necessary for most installations, as it provides a secure and stable base to attach the winch to your UTV. There are various mounting plate options available, including:

  • Standard: This is the most common type of mounting plate and is designed to fit most UTVs with pre-wired configurations.
  • Universal: Universal mounting plates are designed to fit a variety of UTVs and winches, offering more flexibility in case you change your setup or vehicle in the future.
  • Custom: Custom mounting plates are specifically designed for certain UTV models, ensuring an exact fit and providing optimum stability.

When choosing a mounting plate, make sure it is compatible with your UTV and winch model. Consult your UTV and winch manufacturer for recommendations on the best mounting plate option for your specific setup.

Mounting Bolt Patterns

The bolt pattern of your winch and mounting plate is an important aspect to consider, as it ensures the proper fit and secure attachment of your winch to the UTV. There are two main types of bolt patterns:

  • Standard 4-Hole Pattern: This pattern consists of four holes arranged in a square or rectangular shape, and it is commonly found on most electric winches. The distance between the holes can vary, so make sure to check the compatibility between your winch and mounting plate.
  • Non-Standard Bolt Patterns: Some custom winches or UTVs may come with a unique bolt pattern designed specifically for that setup. In this case, ensure that your mounting plate is designed to accommodate the specific bolt pattern associated with your winch and UTV.

To summarize, when installing a UTV winch, consider the mounting plate options and mounting bolt patterns to ensure a secure and stable fit. Choose a mounting plate that is compatible with your UTV and winch, and be aware of the bolt patterns for a proper installation.

Winch Features and Accessories

Braking Systems

When choosing a UTV winch, consider the braking system it offers. There are two common types of brakes – mechanical and dynamic:

  • Mechanical Brake: This type of brake provides good load holding capabilities and ensures safe operation.
  • Dynamic Brake: It is an automatic braking system that relies on the winch’s motor to hold the load when power is removed.

Both systems are essential for safety and maintaining control during winching operations.

Remote Controls

Having a suitable remote control can make using your winch much more convenient:

  • Corded Remote Control: With a corded remote control, you’ll have a direct connection to your winch. These usually come with a lengthy wire allowing you to operate it from a safe distance.
  • Wireless Remote Control: A wireless remote provides more flexibility, allowing you to control your winch without the restrictions of a cable. Some come with handlebar-mounted rocker switches for added convenience.

Keep in mind that using a remote control requires a reliable battery to ensure seamless operation.


Fairleads guide the winch cable and keep it tidy, reducing potential damage. There are two common types to choose from:

  • Roller Fairlead: This has rollers to minimize cable wear and smooth out the pulling direction. It is suitable for steel cable and provides low friction.
  • Aluminum Hawse Fairlead: It’s designed for synthetic ropes, reducing wear and damage to the rope.

Choose the appropriate fairlead based on the type of winch cable being used in your UTV winch system.

Additional Accessories

Finally, consider additional accessories to enhance your winch system and ensure safe, efficient operation:

  • Winch Kit: A winch kit typically includes essential items such as gloves, shackles, and tree savers. These accessories help improve safety and performance during winching.
  • Free Spooling Clutch: A free spooling clutch allows you to easily pull out the winch cable manually, making it faster to set up before winching.
  • Planetary Gear Train: A planetary gear train can provide your winch with higher efficiency and increased pulling power, improving the overall performance of the winch.

Don’t forget to check the warranty offered by the winch manufacturer, which can be a good indicator of the product’s quality.

Remember, your choice of UTV winch features and accessories will affect the performance, safety, and overall experience of using a winch. Take the time to evaluate these aspects to find the ideal winch for your needs.

Safety Tips and Proper Winch Use

Terrain Considerations

When using a UTV winch, always be aware of the terrain you are working in. Consider factors like ground stability, slopes, and potential obstacles. It’s crucial to ensure the safety of both the UTV and anyone within the vicinity. Also, be mindful of weather conditions that may impact the operation of your winch, such as rain or snow.

Stress on Winch and Vehicle

Understanding the limitations of your winch and UTV is vital for safe and effective use. Avoid putting excessive stress on your winch or vehicle by:

  • Inspecting winch components, such as the rope, hook, straps, etc., for any signs of wear and tear. Replace damaged equipment as necessary.
  • Making sure the winch is rated for the weight of the load you are attempting to lift or pull.
  • Using the appropriate anchor points on your UTV to distribute the load evenly.

Proper Lifting and Pulling Techniques

Follow these guidelines for safe and effective winching:

  • Always wear eye protection and heavy gloves while operating the winch.
  • Keep a safe distance between yourself, bystanders, pets, and the winching area.
  • Connect the winch cable to the lowest possible point on the anchor. This helps minimize leverage and reduces the risk of pulling the object toward your vehicle.
  • Use a remote switch, if available, to reduce the need to be on the UTV while winching.
  • For pulling, always maintain a straight line between the winch, anchor, and load to reduce stress on the winch and cable.
  • Never use alcohol or drugs before or during a winch operation. Also, avoid allowing children under 16 to operate the winch.

By following these safety tips and proper winch use, you can ensure a safe and efficient experience while using your UTV winch.

Additional Considerations and Uses

For Off-Roading

When choosing a UTV winch for off-roading adventures, always consider the potential situations you may encounter. Your winch should have enough pulling capacity to handle getting stuck in mud or other challenging terrains. Weatherproofing is crucial for off-roading winches, as they’ll face various weather conditions. An all-metal construction can provide durability and reliability in tough environments.

To ensure a smooth self-recovery process, invest in essential accessories like tree protectors and snatch blocks. This will not only ease your winching tasks but also help prevent any damage to the surrounding environment.

Snow Plow Assistance

A UTV winch can be an excellent asset when dealing with snow. By using a winch with a plow attachment, you can efficiently clear snow from your driveway or ranch. When selecting a winch for snow plow assistance, prioritize features like:

  • Adequate pulling capacity
  • Quick mounting options
  • High-quality construction for heavy use

Remember, choosing a weatherproof winch is essential for enduring harsh winter conditions.

All-Purpose Ranch and Hunting

In a ranch setting, a UTV winch can be a versatile helper for various tasks. When considering a winch for all-purpose ranch and hunting use, ensure it’s suitable for:

  • Hauling feed or hay
  • Assisting with tree removal
  • Recovering game from remote locations
  • Emergency self-recovery situations

Regardless of its usage, your winch should have a dependable mounting system and be capable of handling the loads you plan to work with. An all-purpose winch should offer durable and reliable performance in various conditions, so weatherproof and all-metal construction are crucial elements to consider.