A winch is a powerful machine with drums on which you’re rolling cables/ropes for pulling heavyweight objects.
Even if they were primarily designed for snow and water sports, they now serve all kinds of off-road vehicles. Any off-road aficionado knows that winches are capable of getting you and your car out of the mud. When you’re getting the right winch, you may not even need to get some help from other friends, with the winch being capable and strong enough to do all the pulling.
Page Table of Contents
- TOP 5 Portable Winches
- FAQs on portable winches
What are the elements of a winch?
You can get the best out of a winch when you know plenty of information about it. You should start with understanding the parts a winch is made of:
You use the engine on the winch for turning on/off the drum so that it pulls/pushing the wire. Not all winches include motors, and some models provide manual handling. For obvious reasons, the motored winches are more popular than the manual models.
- Gear train
The gear train is an essential element since it turns the power of the motor into pulling power, helping the winch to pull the heavyweight objects.
- Winch drum
The winch drum is a sturdy piece of gear that you use for wrapping the wires around. The drum helps you wrap around the cables neatly, as it rotates in a circular motion. You can use the drum for winding the cable in and out too.
- The cable wire
There are two main categories of cables used in portable winches: steel cable and synthetic ropes. Steel cables are more dependable in the heavy-duty application, but they’re quite heavy. On the other hand, synthetic cables are lightweight and easy to manage. However, they may not be as durable as steel cables.
Most winches out there come with 40 to 100ft long cables, with the length depending on the size of the winch.
What are the pros and cons of portable winches?
It goes without saying that if you spend a lot of time outdoors with your vehicles, it’s better and wiser that you get a winch. When you ride more than a car, or you want to be able to help your friends in need, the portable winch may be the best choice for you.
Still on the fence about whether you should get a winch or not? Scroll down to check the benefits of winches, portable models include:
- Strong winches can pull even the most massive objects
- They’re a significant investment to make for the long run
- The compact models are highly versatile as they don’t need a permanent mount
- You may use the winches for vehicle towing and water skiing
In all fairness, the winches aren’t all roses and rainbows, and you should also take a look at the downsides. They’re not significant, but they’re going to help you have a complete picture of the winches:
- Reliable and dependable winches add weight to your vehicle
- Installation for the non-portable models may not always be straightforward
- You do need some skills and understanding of winches for using them efficiently
One last thought
There’s no better way to put it: winches are an essential piece of gear when off-road adventures are your cup of tea. Portable winches are especially useful for lighter vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs. You should always spend some time when choosing the winch, especially if you buy for the long run. Anyway, even a weak winch is better than no winch at all, so go shopping!
TOP 5 Portable Winches
1. Master Lock Electric Winch-Portable
Going shopping on a tight budget is no picnic, but you don’t necessarily have to come back home empty-handed. The Master Lock Electric Winch, Portable 12-Volt DC Electric Winch is a perfect example of how a portable winch can be reliable and affordable at the same time.
You may use the winch for cars, trucks, trailers, and boat, with its built-in carrying cable increasing its portability.
Apart from being portable, the electric winch is made to provide up to 2,000pounds of pulling capacity. The build is rugged, and the winch comes with galvanized steel cable and hooks for safer use.
Along with the winch, you also get a steel mounting plate, remote control, hand crank, 30ft. steel cable, and 20ft. power cable.
It’s a portable and DC-powered unit that you may install on any flat or hitch surface. The parallel-shaft hear good power for vehicles and wheeled trailers up to 6,000 pounds. Should the winch be overloaded, it’s going to shut down automatically.
On top of everything else, you may use the toggle remote control for auctioning the unit from afar. The winch is small and compact, storing it never poses a problem.
Here’s our take on the pros:
- It’s portable and comes with a built-in carrying handle
- You may use it with the remote control
- The winch has a rugged build and a small footprint
- It’s dependable and strong
Don’t worry about the flaws, since they’re minor:
- The controller is a tad wobbly
- It’s a tad slow
Despite the minimal problems, the winch is a reliable, dependable, small, and easy to use a winch for anyone shopping on a thin wallet.
2. Bravex Electric Winch-Reversible Portable
Bravex Electric Winch, Reversible Portable 12-Volt DC Electric Winch comes with a strong motor (30% higher power than another standard trailer winch). The motor ensures smooth winching operation.
The winch allows dual-direction electric winching (both pulling and spooling), and it’s both electric and manual for winching. You should only use the hand crank winching when in need.
The electric automatic braking system provides safety, and the winch runs rather quietly. You may use it for truck, trailer, car, and boat.
The list of features for safe use continues with the galvanizes steel cable and the hook, with the winch being able to take 2,000 pounds of pulling capacity.
The winch comes with a mounting plate and 20′ power cable. The remote control cable is good quality too.
Even though it runs slowly, the unit is quiet and easy to carry around since it comes with a handle.
Here’s our take on the pros:
- It ensures dual-direction electric winching
- It’s a dual operation model, allowing both manual and electric winching
- The motor is powerful and runs quietly
- The unit comes with an electrical automatic braking system
The downsides shouldn’t make you change your mind about the winch:
- It works slow
- Some didn’t get the hook
The good outweighs the bad by far, which is why you should give the winch a look when searching high and low for a portable winch.
3. WARN Corded PullzAll 120V AC
Easy to use and build to take the use for a long time, the WARN 885000 Corded PullzAll 120V AC impresses with the great features and consistent performance.
The unit can perform pull up to 1,000lbs and has a no-load line speed of 13.8 fpm. You can confidently use it for auto shops, pipe fitting, plant maintenance, garages, and construction. It’s able to handle heavy machinery since it comes with variable-speed control trigger. Many are going to enjoy the unit since it comes with forward and reverses control button for better accuracy.
The winch weighs 15lbs, and the wire rope is 15’ and 7/32” thick. A swiveling anchor hook is going to keep the hold in place, whereas a LED load indicator gives you feedback while your pulling/lifting. The unit also includes an electronic load limiter which reduces the risk for overloading.
It’s well made and has a durability feel to it.
Let’s check to positive aspects once again:
- You may use the forward/reverse motion by pressing one button
- The winch lets you secure the item in place through the brake
- It features an LED indicator for efficient feedback
- The wire rope is sturdy, and the hook is industrial-grade
Don’t let the minor problems stand in your way while deciding:
- Some think that the unit can only handle light lifts
- The switches feel loose to some
All things considered, the winch is a portable and dependable tool to have since its power and performance rarely disappoint.
4. Keeper KW95122-1 12V DC Heavy Duty Winch
The Keeper KW95122-1 12V DC Heavy Duty Winch rapid mount is loaded with features that recommend it for portable and marine use.
The winch is unusual for self-recovery and trailer recovery. It’s powered by a 5.5hp series-wound 12V DC motor, with automatic full load-holding brake for better control. The three-stage planetary gearbox features case hardened gears, taking the heavy-duty use.
The wireless remote increases safety while winching and has a reasonable operation distance. The hand-held remote presents high density LED work light for straightforward and safe use.
The winch also features lift and turn free-spool clutch, for straightforward operation. The four-way roller fairlead is rugged and able to take a beat.
There’s power in and power out operation for the winch, able to provide 9,500 lbs. of pulling power (single line rated).
The winch is very well made and works great. The details make it stand out, with warning paint at both ends of wire rope increasing your safety.
Here’s what draws our attention:
- The winch comes with rugged solenoid and series-wound motor
- It includes automatic full load holding brake
- The remote control comes with LED work light
- The winch is very well made and takes a beat
We don’t consider the flaws to be significant:
- The winch is a tad heavy
- Look carefully when placing your order so that you get the portable model and not the other one
All in all, the winch is a dependable, durable, safe, and easy to mount tool that you can use in many situations. Why not give it a try?
5. Superwinch Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC winch
When the price tag is the last you check, Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC winch is going to be one of the best options amongst the portable winches.
The unit comes with a weather-sealed 5.2HP motor so that the risk for damage in case of rain, snow, and even blowing dust is quite low. It’s not only the motor that is weather-sealed, but also the solenoid (contactor) which is going to lower any possible damage from snow, rain, or blowing dust. The three-stage gearbox with steel cut gears gives fantastic torque whenever you need. Due to the placement of the free-spool rotating speed, the winch is one of the most accessible tools to free-spool out there.
The hand-held remote doesn’t make an exception in terms of rugged build, and it’s made to take the heavy-duty use. Its design recommends it for use in the field, ensuring straightforward switching.
The stainless steel roller fairlead is also tough, whereas the brushed finish protects against weather and wire rope abuse. Thanks to the ergonomically shaped free-spool control, winching isn’t going to be very difficult. By the contrary, it’s straightforward to grip it and to operate the winch.
Tiger Sharks comes with luxury stainless steel hardware, tie bars, and fairlead rollers that keep the elements away and expand the lifespan of the winch.
The synthetic rope is sturdy, and installing the winch is a breeze. Especially since you get all the hardware, you need for mounting.
Here’s what we like the most about it:
- The motor and the solenoid are weather sealed
- The remote is rugged and easy to use
- It’s effortless to free-spool the winch
- It’s sturdy and made to last
Don’t let the pet peeves bother you when making a decision:
- The price may throw some off
- It’s a tad slow
Regardless of the issues, the winch still stands out as a rugged, secure, reliable, and weather-resistant option that is worth every penny.
FAQs on portable winches
Q: Are all compact winches electric?
A: Even if the significant majority of portable winches are electric, there are also portable gas engine driven models to choose from. However, gas-powered winches are pricier than electric models. They don’t even need a battery for running, so consider that when deciding.
Q: What are the standard mounts for portable winches?
A: There are numerous aftermarket accessories that you can use for your portable winch. Some let you mount them on a plate so that you may easily attach the chains. You should use the chains for anchoring the winch to whatever you need. Other mounts let you anchor the winch to the 2″ ball of your vehicle. It’s a handy mount, but it’s not that solid and secure as you’d want. Don’t forget about the tree/pole mount rigging, which is a rugged ratchet strap device that you use for wrapping around unevenly shaped objects. It can also work as a tree saver.
Q: How much line pulls can you get in a portable winch?
A: There are portable winches rated at 2,000lb. pulling, but also at 5,000 and 6,000lb. If you’re looking for a lighter option, you can find winches at 500lb. They’re easy to install and to carry. When you’re searching for more power, you can go with models that ensure 4,000lb pull. For that kind of power, something’s got to give. The tradeoff is the heavyweight, but the strong winches come in carrying boxes for better portability.