A portable winch is just one of those tools that flat-out make life easier. Whether you own multiple vehicles, work in remote locations, need a helping hand while hunting, you’ll find the best portable winch in this here guide. First, there are several varieties of portable winches, including cordless, electric, drill, and gas-powered. Secondly, they do range in price, with gas-powered being the most expensive.
When choosing a portable winch, it’s important to consider the following points:
- Capacity – Typically, portable winches can pull up to 4,000 lbs
- Synthetic vs Steel Rope
- Weight – Always check the weight of the winch to be sure you can carry it
- Your Intended Uses – Farming, big game hunting, automotive, construction, pulling a 4×4 or ATV, etc.
- Forward/Reverse or Forward Only
Ultimately, those are the most important points to consider when choosing a portable winch. Unlike high-capacity winches, there are few portable options with synthetic rope. So, if you prefer synthetic rope, there’s always the option to replace the steel rope with synthetic later. Also, you’ll find that there are models in this guide that come with a synthetic cable out of the box.
Beyond that, another feature to consider is whether the winch features reverse power. Generally, budget portable winches may feature forward only. For this reason, it’s important to consider how you plan to use the winch before choosing a model without reverse power.
Now, it’s time to explore your options.
Best Portable Winch Reviews
In my reviews, I share key information and highlights of each model, plus some helpful pros & cons. Once you have the chance to consider each review, you’ll know for sure which model(s) matches your needs.
#1) Warn 885005 PullzAll Cordless 1000 lb
Since this guide is dedicated to portability, the best cordless winch is the clear winner. Warn’s cordless PullzAll winch’s only limitations are battery life and capacity. For this reason, this winch is my top pick for hunters, farm work, and any other job that’s away from an outlet or vehicle battery. First, the base package includes two battery packs to give you a small rotation to work with.
However, additional battery packs are not cheap. Consequently, if you plan to use three or more battery backs in rotation, be sure to factor in the added cost of the batteries. Second, the base unit comes with 15ft of steel rope, though, you have the option to replace it with synthetic rope. Third, the controls give you precise control over your load that you won’t find on inferior winches.
In total, there’s a variable speed control trigger, LED load indicator, and an electronic load limiter that automatically prevents overloading. With the variable speed control trigger, you have the ability to move loads both forward and backward with the press of a button. Lastly, the PullzAll Cordless winch is lightweight at 18 lbs and compact at 20″ x 12.50″ x 13.25″ (LxWxH). Plus, it comes backed by Warn’s 1-year limited warranty.
- Maximum cordless portability
- 2 batteries included
- 15′ steel rope included
- LED load indicator for easy monitoring
- Automatic electronic load limiter
- Variable-speed controls
- 1-year limited warranty
- You might need more capacity than 1000 lbs
- No remote
- No quick-release when unwinding to preserve battery
- Can get loud in enclosed areas
#2) Honda PCW5000 Gas-Powered Capstan Winch
Don’t want to rely on a battery or electricity? If you answered yes, Honda manufactures the best portable gas winch. This beast of a winch is ready to work just about anywhere, and it packs more power than a portable Warn winch with the ability to pull up to 2,200 lbs out of the box. With the addition of a snatch block, the pulling capacity doubles up to 4,400 lbs. In other words, if you need a portable winch for pulling UTVs out of the mud, you have enough power here.
As for power, the PCW5000 features an air-cooled 2.1 HP Honda GXH50 4-stroke engine. Next, this winch is very compact at 14.25” x 14.625” x 14.25” (LxWxH), yet it does weigh more than electrical portable winches at 35 lbs. Regarding cable, it does not include cable, and Honda recommends using double-braided polyester rope for optimal performance. Plus, this type of rope is safer to use than steel cable.
Lastly, the PCW5000 pulls fast with line speeds up to 60 fpm depending on which drum you use. There are two options for drums, including a 2.25″ and 3.75″, with the 3.75″ offering faster speeds. Finally, Honda backs the PCW5000 with a lengthy 5-year warranty for private use.
- Zero reliance on electricity or battery power
- Up to 4,400 lbs of pulling power with a snatch block
- Polyester rope rather than steel cable
- Unlimited rope length
- Line speeds up to 60 fpm
- Perfect for hauling logs
- 5-year warranty for private use
- Does not include cable
- Higher cost than battery-powered or electrical units
- 35 lbs is heavy for some people
#3) Superwinch 1140232 Winch2Go SR 12V
Now, it’s time to meet the best portable 12V winch. In my experience, this portable winch is the total package in terms of blending power and convenience. First, unlike most Warn portable winches, the Superwinch Winch2Go comes standard with synthetic rope (model 1140232). Although, if you prefer steel rope, there’s the option to choose model 1140222.
Next, the Winch2Go carries an impressive 4000lb weight capacity w/o a snatch block. Plus, the included 16,000lb pulley block brings the capacity up to 8000lbs. For this reason, this winch is another good portable winch for pulling ATVs/UTVs out of mud or snow. Regarding amp draw, the efficient Winch2Go draws just 20 amps at 0 and 220 amps at full capacity (400 lbs).
After power, I really like the convenient toolbox design for easily popping it in the back of a pickup or trunk. However, it is important to note that the Winch2Go weighs 41 lbs. Clearly, not everyone is built to easily lift 41 lbs. One final highlight is that it’s a complete kit. You’ll find straps, safety gloves, shackles, and the 12″ sealed rocker switch handheld remote that makes this winch a pleasure to use.
- Includes 50′ of 3/16″ synthetic rope
- 4000lb capacity w/ 16000lb pulley block for loads up to 8000lbs
- Low amp draw
- Wired handheld remote control
- Onboard storage with included accessories
- 2-year limited warranty
- Heavier than other models
- The remote cord could be longer
- The box isn’t the most heavy-duty
#4) WARN 101575 Portable Drill Winch 750 lb
Coming in at #4 on my list is the best drill winch. While this little guy won’t pull an ATV out of the mud, it will conveniently haul firewood and just about anything else under 750 lbs. Plus, there’s the option to boost capacity with the addition of a snatch block. First, there are two models available. I prefer model 101575 that includes 40′ of high-quality synthetic rope. Your second option is the more affordable model 101570 that includes 40′ of steel rope.
Regarding power, this winch is compatible with any standard portable drill. So, if you already own a good power drill with multiple batteries, you might find that this drill winch is better for you than the cordless PullzAll winch. Next, I really like the free-spool clutch that’s not offered on PullzAll models. With this option, you’ll find that it’s a lot quicker to hook up your load.
Additional highlights include the built-in load limiter that automatically disconnects the drive from the winch when loads hit 750 lbs, variable speed control, and the audible alert that tells the operator when the winch is approaching full capacity. In tandem, the audible alert and load limiter help to prevent the failure of the tool.
- Compatible with all standard portable drills
- No reliance on Warn batteries or electricity
- Free-spool clutch
- Variable speed
- Load limiter and audible alert when approaching full capacity
- Includes 40′ of synthetic rope
- Lightweight at 11.82 lbs
- 1-year limited warranty
- The lowest capacity in this guide
- Performance suffers as it approaches full capacity
#5) Master Lock 2953AT 12V Portable Winch
My final pick is the best budget portable winch. While not the most sophisticated of portable winches, this Master Lock winch does get the job done. First, it’s important to note that this winch pulls only. As a result, reverse movements must be done manually. Beyond that shortcoming, this affordable winch does give you up to 2,000 lbs of pulling power in a very compact package.
Weighing in at 25.4 lbs and measuring 14″ x 12″ x 10″ (LxWxH), it’s ready to go with you anywhere. Next, the base package includes a 30′ steel rope, steel mounting plate, remote control, and a 20′ power cable. Plus, it comes with a hand crank. As for uses, Master Lock recommends it for automotive, marine, and trailer uses first.
Several final considerations are its compatibility with all ball-mount hitches, it’s rated for boats up to 18ft, it comes backed by a 1-year limited warranty, and there’s an auto shut-off feature when the winch is overloaded. All in all, this is a good budget alternative to pricier Warn, Honda, and Superwinch portable winches, and it packs a decent punch.
- Most affordable at the time of this writing
- 2000lb pulling capacity
- Remote control
- Includes 30′ of steel cable
- Compatible with ball-hitch mounts and boats up to 18′
- Enough power to pull vehicles out of the snow
- Light at 25.4 lbs
- 1-year warranty
- Reverse movement is done manually
- The power cord might be too short
In terms of portability, the best portable winch is either cordless or gas-powered. Portable electric winches rely on an outlet or a vehicle battery to function, yet they’re usually more affordable than cordless and gas-powered models. Plus, backup batteries for cordless winches certainly aren’t cheap. You’ll find that a decent budget portable winch can cost less than a single backup battery.
Additionally, drill winches are worth a look if your loads aren’t too heavy. Drill winches are affordable, convenient, and easy to use. Plus, if you already have a good drill with some backup batteries, you’ll be good to go. In conclusion, the most important thing is to match your planned uses & load weights to the winch, and you’ll get the most bang for your buck.