Welcome to my definitive guide to choosing the best truck winch. In this guide, you’ll find the top options for midsize pickups, 1 ton, full-size pickups, SUVs, and larger diesel trucks. Additionally, it’s important to factor in the cab style. For instance, a Ford SuperCrew truck weighs a lot more than a regular cab truck. Once you know the curb weight of your truck, then it’s time to match that weight to a winch.
The rule of thumb when choosing a truck winch is to aim for 1.5X capacity. To get this number, you take the weight of your truck and multiply it by 1.5. However, this number is not set in stone. Personally, I prefer to get closer to 2X because then I know for sure that I’ll have enough power for just about any job. Plus, you never know how much you’ll be hauling in your truck if/when you get stuck. Also, as a fallback, there’s always the option to boost winch capacity with the help of a snatch block.
Once you calculate your capacity, it’s time to check compatibility with your truck. Most of the best winch brands are compatible with all major pickup truck brands. To name a few, Ford, GMC, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Jeep are all compatible. Plus, you always have the option to pick up a mounting kit, custom bumper, or mounting plate to match your truck.
Beyond those considerations, your preferences are the next most important thing.
Best Truck Winch Reviews
As mentioned above, it’s advisable to aim for a winch capacity of 1.5 to 2X the weight of your vehicle. For midsize trucks, 9500lb capacity is good, while full-size pickups should consider good 1200lb winches or more. For larger trucks, there are winches in this guide with up to a 17500lb capacity.
#1) Warn 95960 Zeon 12-S Platinum
If you’re ready to go all-in on the most premium winch, Warn’s Zeon Platinum series is the absolute best truck winch on the market. Currently, it’s available in both 10,000lb and 12,000lb capacities with options to choose between steel and synthetic rope. Personally, model 12-S is my favorite model for pickup trucks. The “S” in the model number stands for synthetic and the “12” is 12,000lb capacity.
What makes this winch special? Well, for starters, this is one of the most technologically advanced winches on the market. However, that doesn’t mean it lacks in the mechanical department because it shines there as well. Boasting 33% faster line speed than the Zeon model, the newly improved high-speed motor and gear train is the real deal. Next, the Zeon Platinum sports Warn’s premium cone brake for improved efficiency and reduced friction.
A couple of final key highlights are the Advanced Wireless Remote (AWR) and fully waterproof IP68 rating. To clarify, the remote takes user control of winches to the highest level. You have control over the winch, clutch, and up to two 12V accessories. Additionally, you’re able to easily monitor the winch’s motor temp and your vehicle’s battery. Finally, the Zeon Platinum comes backed by Warn’s longest warranty on electrical components.
- Wireless remote with easy-to-read display
- Includes 80′ of premium Spydura Pro synthetic rope
- IP68 waterproof rating
- Faster line speeds than the Zeon winch
- Cone brake system
- Available in 10,000lb and 12,000lb
- Lifetime warranty on mechanical parts and 7-year on electrical
- High upfront cost
- Wireless remote battery life
- Included rope could be longer
#2) Smittybilt 98512 X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch
Now for one of the most versatile winches on the market by one of the best truck winch brands, Smittybilt. Currently, the X2O is available in various capacities, ranging from 10,000 lbs all the way up to 17,500 lbs. So, you’ll have no trouble matching your pickup to one of the winches in the X2O series. Also, it’s important to note that only the 10,000lb and 12,000lb models currently offer synthetic rope options.
First, the advantage of choosing this winch is the big jump down in price compared to the Zeon Platinum. At the time of this writing, it costs less than half. Second, despite the lower price, the X2O does come with a wireless remote and a longer synthetic rope than the Zeon Platinum of 98.5′. Regarding mechanical specs, the X2O sports a 6.6 HP amphibious series-wound motor, a 3-stage planetary gear system, and a dynamic braking system.
Next, the X2O winch matches the Zeon Platinum with an IP68 waterproof rating. Plus, it also comes backed by a lifetime warranty on mechanical elements and a shorter but competitive 5-year warranty on electrical. All in all, if some of the features on the Zeon Platinum didn’t wow you, then Smittybilt’s X2O gives you more bang for your buck.
- Available in 10,000lb up to 17,5000lb capacities
- 98.5′ of synthetic rope included with model 98512
- Wireless remote
- IP68 waterproof rating
- Powerful 6.6 HP amphibious motor
- More affordable than Warn Zeon winches (at the time of this writing)
- Lifetime warranty on mechanical and 5-year on electrical
- Included mounting hardware quality
- Wireless remote range might feel limited
#3) X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch
My top budget truck winch pick goes to X-BULL. Certainly, this model is not intended to break the bank, yet it does do one thing great, and that thing is to get the job done. Currently, there are two capacities available: 10,000lb and 13,000lb. You’ll notice that the 10,000lb model is red while the 13,000lb model is orange. Both models feature synthetic rope, though, the red version comes with 78′ and the orange version is 80′.
Regarding power, the 13,000lb model features a 6.0 HP series wound motor with upgraded forged gearing over the previous version that used stamped steel. Plus, it features the usual 3-stage planetary gear system found on winches. As for controls, this truck winch gives you the option of using the remote wirelessly or wired.
A couple of final features/specs to consider are the IP67 waterproof rating, free-spooling clutch, and 7 fpm line speed at full capacity (25.3 fpm at 0). Lastly, X-BULL winches come backed with a shorter 1-year limited warranty when compared to Warn, Smittybilt, and Superwinch. However, considering the significantly lower upfront cost compared to premium brands, you might be okay with that tradeoff.
- My favorite budget alternative to Warn and Smittybilt truck winches
- 10,000lb and 13,000lb capacities available
- 80′ of synthetic rope included with 13K model
- IP67 waterproof rating
- Wireless/wired remote
- 1-year limited warranty
- No mounting plate included
#4) WARN 103253 VR EVO 10-S
A more affordable alternative to the premium Zeon Platinum series truck winches is the VR EVO series. Model 10-S is perfect for 1/2 ton trucks, large SUVs, and Jeep Wranglers. Additionally, there are 8-S and 12-S models with the 8-S being 8,000lb capacity and the 12-S being 12,000lb capacity. Each model includes synthetic rope, and the models without the “S” include steel rope.
Regarding compatibility, the VR EVO series is compatible with all the most popular pickup truck models, including Ford F-Series, Chevy Silverado, Dodge Ram, GMC Sierra, and Toyota Tacoma. In other words, you should have no problem installing this winch. Looking beyond compatibility, the VR EVO is no slouch in the mechanical department either.
While Warn does not publish motor horsepower, it does list the line speed of 5.2 fpm at the full 10,000lb capacity. Additionally, the 10-S has a relatively low amp draw of 358 amps at full capacity. A handful of final considerations are the IP68 waterproof rating, 2-in-1 remote with a wireless option, the premium Albright contactor, and it includes 90′ of 3/8″ synthetic rope.
- 8000lb, 10000lb, and 12000lb versions all with synthetic rope
- Affordable alternative to Zeon models
- 2-in-1 remote control w/ wireless option
- IP68 waterproof rating
- Low amp draw
- 90′ of synthetic rope included
- Made in the USA and backed by a lifetime warranty (7-year on electrical)
- Included negative cable might be too short
- Slower line speed than other Warn models
#5) MotoAlliance Viper 12,000lb Recovery Truck Winch
Another great budget alternative to pricey truck winches is MotoAlliance’s Viper. First, this is a good winch for 1-ton trucks, and according to MotoAlliance, it’s built with military-grade materials in an ISO-certified facility overseas. However, the company itself is headquartered in the USA and has been around for close to two decades.
All in all, this is a brand you might not have heard people talking about since it’s not Warn. Personally, I’m a fan of this brand when taking the budget route. This particular model comes with 85′ of synthetic rope, it’s IP67 waterproof rated, and it even comes with a wireless remote. As for the motor, it’s 5.5 HP, and the line speeds are competitive for a budget truck winch.
At full capacity (12,000 lbs), the line speed is 4.4 fpm and 21.3 fpm at 0 lbs. Comparatively, one reason you might want to choose the Viper truck winch over X-Bull’s is the better warranty offered by MotoAlliance. MotoAlliance offers a limited lifetime warranty on the winch plus a 6-month warranty on the rope, while X-Bull’s warranty is just 1-year.
- Good value for the money
- IP67 waterproof rating
- Includes wireless and wired remotes
- Fast line speeds for a budget truck winch
- 85′ of synthetic rope
- Limited lifetime warranty on the winch
- Limited wireless remote range
- Made in China
In conclusion, the best truck winch is the one that matches your needs and budget. For instance, if you rarely use your winch, choosing the Zeon Platinum most likely gives you more tool than you need. Although, in the same breath, you don’t want a winch that fails you when it does come time to use it. For this reason, choosing a reliable Smittybilt or mid-range Warn winch such as the VR EVO is a good choice.
Finally, if you’re on a tighter budget or not fond of Warn or Smittybilt winches, then X-Bull and MotoAlliance do manufacture budget truck winches that get the job done. The biggest drawback to the budget route is the higher likelihood of quality control issues, so it can be more of a luck-of-the-draw experience than sticking with the best truck winch brands.