I was 17 when I bought my first 4-wheeler– a ’73 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ40. It only had 56K miles on it– all highway– and I taught myself to drive a shift when I drove that beauty home from the seller’s house (killed it at every light). My buddy and I tooled it all over Utah that summer, ’til I finally rolled it at Arches Natl. Park and had to drive it (with a crushed body and intact engine) to a body shop where it rehabilitated for the next month. I loved that ‘Cruiser, and rue the day I got it in my head to sell it. The other thing I regret was never having gotten a winch. We got stuck a few times, and hadn’t it been for the kindness of strangers, we’d still be there.
Now that I’m older and wiser (mostly from getting my fingers burned a lot), I know that a winch is the first thing you want to get your 4-wheeler– long before any of the other jeep bling you’ve got in mind. For a modest investment, it’ll save your bacon from places where other dogs won’t hunt, and pay for itself over and over again.
The first question to address would be, what weight capacity winch should you get? It’s said the rule of thumb is, you take the gross weight of your vehicle, add in the modded bumpers, suspension, tires, etc., and times that number by 1.5. So, for example, if your total weight comes out to be 5,000 lb., the winch should have a (x 1.5 =) 7,500 lb. capacity. If you try to go lower– ’cause, say, a 3,000 lb. winch is on sale– you run the risk of disaster in a ravine. If you go a lot more, like 12,000 lb., you’ll be OK, but it’s kind of overkill– unless, of course, you want to be able to help heavy metal in distress. In that case, my brother, go for it and there will be blessings in store for you in Off-Road Heaven.
Harbor Freight’s Badland winches are legendary pullers– in the dirt, mud, snow, rocks, etc– and are consistently thrown high praise in four-wheeler forums, magazines and customer reviews. I was getting ready to write this article when I came across the story of Annabel, a late-40’s CJ2A that got stuck in the rocks while trying to back down a steep, rocky dugway. The owner, Carl, had taken Annabel up the hill, but then decided he wanted to get it on video, so he backed her back down. He ran into a rock and dirt wall, the driver’s side rear tire went flat, and he was wedged there– he couldn’t go up or down. As luck would have it, he had a Badlands 5,000 lb. winch:
As Carl later posted:
“I am a firm believer in my 5000 lb winch. It has twice pulled me out of a steep sandy bank by it’s self besides this dugway. That’s three hard pulls with the winch doing the pulling for at least the length of the Jeep each time. None of these were easy pulls but once the winch got the Jeep moving it lightened up on the load.”
Badlands off-road electric winches are rugged, dependable and give some of the biggest bangs for the buck. Check out these models:
“Works great, have used this winch for almost a year now. Installed it on my Yamaha Rhino and use it to pull trees down and once because I got stuck in a swamp. Now I use it to lift and lower my snow plow….for the money I’d highly recommend (it).” Fletch – Green Bay, WI
A popular choice among owners of small Wrangler-size four-wheelers, boat owners and race car drivers looking for something to pull the racers off their trailers. Never get stuck in a tight spot with this off-road electric winch. Great for pulling out a stuck vehicle up to 6,000 lbs. The winch features a three-stage planetary gear system for a fast line speed, a series wound motor that stays cool during longer winch pulls and an automatic load-holding brake for maximum safety. Made of aircraft grade wire rope, this electric winch will pull up to 6,000 lbs to get you over rough terrain, recover your vehicle or even load your boat!
“I have a 6000 on my Samuri and was able to pull a full size ford truck out that was sunk to the doors this has been a great investment has never left me high or dry.” Lil K – UT
The awesome “go-to” choice for pretty much all off-roaders, rock-crawlers, mud-boggers and sand-suckers. Get over and through the tough terrain with this musclebound electric winch. With a 9000 lb. towing capacity and an automatic load-holding brake for safety, this electric winch is excellent for the 4-wheeling novice and expert alike. A 12-foot lead remote switch makes this winch easy to use even when you’re traveling alone. And the testimonies say it all:
“I honestly believe that my push bars and frame of the truck would rip apart before the winch gave out. LOL. Pulled my 5000-lb truck UP a 40 degree incline, with brakes locked and a bed full of firewood. I say it will do anything I would EVER need it to do… Very happy with my 9000. Now the 12,000-lb winch, and using a double line, is used for what? Bulldozers?” 1997 Silverado 350 Extended Cab – Concord, NC
“Searched a lot of places for a winch before buying this one. I put it on my ’78 Ford F-250 “highboy” with 39-inch boggers. I have pulled out multiple vehicles stuck in the mud, and even a tree from out of the creek that a 3020 John Deere tractor could not. Couldn’t be happier, in fact i just bought a second one.” TheWiseGuy – Gallipolis, OH
When heading out with the buds for an off-road excursion, the wise man will gear up according to the credo, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” That said, the Badlands 12000-lb. electric winch brings a whole new meaning to, “If ye are prepared, ye need not fear.” This is the Godzilla of the bunch, the one that can take on most any mishap and chore thrown at it. Rescue a vehicle, haul timber or load a boat with this powerful winch. The series-wound motor stays cool while the 3-stage planetary gear system provides fast line speed. Featuring an automatic load-holding brake for safety, this electric winch is a must-have for ANY off-road adventure! Just ask the guys who know:
“Installed the night before an off-road trip, got the Jeep stuck going uphill with the engine not able to run and it pulled the Jeep uphill like it wasn’t even there. Fixed a loose wire on the distributor and the Jeep started like the battery had not bothered at all. Easy to install, I did it in less than an hour. Tough, reliable product. I would definitely recommend to a friend and buy again! No need to spend $1200 on a Warn for a weekend warrior toy with this winch around!” DocMicro – USA
“This winch is amazing… I pulled a car sideways– not forward or backward– but sideways, without my truck running to juice my battery, and it did it without a hiccup. Strong winch and def worth the money… If you’re looking for a winch, this is the one.” Toyota Mud Dog – The Plains, OH
So when you’re ready to put a winch on your 4x– or replace your old one– check out the rough, tough line of affordable Badlands winches at Harbor Freight. No doubt, they’ll make a believer out of you, too.