Electric Winch. Are they necessary for overlanding/touring?

  • Hi Guest, you may choose a LIGHT or DARK theme that works best for you with the "Style Chooser" button at the bottom left on this page!
  • HTML tutorial

Lindenwood

Rank V
Member

Advocate II

2,522
New Mexico
First Name
Jay
Last Name
M
Member #

2636

Here is the one time I ever "needed" my winch, and it was definitely from a "hey skeeter, water this" moment. I was alone, but quite confident I could get myself out given I had the winch, traction boards, and a very complete winching setup for my hi-lift. Having the winch admittedly saved me about 10 minutes of hard labor over the hi-lift.

20180923_085135-800x600.jpg

Of course, that doesn't account for the 30 minutes I later spent at home spooling out and washing / respooling the winch line :P .

As far as fallen trees go, while I have used a winch on them before, I now prefer to simply use a kinetic strap to incrementally tug one end out of the way. Granted, this was in Florida--if I was facing 12"-diameter fallen trees every 1/4 mile in the PNW, I might value the tool more for that purpose.
 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV
Here is the one time I ever "needed" my winch, and it was definitely from a "hey skeeter, water this" moment. I was alone, but quite confident I could get myself out given I had the winch, traction boards, and a very complete winching setup for my hi-lift. Having the winch admittedly saved me about 10 minutes of hard labor over the hi-lift.

View attachment 186537

Of course, that doesn't account for the 30 minutes I later spent at home spooling out and washing / respooling the winch line :P .

As far as fallen trees go, while I have used a winch on them before, I now prefer to simply use a kinetic strap to incrementally tug one end out of the way. Granted, this was in Florida--if I was facing 12"-diameter fallen trees every 1/4 mile in the PNW, I might value the tool more for that purpose.
I wish our treeswere12” in diameter. lol
This is a small one at 20” @ the stump.

1A5F3349-692A-4CEF-839B-FD80CF9ACCB3.jpeg
 

M Rose

US Northwest Region Director
Benefactor
Member

Pathfinder II

4,861
La Grande, Oregon, USA
First Name
Michael
Last Name
Rose
Member #

20990

Ham Callsign
KJ7MFV

Billiebob

Rank V
Member

Traveler II

2,365
earth
First Name
Bill
Last Name
William
Member #

18893

Given the choice of going forward 200 feet or going backward 150 miles, which would you choose?
hopefully you have a winch plus an extra 100' of rope, in your case a winch is obviously a neccessity
 

Billiebob

Rank V
Member

Traveler II

2,365
earth
First Name
Bill
Last Name
William
Member #

18893

Like a flooded creek or river in a valley? Or the mud bog that is left in the floods aftermath?

There are lots of obstacles you can't effectively navigate around. Having a winch dramatically reduces the quantity of those things.
ok I am confused
first you say no to a winch
now you say yes..... ????
 

leeloo

Rank IV
Member

Enthusiast III

1,003
Luxembourg
First Name
Mihai
Last Name
Doros
Member #

19403

How would you remove a downed tree in your path 40 miles down a trail or some other scenario where releasing tension to reset the farm jack isn't an option? To tap what most would consider 'overlanding' in the mainstream, do you consider the Expedition Overland crew overlanders or wheelers? I'd argue the season clearing wooded trails would not be possible without the help of a winch or going around.

Seeking the path less taken means you sometimes need to re-hash that path yourself. Going around is an option but so is flying and taking the interstate. If this site is so about seeking adventure, then I'd argue for a 4x4 out in the wild, a winch is an invaluable tool that allows you to see places nobody has seen in years.
As I said before. Many people like cutting trees down. I do not. If you think for a moment that in my 24 days of holiday per year I look for a trail where there are some trees to be cut...you are mistaken. But that is me.
Some people like it. It is fine. Each to his own.
Also you have to remember, it always depends on the situation and location. You are in US, maybe huge fallen trees are big problem there, I don't know, I never been there. Where I have been there are not such a big deal. I did encounter some fallen trees a couple of times but I always found a way around them. Maybe I had a to take a 20 km detour. It is fine, I will take any day a 20 km detour of slow driving, admiring the nature while sipping a coffee in my AC cabin than sweeting my ass of with chainsaws and winches.
Water crossing -- well lets say you have a winch, snorkel, diff breathers - all the goodies. I would still try to avoid a big water crossing because they have a lot more effects on the vehicle. Some have a weak spot someplace(low alternator for example ) , all will suffer from silt getting in to the fins of the cooling radiators and so on..there is a big list with the effects of water on vehicles. Do enough of them and you are bound to have issues down the road. Might not be a problem for someone who can do mechanical work on his car , with an older vehicle where the parts are cheap, but that is not the case for all. Or imagine you do a big trip across many countries. It will not be easy to find replacement parts maybe, or good mechanics, some many days of waiting might be involved.
Like with anything else related to overlanding there is no 1 thing fits all solution.
Also there are many situations where a winch will not help. So if you think a winch will get you out of any spot think again. If you have a winch you still need all the other recovery gear. If I new that having a winch will solve all my problems and I would no longer have to carry a shovel, maxtrax boards, ropes, some kind of jacks, either Hi LIFt or one of those air jacks and so on, situation would be different.. But even if you have an winch, you still need to carry all the other crap as well..


I did get stuck a few times. Took some work to get ou, some shoveling, moving stones, using maxtrax, one time it took me 30 min to do 200m . Did not happen often enough to justify the cost, hassle and the extra weight of a winch for me. There might come a day where I will do a trip where a winch is must. When that day comes, I will get one.
So far I am doing fine.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Lindenwood

LostWoods

Rank III
Member

Enthusiast III

646
Phoenix, AZ, USA
First Name
Andrew
Last Name
.
Member #

12360

As I said before. Many people like cutting trees down. I do not. If you think for a moment that in my 24 days of holiday per year I look for a trail where there are some trees to be cut...you are mistaken. But that is me.
Some people like it. It is fine. Each to his own.
Also you have to remember, it always depends on the situation and location. You are in US, maybe huge fallen trees are big problem there, I don't know, I never been there. Where I have been there are not such a big deal. I did encounter some fallen trees a couple of times but I always found a way around them. Maybe I had a to take a 20 km detour. It is fine, I will take any day a 20 km detour of slow driving, admiring the nature while sipping a coffee in my AC cabin than sweeting my ass of with chainsaws and winches.
Water crossing -- well lets say you have a winch, snorkel, diff breathers - all the goodies. I would still try to avoid a big water crossing because they have a lot more effects on the vehicle. Some have a weak spot someplace(low alternator for example ) , all will suffer from silt getting in to the fins of the cooling radiators and so on..there is a big list with the effects of water on vehicles. Do enough of them and you are bound to have issues down the road. Might not be a problem for someone who can do mechanical work on his car , with an older vehicle where the parts are cheap, but that is not the case for all. Or imagine you do a big trip across many countries. It will not be easy to find replacement parts maybe, or good mechanics, some many days of waiting might be involved.
Like with anything else related to overlanding there is no 1 thing fits all solution.
Also there are many situations where a winch will not help. So if you think a winch will get you out of any spot think again. If you have a winch you still need all the other recovery gear. If I new that having a winch will solve all my problems and I would no longer have to carry a shovel, maxtrax boards, ropes, some kind of jacks, either Hi LIFt or one of those air jacks and so on, situation would be different.. But even if you have an winch, you still need to carry all the other crap as well..


I did get stuck a few times. Took some work to get ou, some shoveling, moving stones, using maxtrax, one time it took me 30 min to do 200m . Did not happen often enough to justify the cost, hassle and the extra weight of a winch for me. There might come a day where I will do a trip where a winch is must. When that day comes, I will get one.
So far I am doing fine.
I don't mean chopping down trees... the only trees that I or my groups have cut down were severely rotting and at risk of falling into a campsite and generally speaking, cutting down trees in the US is a huge no-no unless you have a permit or it's your own property. I'm talking trees that storms and erosion have knocked down that happen more often than you think on backcountry trails.

The main issue is that a winch maintains tension along its entire pull while a farm jack gives you 1.5m and you have to reset. When moving those trees, I don't really think we could safely reset without two jacks and a bunch of rigging to prevent the tree from rocking back. Could we do without? I guess, yeah, but the winch is still absolutely the right tool to have in a lot of fairly common situations. It's like saying a wrench can pound in a nail so why would you carry a hammer?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Ubiety

MazeVX

Rank V
Member

Pathfinder I

2,484
Gießen Germany
First Name
Mathias
Last Name
Kreicker
Member #

8002

Do you run one? No.
Is it needed? No.
Or is it more an insurance policy. Yes.

Thoughts please....

Think twice before you run into an obstacle, familiarize with the area you're going. How's the weather? What is are your preferred type of trail.
For me a winch would be useless weight at the second worst possible position. I run stock bumpers because they are ok and I never needed more, I run 33" tires with a small lift and that got me were I wanted to go and never got close to need a winch.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Steve_ohhhhh

ThundahBeagle

Rank III

Enthusiast III

792
Massachusetts
First Name
Andrew
Last Name
Beagle
Member #

0

For me it's the weight on the nose as well. Absolutely the worst spot to add weight to a truck with no camper.

You have to be really careful. If you do all of the broverlander mods, you won't have any GVWR left to carry girls in bikinis.
Because, priorities! So, only do HALF of those broverlander mods. Leave plenty of room
 
  • Like
Reactions: MidOH

Ubiety

NorthWest Region Member Rep Seattle WA
Member
Supporter

Educator I

5,048
Sammamish, Washington, USA
First Name
Greg
Last Name
E
Member #

6193

As I said before. Many people like cutting trees down. I do not. If you think for a moment that in my 24 days of holiday per year I look for a trail where there are some trees to be cut...you are mistaken. But that is me.
The work shown in above videos was done on behalf of the governmental agency that manages this particular area. That was a very fun day; built camaraderie, cemented friendships, extremely educational (for me anyway) and we accomplished something. Good times!

Also you have to remember, it always depends on the situation and location.
So true!

You are in US, maybe huge fallen trees are big problem there, I don't know, I never been there. Where I have been there are not such a big deal. I did encounter some fallen trees a couple of times but I always found a way around them. Maybe I had a to take a 20 km detour. It is fine, I will take any day a 20 km detour of slow driving, admiring the nature while sipping a coffee in my AC cabin than sweeting my ass of with chainsaws and winches.
Only true for some parts of the states; not so much in the deserts or mid states but certainly in the mountainous regions. Detours are not always an option for us; sometimes its go through or go back.
 
Last edited:

uncompromise

Rank II
Member
OB1

Traveler I

327
Siran, Hérault, France
First Name
Cameron
Last Name
Burgess
Member #

29202

Ok folks.... let's talk about Winches. Primarily for overlanding/touring.

Do you run one?

Is it needed? Or is it more an insurance policy.

Thoughts please....
We don’t run one, but we don‘t consider with the driving we’re currently doing that we need one. If we were going to get more off the beaten track, or into more remote and inhospitable places than we currently do, we would invest in one for the peace of mind of knowing we could self recover. I currently live in the south of France. When I lived in Australia I had a landcruiser troopy that I drove all over the outback. No winch. Survived. But I knew the terrain, I studiously avoided notorious trails, and I never encountered an obstacle that I couldn’t find a way around or through before I got snarled up in it. Were I to do it again, I would probably take a winch for peace of mind (that was 30 years ago, and i’m not as strong as I once was).

It’s worth noting that a lot of the feedback I‘ve read doesn’t actually answer your question. There is constant conflation between “overlanding” and “four wheel driving”. They can be mutually exclusive activities and should not be confused.

From @Michael (OB founder):
Overlanding is: "Vehicle Dependent Travel". Nothing else. We will not further define "overlanding".

I recommend watching this short video from Dan Grec who drove from Alaska to Argentina without a winch. That doesn‘t mean you don’t or won’t need one for your type of driving, but it’s worth taking feedback from someone who’s travelled extensively, in some of the more remote and inhospitable parts of the world. He notes in this video that when he was preparing for his three year expedition around Africa that he did install a winch, due to a number of factors he outlines, including different terrain, more technical trails, and more remote stretches of driving.
 

Alanymarce

Rank III

Enthusiast III

792
Colombia
If I recall correctly, in one of Dan's later videos he shows how/why he did need the winch on a short excursion to find a campsite (off the Alaska Highway I think). Perhaps key is the ability to judge whether or not to take a particular track, with the decision influenced by possession of a winch (or not).

Good point about "overlanding" and "four wheel driving" - there's an overlap but, as noted, you can do either without entering the domain of the other.

Of all of the 4x4 vehicles we've owned (11) only 2 have had winches, including our current vehicle. I've used winches rarely, and in the current vehicle not once, however it's a contingency we want to have available (and we rather foolishly needed it and had left the control unit at home on one occasion recently when we decided to have a lunch break at a viewpoint we had used previously, half way home from the "coffee country" and found that access (and egress...) in the rainy season was far more difficult than at other times of the year!).
 

MidOH

Rank IV

Off-Road Ranger I

1,298
Mid Ohio
First Name
John
Last Name
Clark
Ham Callsign
YourHighness
I have to have some way to get out. Right now it just isn't an electric winch. If I get a camper, and or start putting coolers and fridges in my back seat area, then I'll have to get a bumper mounted winch most likely.

As for the trees, they've fallen on my trail blocking my exit plenty of times. I carry a chainsaw now. Same reason I have use MT's on simple park roads. One good rainfall, and that road is gone.
 
  • Like
Reactions: grubworm and MazeVX

4x4tripping

Rank 0

Contributor III

116
Switzerland
First Name
Heinz
Last Name
Treben




Maybe you d`like to know what I think about, after doing trips like a transafrika.

I did travel over 110`000km (68`400 miles) in the last 9 years, did live over one year in my vehicle.

Here is my full list of offroad modifications I wouldnt do again if I had to rebuild my travel vehicle:

The article is in german language, but there is a translate button to the right:


I did always add the reason, why I would do or wouldnt do it again.

We all who are travelling extended, are fighting the weight of our rig. The winch adds a lot... Here some suggestions who can help


4x4tripping
 
Last edited:

MarioT'sCJResto

Rank IV
Member
Supporter

Traveler II

1,316
12157
First Name
Christopher
Last Name
Laboy
Member #

22985

Ok folks.... let's talk about Winches. Primarily for overlanding/touring.

Do you run one?

Is it needed? Or is it more an insurance policy.

Thoughts please....
I run the Smittybilt 12k Synthetic Winch on my Ram, and I have plans on adding a 9 to 10k for my CJ.

Now just setback, break out the popcorn and watch EFRT S5*EP24 - Stranded for 3 days in the Mountains.