Trailer Hitch Mounted Winch Reviews


The prospect of braving the untamed and treacherous topographies (e.g. Alpine Loop Trail of Colorado) always evokes an irresistible lure for the intrepid off-road drivers. If you have an awesome four-wheel drive and a complete outdoor gear, what could possibly go wrong? Mother Nature may beg to differ in her own articulate way.

At best, you may find yourself stuck in the mud, sand, slush and/or snow. However, you can fix that problem using three of the six special tools strongly recommended by experts: a set of under-wheel traction bed (e.g. Maxtrax), snatch straps, and a hitch mount winch.

By analogy, think of a stuck vehicle as a huge bass snared by the fishhook; with the winch as an angler’s rod and whatever immovable object tying the end of winch’s cable as the fisherman’s tense grip. The rotation of the winch, in concert with the tensile strength of the snatch straps and the stable artificial ground provided by the under-wheel traction bed, facilitates the movement of the vehicle away from the jam.

Factors for Choosing Your Winch

Selecting an ideal motor winch requires more than just a simple balance between quality and price. Considering its life-saving potential, a prudent investment spares no expense in terms of acquiring the best performance. Since quality generally supersedes economy, check out the following measurable factors keenly highlighted by many online hitch mounted winch reviews:

Weight Capacity

One of the first things to consider when selecting a good winch is how much weight it can pull at a functional maximum tension. In essence, your winch must be capable of pulling at least 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle. Ideally, the winch’s weight capacity is largely determined by the tensile strength of the cable and the amount of force generated by the gear’s power source.

Cable Type, Length & Speed

As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to estimate the cable’s capacity to sustain pressure. There are two cable types you can choose from – steel or synthetic. Steel is popular for its durability yet often rated as more prone to severe trauma when it reaches its breaking point. Synthetic, on the other hand, is comparatively longer, handier to replace and safer to control when it eventually snaps.

Speaking of length, you can tell that your cable has a good reach if it extends an extra 50 feet over the 100 feet on the spool. As for the speed, just take note of the average 2 to 4 feet per minute under load. A product that can generate a higher FPM whenever it is pulling its maximum weight capacity is definitely a fast winch.

Motor Performance

Winch motors require power and the most widely distributed variety in the market are being run by batteries. After all, they are nearly ten times cheaper and comparatively easier to maintain than the retrograde hydraulic system. In this particular regard, your practical choice often comes down to how much horsepower it can generate. You’d be able to recognize a powerful motor if it can generate more than 4.0 HP   

Top 5 Hitch Mounted Winches

You can pretty much make your own list based on models featured by several prevalent hitch mounted winch reviews. However, the choices being featured in this article are pretty much top-rate in several categories, particularly in terms of motor performance. Take note of the following brands for reference:

Smittybilt XRC

  • Weight capacity: 9,500 lbs
  • Motor performance: 6.6 HP

This winch proves to be an excellent choice for anyone who owns an SUV or a pickup truck, considering that both vehicles weigh an average base curb weight of around 6,000 lbs. For one thing, the Smittybilt XRC’s runs in an amphibious motor and three-stage planetary gears. There’s so much to love about this winch being impervious to water intrusion – reminiscent of the highly reliable and damp-proof hydraulic winch.

Several consumers complained about the winch’s tendency to malfunction. Fortunately, the comprehensive warranty system enables you to lobby for several replacements. The stainless steel components entail a lifetime service contract and the powder-coated parts subject to a 5-year or 100,000-mile assurance.


  • Superb motor
  • Great warranty


  • Poor performance

Superwinch LP8500

  • Weight capacity: 8,500 lbs
  • Motor performance: 4.5 HP

If you prefer a model that evenly balances quality and price, the Superwinch LP8500 can be your ideal candidate. When pulling an average pickup truck curb weight (6,500 lbs), this winch produces an FPM (feet per minute) exceeding the baseline cable speed. This, on top of the comparatively minimal engine horsepower, makes it a safe and power-efficient machine.

The other special features include a 15-feet long remote control cable, a relatively noiseless three-stage planetary gearbox, and a lever-action free-spooling for faster cable deployment. Understandably because of the guaranteed performance, this item only has 2 years of limited service contract.


  • Excellent performance
  • Bargain retail value


  • Unimpressive warranty

Warm VR12000

  • Weight capacity: 12,000 lbs
  • Motor performance: 5.0 HP

One of the key advantages of purchasing this hitch mount winch is its superb pull rate. What is even more impressive is the fact that the 12,000-lb maximum weight capacity is being towed by a 100-feet synthetic cable. Flimsy, handy (easy to spool and unspool), and injury-proof; the cable alone makes Warn VR12000 a great value.

Apart from the pull rate, the low-profile design makes this item a perfect fit for almost any type of off-country four-wheel drive. It also comes with the nifty removable control pack that enables you to virtually operate the winch anywhere in your vehicle. All of these advantages for almost thrice the average retail cost (for better or worse).   


  • Superb cable rate
  • Built for versatility


  • Very expensive

Yescom 12V Recover

  • Weight capacity: 12,000 lbs
  • Motor performance: 6.6 HP

Just like the Superwinch LP8500, this model also comes with an impressive list of items that go with the entire product merchandise. However, one could argue that Yescom 12V Recover just has a trendier set – particularly the unique wireless remote control. On top of that, this model is one of the fastest pulling machines in the market – with more than 7 FPM for its full weight capacity.

Another interesting advantage of buying this model is that it is marginally cheaper than the other previously mentioned items. Despite the added protective casing for the connector, this item still falls short in the consumer ratings. One of the most prevalent complaints is the integrity of the relay box and the undersized wiring. 


  • Cool gear package
  • Comparatively cheaper


  • Poor electrical grid

Rough Country Pro9500

  • Weight capacity: 9,500 lbs
  • Motor performance: 5.5 HP

If you prefer a winch that is easy to assemble and reasonably priced, choosing this modest brand is not a bad idea. The Rough Country Pro9500 has a decent weight capacity and sound motor strength. Compared to the previously mentioned models, this one has the highest gear ratio – which means you can expect a lot of pulling power from this machine.

In most cases, negative consumer feedback often generally focuses on its malfunctions. Considering that this model is manufactured by a Chinese company, poor material quality often becomes a pervading stereotype. But you’ll be surprised to know that Rough Country has built a reputation for freely issuing refunds or full or partial replacement for no charge on accounts of a real valid product complaint.


  • Easy installation
  • Good customer service


  • Subpar performance

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