7 Best Winches for Jeep JL

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If you’re taking your Jeep JL to the asphalt highways and paved suburban roads, you don’t need a winch installed on your front bumper. But if you’re known to traverse off-roading courses fit with massive boulders and sprawling pits of mud, a winch is an absolute necessity on your Jeep JL. And when you invest in a winch, you want that’ll last and match your lifestyle perfectly.


The best winch for a Jeep JL is the WARN 103250 VR EVO 8 Electric 12V DC Winch. This winch can pull 8,000-12,000 lb (3628.7-5443.1 kg) and comes with the choice between synthetic or steel cables. You’ll also appreciate the many attributes of this model. 


You trust the Jeep brand whole-heartedly, which is why you might be a little nervous about buying aftermarket gear. So to make sure you end up with a winch that’ll save your fellow off-roaders from mud pits or help you climb yourself out of a stream, we’re going to review the seven best winches for the Jeep JL.

WARN 103250 VR EVO 8 Electric 12V DC Winch

Our number one choice for the best Jeep JL winch comes from WARN, a 4WD accessory powerhouse since the 1930s. What’s great about this 12V electric winch model is the options you have. Given a choice between synthetic or steel cables and a pulling capacity ranging between 8,000 (3628.7 kilograms) and 12,000 pounds (5443.1 kilograms), you can accurately purchase a winch that’ll fit your needs.


The first thing you’ll notice about this Jeep JL winch is just how user-friendly it can be. All it takes is a few bolts, a little hardwiring, and a half-hour of your time to get your winch up and running and ready to pull your Wrangler buddies out of danger at the trail. 


With 12,000 pounds (5443.1 kilograms) of brute strength and a lower amp draw, you can easily pull a 6,000-pound (2721.6 kilograms) Ford F-350 out of a ditch without draining your Jeep’s battery and needing jumper cables on-hand.


But what Jeep JL owners love about this electric winch is the convenience. The combination of the planetary gear train and motor ensures a quick line speed, so your winch can reel in the entire 90’ (27.43m) cable in just a few short minutes, making rescues efficient and less time-consuming. 


This winch model also comes with a two-in-one remote to control your winch from outside of your Jeep JL if you’re in an unsafe predicament, like at the bottom of steep inclines. This winch also boasts an IP68 waterproof rating to reasonably survive submersion up to 1.5m (4.9 ft) deep for half an hour. No longer do you have to take it easy in the creek or avoid heavy rains, just hit the trail.


  • Winch: Electric (12V)
  • Cable: Synthetic or steel (two options)
  • Rope Length: 90’ (27.43 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 8,000 lbs (3628.7 kgs), 10,000 lbs (4535.9 kgs), 12,000 lbs (5443.1 kgs) (three options)

Smittybilt X2O COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch

WARN is known for producing some high-end gear, particularly winches, but they tend to be extremely overpriced due to the name. So this winch from Smittybilt is a more affordable option that’ll give you the most bang for your buck without risking quality. And to prove it, this winch has a top-of-the-line 6.6 HP motor for 10,000 pounds (4535.9 kilograms) of pulling power and fast line speed.


What many Jeep off-roaders appreciate about this winch is its durability. First, this winch can handle just about any pulling capacity you throw at it, whether you’re wrapping a tow strap around a nearby tree to free yourself from the brush or rescuing your buddy’s Jeep Wrangler in the mud. 


This winch also boasts waterproof capabilities, UV-resistant finishes, stainless steel hardware, and a braking system to withstand high heats, adding to the 5-year life expectancy.


Though this winch is high-end and extremely durable, it also has another critical benefit: What you’re getting with your order. Not only do you gain the ability to mount the winch in one of two ways (whichever matches your set-up), you’re also getting a rope sleeve and remote control. 


These add-ons will protect your synthetic cable from fraying with each wrap/unwrap and protect it from Mother Nature while also giving you the chance to control the winch from 50’ (15.24 m) away.


All in all, this winch can handle whatever your next off-roading adventure involves. It’s waterproof enough to take submersion and stream crossings, reliable enough to come with a 5-year warranty on electric parts, durable enough to make everything look like “just a little mud,” and versatile enough to be mounted in two ways.


  • Winch: Electric
  • Cable: Synthetic
  • Rope Length: 98.5’ (30.02 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 10,000 lbs (4535.9 kgs)

WARN 96805 VR8-S Electric 12V Winch

When you’re heading to the less rigorous terrain or your Jeep JL is lightweight, you might prefer a more mild winch option like this one from WARN. Before we touch on what makes this winch such a great deal, we want to review another key concept quick: The warranties. If the electrical components break with normal use within seven years, it’ll be covered by WARN.


This electric winch is superior if you’re looking for a low-profile winch that’s also lightweight enough where it won’t slow your acceleration, so you can take those turns as fast as you want. 


The greatest feature of this winch is that the synthetic comes pre-wound around the drum. So you don’t have to spend an hour or more attaching the cable to the drum, winding it tightly, and starting over because you messed up the first time. Just install the winch and hit the trails.


The feature you’ll enjoy most about this WARN winch is the thought that went into the design. This winch’s construction boasts an Albright contactor for reliable and consistent control and power behind your pulls and an insanely durable cone brake system to prevent your Jeep JL from falling back into the rivets when you pause mid-pull. There’s also a single-piece brace plate for greater durability and fewer structural mishaps.


To make sure that your winch lasts for years without issue, WARN added a few extra features worth mentioning. On top of looking quite sleek and rugged within your bumper, this Jeep JL winch can handle any rescues on any terrain, whether you’re in a blizzard, the desert, or mud.


  • Winch: Electric (12V)
  • Cable: Synthetic
  • Rope Length: 90’ (27.43 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 8,000 lbs (3628.7 kgs)

Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch

If you’re traversing mountainous terrain, mud pits sinking several feet deep, and layers of brush that make the path ahead a mystery, you’ll want a winch like this one from Smittybilt. The key talking point is the wide range of pulling capacities, ranging from a standard 9,500 pounds (4309.13 kilograms) (already more than enough for your Jeep JL) up to a whopping 17,500 pounds (7711.07 kilograms). 


So, this winch can reasonably tolerate all sorts of steep inclines, heavy pulls, and rugged terrain with ease.


“Weather-resistant” is the name for this high-quality electric winch for your Jeep JL. This Smittybilt model comes with an IP rating of 67, meaning it can tolerate just about anything snow, water, mud, or sand related. 


So, not only can you bring your Jeep JL to your favorite off-roading trails across the country or in your own backyard, but you can count on the matte coating to withstand destructive UV rays from the sun that only take away from your winch’s durability.


But what you’re going to love is that this winch is as strong as they come. This winch boasts 5/16” thick steel cable that can tow loads up to 9,500 pounds (4309.13 kilograms) a short distance, a 6.6 HP motor that’ll power through any pulls on any trail, and a four-way roller to promote easy rope guiding and fewer instances of rope damage with each pull.


  • Winch: Electric (12V)
  • Cable: Steel
  • Rope Length: 93.5’ (28.50 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 9,500 lbs (4309.13 kgs), 12,000 lbs (5443.11 kgs), 15,500 lbs (7030.68 kgs), 17,500 lbs (7937.87 kgs) (four options)

WARN 92815 ZEON 10-S Platinum 12V Electric Winch

When your Jeep modification budget soars into the thousands, you might want to opt for this pricier WARN winch instead. Despite the enormous price tag, this electric winch surely has a lot to offer. At the bare minimum, you’ll appreciate the waterproof capabilities, 100’ (30.48 m) of heavy-duty synthetic rope, and sleek front bumper design.


The standout feature for this electric winch is the modified line speed. At up to 20% faster than the average winch, you can bring in up to 44’ (13.41 m) of the line in 60 seconds. This key feature makes driver-assisted recoveries faster than ever, and, in dire situations where your Jeep is teetering on a boulder or slowly sinking into the mud, you can recover your Jeep before it’s too late.


The 12,000 pulling capacity is crucial, but not even close to being one of this winch’s most reputable features. This winch comes standard with an advanced wireless remote that’ll give you the insight you’ve never even imagined. Just plug this remote into your winch, and you can keep track of your motor’s temperature, light status, and your Jeep’s battery strength. 


So now, you never have to worry about a dead battery or an overheated motor during a pull ever again.


  • Winch: Electric
  • Cable: Synthetic
  • Rope Length: 100’ (30.48 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 10,000 lbs (4535.92 kgs) and 12,000 lbs (5443.11 kgs) (two options)

Rough Country 12,500 LB PRO Series Electric Winch

It’s not the most powerful Jeep JL winch we’ve seen, but it sure is an easy install and reliable in the rare circumstances you need rescue or recovery. The feature that allows this electric winch to stand out is the weatherproof design. 


The entire winch is waterproof (IP67), and dustproof, meaning creeks, deep mud, sandpits, and snow mounds are no match for your Jeep JL while off-roading. All that backed by a high-torque 5.5 HP motor designed to withstand fierce heat.


Despite not being fitted with steel cables, this Rough Country electric winch boasts synthetic cables that might be even stronger. These synthetic cables are dense and durable, capable of pulling loads up to 12,500 pounds (5669.90 kgs). 


Add that to the fact that synthetic cables can withstand breakage better, and you’ve got yourself a safe winch for hefty rescues without risking a steel cable coming back to damage your Jeep JL.


And to really drive the point home, we want to talk about the torque of this mighty winch. With a three-stage planetary gear train paired with a 256:1 gear ratio, this winch won’t let you down. This combination will produce maximum power output, unusually quick line speed, and consistent pull. So you’ll never have to worry about losing your grip or failing on a recovery.


  • Winch: Electric
  • Cable: Synthetic or steel (two options)
  • Rope Length: 85-100’ (25.91-30.48 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 9,500 lbs (4309.13 kgs) or 12,500 lbs (5669.90 kgs) (two options)

WARN 97550 9.5cti Series 12V Electric Winch

And when you’ve got a couple of bucks to spend and tend to venture off the beaten path, this powerful 12V electric winch from WARN might be your new best friend. 


The combination of 9,500 pounds of pulling capacity and fast line speed is hard to beat. You can pull your friend’s Jeep Cherokee out of a pool of mud in just a few minutes without losing your grip, your winch’s motor burning out, or the line snapping halfway through the mission.


Though what you’ll like most about this winch is how it handles that heavy of a load while in dire situations. This winch also boasts a reliable braking system to give your battery a break mid-pull without losing progress, a control pack resistant to overheating and failure after water exposure, and a thick synthetic rope for high load tolerance.


But what really makes this WARN winch worth the investment is the versatility. You can quickly transfer this winch from your front to your back bumper, depending on if you need to tow or pull. 


It’s also extremely easy to wire this winch to your Jeep’s battery for near-immediate use upon installation. So stop spending hours installing winches that always seem to fail and choose this WARN model with a nifty pistol-grip remote for even more convenient load pulling.


  • Winch: Electric (12V)
  • Cable: Steel
  • Rope Length: 100’ (30.48 m)
  • Pulling Capacity: 9,500 lbs (4309.13 kgs)

What You Need to Know About Buying Jeep JL Winches

Your 2018-20 Jeep Wrangler JL didn’t come with a winch, so now it’s your job to buy an aftermarket winch to save you from all sorts of off-roading incidents. But before you drop hundreds of dollars—or thousands, if you’re opting for a high-end model—you want to ensure that you’re making a logical purchase decision. 

Photo Credit – xbullauto.com

Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about buying a new, heavy-duty winch for your Jeep JL.

What Is a Winch?

A winch is a mechanical tool that you’ll install to the front bumper of your Jeep JL. This type of pulling tool has several parts:


  • Cable: The synthetic or steel rope wound around the winch drum and able to withstand pulling capacities of over 10,000 pounds (4535.92 kilograms), in some cases.
  • Winch Drum: The cylindrical portion of the winch and also where the cable wraps around. Rotation in the drum will either loosen the slack (to attach the hook to another object) or tighten the slack (to pull).
  • Motor: The power source of the winch connected to your Jeep’s battery. Turning the motor on will cause the winch drum to rotate, and a braking system within the winch drum will halt the rotation.
  • Winch Hook: The steel hook to attach to another object or vehicle.


All winches will have these parts, but they’ll also be unique. Some winches can also attach to ATVs and pull just 2,000 pounds (907.18 kilograms) while other winches have thicker steel cables. You’ll want to consider the combination of all parts before choosing a winch for your Jeep JL.

The Purpose of a Winch

If you’re still on the fence about whether a winch is a necessary add-on for your Jeep, you might not know what a winch is. There are two main reasons you’ll need a winch: Save yourself or save another vehicle.


If you happen to be off-roading alone and find yourself stuck in deep mud or off the beaten path, you can attach your winch hook to a tow strap, wrap the strap around a sturdy nearby object (like a huge boulder or a thick tree), and pull yourself out.


When it’s another member of your off-roading crew that’s stuck, you can attach the hook of your winch to a stable area of the vehicle, and then power on the winch’s motor to pull the other vehicle out of trouble.


Here’s a video that shows how to use a winch on a Jeep, from starting the winch to wrapping a tow strap around a tree to finally freeing the Jeep from the brush:

Types of Winches

You’ll choose between a hydraulic or an electric winch, both of which have their pros and cons worth considering. Here’s what you need to know about the differences between the two:


  • Hydraulic Winches: This winch style will hook up to your Jeep JL’s power steering pump rather than the battery, giving it unmatched power when pulling heavy loads. Choose a hydraulic winch if you have a higher budget and plan to use your winch to rescue 4,000+ pounds (1814.37 kilograms) Jeeps.
  • Electric Winches: This style of winch is ideal if you’re planning to tow smaller vehicles, like ATVs or barebones Jeep models. Select an electric winch if you’re okay with your winch using your Jeep JL’s battery to rescue other guys at the course, and your budget is in the few hundreds.


Be aware that your winch is only as powerful as your Jeep’s battery and pulling capacity. So a heavy-duty hydraulic winch may not necessarily be able to pull a 10,000-pound (4535.92 kilograms) Jeep out of a steep ditch, especially if your Jeep is lightweight or your steering pump is weak.

Cable Types

A high-powered winch is only so useful, as it won’t matter that it can pull a 9,000-pound (4082.33 kilograms) load if the cable snaps halfway through. So you’ll generally have the choice between a steel or synthetic cable. Here’s what you need to know about each:


  • Synthetic Cables: This type of cable is made of a material like polyethylene and urethane, generally lightweight and easy to handle, and more gentle on the skin (i.e., No steel splinters when feeding the cable). The downsides are also quite clear, with fraying and UV damage being major sticking points in anti-synthetic advocates
  • Steel Cables: This type of cable is the most durable for a winch, able to withstand heavier pulling capacities and much more resilient in harsh conditions (sun, rain, and snow). The downsides of steel cable could be a deal-breaker, particularly the likelihood of rusting and sharper burrs that require you to wear gloves when working with it.

Neither steel nor synthetic cables are significantly better than the other, though you might want to select a steel cable winch for a better long-term durable solution. Cable thickness is also something worth considering, as thicker cables (closer to ½”) have a much higher breaking strength and can tow far heavier loads. So consider what you’ll be winching and how often.

Rope Length

The cable’s length can also play a vital role in how efficiently and successfully you can rescue yourself or another Jeep JL owner in a dire off-roading scenario. And to put this rumor to rest immediately: Longer is not always better. 


Most ropes will be between 25’ (7.62 m) and 150’ feet long (45.72 m), though you can attach a rope extension to add an extra 100’ (30.48 m) when needed. But you’ll want to keep in mind that a longer winch line might overload your winch line, and a longer cable will ultimately decrease your pulling power. 

So fully-extending a 100’ (30.48 m) winch line that can tolerate a 10,000-pound load might not be as efficient as extending the line just 15’ (4.57 m) to handle that same load.

Pulling Capacity

The pulling capacity of your winch will determine how heavy a load your Jeep JL can pull, but it’s not what you think. This capacity represents the total pulling capacity after the first unwrap of the cable. The further you extend the line, the less pulling power you’ll see. You might be losing 15% of towing capacity with each unwrap.


Generally speaking, you should choose a winch line that’s up to twice as resilient as your winch’s maximum pulling capacity: so a 10,000-pound (4535.92 kilograms) breaking strength for a 5,000-pound (2267.96 kilograms) pulling capacity. 


You also need to factor in that pulling a vehicle up a slope will reduce the pulling power significantly with each grade increase. Even a 3-degree incline could reduce your capacity to just 67% of advertised, with a 45-degree incline dropping this down to 13%.


Here’s a chart that’ll break down the average weight of certain vehicles to see what type of pulling capacity would be best for your winch.



Average Weight

Ideal Pulling Capacity

2020 Jeep Wrangler

3,970 lbs (1800.76 kgs)

8,000 lbs (3628.74 kgs)

2020 Ford F-450 Crew Cab

8,282 lbs (3756.65 kgs)

17,000 lbs (7711.07 kgs)

2020 RAM 3500

6,056 lbs (2746.96 kgs)

13,000 lbs (5896.70 kgs)

2020 Land Rover Range Rover

4,958 lbs (2248.91 kgs)

10,000 lbs (4535.92 kgs)

450cc ATV

520 lbs (235.87 kgs)

1,100 lbs (498.95 kgs)


Remember to factor in potential slope, rope length, and how heavy your Jeep Wrangler JL is (about 4,000 pounds or 1814.37 kgs). You might want to get a more heavy-duty winch to be prepared for anything rather than have a winch that’s far too weak to handle a heavy load—factor in extra pulling capacity needed when you’re caught in deep mud or snow.


Generally, your winch’s pulling power should be at least twice your Jeep’s weight, including your curb weight, occupant weight, and any accessories you’ve added to your vehicle. For most Jeep JLs, shoot for 9,500 pounds (4309.13 kilograms) or more to be safe.


With a wide range of prices available for Jeep JL winches, what you end up spending will be based on how heavy-duty the winch is and what features it holds. Winches range from less than $300 for a short line with the minimal pulling capacity to nearly $2,000 for a high-end steel winch with a high-powered motor, insane pulling power, and brute force breaking strength.


A winch for your Jeep JL is a necessity if you’re planning to roam off the beaten path for a little fun in the wilderness. But before you buy a winch, consider the following:


  • Why you need a winch (pulling yourself to safety or saving a buddy at the trail)
  • The type of winch that’s best for you (hydraulic is best for heavier loads)
  • The type of cable (steel is more durable, but pricier)
  • The length of the rope (pulling capacity declines with each full unwrap)
  • The pulling capacity (twice as much as your vehicle’s weight)
  • Your budget (expect to spend between $300 and $2,000 for a quality winch)


Now, it’s time to purchase a winch and be fully prepared for your next off-roading adventure!



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