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How to Choose Winch Line?

Comprehensive analysis of synthetic winch rope & steel cable

Regarding the types of winch ropes, there are currently two mainstream–synthetic winch ropes and steel cables, so what are the advantages and disadvantages between them? In this article, we will focus on this issue.

synthetic winch rope image The electric winch is now almost standard on off-road vehicles, and it can help you or your companion’s vehicle successfully get out of trouble. Moreover, it can also be used to clear difficult obstacles on the road, such as a tree trunk in the middle of the road. The use of electric winch is widely known, but today we are not here to discuss this. Just like every time you need to get out of trouble, you need to think carefully. The choice of whether to use synthetic fiber rope or traditional steel cable for the winch also needs careful consideration.

Compared to traditional steel cables, synthetic winch line have become the choice to more and more people. Of course, its advantages are light weight and safety. These are two important indicators for measuring the performance of the winch rope. They also bring us practicality and convenience when off road or overland adventure. But in a word, everything has two sides, and the winch rope of synthetic fiber material has its limits, and it will become very fragile if not used properly.

Before the emergence of synthetic fiber winch ropes, steel winch line have existed for many years, and because of its sturdy structure, they are the first choice for most 4WD enthusiasts.

Although it is up to you to decide which winch line to use, in fact, we have only these two options. Therefore, we still use the old method to solve this problem, and list their respective advantages and disadvantages for a scientific horizontal comparison, and also discuss what terrain is more suitable for which rope. Looks good is not enough while winching.

Whether it is synthetic rope or steel cable, there will be problems of aging and damage after long-term hard rescue and recovery work. However, if the winch line breaks during use, the consequences will be different, which will often cause many 4WD fans to tend to use synthetic fiber rope. Regardless of the type of winch rope, it must be carefully checked before each use to ensure that it is safe to use and not accidental. After each use, you should also check to see if there is any damage that needs to be repaired or replaced.

Weight and flexibility are two of the most significant features of synthetic ropes over steel cables. Lighter weight means safer operation without the need for additional protective measures. And good elasticity will help when the winch rope is not long enough during vehicle rescue. Steel winch cable can become kinked if pulled out too long, and synthetic winch lines are much better in this regard.

Generally speaking, the need for rescue is always because the car is under greater pressure. If a vehicle that is dropped into the water is towed up, compared with a heavy steel cable, a lightweight synthetic winch cable will float on the water. This makes the whole rescue process easier.

The maximum tensile force of high-strength UHMWPE synthetic rope(like dyneema, spectra or amsteel) is to have a traditional steel cable. This feature makes those with heavy weight and long wheelbase off-road vehicles prefer synthetic winch ropes. Our high quality synthetic winch ropes have about 25% higher fastness than steel cables under the same diameter. Because of this difference, under certain strength requirements, you can choose a thinner synthetic fiber rope instead of a steel cable, which saves space and can also install a longer winch rope.


We have heard too many personal injuries due to broken winch cables. Continuous strong light exposure will accelerate the aging of the synthetic winch cable. Installing a protective cover on the surface will help solve this problem, but after all, even a strong rope has its service life, so please check it carefully before using it. make sure the mud does not mix with the synthetic fiber rope. However, small particles such as sand and stone will hide between the synthetic fiber bundles of the fiber rope, abrading each fiber a little, making it prematurely age. Therefore, it is very important to keep the synthetic winch rope clean and remember to wash it with soap and water after each use.

steel winch cableAlthough the elasticity is not very good, the natural corrosiveness of sand and silt has little effect on the steel cable. Generally, the working life of steel cable is better than synthetic winch line. When using steel cables for rescue operations, special attention must be paid to safety. Although it is relatively reliable and rarely breaks, it must not stand in a dangerous position when it is under stress.

We mentioned above that synthetic winch line have better load-bearing capacity, but they may break before reaching this load limit. It sounds a bit contradictory. But what I said is that this happens because of external friction, such as frequent friction on various rough or sharp surfaces, will eventually “wear out” or “cut off” it. During the rescue and towing process, when choosing the anchor point, try to choose a higher height to avoid the rope from the stone and prevent it from rubbing on the stone. Of course, this is not to sacrifice your reliability, but to hang the winch rope on a small tree with insufficient capacity.

When the trapped vehicle is on a rock wall with a large slope angle, the traction continuity and reliability of the steel cable are very helpful. During the towing process, the steel cable can largely ensure the traction in the forward direction. Ordinary sharp tension can also filter out the vibration because so many strands of steel wire inside the rope constitute the relationship of the entire cable.

Synthetic winch line does not rust and has a certain resistance to most chemicals, including gasoline and motor oil. And their light weight and high strength characteristics are great advantages. A 30m long and 10mm diameter synthetic rope weighs about 2 kg. The same size steel cable weighs about 13 kg. The lightweight nature of the synthetic rope makes it contain less kink energy, and in the event of a break, the harm is also less.

Another disadvantage of steel cables is that they are prone to kinks. For this reason, everyone must have experience in life. Generally, the iron wire will break automatically after being bent several times at the same place. The same is true for steel cables, so any abnormal bending will bury the hidden danger of fracture in these parts. Wrapping steel cables can cause injury to the winch. I heard disturbing noises when closing the rope. In addition, the steel cable is prone to pulling and loosening. This action will cause sudden movement of the rescued vehicle. Corrosion is another silent “killer” of steel cables.

Therefore, when you perform routine maintenance on the winch, don’t forget to maintain and repair those parts of the cable that show signs of problems. If you choose the steel winch rope, we will return to the weight. The extra weight of the steel cable will be pressed on the front axle. During the modification process of the vehicle, as the modified parts are gradually installed on the vehicle, it becomes heavier,so if you want to reduce the load on the vehicle, then steel cable is not a good choice.

The steel winch cables are bearable and will not be affected. In practice, it will not change as easily as a synthetic winch rope due to contact with harsh terrain. It can maintain stable physical properties in harsh natural environments and is not afraid of direct sunlight.

A solid steel winch rope, under reasonable care, will bring you many conveniences, and it is also very durable. Regular cleaning is the best way to prevent aging and corrosion. Too humid environment will cause the noose and winch to rust together. Once the chemical properties have changed, it will definitely affect some of the performance. Small wire breaks will form a weak link on the steel cable, and the so-called burrs it generates, whether you wear gloves or not during operation, may stick to your hands. It is important to take seriously the consequences of minor negligence. Once the cable is disconnected, rebounding is not a joke!

Pay attention to the symptoms caused by overheating of the operating temperature, and often check for melting. Shiny or broken fibers. If the winch rope is dragged after being overloaded, it may become thinner or elongated over a certain length, and these places may be hardened, resulting in poor scalability.

It is a good habit to clean the rope often. Find a container, such as a large basin, and use a little cleaning agent to carefully scrub the fine sand and marl embedded between the strands of fiber. After washing, find a place where the sun is not very strong and dry them.

Regarding Fiber rope splicing

In the wild, if you encounter an unexpected situation, if you can correctly master the method of splicing two fiber ropes to each other, it will be your life-saving “magic weapon”. Compared to being trapped in a place waiting for rescue, anyone will prefer to feel more relieved by their own efforts.It is more effective to intertwine two broken syntheticfiber ropes into one strand than to simply connect them with a knot.

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