For off roaders, the last thing you want to do is get stuck and not be able to get out of the mud. That’s where a receiver hitch mounted winch can come in handy. Not only can you pull your pickup truck or Jeep out, but you could also get someone else out of their muddy situation with your winch. In addition to off-roading uses, hitch mounted winches are also a great way to load and unload items like boats and vehicles on and off a trailer. We’ve done a lot of research, looking for the best of the hitch mounted winches, and we’ve found the best one.
Our Top 3 Choices
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The WARN 28500 XD9000 hitch mounted winch is our top pick. With its versatility and efficient performance, there’s no task that this winch can’t handle. We are confident that this winch will be able to pull any SUV or truck out of the mud, or help you load that boat onto your trailer for a day at the lake. It has a great hauling capacity and a super long cable to make sure you are ready for any job. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty just in case you need it.
3 Best Hitch Mounted Winches
A good quality hitch mounted winch can really come in handy (or be a literal lifesaver) when you are off-roading or using it to load heavy items onto your truck. We’ve taken a lot of things into consideration as we researched winches and we’ve selected the 3 best hitch mounted winches on the market. In our list below, we’ve provide an overview of each winch, highlighting the pros and cons.
1. WARN XD9000 Winch – Top Pick
Hauling Capacity: 9,000 lbs
Winch Weight: 111.3 lbs
Warn is a heavy hitter name when it comes to off-road winches. This high performance product is just another example, and is our top pick as the best hitch mounted winch. Warn has been producing quality off-road winches for over 70 years in the USA and their longstanding reputation is well earned.
This winch is pretty easy to install and comes equipped with most of the hardware you need to install it, though you may have to purchase some additional screws, nuts, and bolts. The winch kit plugs into any standard two inch class 3 receiver hitch, and connects to your vehicle electronics via Quick Connect plugs. In addition to an easy install, many users note that it’s simple to use the winch multiple ways. You can move the winch from one hitch to another for anyone who wants to use the winch on the front or rear of the vehicle. However, we should point out that this model winch only comes with one wire kit, so you will need to purchase an additional one if you want to use the winch on the front and rear of your vehicle. Some users have mentioned that even though the install is easy, the instruction manual is not very clear. There are some very helpful instructional videos though, available online.
This hitch mounted winch has a line pull of 9000 lbs., which means it will be able to handle nearly every situation. Not everyone will necessarily need such a heavy duty winch, so that is certainly something to think about. However, if you do need to pull a lot of weight, this is definitely the right choice. We really like how versatile this hitch mount winch is. It’s perfectly capable of aiding in whatever tasks you need it for, and it performs well regardless of the conditions, be it mud, sand, or snow. With a 4.6 hp series wound winch motor and the fastest no-load line speed of 73.4 feet per minute, this is a heavy duty winch. The remote control has a 12 foot lead, allowing you to keep your distance while activating the winch. This winch also has the longest cable in the Warn self-recovery lineup that measures 150-feet long and 0.312-inch thick. With such a long cable length, you should be set to pull anything you need to with this winch without having to purchase an additional rope. It also has a unique spur gear drive train and reliable, upright design.
Features: 4.6 hp, remote control with 12′ lead, 150 foot cable wire rope, unique spur gear drive train
- Heavy duty hauling capacity
- High performance
- Can be used on front and rear of vehicle
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Expensive price
2. Superwinch Terra 45 ATV/Utility Winch – Best Value
Hauling Capacity: 4,500 lbs
Winch Weight: 22. 1 lbs
Our favorite thing about the Superwinch 1145220 Terra 45 ATV & Utility Winch model is the balance that we find between the value and performance with this product. It’s a much less expensive option than our top pick, but still a sturdy, durable winch that will work for a lot of people. This hitch mounted winch has a hauling capacity of 4,500 lbs, making it a great choice if you don’t need more than that. With low amp draw, this is a super efficient winch with a 1.6 hp permanent magnet motor. That means you won’t have to worry about it draining your vehicle battery. This winch has 55-feet of 1/4″ steel cable and a heavy-duty all-metal 3-stage planetary gear train. The cable will likely work for a lot of tasks, but if you are going to use this winch on a more regular basis, you may need to consider purchasing an extension part or replacement cable that is longer. Its all steel gears are twice as wide as competitors, which combined with the oil pocket bronze bearings, ensures that you can take on any amount of mud, snow, sand, or other weather conditions with no problem. The winch also has a switch that is mounted on the handlebar and a cam action freespooling clutch that allows you to easily and quickly disengage the motor so that you can manually draw out as much winch rope as you need.
This hitch mount winch is designed to be compatible with most four-bolt pattern ATV winch mount kits, and should fit pretty much any utility vehicle. It’s pretty quick to install too since you can use the hitch mounting plate to put it onto your trailer hitch. With a focus on safety, some of the highlights of this model include mechanical load holding and dynamic braking to minimize the potential for wire rope slippage in the event of power failure or surge and to provide quick stopping of the drum, as well as a sealed solenoid and circuit breaker protection to ensure safe, reliable, electromagnetic power in all weather conditions. This hitch mounted winch also includes a rubberized remote control with a 10-foot extension cable, allowing you to keep your distance between you and the winch. One interesting thing that many users point out about this winch is how quiet the winch is. While that’s not a necessary function or a measure of performance, it’s certainly an unexpected bonus. We have found that this is an ideal winch in terms of performance for pulling ATVs and boats onto a pickup truck or for trailer winching and using on ATVs. And, with such a light weight, it’s easy to manage.
Features: 1.6 hp, 55 ft of 1/4″ steel cable, steel 3 stage planetary gear train system, trailer hitch mounting plate
- Wide steel gears
- Limited warranty
- Best for ATVs and boats
3. Smittybilt GEN 2 Winch – Best Budget Option
Hauling Capacity: 9,500 lbs.
Winch Weight: 78 lbs.
The Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch is a great, more affordable model with a a serious hauling capacity of 9,500 lbs. While it can pull about the same weight as the Warn model featured above, it is significantly lighter in weight. That is definitely something to consider when looking at this product. It may not carry the same brand recognition that a Warn product does when it comes to winches, but this one is a solid choice for someone who is looking for a hitch mount winch for a lower price. The Smittybilt name is most closely associated with Jeeps, as they have been providing performance accessories for Jeeps for well over 50 years. They also focus on truck and SUV products, as well as their trail equipment and winches.
The new Gen2 series of Smittybilt XRC winches have been updated with a lot of heavy duty characteristics for enhanced performance and durability. This particular winch has a 6.6 hp Series Wound motor and 3-stage planetary gear system. The winch kit includes all of the wiring you will need to install it, and they do recommend using the supplied wiring. The winch also includes a state-of-the-art 500AMP solenoid that is completely waterproof, with an IP67 rating. This makes the Smittybilt winch ideal for handling any terrain, regardless of how wet and muddy the conditions may be. The cable with this winch is 94′ long, which makes it a pretty good size cable. It’s not nearly as long as the cable in our top pick, but it will certainly get the job done. There is also a remote switch with this winch model to make sure you can maintain a safe 12′ distance from your vehicle. Smittybilt provides a limited lifetime warranty for replacement of the stainless steel components for this model, and the dual-stage, powder coated products have a 5-year or 100,000 mile warranty, whichever comes first.
Features: 6.6 hp motor, 500AMP solenoid, 94′ long cable
- Affordable price
- Heavy duty
- Limited warranty
- Customer service isn’t the best
Having a hitch mounted winch can make your off roading experience way more fun. They can also help you do tasks like loading and unloading items on a trailer. When you are talking about loading heavy items onto a trailer or pulling a SUV or truck out of mud, you need a winch that is going to be durable and can handle the load. You would use a trailer hitch to pull loads onto trailers as opposed to a recovery winch, with some performance differences between the two. To help you determine which is the right hitch mounted winch for your needs, we’ve put together a list of items we think you should consider: power source, cable material, hauling capacity, and winch weight.
The two main types of winches in terms of power source, which are electric and hydraulic winches. Manual winches are also available, but our list below focuses specifically on electric and hydraulic since they are the more common and more powerful options.
Electric winch motors are powered by your vehicle battery. The advantage of the electric winch is that they are often less expensive and quicker than hydraulic winches, and they are easy to install. The downside to an electric winch however, is that they can drain your car battery since that is what is powering the motor. We recommend checking your battery rating to see if it provides enough voltage to operate both the winch and your vehicle. One feature we really like about most modern electric winches is that they are very user-friendly, with many models including a remote control for easy use.
Unlike the electric winch, which uses your vehicle’s battery for power, the hydraulic winch uses the power steering pump of your vehicle. The advantage of the hydraulic winch is that they are considered more reliable since they won’t drain your car battery, potentially leaving you stranded somewhere. They are also more waterproof, allowing you to take on any conditions, however wet and muddy. The downside to hydraulic winches is that they can be more difficult to install and are generally more expensive than electric winches.
When it comes to cable material, the quality of the cable is incredibly important since it is likely towing something of value like a car or boat. You want to make sure it is durable and can handle the load. For material, you are usually looking at either steel cable or synthetic cable. Both have their advantages and their drawbacks, which we’ve pointed out below. It’s important to note that whichever way you decide to go, either steel or synthetic cable, when your winch is in use and under pressure it’s important to keep your distance in case the cable were to break.
Steel cables are a very strong and durable option for your winch. And, they are affordable, which makes them a good choice for even the most inexperienced person. Steel cable is very resistant to abrasion, which makes the cable last a long time. However, steel cable does hold tension, which can cause an injury when (if) they break.
Synthetic cables are lighter weight and generally easier to maneuver than steel cable. However, they are more likely to snap than steel cables, which is why synthetic is typically recommended for more experienced users only. Of course, once you get the hang of it, you can always transition from steel cable to synthetic cable.
One of the primary consideration when purchasing a trailer hitch mounted winch is what you plan to pull, and how much weight that will be. Since all winches are rated for different weights, this is incredibly important. Generally speaking, the winch needs to be able to pull at least 1.5 times the weight of your vehicle. The larger the winch is, usually, the greater weight it will be able to pull. Larger winches are also more likely to have sturdier cables and larger motors than a winch that is smaller in size.
In addition to how much weight you want to pull, you will also need to think about the weight of the winch itself. None of the winches will be light in weight, especially not a very powerful one. In fact, the more powerful the winch, typically the heavier in weight it will be. Before selecting a product, you need to make sure your vehicle can support the weight of the winch you choose since it can put strain on your vehicle. Also, if you’re towing heavier vehicles like RV in the future, you can read our recent post about the best fifth wheel slider hitches compatible with your truck.
The WARN 28500 XD9000 boasts exceptional performance and the durability you need from a hitch mounted winch, whatever your purpose may be. This hitch mounted winch plate can be mounted onto your existing hitch receiver on the rear of your truck or under the front bumper of your vehicle is a feature that makes this winch so versatile and functional. With its heavy duty 9000 lb. hauling capacity, it will have no problem pulling you out of any off roading situation or helping you accomplish any other task. Though there are a lot of good options out there, the WARM 28500 XD9000 is the best hitch mounted winch.
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