Synthetic Rope vs Steel Cable: Which winch is right for your UTV or ATV?

You’re looking at getting a new UTV winch and can’t decide between a steel cable winch or a synthetic rope winch. You’ve asked all your buddies and spent countless hours researching, but still can’t see which would best serve your needs. We’ve put together a quick, comprehensive comparison of the pros and cons between the Steel Cable winches and Synthetic Rope winches to help make your choice a little more clear and easy! Steel Cable and Synthetic Rope winches both have their merits and drawbacks, and we’re happy to help point out the differences!

Steel Cable Winches: The Industry Standard

Until just recently, steel cable has been the industry standard for decades! Made of strong, aircraft-grade steel cable, these winch lines are typically more durable and reliable for work that may be highly abrasive, such as in mud or rocky/sandy terrain. A steel cable is less likely to fray under these conditions, compared to a synthetic rope. Additionally, if you use your UTV in northern, wintry climates for tough, wet jobs like plowing snow, a steel cable will not retain water the same way a synthetic rope will, avoiding the risk of freezing up and turning your winch into an unusable block of solid ice!

The biggest drawback to the steel cable lines is the wear and tear a steel cable can place on your winch if it were to become frayed, burred or rust. As a damaged steel cable passes through and over the rollers in your winch, over time, it will erode and damage the winch. It’s always best to inspect your steel cable line for damage periodically to avoid this. It can also prevent another more dangerous drawback: a cable snap! A damaged steel cable can break during use, recoiling back and potentially being the cause of some serious damage to your vehicle, or severe injury to you, the operator, should you get hit as it snaps back!

We carry many different steel cable winches, including 2500 lb., 3500 lb. and 4500 lb. varieties for your UTV. If a steel cable winch sounds right for your needs, consider one of our top selling steel cable winch kits:

Synthetic Rope Winches: New and Innovative

Introduced in the 90’s, the synthetic rope was made available as a safer alternative to a steel cable. Lighter in weight than steel, the synthetic rope does not store energy the same way a steel cable would, minimizing snapback and reducing the risk of injury should the rope break during use! Synthetic rope is easier to handle and won’t kink up on you like a steel cable might. However, just because it won’t kink, doesn’t mean it won’t knot up. Careful use of your winch should make avoiding knots easy though.

The major drawback to synthetic rope lines is durability. A synthetic rope can fray during use on abrasive areas (such as across rocks) and significantly increase the chances of breaking a line during use. Heat and UV exposure can also lead to a weakened rope. Careful inspection of your synthetic rope line is always recommended before each use to avoid any surprises in the field. A synthetic rope line will tend to hold heat during use, causing problems when heat buildup from the winch’s drum brake occurs during periods of extended use. This can cause your winch to overheat, as well as putting strain on the rope itself.

If you feel a synthetic rope winch is just what you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered with a number of options for your UTV! We recommend starting your search with this option:

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