Best ATV Winches


There are various types of atv winches available for ATVs. They come in different sizes, weights and designs. There are many brands of atv winches available but they all have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Some models offer better performance than others while some offer less maintenance requirements. At one time there were only two main types of atv winches: the heavy duty ones and the lighter weight ones. Nowadays there are several brands of atv winches available. The most popular brand is GKN, which manufactures many models such as the GKN Pro Winch, GKN Maxi Winch, GKN Mini Winch and other models like the Klyton KW6X and others.

The best type of atv winch for plowing is the heavy duty model. These models are very sturdy and durable. They provide good traction when driving over uneven terrain or even snow covered ground.

Heavy duty models are not only designed to handle rough terrain but also to withstand high speeds, cold temperatures and extreme weather conditions. Their design makes them highly resistant against rust, corrosion and wear out easily. You can use them for years without any major repairs. The models are fully sealed to protect the internal components and submersible, which makes them ideal for ATV riding in wet or snowy conditions. Heavy duty atv winches are by far the best choice if you want a permanent mountable winch for your atv.

Lighter weight winches are easier to be transported but they lack some of the toughness and pulling power that heavy duty winches have. If you are an occasional rider and looking for a good all around winch then one of these will probably work just fine.

There are also other types of atv winches available such as the mid-duty atv winches and the super heavy duty winches. These are suitable for riders who want a durable model but not quite as strong as the heavy duty versions. You can consider these if you are an occasional rider or do milder off-roading.


The floor mounted winches are undoubtedly the best and most convenient choice. All you have to do is bolt the winch on to the floor and your all set. You can open up the storage area and still have easy access to it.

This makes it a much more versatile choice, especially for people who do serious off-roading. It also works well for people who need the capacity to carry stuff on their ATV.

The hitch mounted winches are more of a temporary solution. They are good if you only want to have a winch for an occasional ride in snowy or muddy conditions. With a hitch mount, the winch can be easily removed when not in use.

The problem with this set up is that you will not have any extra cargo capacity.

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There are three kinds of winch controls used for atv winches. The first is the manual crank (hand operated). They have a crank connected by a chain to the spool.

With this kind of winch, you need to crank it for as long as you want the rope out. This requires a great deal of physical strength and can be very tiring. The second type is the manual ratcheting winch. This type of winch has an added ratchet mechanism that allows you to turn the crank and let the ratchet do the repetitive work. It is still a lot of work but it is much quicker and easier than using a manual crank. If you are planning to use your atv for plowing snow or clearing some light debris then this is probably all the power you need. The third type of winch is the powered ATV winch. This kind of winch has an electrical motor that does all the work for you. They can be a pain because of the need for a power source but if you are going on a long trip through the wilderness then they can be a blessing because they spare you from physical exertion and get the job done faster.


There are various important specifications that you need to look at when shopping for the best winch for your quad. These range from the weight and size of the winch to the power source that it uses.


The first thing you need to consider is the size and weight of the winch. Larger models require more power to operate and can be very heavy. Smaller, lighter winches are obviously easier to handle and require less power.


The next thing to look at is the power source. You have three choices here: AC, DC, and mechanical. AC (alternating current) powered winches use a power source that changes the voltage back and forth.

While they are more efficient than DC (direct current) powered winches they cost more money to manufacture. Most ATV winches are DC powered and use a battery or AC power from the quad as their power source.

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Battery back-up is an option that you might want to consider. With this option, you have the choice of using the ATV’s battery as a power source if there is a power failure in your home or if you are away from an outlet.


This specification deals with how much pull the winch is capable of. Most of the time, you will want a model that has a high pull rating but sometimes you might need a lower rating winch for specific jobs.


These are features that make the winch more user-friendly or simply just make your life easier. Things like auto-locking brakes and load-holding brakes are nice safety features that prevent you and your equipment from getting injured. A spooling option is nice to have because it means that you are able to spool the rope back onto the rollers automatically.

Practical Applications

Now that you know the different types of ATV winches out there and what specifications you need to look for, let’s take a look at some actual models. We will be looking at some of the most popular models on the market to give you an idea of what is available.

You can use this information to decide which winch is best for your needs.


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The AC/DC comes in two varieties, a non-electric model and an electric model. Both of these are easy to use because they have a manual hand crank that you can use if there is a power failure. The non-electric model has a manual spooling feature so you can spool the rope back onto the roller easily.

This makes it a good option for people who want a backup winch or something to use on short hunting trips.

The electric version is a bit pricier and heavier but has a built in battery that you can use to power the winch if there is a power failure. It can also be used to spool the line back onto the roller.

You can easily fit it onto most ATVs and it is a great all-purpose ATV winch.

Sizes: 6,500 pound and 9,000 pound

Draw-Tension: 6,500 lbs. and 9,000 lbs.

Price: $$$


The AC500 is a good choice for those looking for a lightweight and easy-to-use winch. This winch only weight 22 pounds but is able to pull up to 5,000 pounds. It boasts an impressive line speed of 75 feet per minute which makes short work of pulling yourself out if you get stuck in mud or snow.

It also has an automatic brake feature that can be a life-saver.

The AC500 uses a sealed lead acid battery to power it. It has a removable battery that you can charge up and swap out when the battery dies. A few customers complained that the automatic brake feature burned out after repeated use.

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This seems to be a known flaw with this particular winch.

The AC500 can fit onto most ATVs and is a good all-purpose choice for most people looking for a simple and easy to use winch.

Sizes: 5,000 pound

Draw-Tension: 5,000 lbs.

Price: $$$


The AC550 is similar to the AC500 but has more impressive features. It has a slightly better line speed of 90 feet per minute which makes it even faster than the AC500. It also boasts an impressive line pull of 6,000 pounds which makes it stronger than most other winches on the market.

This makes it great for working on farms or ranches.

The battery that powers the AC550 is removable like the one on the AC500. Most people seem to prefer this model because it is faster and stronger than its lesser cousin, the AC500.

The AC550 has a few small design flaws. It is slightly louder than its lesser cousin and it doesn’t have a spooling function. It also gets slightly hotter while in use.

Despite this, it is a great tool for most outdoor activities and is especially useful on farms or ranches.

Sizes: 6,000 pound

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Draw-Tension: 6,000 lbs.

Price: $$$


The PawsDJ250 is a great tool for hunters and farmers alike. The lightweight and portable design makes it easy to carry into the backcountry. It is also well-suited to being carried on ATVs and UTVs.

The all-weather design can be used in rain, snow, or mud without any issues. The PawsDJ200 has a line pull of 2,500 pounds which is enough to move a stuck vehicle from muddy trails or pull trees out of the way.

The PawsDJ200 is a little bit more expensive than other options but it has a few benefits that might make it worth the price. It is one of the quietest winches on the market and has a durable wire cable.

This winch can be difficult to spool line onto its spool without modification. There are also complaints about the automatic brake feature burning out before the winch is used extensively. Despite these complaints the PawsDJ200 is still a great tool for hunters, farmers, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Sizes: 2,500 pound

Draw-Tension: 2,500 lbs.

Best ATV Winches - Image

Price: $$$

This concludes our look at ATV and UTV winches. Thank you for reading and I hope this guide helps you make an informed purchasing decision.

Sources & references used in this article:

Portable powered winch by MR Trihey, DA Foss – US Patent 7,913,978, 2011 – Google Patents

Multi-function winch for interchangeably attaching to both the front and the back of an all-terrain vehicle by S James – US Patent 7,300,238, 2007 – Google Patents

Winch rotator for all terrain vehicles by SL Jackson – US Patent 6,634,588, 2003 – Google Patents

Winch mount for all-terrain vehicle by J Weidner – US Patent 8,820,718, 2014 – Google Patents

Remote controlled winch by JL Dilks – US Patent 5,522,582, 1996 – Google Patents

Winch pole for use on an ATV by F Leger Sr – US Patent 10,123,527, 2018 – Google Patents

Combined snow plow winch device by RK Benkler – US Patent 4,991,323, 1991 – Google Patents

Boat lift winch drive unit by DE Lien – US Patent App. 12/211,315, 2009 – Google Patents

Quickly detachable powered winch mounting means by FE Ahlbin, WG Hembling – US Patent 3,159,368, 1964 – Google Patents