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Rooster76 05-09-2013 05:57 PM

Best JK Waterproof Winches
From my research (I'm trying to be prepared incase money starts falling from the sky) I would rate my semi realistic dream winches in this order below. Am I qualified to make a list, not really. I don't have any personal experience but hours of web wheeling through forums and reviews. In my opinion being waterproof (in the midwest) is a top priority, so all these are waterproof or very water resistant. Synthetic would be my choice over wire. I would call around to get the best "forum" price with shipping before ordering. I'm going to give the current quadratic prices for a ballpark figure. Going 10,000 is a bit overkill on my 2DR, especially with a snatch block. 9,000 would work even with a 4DR. Bigger of course is better, and I'm not opposed to helping out a truck.

NOTE: Click Winch Names to go to the companys site for more specs
  1. Warn Zeon 10 wire $900 synthetic $1150
    • It has the most water proof rating IP68 on all its seals.
    • It looks the best
    • Assembled in the USA. All the others are made in china.
    • Reputation and bragging rights
    • Great Customer Service
    • Easy to get replacement parts, and the company isn't going to vanish any time soon
  2. Superwinch Talon 9.5 wire $680 synthetic $890
    • Super fast line speed
    • Break on the outside of the drum is better for synthetic rope that doesn't like heat
    • Haven't heard anything bad about them except that they are made in china
    • Before the Zeon this would have been my favorite. To get it's IP67 rating it had to work 1 meter underwater for at least 30 minutes
  3. Engo 10,000 (Price from Krawl Off-Road Winches )Synthetic-$425 Wire-$329
    • In the 4wheeler test it was able to work underwater 10 minutes then still kick ass.
    • In general good reviews
    • Good customer service
  4. Recon 10500 $439 @ Recon 10, 500 Lb Pro Performance Recovery Winch : : Automotive
    • Super cheap. Under $500 for the winch with synthetic line and a wired and wireless remote
    • Limited but very positive reviews
    • IP67 waterproof rating on the solinoid. I'm not sure about the gearing.
  5. Smittybilt X20-10 Winch - Synthetic $650 Wire $500
    • Lots of people have had good luck with these winches.
    • I have heard that they are one of the most returned items for warrenty.
    • Cheap.
    • I personally don't think I could order one based off all the Shitty Built remarks about the company in general.

Engo was my dream winch. I found one thread that made me question if it is really waterproof or the Massive Multi-Winch Shootout - Four Wheeler Magazine review was just a lucky one. Clearly all manufactures will have a few duds, so maybe it's not a big deal. I don't think Engo officially make any clams of being water proof, from what I can find at least. I ran across this
THREAD> Well my engo winch wasn't working (he finds water in the gears)
SIDE NOTE: I also ran across a thread about saying engos may need to have there bolts tightened ENGO WINCH WARNING! - : Jeep Wrangler JK Forum
I have also read that the power cords on Engos can be a bit tight, and you should grease under the clutch handle to stop rust.

While fresh water supposedly isn't all that bad for electronics, sea water is much more conductive and can cause problems. Of course all water causes rust. The zeon has an IP68 rating on all it's seals which is amazing. IP67 (like on the superwinch talon) is waterproof up to 1 meter for at least 30min, and IP68 is over one meter waterproof. (More about IP ratings here IP Code - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ). So you should be able to dunk it excessively and even winch underwater with no worries.

Warn Winches have the greatest fan boy status and reputation clearly. The zeon is on the top of my dream machine list. It should be easily repaired if needed. It really took the wind out of the sails of the Superwinch Talon that is waterproof IP67 rated on all seals. It also seems to be a better choice for synthetic line than the older warn models. The SW talon may still be better for synthetic rope because it uses a break on the outside of the drum.

QUOTE From Warn Industries - The All-New WARN ZEON: The Next Generation of Truck, Jeep, and SUV Winches (Link gives a good quick breakdown of the zeon features)
Whether you choose wire rope or Spydura synthetic line, ZEON winches have an all-new drum that helps to dissipate heat and reduce weight. This drum also has an integrated rope anchor for easy rope installation.

I'm not sure about the zeon warn's but the older warns can have a bit of an issue with synthetic rope. Synthetic rope doesn't like heat. Due to the fact that warns have the break is in the drum they can get really hot. Another issue arose on this winch review test where synthetic actually damaged the drum.

QUOTE From Tug of War: The Ultimate 12v Winch Test(Warn Endurance 12.0 review)
With the new winch mounted to the new plate, we repeated the load rating test, and this time the winch successfully pulled to its full 12,000-pound capacity. After the test, we unspooled the rope and discovered a dent in the drum near the gear side. Once again, we contacted Warn. They informed us that their winch drums are not intended to be used with synthetic rope when the load is in excess of 9,500 pounds. A quick perusal of the synthetic rope product page on Warn’s website indicates that only their own rope is approved for use with their winches. It has a high-temperature urethane coating and a Nomex sheath along the length of the first drum wrap to provide additional protection from drum brake heat. Additionally, the page states that the rope is for winches with a 9,500 pound pull rating or less. We have been aware of a phenomenon with synthetic rope that creates a constrictive effect under extreme tension, which can damage winch drums. The surface properties of the rope (very slick) act differently on the drum surface than a steel rope which has some degree of friction and a less pliable cross-section. Apparently, this is one of those cases. /QUOTE

I don't think I would buy one of the M line or older winches. I found this thread Best Waterproof Winch (with Synthetic rope)? - Page 2 where RubiDriver said

I found this thread researching this issue and the M8000 (entire "M" line) is NOT waterproof. From the manual:

"No lubrication is required for the life of the winch, unless the winch has been submerged in water. If this occurs, a qualified service center must complete service as soon as possible to prevent corrosion damage. If the control pack is submerged, it must be replaced."
Then others say how there non zeon warns have been submerged and worked fine afterwards. I get the impression that the solenoid is waterproofed on these older models while the gearing is just greased real good. It seems like anyone motivated could re-grease there gears, though I haven't looked too much into it.

This is sort of a turn off too from the Massive Multi-Winch Shootout - Four Wheeler Magazine test.
QUOTE During our submersion test, the 9.5xp was the only model to leave behind a layer of golden bronze lubricant called Aeroshell #17. It literally coated every exposed surface of our test tank, requiring us to flush and re-fill the tank to continue with photography.

Choosing Winch Capacity
Taken from Four-Wheeler's Bible: 2nd Edition page 205
QUOTE-The most important consideration is winch capacity. The manufactures all come pretty close to each other in terms of recommended capacity. The minimum capacity to look for is your gross vehicle weight (not curb weight) plus about 15%. If your pickup's GVW is 8,600 pounds, add 15% and you get 9890 pounds, rounded up to 10,000 pounds. The other rule of thumb is 1.5 to 2 times curb weight. If you anticipate harder-core situations, always opt for more capacity. As you will learn further on, rated power comes form the first (innermost) layer on the drum, so having the capacity to "pull your weight" from the outermost layer on the drum could come in handy someday. END QUOTE

I found these definitions on the internet
Curb Weight
The curb weight of your vehicle is the weight of the car with all of the standard equipment and amenities, but without any passengers, cargo or any other separately loaded items in it. Thus, the curb weight is the amount that the vehicle weighs when it's resting on the curb and not in use. This is generally the standard weight that the manufacturer assigns to the car.
Gross Vehicle Weight
The gross vehicle weight is the combined weight of the vehicle and all passengers and cargo pieces in "gross," that is to say, in total.
You can go to the Jeep website compare models to get an idea of the curb weight of your Jeep. Jeep - Compare Vehicle and Model Specifications - Highlights . This is what you'll find
  • 2DR Curb Weight = 3760 lbs. - 4120 lbs. range varies because of options like transmission and wheels
  • 4DR Curb Weight= 4075 lbs. - 4340 lbs.
You can also find the max safe drivable weight posted on the inside of your driver door on a sticker. Mine states the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) is 5100. While it's not the "Gross Weight" but "Max Gross Weight" it will give you a ball park figure.
  • 5865 minimum winch capacity based off the door sticker (not technically "Gross Weight") with 15% added
  • 6156-8208 minimum winch capacity = 1-1/2X to 2X curb weight.

Your only going to get the max pull from the very inside wrap around the drum. You want to keep about 5 loops on there at all times so it won't come off. Every wrap (going the full length of the drum) reduces pulling power by about 12%. So it's a good idea to have a bit higher rated winch for convince of not needing to pull out tons of cable. Here is an example of real numbers.
WARN ZEON 10-S Pull by layer/Lbs(Kgs.)
1 coil/10000 lbs. (4536 Kgs.)
2/8245 (3740)
3/7014 (3181)
4/6103 (2768)
Worth noting is that a snatch block will double your winches pulling power. It also uses more line so in a sticky situation it's a win-win. Of course it will take twice as long to pull. They can also change let you pull around a corner. With 3 and some extra tree straps and shackles you can pull backwards.

I personally leaning toward synthetic rope though there are some trade offs vs wire. It's usually cheaper to get one with synthetic then to upgrade.
  • lighter
  • stronger
  • safer because it has less stretch than wire and is less likely to whip back if it snaps.
  • won't rust
  • floats
  • doesn't kink like wire
  • If it breaks it can be mended if you know what your doing
  • If need be you can cut it and use it as super strong rope
  • Is lest likely to poke you
  • more prone to abrasion
  • UV wear
  • not good with high heat
  • cost
  • holds water which can cause rust, and can freeze in winter

Are any of these really hard to mount. Good or Bad experiences. Pictures are always fun to see too.

Rooster76 05-09-2013 08:42 PM

Looking a bit more into the zeon the centered design does seem to create issues with some bumpers made for more standard offset winches. The mounting holes apparently can be a bit off also.


Originally Posted by reade (Post 3139481)

TexasJeepGirl 05-26-2013 09:15 PM

RECON all the way! I love mine... it has worked well even after mud submersion. It isn't the fastest winch, but how fast do you really want to be winching anyways?

Here it is on its first break in, pulling my husband off of a huge boulder he fell on. It has since pulled many jeeps (thankfully not mine yet, lol) and works like a charm.

jmb6420 05-26-2013 09:49 PM

I've had my Recon 10,500 winch for over a year now. So far, it's never let me down and I could hang my jeep from a tree with it. I bought it at the time because of price, I'd buy it again now because of function.

tomgillotti 02-17-2014 05:47 PM

Was googling info/reviews for Winches with synthetic rope and wireless applications and found this thread. Looks like the Warn is the way to go as it has a wireless part that is plug and play. Anyone done this with the Zeon 10S?

NYJETS 04-20-2014 07:47 AM


Originally Posted by TexasJeepGirl (Post 3795520)
RECON all the way! I love mine... it has worked well even after mud submersion. It isn't the fastest winch, but how fast do you really want to be winching anyways?

Here it is on its first break in, pulling my husband off of a huge boulder he fell on. It has since pulled many jeeps (thankfully not mine yet, lol) and works like a charm.

Well, we know who wears the winch in your family. :happyyes:

BRUT4CE 04-20-2014 08:35 AM

Comeup USA makes a seal line and a fully submersible winch for underwater commercial pulling...

cornfedksboy 04-20-2014 08:47 AM

You can get a Warn 9.5cti, new in box off e-bay for $699.00. It comes with steal cable and a Hawse fairlead, but for ~$200.00 you could upgrade to synthetic. If you are interested, let me know and I will give you the name of the seller. He sells 3-4 per month, but they go quick! I was also able to get the $150.00 rebate and kept the wire cable, so I'm all in for $550.00!

hbciv 05-29-2014 05:33 PM

Great thread! Rooster76 -- Thanks for concisely pulling together all that excellent research. I have also read all those reports, and my thinking is very similar to yours, with Warn Zeon as a top choice, along with Superwinch Talon. I will be mounting mine in a Rubicon X bumper. I am also interested in how the wireless control issue might change the equation. I really want a wireless controller for whatever winch.

Warn offers a very slick wireless plug-and-play option. The newest iteration, the Warn 90287 Wireless Remote, goes for about $75 on Amazon right now: Warn 90287 Wireless Remote for Truck: Automotive
More commonly, it's about $129 at other places.

Superwinch offers a "Certus" wireless controller that seems a few years behind Warn in design and ease of use:
Superwinch 12V DC Certus Wireless Remote System
It retails for about $289 (!??!), but you can find it on Amazon right now for $170: Superwinch (06718) 12V DC Certus Wireless Remote System for S Series Winches: Automotive
The Superwinch store has it "on sale" for about $200:
Superwinch Certus Wireless for S Series Winch, 06718 | superwinchexperts

They trumpet a few features that I found interesting:
Transmitter and Receiver meet IP67 for weather protection
Remote floats in water
Made in Italy
Superior FM Based Signal - Operates from up to 50 feet away
Operates on 915 MHz

Anyone have much experience with using these wireless controllers? Any feedback on features that are most important, problems, etc.?

tomgillotti -- I was excited to check the thread you refer to about Winches with synthetic rope and wireless applications. But there is no link in your post. Can you please post that again?

Thanks to all on WranglerForum for all the great info! Don't know where I'd be without you.

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