Best Winch for Nissan Frontier

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Last Updated on June 30, 2022

The main factor when you want to buy the best winch for Nissan Frontier is the gross vehicle weight. If you have ever used a winch, you know what it is.

In case you’re new to this, in short, it’s the weight of the vehicle after taking the extra loaded weight into account. For a Nissan Frontier, the winch must have at least a maximum pulling capacity of 9,500 lbs.

There are several other factors you might want to keep note of, for example,

  • The cable material: Synthetic or steel
  • Controller
  • Motor power and gear ratio
  • Length of the cable
  • Ease of installation
  • Waterproofing
  • Pulling speed

I follow these factors when choosing a winch for myself. And the following 3 winches below are my favorite ones.

Best Winch for Nissan Frontier 

Smittybilt 98612 XRC 12K GEN3 Winch COMP Series – Top Pick


  • This is the 3rd and most improved generation of XRC winches
  • Faster speeds, an increase as much as 12% over the 2nd gen
  • 12,000 lbs pulling capacity winch
  • Their highest-rated motor to this date at 7 horsepower
  • A fascinating load indicator system 
  • Synthetic rope and aluminum hawse fairlead
  • For waterproof measures, it has an IP67 rating
  • Draws less amp even at full load than the older generation
  • Remote has a torch that is extremely helpful in low light conditions


  • There’s no wireless remote control
  • Slower speed than the Warn winches

Smittybilt has built quite a reputation for being the obvious choice when you’re on a tight budget. It’s got all the bells and whistles you need. The Gen 2 XRC winches were fine, but I love the improvements I’m seeing in this Gen 3. If not anything, it at least looks at the part as a modern product.

The first thing you’ll notice is the remote control which is a wired one. It’s more ergonomic and has good in-out indicators. Additionally, it has a flashlight that will come in handy in low-light situations.

Smittybilt has two versions of this XRC winch. The one in my review is from the Comp series. Only the comp series comes with a synthetic cable. And it’s a good one with a length of 95-feet.

Now, the part where they brought improvements. The reduction gear ratio increased from 165:1 to 178:1, which is not much, but it is noticeable in speed. And they put a more powerful motor in it that draws less amp. So that’s a good step towards conservation.

Like the previous generation, it also comes with an IP67 rating — nothing surprising there.

The limitations are pretty clear. No wireless remote and a slow action compared to other winches even though it’s better than before.

Even with those limitations, I can easily point at it if anyone wants to have a reliable winch under $800.

WARN 103253 VR EVO 10-S Electric 12V DC Winch -Premium Pick


  • New and improved motor draws fewer amps
  • 10,000 lbs pulling capacity is more than enough for a Nissan Frontier
  • The 218:1 gear ratio balances speed and energy consumption
  • A standard planetary gear train
  • Works submerged in water for half an hour, thanks to the IP68 rating
  • You’re going to appreciate its wired and wireless control modes
  • A strong synthetic rope that’s almost 90-feet long


  • This one is the costliest on this list
  • A slow winch even without the loa

The thing that attracts most people to Warn winches is the top-class manufacturing process and build quality in a medium price range. If you’ve used the previous VR winches from warn, you’re going to love this VR EVO. It’s the 3rd gen and has been proven to work longer and more efficiently.

It’s a 10,000 lbs pulling capacity winch. And that’s going to have more room after taking care of your Nissan with a full load (considering the GVW is 5,600 lbs).

The total build quality deserves praise. From an aluminum hawse fairlead and a metal to metal design, it won’t be giving up on you any time soon.

I can’t make up my mind about their choice of gear ratio. It’s 218:1. That means it’ll run faster than the other winches on this list but slower than many other premium winches.

It comes with both wired and wireless controllers. That’s not surprising since it’s supposed to be a flagship killer. The synthetic rope is quite strong, and it’s easily repairable with a braiding technique.

And finally, even though it’s the priciest winch on here, it’s quite cheap if you compare it to premium winches. Therefore, it can easily be recommended as a winch for your Nissan Frontier.

Smittybilt Gen 2 XRC Winch – Budget Pick


  • As cheap as it can get while fulfilling the basic needs
  • The pulling capacity is adequate for a Nissan Frontier
  • Three more versions with more pulling capacity up to 17,000 lbs
  • Rated IP67 for being waterproof
  • Solenoid on this unit is a solid one
  • Control pack can be positioned in 3 places
  • 4-way roller fairlead


  • The slowest one on this list
  • Lacks dynamic braking

I don’t know if it’s a bad thing or a good thing that when people consider Smittybilt’s XRC series, they’re looking for a budget winch. I guess it has merit since it has a good amount of popularity. Either way, Smittybilt’s XRC Series winches are still the kings when it comes to basic features at a lower price.

This XRC model comes with 9,500 lbs of maximum pulling capacity. Your Nissan Frontier weighs roughly 5,600 lbs on full load. The calculation says that this winch is enough.

However, you can choose a larger pulling capacity from the other three options; 12,000 lbs, 15,500 lbs, and 17,500 lbs. These might be overkill for a lot of people.

The good things about this winch are the waterproof rating and the 500-amp solenoid. These won’t let you down. Furthermore, if you want to adjust the control pack’s position, the winch has 3 different spots where you can place it.

There are limitations. For example, you’re not getting any wireless remotes. And even though the steel rope is good, synthetic cables would have been better.

And it is a slow winch. This XRC 2nd gen winch is a budget king. However, you should go for the 3rd gen XRC winches if you have the budget.


There isn’t a shortage of good winches out there. These 3 winches are among the most popular ones because of their top value per dollar. In my humble opinion, Smittybilt’s Gen 3 XRC winch from their Comp series is the best winch for Nissan Frontier if you take its price and features into account.

Of course, the Warn VR EVO is the better one.  It’s got better features and more reputation behind it. But you’re also paying more for it.

If you’re on a quite short budget, the Gen 2 XRC is also there. It’s just good enough for its purpose.

You can also check my other winch reviews suitable for different vehicle models:

best winch for nissan frontier

About the Author: Brian Silvestro

Brian Silvestro is the founder and chief editor of OffroadersArena. He spends his free time tending to his BMW iX SUV and explaining its merits to anyone who'll listen.

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