Last Updated on August 4, 2022
Winches have seen their fair share of changes in functionality for several years. Today, they are a ‘top priority off-road gear to every rider out there. However, finding the best winch under 500 isn’t just a matter of browsing and picking. We surfed through the items based on performance, mounting options, and water resistance to find the best pick for your needs.
Here, we have carefully reviewed and compiled all the essential ins and outs of the products. The review caters to portraying what it’s like to use the five winches instead of mainstream feature description. So, sit back and enjoy as we walk you through the entire guide.
Best Winch Under $500
When choosing the right winch there’s only one thing you need to prioritize the most. That is to ensure that the winch can bear 1.5 times the weight of your loaded truck. Anything lower than that is a no-go. With that being said, here are the five best picks that fit well inside a $500 budget.
Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC
- Plenty of cable options for you to use
- Multiple solenoid-mounting options are available.
- A detachable tow hook allows the user to easily replace or carry.
- Default cables are long enough to run from winch to hood latch without difficulty.
- Housing has an IP 67 rating despite belonging to this price point
- Contains the three-stage planetary gearbox which means triple the support.
- There is a very negligible delay in terms of signal latency due to not being wireless
- Winch is a standard manufacturing product with no cutting-edge feature
- Users claim that the gear is not a completely waterproof product but pretty water resistant
- The capacitive range is not enough for heavy pulls and climbs
The winch is a hot pick among many off-road riders in the community. The high praises probably hail from the availability and accessibility that the manufacturers ensure to their customers.
If you’re looking to play it safe then this is the right pick for you. It’s hard to go wrong with this winch as it poises the perfect balance between functionality and durability.
However, it’s quite important to understand whether this thing suits your style or not before placing the orders. Through intensive research, we have narrowed down the pool of information into 3 vital pointers –
- The winch is compatible only with 1987 and up Wranglers.
- Able to pull 1.5 times the weight of most loaded trucks.
- Absolutely no special high-end features other than the plaid water resistance.
Here’s what it means – compatibility and service will not be a problem as long as you are aware of which winch supports which version. Looking for that one trustworthy option to rely on? Go with this. However, it’d be foolish to hope for fancy features or heavy-duty service from the Smittybilt at this price point.
X-BULL 12V Synthetic Rope Winch
- Ideal winch for Jeeps, SUVs, and other similar off-trail vehicles
- Three-stage pull provides sufficient pull force even on elevated terrains
- Very promising synthetic rope quality that abstains from rusting
- Great motor power
- Winch service is satisfactory even when the car is semi-submerged in mud due to the waterproof IP67 rating.
- Winch Offers the most value for money compared to other motorized counterparts.
- The sturdy synthetic rope stands out from the crowd in terms of durability and meshing.
- Automatic load holding
- Installation requires some prior experience
- Not as powerful as its direct competition, Smittybelt.
- Wireless versions sometimes face latency issues.
If you’re a frequent off-road junkie then you’ve definitely heard of this X-BULL winch. With an overall load capacity of thirteen thousand, the gear dominates other winches by a large margin.
But here’s what the community didn’t tell you – This unit is not the best winch for beginners. So, if you’re new to the game, get some assistance during the installation.
As far as the aesthetics are concerned, the makers have decided to stick with the carbon black and orange combo to date. To top the looks off with function, the winch offers more than 7 ft of elevation per minute for maximum load capacity. Not to mention the wireless remote-control feature to make our lives a little bit easier.
Ask yourself – Should I get the top winch in the market or should I invest in the best winch under $500? If it’s the latter one, then the X-Bull 12V synthetic rope winch is most appropriate for you. But if that’s not the case, then the Smittybilt is an easy pick.
Superwinch 1135230 Terra 35 3500lbs/1591kg
- Appropriate for small draws as it doesn’t require a lot of amp consumption.
- A sufficient number of oil pockets help the lubricants reach the bearings faster.
- A hand-held remote control is available that allows the user to step back within the radius and control the pull from safety.
- The winch is one of the only ones in the market to have both weather-sealed solenoid, and a handle-topped toggle switch.
- Comes with all the necessary electric cables for the setup right in the box
- Easy and effective controls
- Dynamic brakes
- 4-way roller fairlead
- Tends to overheat if the load gets more than what it can handle
- Mounting bracket needs to be bought separately.
As you can already tell by its size and composition that the winch is not designed for pulling heavily loaded vehicles. Rather the rim is more like a device that you’d rely on for that little extra push during off-road trips. But the 3500 lbs load capacity winch is good enough for small to mid-range UTV and ATVs
Apart from some complaints regarding overheating, the product has a good overall impression among everyday users. So, you can easily get your hands on one of these as long as you don’t need a lot of power supply inside a winch.
The rig is smaller than most other counterparts, so naturally, it doesn’t take up a lot of space. In other words, say goodbye to bulky attachments on the bumpers of your expensive ride!
The weather-sealed solenoid valves and internally adjusted circuit breakers are two welcoming features of this winch. The steel wire rope is 50 ft long which will provide a smooth pull.
The three-stage planetary gears are made of steel & have a 140:1 gear ratio.
Not to mention that the compartments are also weatherproofed. So outside weather, moisture or dirt cannot contribute to malfunctions, etc issues.
WARN 101020 VRX 25-S
- Winch has good overall control over its pull and rotation making it a stable option.
- Comes with the standard three-stage gear planetary system that vouches for the reliability of strength
- You will be able to rely on the load-holding mechanical brakes during process halts and stops.
- Winch offers both options of steel wire ropes and synthetic ropes so that you get to pick the one that’s compatible with your usage.
- The installation method is not too simple but manageable even for beginners.
- Extremely prone to scratches, so the looks lose charm very soon
- Users can pile up on maintenance costs if the installation isn’t done properly.
As the name suggests, the Powersports winch is a powerlifter in the arena. It does a massive share of heavy work for moderate-sized ATVs. In other words, you can call it a slight power upgrade from the Superwinch.
The product description claims that the kit is efficient on smaller ATVs. However, our curious users have decided to turn it up a notch and explore its limits. Very few were disappointed!
Struggling to understand which rope to go for? If your ATV frontline sees its fair share of dips in mud and water then consider going for the high-quality synthetic rope. Otherwise, you may stick with the steel option for endurance. Keep in mind that the synthetic and steel versions feature hawse fairleads and roller fairleads respectively.
Champion 3000-lb ATV/UTV Winch
- Features a permanent magnet that draws a constant pull of 1 HP
- Comes with the entire kit for the setup so you don’t have to spend any extra
- Adequately color-coded wires to make the kit more beginner-friendly
- Since it’s a kit therefore it has more ease of use than other competitors in the market
- Similar mechanism and functionality with a Wrangler winch, so no adjustments are required.
- Operates surprisingly smoothly despite having densely packed motors.
- Doesn’t come with the additional facilities of a three-stage planetary gear system compared to other competitors
The best thing about the kit is that it includes everything that you might need to get started with the winches. Since it is so adequately arranged, you won’t need to spend extra money to fit the remainders. Straight out of the box here are the essentials you’ll come across –
- Mounting channel
- Standard 4-way roller fairlead
- Remote control.
So, to reiterate, you’re getting everything that the big boys were offering. But the only difference here is that you’re getting it for a fairly affordable price. So if it’s value for money that you’re looking for, then this might be the optimal pick for you and your ATV!
Things to Look for Before Buying a Winch Under $500
What You’ll be using it for?
You should first decide what you need the winch for. If you just need it occasionally to get your car unstuck from a ditch, then you don’t need to spend as much money on a top-of-the-line model. However, if you are an off-roading enthusiast who will be using the winch frequently, then you’ll want to make sure you buy a high-quality model that can stand up to regular use.
The winch’s pulling capacity
This is one of the most important factors to consider because it will determine how much weight your winch can pull. If you plan on using your winch for heavy-duty tasks, then you’ll need a model with a high pulling capacity.
The amount of power the winch has is also an important consideration. A powerful winch will be able to pull heavier weights and will do so with less effort on your part. If you plan on using the winch for pulling heavy loads, then make sure to buy one with plenty of power.
The cable is an important component of the winch. You should look for a winch that has a durable and heavy-duty cable. The most common type of cable is synthetic rope. Synthetic ropes are made from nylon or polypropylene and are quieter, lighter, and safer to use than steel cables.
The length of the rope or cable
This is another factor that will affect the performance of your winch. A longer rope or cable will allow you to reach further distances, but it will also add more weight to the overall system. A longer cable is more versatile, but a shorter one may be easier to control.
The type of motor used in the winch
There are two types of motors that are commonly used in winches: electric and hydraulic. Electric motors are lighter and more compact, but they require an external power source (usually a battery). Hydraulic motors are larger and heavier, but they’re more powerful and don’t require an external power source.
This is especially important if you plan on using the winch frequently or in tough conditions. You’ll want to make sure the model you choose is made from high-quality materials that can withstand regular use and abuse. Also, look for a model with sealed bearings or other features that help protect against wear and tear.
Winches can be mounted in different ways – permanently or temporarily. Permanently mounted winches are bolted onto the frame of the vehicle while temporarily mounted winches can be removed when not in use. Permanently mounted winches are more difficult to install but they’re also more secure and have a higher weight capacity. Temporarily mounted winches are less secure but they’re easier to remove when not needed and they weigh less.
Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch is for those of you who want to play it safe and get the best jeep winch under $500. On the other hand, you may consider getting the Superwinch 1135230 or the WARN 101020 if your needs are smaller in terms of pull force.
Lastly, make sure you like what you see. And don’t be afraid to trust your instincts for the gear’s feel prior to purchase! Happy off-roading.