Hawse Fairlead Vs Roller Fairlead: Which One Is Better?

Last Updated on January 5, 2023 by Automobile Note

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The fairlead on a winch may not be the main part like the winch line, but the convenience offered by it has made it a must-include in the winch set-up. Therefore, you are left with no option to go for winching without a fairlead. But the variations in the type, function, and performance will surely put every off-roader in the toughest confusion. That is hawse fairlead vs roller fairlead – which one to go for?

To come out clearly in favor of one type of fairlead is a bit tough for the novice but not impossible. In fact, an in-depth guide on the crucial consideration can get you to the right fairlead you are in need of. Here you go.

Yes, the synthetic winch rope that is the craze now is compatible with aluminum fairlead. A hawse fairlead is a single-piece accessory made of aluminum, having a hole in the middle to let the winch rope pass through. Aluminum, being softer as metal than steel, doesn’t eat away the rope. Self-explanatory is that steel cable may not prove to be a viable option for aluminum or hawse fairlead as steel can chew and cause decay of the aluminum frame over time.

Winch Hawse Fairlead

What is a roller fairlead?

The traditional and still the widely used material for fairlead is steel. But unlike aluminum fairlead, it is not a single piece turned into a fairlead; instead, it is a frame of four steel rollers structured into a rectangular passage by meeting the ends of the rollers. Thus how it has earned the name of a roller fairlead. It is pretty clear that the cable pass through passage is wider and rectangular.

Winch Roller Fairlead

Another stark contrast is that roller fairlead has four moving rollers while the aluminum one has no moving part in it. Obviously, it lest the winch line glide more conveniently than its hawse counterpart.

Differences Between Hawse Fairlead & Roller Fairlead

The materials can categorize fairleads they are made of and the shape and structure they turn into. They may differ by material, shape, and function, leading to several others on performance and convenience. Here you go.


Roller fairlead is made of steel while hawse one is of aluminum.


Roller one offers a rectangular passage to let the string glide through, and the hawse one has a narrower circular opening.


The roller one is made of four steel tubular rollers met with a pin, and the hawse fairlead is a single piece bolt onto the mounting surface.


Roller fairlead weighs far more than its hawse counterpart.

A bit of query will tell you the versatile and wide use of fairleads to convince you that they are not only essential on winches. In fact, much industrial equipment and machinery along with water vehicles use this lot. Whatever the field of machine you use, the basic function remains the same: to guide a string in a wanted line.

Roller Fairlead: Benefits & Drawbacks 

After learning the differences of both winch fairlead you might need to know about their benefits and drawbacks. So, without further ado, let's see the pros and cons of using winch roller fairlead first.

Benefits of Using Roller Fairlead

  • The name suggests that this fairlead, still the widely used one, is constituted of rollers made of steel. It sets two rollers in vertical orientation and two other rollers in perpendicular orientation creating a rectangular opening for a winch line or rope to travel.
  • The rollers of this fairlead are not set fixed, and so they can move with the running winch line in action. Thus they cause lesser friction and the dragging of the become easier, and the cable of the winch lasts longer. The tradition is that steel or wire cable is used with roller fairlead, but you can use synthetic rope in an emergency. But before using a rope with a roller cable, you better smoothen the rollers in the fairlead so that they don’t chew the rope.
  • To keep winching safe, roller fairlead with its stubborn pins cause minimal failure.
  • A roller fairlead weighs nearly 11-12 pounds and sticks out at least 3.5 to 4 inches from the mounting surface it sits. And so they offer you the sturdiness crucial to deal with huge and heavy loads, and the higher sticking out decreases the approach angle to let the winch line glide laterally.

Drawbacks of Using Roller Fairlead

  • Roller fairlead is the widely used fairlead but giving in to the newly arrived hawse fairlead for various disadvantages.
  • To start with, it is heavier and adds to the overall weight of the winch.
  • Rollers don’t tend to disband but the pins may bend and stop the roller move by barring the winch string gliding at the needed pace.
  • Sticking higher than the mounting base, it offers less approach angle while gliding.

Hawse Fairlead: Benefits & Drawbacks 

Let's see the good sides and bad sides of using hawse fairlead in a winch. After going through this step, you might know the betterness of both types.

Benefits of Using Hawse Fairlead

  • Hawse fairlead differs from the roller counterpart in two sides that include the material, shape, and an intact piece of metal. Another less mentioned differing feature is that a hawse fairlead offers a narrower opening than the roller one, thus guiding the line more accurately than the other.
  • Hawse fairlead is far lighter than its roller counterpart weighing around 2lbs and sticks out at best 1 inch from the mounting base.
  • Theoretically, you can swap the fairlead with each other, but the practical experience is evident that hawse fairlead is better made of aluminum and used with rope while the roller fairlead is fine with steel cable and steel made.

Drawbacks of Using Hawse Fairlead

  • Like everything else, hawse fairlead is not without its due share of drawbacks. To begin with, made of a comparatively softer metal; it can break or bend at pressure and when broken is beyond repair for a single piece of accessory.
  • The vital drawback is it’s vulnerability to the wire cable and if used with wire cable for long can be chewed away over time.
  • And the third one is the narrow opening that causes added friction with the fairlead while the rope is gliding.
  • But they should not prompt you to go for winch roller fairleads without considering the upsides offered by hawse fairleads.

Hawse vs Roller Fairlead: Which One Is The Topper?

The rule of thumb is that the type of fairlead to install on your winch is determined by the winch string your winch has come with or the one you feel fit for the off-road task. Having said that, there are several factors to consider while the question to select one of the two.

Hawse fairlead is lighter and can keep the overall weight of your winch significantly down. And being a single piece of metal, it is not vulnerable to any unwanted and unexpected pressure and may not cause breakage. Moreover, it sits at best one inch above the mounting surface offering more approach angle for your winching convenience.

Conversely, with rollers to move with the running winch line, a roller fairlead offers you far lesser or minimal friction. And this is a great convenience when an arduous task like moving a huge load is the stake. In this regard, you can prefer roller fairlead for improved gliding. But never forget that you should and can avail this opportunity only when you have a wire cable.

Better to know that you can avail a steel hawse fairlead if you want to take advantage of the sustainability of a one piece tool for your steel cable. Therefore, when posed with the confusion of winch hawse vs roller fairlead; you will not be mistaken to take the hawse fairlead to be the topper.


It is pretty evident from the discussion above that giving clean chit to any of the two is a misnomer. They have their respective merits and demerits. Yet, you are posed with the dilemma hawse fairlead vs roller fairlead; you can go for the hawse fairlead for certain edges this one has over the other.

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