How To Use Winch – Basic Winching Guide for Beginners

Last Updated on September 21, 2022 by Automobile Note

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You are bound for off-road because it is adventurous and sometimes you need to do it for the call of time and professional obligation.

Whatever the cause or purpose is and however long or short is your off-road trip is, you might get stranded, ditched, or stuck on mud, sand, and the likes.

If your Jeep is with a winch installed in it, getting free of the stuck or stranded situation is a matter of time. But you must know how to use winch for a fast and safe recovery.

If you are a novice with a nominal or zero winching experience, this in-depth guide will help you master the craft of efficient winching.

We have taken care of discussing everything from scratch to the finish. Here in this guide, you can learn about the crucial accessories you will need while winching and the mechanism as a whole.

But for knowing about these, the process of how to winch will seem too overwhelming to better understand the winching task.

With the winch accessories, learning how to use a winch is like a fun read of a collection of tricks and tips or do’s and don’ts.

Over to you, now.

Crucial Accessories To Use A Winch Successfully

Let's see the crucial winching accessories that are necessary for successful winch recovery and comfortable winching. Not to exaggerate, the following accessories are pretty important to keep aware of as they will ensure safe winching in addition to winching convenience and versatility.

However, the accessories you need may vary depending on the following five factors:

  • Type of the vehicle
  • Duration of the trip
  • Your exposure to winching
  • Condition of the terrain and weather
  • How much of them you can pack
Crucial Accessories To Use A Winch
Below you go with the common accessories to have whatever the vehicle you ride on, the length of the trip you are bound for, level of your personal winching experience, and more.

Gloves: You cannot help winching with the protection of gloves. Some may opine that gloves are optional if your winch line is a synthetic rope. But this is a blunder to buy that argument as this rope can burn and cause blister your fingers and palms. Needless to say that going for winching with metal wire winch line without protection gloves is beyond imagination.

Snatch Blocks: Snatch blocks are a multi-purpose accessory to engage as per your need and experience. As for winching operation, it adds to the capability and versatility of the winch. The two most crucial tasks done by a snatch block include:

  • Increase the hauling capacity of the winch
  • Change the direction of winching without compromising safety and efficiency

D-Shackles: The D-shackles are common with off-roaders given the fact that they need it for several tasks while winching a car, truck, jeep, and more. They include the rigging straps, tree trunk coverage, snatch blocks, and the looped end of cables. Accessorised with a threaded and easy-to-remove pin, a d-shackle adds to the convenience and safety of the recovery process.

Tree Trunk Protector/Cover: Live trees are the frequent anchor points in off-road terrain recovery and so the target tree trunks fall exposed to the ravaging force of the winching. In this case, looped trunk protector made of durable high-quality nylon is a go-to alternative. They are two-edged sword that protects the trunk of the tree while offering secure anchoring joints.

Choker Chain: The choker chain is like a normal chain to apply while you are anchoring on sharp objects and abrasive objects like boulders and the likes. You need a two-hook to get the winch line and anchoring object hooked properly.

Two-hook: This is a multi-purpose tool to apply to connect chain loops, looped straps, and wired hooks. While winching, you may need it for the purposes mentioned here.

Shovel: This is no-way a winching necessity but it can clear away obstacles in the way to flat place for vehicle. Off-roaders keep it in their urgent list as it helps remove restrictions in the terrain under and around the vehicle and the tires.

Winch Line Dampener: A winch line dampener is a piece of cloth found in the market to keep hung from the winch line when winching is on. It prevents the winch string from recoiling and makes the torn line fall on the ground. Whereas it is a must for a metal wired winching, you cannot ignore the danger entailing a rope mishap. If you don’t have one with at need, you can use your shirt or pull-over as a winch line dampener.

Winch Line Extensions: As the name suggest, it extends the length of the winch line reach the farthest anchor points when your current winch line falls short of. Thus you can enhance the reach of your winch line and the rigging range of the recovery winch. Synthetic ropes are the most popular material of the winch line extensions. You can a viable alternative with flat strap made of non-stretch polyester.

Winch Kit: A winch kit may turn the hassle of organizing the accessories into a fun and winch manufacturers are now bringing them in the market. They are pretty handy to contain.

Matching Battery Rating: Yes, you have to prefer the suitable battery to the others that may not give proper backing. Suppose, for 12000 lbs winch you need 12-volt automobile battery that features a minimum of 659 Cold Ranking Amps. Then only you can get the highest power backing in need. 

Every unit of a winch recommends the battery rating needed and so you should follow what the manufacturer of your winch refers to. It’s crucial to get the peak performance in a heavyweight task like pulling heavier loads in the form of trucks, jeeps, ATVs, and the likes.

3 Steps To Use A Winch Efficiently

Now that you have been well aware of the major components of the winch, its mechanism, and the crucial peripheral tools that increase safety and convenience while winching; it’s time to land on the ground. 

And we have broken down the process of how to use a winch to recover a vehicle into three steps so that even a novice can understand the total process and smartly unstuck the vehicle in an off-road track on his own. There you go with the advanced winching techniques.

Step-I: Rigging the Winch

Wear the protective gloves to handle a winch line whether it is a synthetic one or the wire cable.

Start with plugging the remote control so that you can operate from safe distance. You should not leave the cable of the remote to dangle in front of winch.

To remain safe, run the remote line through to the driver channel. At it, you can run the operation from inside the car. Disconnect it when the remote is not in use.

Locate an anchor that stands in front of the stranded or stuck vehicle. Never find an anchor point that cannot withstand the winching force and this must be steady enough to hold the mighty pull while winching.

The winching would be the fastest and the pulling can be the best when the anchor point is straight in front of the stuck vehicle.

Deploy the disengage lever so that the winch line can be released at the needed length.
Pull the winch cable up to the anchor point.

Do not pull more than the distant between the winch and anchor so that you may avoid slacking.

Rigging the Winch properly

Conversely, if you find the winch string falls short, find an anchor close to the winch and equal to or less distant than between the two points.

If the anchor point is a live tree, put the tree trunk protector around the place you feel convenient. In case the anchor is a rough rock or sharp object, apply the choker chain and two-hooks.

Now, pin the end loops of the trunk protector up with the D-shackle. Take care that the threaded pin is not tightened too tightly.

Take the winch line and insert the hook at the end of the cable to the D-shackle.

To prevent the cable from further coming out and causing slack, you should now lock the clutch.

Now, it’s time to start operation. If you have a remote control, it’s easier and safer. Continue pulling the cable until the winch line taut or you feel some tension. Take care that the pulling goes slow but smooth.

Step-II: You are all set to start pulling

Make sure that nobody is staying near by the vehicle or in the way. Before you start pulling, you tell everyone to move back as far as possible given the winching may prove extremely dangerous in case of any unwanted situations.

Now, it’s time to enter the vehicle and start operating with the remote control.
Be careful that the car is being pulled slowly but steadily. Keep the process on until the vehicle is in a flat or safe place to move ahead smoothly.

Do not run for so long that the motor gets overheated. Press the gas pedal that helps the vehicle move ahead while winching is on.

Stop at the car’s reaching to a stable ground. Now, switch the winch off using the remote control but before you get out of the car, press the gas pedal again to check if the car is moving without winch pulling. 

set to start pulling the Winch

Step-III: It’s done and time for unrigging the winch

Start with unhooking everything that include D-shackle, the tree trunk cover or choker chain.
You need the remote control again to rewind the winch line and this time the process should be slow.

After the winch cable is back in it’s wrap, you can unplug the remote control and store in a dry and safe place in the vehicle.


Yes, these compilations of tricks and tips will surely help you winch successfully to recover from any off-road adversary involving your vehicle. However, over time you will develop your own techniques and styles in winching if you are a frequent off-road traveller.

Whether they are your own techniques and common practice followed by all, the ultimate goal is to succeed in pulling your vehicle on a safe and stable ground.

On top of all these, how to use a winch also entails treating the winch just like a vehicle that needs to be maintained, cared, and learned about.

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