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Best Electric Boat Winch Reviews
Hauling a boat onto a trailer is not for the faint of heart! Even with a smaller fishing boat, turning that hand crank over and over can really take it out of you. And a larger boat like a big sloop or catamaran can be downright dangerous to attempt without help.
But there is a simple tool that can make trailering your boat much, much easier: an electric boat winch.
Sometimes the hassle of launching a big boat can really limit how much you enjoy your investment. Keeping a quality electric boat winch on hand can reduce the hassle of launching and trailering your boat, and allow you to take advantage of the time you have for recreation.
After a day on the water chasing bass, sailing, or water skiing, getting back to the launch site and knowing your boat will slide onto your trailer with ease is super convenient.
There are a wide variety of electric winches that are used for boat trailers. Many of the same units are also used for applications in ATV’s and vehicle recovery. With that said, there are significant differences from one electric winch to the next, and it’s well worth considering the options before making a quick purchase.
Boat winches specifically designed for mounting to boat trailers are somewhat smaller units, and are usually used for recreational fishing boats or sport boats designed for watersports. Larger sailboats and power cruisers are going to require a larger electric winch unit that provides significantly more pulling power.
Which electric boat winch will provide for your needs is going to depend on your boat and other pieces of equipment that might make good use of your electric winch. If you need a quick comparison you can find all the details in the feature chart below. Keep reading to see which features might be of importance for your application.
Top Boat Winch Features To Consider
- Load Capacity – Load capacity is one of the most important factors to consider. Over-loading your boat winch is to be avoided entirely. Not only can you damage your winch or your boat, but it could present a dangerous situation for other people in the immediate environment. Overkill with a boat winch is a much better option than purchasing a boat winch that just doesn’t get the job done, or fails entirely.
- Waterproofing – Using your winch for your boat in and around the water poses the obvious risk of water exposure. Not only from the actual body of water when you are launching or trailering your boat, but also from weather conditions, wet gear, etc. We are big proponents of using a waterproof winch whenever possible. It offers protection for your investment, and allows for other uses that might pose an obvious risk of water exposure.
- Remote Control – Controlling your winch is going to happen either from the winch itself, a wired remote, or a wireless remote. Being able to walk out to the side of your boat trailer to check the alignment as your boat slides onto the bunk boards is really helpful, particularly when you are trailering your boat without an extra set of hand and eyes to help. That won’t be a possibility if you controls are located on the winch itself, but a wired or wireless remote can make your boat winch much more versatile.
- Synthetic Rope vs Steel Cable – Both of these options have their strengths and weaknesses, but synthetic rope is by far the more popular, and of course, more expensive option. That’s not to say that steel cable is not strong. In fact, steel winch cable is tremendously strong and for most boat winches it is a perfectly viable and affordable option. The advantages of synthetic cable are worth noting though. Synthetic cable is a a step above steel cable in strength. And if by some wild feat of physics, you miraculously snapped your synthetic cable under tremendous strain, it is also very safe compared to steel cable. A broken cable can cause significant damage to anyone or anything in the immediate surroundings.
Top Boat Trailer Winches Comparison
Best Boat Winch
1. X-BULL Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch
The X-BULL 12V Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch is one of the most powerful consumer-grade winches you’ll find on the market. With a rated pulling-force of 13,000lb, most boats will be easily handled by this option.
Along with its high power output, it also comes with an incredibly strong synthetic rope, and this can hold more than 23,000lb. This makes the X-BULL a convincing option for anyone with a boat on the larger side, offering enough pulling power to both get your boat out of the water and make up for the currents and waves it’s being exposed to in the process.
It doesn’t stop here, though.
Unlike other winches on the market, the X-BULL is fitted with an overload protector. This will ensure that the winch doesn’t burn out when you are giving it too much weight to pull, while also preventing emergencies like fires.
An easy to use clutch lever gives you control over your winching power, and a convenient cover will keep your winch in good condition when it is stored outside. Like many of the winches in this category, the X-BULL can be attached to most vehicles, as long as they have the right mounting points for it. The winch is waterproof, featuring an IP67 rating.
The X-BULL gets the top spot on this list thanks to its high power, wealth of accessories and options, and the affordable price tag it carries. While it isn’t specifically a boat winch, it will be more than capable of pulling boats out of water in a wide variety of environments. It even comes with a remote control to make the whole thing easier. It’s always worth exploring your options when you’re buying something like this, though, and this is why we’ve included reviews for a range of other boat winches.
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2. Smittybilt 97495 XRC GEN2 Winch
The Smittybilt 97495 XRC GEN2 is one of the most popular electric winches on websites like Amazon. Thanks to robust build quality, smart design, and an affordable price tag, a lot of people use this winch, and you can find success stories surrounding it all over the web. Coming it at 9500lb, this winch isn’t quite as powerful as the X-BULL. Of course, though, 9500lb is still a very large boat, and this should suit the needs of most sailors. Like the other winches on this list, the Smittybilt is powered by your vehicle’s internal battery, making it worth carrying a spare or two on longer trips.
The Smittybilt 97495 comes with a range of features which can’t be found on a lot of other winches. It comes with a wired remote control which features a long and durable cable, an XLR connector for repeated use, and a 3.7m cable length for convenient use. 6.6 HP amphibious motor and electronic components are all protected from water, with the whole unit having an IP67 rating. The mechanical side of this winch even comes with a lifetime warranty, and this is enough to convince a lot of buyers that this will be the winch for them. It also includes a 4-way roller fairlead to keep your cable in the right place.
There are a lot of factors which should go into choosing something like a winch, and power tells just a small part of the story. This Smittybilt winch is well-built, is packed with features, and comes with warranty protection which should keep it in use for years to come. Despite this, though, the performance simply isn’t on par with the X-BULL. Most users will be perfectly happy with this option, though it’s worth considering the other winches you can find before you dive right into buying one.
Here is a good review of the Smittybilt XRC Gen2:
3. Bravex Electric Waterproof Boat Winch
Dropping down into another weight category, it’s time to look at the Bravex Electric Waterproof Boat Winch. With a 3500lb weight rating, this is the smallest winch we’ve looked at so far. While this limits the types of boat it will be able to pull, this gives this small winch an edge over its competitors; it can be installed on just about any four-wheeled vehicle. Designed to be attached to UTVs and ATVs, this could be ideal for anyone who likes to take their boat into the great outdoors. Some people prefer the knob-style clutch which comes on winches like the Bravex.
Alongside the standard features, the Bravex includes some unique options which make it stand out from the crowd. With both a wired and wireless remote, this winch won’t leave you powerless if your batteries run out, instead of giving you a secondary option which can be mounted directly to your vehicle. It also includes a strong hook and 4-way roller fairway, giving you everything you need to pull your boat out of the water with a single machine. Even the wire rope which comes with it is high-spec, featuring aviation grade alloys which will be plenty strong enough to pull a 3500lb boat.
This winch is clearly designed for much smaller boats than a lot of the alternatives on the market. Bravex have done extremely well to tailor this winch to this purpose, though, with the handy corded remote having mounting points for an ATV’s handlebars and the overall unit being small and light enough to be used on vehicles like this without upsetting their weight distribution. The whole unit comes with a 5-year warranty, which is less than the Smittybilt, but still plenty for most buyers.
4. Megaflint Electric Boat Winch
The Megaflint electric boat winch is another popular option on sites like Amazon, though this is also the lightest winch on our list. It’s advertised with a 6000lb rating, though this isn’t the whole story, as this only accounts for the winch’s rolling capabilities. When it comes to pulling your boat, this winch will only be able to manage something up to 2000lb. This should still be enough for a lot of the boats on the market, but could leave you without the strength you need if you have a much heavier boat. This winch comes in an unusual form-factor, but can still use standard winch mounting holes.
Thanks to its low-power, the Megaflint is a very small unit. It will be able to fit on just about any vehicle without changing its appearance too much, and provides a surprising amount of pulling force for something so small. It only features a wired remote, though this is much better than only coming with a wireless option, as losing your remote or running out of batteries can be a real pain when you’re out on the water. Unfortunately, this winch is quite a lot slower than a lot of its competitors.
This winch isn’t the most convincing option when you look at it on paper. Without much power behind it, the inability to add fairways or other accessories, and the strange form-factor it uses will put a lot of people off. Where this winch really shines is the price it comes with. Owners of smaller boats don’t need to spend a fortune on their winch, and this product fills this gap perfectly, providing you with a compact and affordable winch which will have no trouble pulling you craft from the water.
5. Champion 3000-lb Winch Kit
As the final option on this list, we’re going to take a look at another low-power option. Rated for 3000lb of pulling force, the Champion Winch Kit is quite a lot stronger than the Megaflint. This makes it far more capable for more serious boating enthusiasts, while also offering a lot of headroom for those who have smaller boats. Like some of the other options on this list, this winch is designed to be mounted on a wide-array of vehicles, including ATVs and small cars. The wired remote it comes with can even be mounted onto the handlebars of your small vehicle.
Equipped with a 49ft aircraft-grade cable, you should have absolutely no trouble using this winch, even in environments which aren’t ideal for it. It comes with a strong latched clevis hook, along with a 4-way roller fairway, ensuring that the whole thing is sturdy enough for weights it is rated for. The unit isn’t waterproof, offering only water resistance, and this makes it crucial that you keep this winch covered when not in use. This winch can be mounted to standard holes, and a plate is provided to make this much easier.
As far as small winches go, this is the best on this list. It comes from a recognisable brand, offers excellent built quality, and comes with all the accessories you could need to start using it. Along with this, a lot of people have been using this winch for a long time without any major issues. Champion offers a range of winches in different weight categories, making it worth checking out their full range if you have a larger boat, or would like a winch with a little more head room for future boat purchases.