Originally Posted by RebelChief
. . . I wanted to see everyone's opinion and advice on buying a winch. I have a 2wd and I can't take on hard trails but Iv been stuck and I can get stuck easier than a 4wd so I wanna get one to self recover. . . .
I mostly go camping and exploring the deserts of southern California but it's mostly with just my girlfriend so I need to have a method to get us out. . . . .
I am relatively new to this forum, but not to offroading. Although I've been doing it for 40 years, I do not consider myself an expert and am always learning. Even so, let me offer some grandfatherly advice:
1. Offroading with a single vehicle is a recipe for disaster. Yes, we've all done it, but we shouldn't. Always
go with a buddy. Three vehicles is even better because in the event of a catastrophe, someone can stay with the broken rig and the other can go for parts/help, etc.
2. Never cheap out on recovery gear. Your life may depend on it. A winch that seizes from overheating or poor construction is useless. Placing your confidence in cheap gear can get you into worse trouble than if you didn't have it at all. Slow down, save your money, and buy quality gear.
3. A winch is not a panacea, especially in the Southern California deserts. What are you going attach the cable to? (See Rule #1.) Do you have recovery points on the front and rear of your rig? A shovel and some sand ladders (or even a couple of pieces of roofing shingles) can get you out of most spots. Also, with only 2wd, you are at a serious disadvantage when you get off the established hardpack trails. You may want to consider restricting the scope of your offroading somewhat until you can buy a 4wd rig.
4. You didn't mention what kind of recovery gear you have now. Shovel? Strap and shackles? Hi-Lift jack? (Which can serve as a come-along/manual winch.) Tools? Repair kit? Put a kit together and keep it in your rig. There are many lists on the Internet detailing the things you should always carry. Put that kit together before you buy a winch.
5. When you are ready to buy your winch, don't waste your money on anything less than one with an 8,000 Lb. capacity. Buy a reliable brand, and be sure to take into consideration the strength or weakness of your rig's battery and charging system. A winch without a proper source of electricity and adequate wiring will let you down when you need it most. (See Rule #2.)
I am not trying to discourage you, just give you some things to think about.
I'm also not ignoring your original question. I'm partial to Warn winches, and wish there was a way to mount my trusty Warn 8274 on my Xterra. Warn winches are well made, can be repaired or rebuilt, and Warn offers good customer service. Friends who have Ramsey and Superwinch report mixed results. No one I wheel with has much, if anything, good to say about Smittybilt or Harbor Freight.