Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an off-road junkie, having a good winch is essential for getting unstuck. But what good is a high-quality winch without a decent rope?
The last thing you want is for your winch rope to snap on you. It’ll leave you in a sticky situation or with mud on your face, sometimes quite literally. Having a durable and dependable winch rope is crucial, and these days everybody chooses synthetic winch ropes due to their many advantages.
In this article, we’ll be looking at everything you need to know about synthetic winch ropes, such as the key things to look out for, how to choose a winch rope to match your needs, and our reviews of the nine best synthetic ropes available today.
- Major Factors to Consider in a Synthetic Winch Rope
- Top 9 Best Synthetic Winch Ropes 2021
- 1. Best Overall Synthetic Winch Rope: YaeKoo Synthetic Winch Rope Kit
- 2. Best Premium Synthetic Winch Rope: Offroading Gear Synthetic Winch Rope Kit
- 3. Best Budget Synthetic Winch Rope: Ucreative Synthetic Winch Rope
- 4. Longest Winch Rope: X-BULL SK75 Dyneema Synthetic Winch Rope
- 5. Strongest Winch Rope: Off Road Boar Synthetic Winch Rope
- 6. Easiest Installation: FieryRed Synthetic Winch Rope
- 7. Ranger Ultranger SY45 UHMWPE Synthetic Winch Rope
- 8. Thinnest Winch Rope: Extreme Max “The Devil’s Hair”
- 9. Best Protective Sleeve: Auxmart Synthetic Winch Rope
- Everything You Need to Know About Synthetic Winch Ropes
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Thoughts
Major Factors to Consider in a Synthetic Winch Rope
While there are many additional factors to consider in a synthetic winch rope, four major things stand out. These critical factors will determine whether the winch rope is suitable for your specific use case and requirements. Below are the four major factors to
consider in a synthetic winch rope, but first, let’s take a look at what exactly a synthetic winch rope is.
What Is Synthetic Winch Rope?
Synthetic winch ropes first appeared in the 1990s as an alternative to traditional steel cables. While steel cables are both strong and reliable, they have several drawbacks, which we’ll look at in more detail in our full comparison of synthetic vs. steel section.
As the name suggests, synthetic winch ropes are made from synthetic fibers, typically a multi-braided high molecular polyethylene. This material makes them strong, durable, and light, which is why they’ve become a popular choice for using with winches.
The tensile strength, also known as the breaking strength, is the number one factor to consider as it’ll determine how much weight you can move. The breaking strength is the maximum capacity at which the rope will break, so it must be higher than the load you’re moving to avoid it snapping.
Make sure there’s some wiggle room when it comes to the strength of the rope. Don’t assume a 6,000-pound rope will move 6,000 pounds without snapping; choose a 6,500+ pound rope to be on the safe side. Always go slightly higher than the load you’re moving.
The rope’s thickness (or diameter) ties in with its breaking strength, as a thicker rope is typically stronger than a thinner one. However, that’s not always the case, as seen with this
6,000-pound, 3/16-inch rope. Another thing to think about when it comes to thickness is that a thicker rope will take up more space on a winch drum, especially if it’s long.
Synthetic winch ropes come in various lengths, ranging from 50 feet to 100 feet. The right length for you will depend on your typical winching distance. Make sure you have enough rope for the job, plus a little extra for room to work. Shorter ropes tend to have a lower breaking strength than longer ones, which is worth bearing in mind if you’re working with heavy vehicles.
If you’re going to use your winch frequently, you’ll need a durable winch rope. How durable a winch rope is can be boiled down to what protective features it has—for example, UV protection and abrasion resistance.
Price also plays a role here as the more expensive synthetic winch ropes tend to be of better quality and more durable. If you’re only moving a light weight, and doing so infrequently, then a cheaper, less durable option like the Ucreative Synthetic Winch Rope will do the trick.
While these factors in mind, here are the best synthetic winch ropes available today.
Top 9 Best Synthetic Winch Ropes 2021
1. Best Overall Synthetic Winch Rope: YaeKoo Synthetic Winch Rope Kit
- Length: 92 ft
- Thickness: 1/2-inch
- Strength: 22,000 lbs
This synthetic winch rope from YaeKoo is our best overall pick for several reasons. It comes as a full kit, including an aluminum hawse fairlead and a hook, so you can get it installed and ready to use quickly. You will need to provide your own 10-inch bolts, though, as for some reason this kit doesn’t come with them.
It has a sleek red and black design that’s made from high-quality materials. If red isn’t your color, then there is an option to choose a black fairlead. However, the rope doesn’t come in different colors, so black is the only option. If you’re not keen on black, you may want to look at this X-BULL Dyneema Rope as it comes in multiple colors.
The rope itself is very well made with impressive breaking strength and an excellent length. It’s one of the thicker ropes on our list, but that’s why it’s so strong. Due to its thickness, the rope won’t kink or split easily, and the nylon sheath protects the fibers from abrasion on sharp surfaces, such as rocks. There’s also a 3-meter long red protective sleeve at the other end to protect against excessive drum heat.
Overall, this is an excellent choice to suit most vehicles, including ATVs and UTVs. It is on the more expensive side, so if you’re after a more budget-friendly option with a similar breaking strength, check out this offering from Off Road Boar.
- Includes high-quality hook and aluminum hawse fairlead
- Long rope with excellent strength
- Sleek and stylish design
- Highly durable due to protective sleeves
- Fits most vehicles and winches
- Doesn’t come with fairlead bolts
- Length: 95 ft
- Thickness: 3/8-inch
- Strength: 18,500 lbs
While this winch rope kit from Offroading Gear is the most expensive on our list, it is undoubtedly the most premium option. Everything about it screams high quality, from the rope itself to the small bag and box it comes in. We felt that was a nice touch, as many other ropes just come in a plain plastic bag.
The kit includes a heavy-duty galvanized snap hook and a rubber stopper, but no fairlead. That shouldn’t be an issue as it universally fits most winches, including ARB, Power Winch, and SmittyBilt, on all types of vehicles. It’s easy enough to install as it has a steel terminal end for bolting to the winch drum. If you don’t need that to install it, then it can be removed without any issues.
The rope itself is made from light and super tough UHMWPE, making it a good choice for heavy winching. This material is also easy to handle without hurting yourself, unlike some materials out there.
There is an option to choose a different length and thickness of the rope, but that will affect the breaking strength. The downside we see with this rope is that it comes in a gray color, which isn’t going to be very visible in the dark or when it’s covered in dirt.
- Made from light and robust UHMWPE
- Premium quality look and feel
- Includes galvanized snap hook and stopper
- Steel terminal end makes it easy to install
- Universal fit for all types of vehicles and winches
- Gray color isn’t highly visible in the dark
3. Best Budget Synthetic Winch Rope: Ucreative Synthetic Winch Rope
- Length: 50 ft
- Thickness: 1/4-inch
- Strength: 7,700 lbs
This is the cheapest synthetic winch rope on our list, but that doesn’t mean it’s the weakest. Despite being cheap, it’s made from a heavy-duty synthetic fiber that has adequate UV protection and chemical resistance, in addition to providing minimal stretch and non-rotation. It’s also very light, which helps it float on water with no issue. It’s easy to handle and can be spliced as it’s hollow inside.
You have a choice of three colors: blue, gray, and yellow. We like blue as it stands out and is easy to see in low light conditions. The 0.8-inch solid metal loop is sturdy and will work with any type of hook. The 5-foot long protective sleeve protects the rope from abrasive surfaces, such as sharp rocks or rough terrain.
If you have a traditional roller fairlead on your vehicle, you’ll need to buy a new hawse fairlead. This rope will snap if used with a traditional fairlead and must only be used with a hawse fairlead.
This is a durable and well made synthetic winch rope, and considering the price, it’ll be a favorite for many. If you can spend a little extra, we’d suggest buying something like the YaeKoo Synthetic Winch Rope Kit as it has a better breaking strength and includes additional accessories.
- Excellent value for money
- Three colors to choose from
- Protection against UV and chemicals
- Snaps if used with a traditional fairlead
- Not the highest quality material
4. Longest Winch Rope: X-BULL SK75 Dyneema Synthetic Winch Rope
- Length: 100 ft
- Thickness: 3/8-inch
- Strength: 23,809 lbs
This is the longest winch rope on our list at 100 feet long. It’s made from the ultra-strong but lightweight Dyneema. It’s moisture resistant and can float on water, making it an excellent choice for use in wet conditions. It can also be used in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius without any issues, and you can use it in sunlight without it degrading thanks to its high level of UV protection.
There are three colors to choose from, including orange, blue, and gray. The orange is highly visible, which is useful in the dark. However, if it gets wet or is handled too much, the coloring does come off. This doesn’t affect its strength or usability, but it can make a bit of a mess. If you need to splice the rope, that isn’t an issue as there are no sharp frays.
This synthetic winch rope has a solid loop at one end for connecting your hook and a crimped bolt hole at the other end for bolting to a winch drum. While this product does come with a hook, it’s not the best quality, so you may want to purchase another hook. Alternatively, you can buy a kit that has a higher quality hook included.
Overall, it’s a very well made winch rope constructed using high-quality materials. For moving heavy loads, this winch rope is ideal.
- Very long and high strength
- Made from durable Dyneema
- Multiple colors to choose from
- Includes a hook as standard
- Easy to install to the winch drum
- Coloring does come off when handled
- The included hook isn’t high quality
5. Strongest Winch Rope: Off Road Boar Synthetic Winch Rope
- Length: 92 ft
- Thickness: 3/8-inch
- Strength: 25,000 lbs
This is the strongest synthetic winch rope on our list, with an impressive 25,000 pounds of breaking strength. It’s perfect for winching heavy vehicles, including large trucks and ATVs, plus everything in between. It’s made from a high molecular polyurethane material, which means it’s durable and very good looking when attached to your vehicle. It also includes an excellently made claw hook that uses a spring-loaded latch for ease of use.
At one end, there’s a red jacket to protect the rope from drum heat and abrasion, while at the other end, there’s a protective sleeve that guards against rough surfaces and wear. The rope itself is UV and corrosion resistant, so it’ll stand up in any harsh environment. You can easily splice this winch rope should you need to.
The Off Road Boar will fit most winches, including AC-DK winches, ARB, SmittyBilt, Warn, and many more. While this is a super strong and well-made winch rope, the eyelet leaves much to be desired. It’s the weak point of this winch and may break easily if not correctly installed.
- Outstanding breaking strength
- Includes a high-quality claw hook
- Protected against heat, UV, and wear
- Fits all types of winches
- Mounting eyelet is a weak point
6. Easiest Installation: FieryRed Synthetic Winch Rope
- Length: 50 ft
- Thickness: 3/16-inch
- Strength: 8,200 lbs
The FieryRed synthetic winch rope comes in both black and orange. It’s made from heat-treated Dyneema, providing a good amount of tensile strength and durability. The UV stable fibers have been treated with high-temperature urethane, giving it excellent protection against high temperatures, excessive wear, and abrasion on rough surfaces.
It’s effortless to install, perhaps the easiest of all these winches, as it features a self-tightening rope that holds it secure on the winch drum. The loop eye is of high quality, having scratch-proof, rust-proof, and corrosion-resistant qualities. It also has a thick chemical and UV resistant nylon sleeve protecting the rope from sun damage and the elements.
There is no eyelet at the end of this rope; it’s just a taped end that fits into the drum’s hole. This isn’t a significant problem as a knot can be tied at the end and screwed in, but most products have an eyelet that makes it easier to attach to the drum.
- Dyneema has been heat-treated for increased durability
- Enhanced heat and wear protection
- Self-tightening rope makes it easy to install
- Loop eye is rust-proof and scratch-proof
- Doesn’t have an eyelet for attaching to the drum
- Length: 50 ft
- Thickness: 1/4-inch
- Strength: 7,500 lbs
The Ultranger synthetic winch rope is made from pre-stretched and heat-treated UHMWPE, making it strong and durable. It’s not the most robust synthetic winch rope out there, but it’s strong enough for use with ATVs and UTVs.
It features a double protective sleeve on the pull end to protect against chafing, wear, and excessive heat. It also has a protective sleeve on the drum end to protect against high drum temperatures and abrasion. The rope doesn’t kink and floats easily enough in water due to how light it is.
The stainless steel thimble offers better eye protection than some of the other ropes, and it includes a decent quality shackle. Considering the price and quality of this winch rope, it offers tremendous value for money.
The only downside to this rope is that it’s pretty tough, making it difficult to cut and splice. If you think you’ll need to splice it, we’d recommend the budget Ucreative Synthetic Winch Rope as it’s a lot easier to splice.
- Double sleeved protection
- High-quality stainless-steel thimble
- Includes a good shackle
- Excellent price considering the quality
- Not easy to cut or splice
8. Thinnest Winch Rope: Extreme Max “The Devil’s Hair”
- Length: 50 ft
- Thickness: 3/16-inch
- Strength: 6,000 lbs
We love what Extreme Max has called this product: The Devil’s Hair. It’s a fitting name, considering the strength of this rope in relation to its thickness. At just 3/16-inches thick, it’s the thinnest rope on our list. This is only possible due to it being made from the super light and tough SynSteel.
While it is a very durable rope, it isn’t designed for prolonged use in the sun as it has no UV protection. If you plan to use your winch rope in the sunlight for extended periods of time, pick something with great UV protection, like the FieryRed Synthetic Winch Rope. The Extreme Max does, however, have a protective sleeve to protect it from abrasion.
There are many different colors to choose from, so you can choose what looks best on your vehicle. It also fits all standard ATV and UTV winches, so there should be no issues when it comes to installing the rope to your winch.
- Made from tough SynSteel
- Super thin at 3/16-inch
- Seven different colors to choose from
- Fits all standard ATV and UTV winches
- No UV protection
9. Best Protective Sleeve: Auxmart Synthetic Winch Rope
- Length: 95 ft
- Thickness: 3/8-inch
- Strength: 20,500 lbs
This winch rope from Auxmart comes with a 3/4-inch D-ring shackle that has a nice looking black powder coat finish. In addition to that, the electro-galvanized shackle provides extra protection and looks the part. The rope itself is made from Dyneema, resulting in an impressive amount of strength.
Most synthetic winch ropes come with a sleeve for protection, and while this one does have one, it’s a little different from the rest. The sleeve is very thick and uses Velcro, making it easy to remove and giving it a tremendous amount of protection for the rope. There’s also an additional protective synthetic jacket to provide extra protection. On the drum side, the rope is colored red, which can be used as an indicator for when you should stop unspooling.
Unfortunately there’s no hook included, and despite the high breaking strength, we’re not entirely convinced of its capabilities. Considering the price, we’d go with our overall pick as we feel it’s a better quality product at a similar price point.
- Great looking winch rope
- Electro-galvanized shackle included
- Velcro sleeve for extra protection
- No hook included
- Not the best quality rope out there
Everything You Need to Know About Synthetic Winch Ropes
Synthetic Winch Ropes vs. Steel Winch Cables
As briefly mentioned at the beginning of this guide, there are two main types of winch ropes: synthetic ropes and steel cables. Both have their pros and cons, which we’ll dive into now.
Synthetic winch ropes are, without a doubt, much safer than steel cables. If you’ve ever had a steel cable snap on you, you’ll know exactly what we mean.
Steel cables store up a lot of kinetic energy, which is incredibly dangerous when released through snapping. The heavy hook can easily find itself flying straight towards your windshield. You can imagine how scary that must be.
Synthetic winch ropes, on the other hand, don’t store up kinetic energy. If they snap, the rope will not recoil, and the hook will simply fall to the ground. Because of this, they’re a lot safer to use, and they’re certainly worth investing in.
These days, synthetic winch ropes are just as strong as their steel counterparts. In fact, some high-quality synthetic ropes have a higher breaking strength than steel cables. For example, the Off Road Boar has a breaking strength of 25,000 pounds, whereas a typical steel cable has a breaking strength of just 15,000 pounds.
If you choose a steel cable over a synthetic rope, we recommend choosing one with a much higher breaking strength. As we’ve seen, the consequences of a steel cable snapping are much worse than a synthetic rope breaking.
Synthetic winch ropes are the undisputed winners when it comes to weight. As they’re made from synthetic fibers, they’re incredibly lightweight, typically weighing between 0.5 and 5 pounds. Steel cables weigh a lot more, typically between 15 and 30 pounds. That’s a pretty big difference. Lighter ropes are also better for using in the water as most will float.
When it comes to synthetic winch ropes, the biggest problem with durability is that the fibers can wear down quickly. This is caused by the rope chafing or rubbing against rough surfaces like sharp rocks or hardened mud. Protective sleeves help mitigate this issue to a degree, and you’ll find them included with most synthetic winch ropes, including the double protected Ultranger.
Steel cables don’t have this issue, but they do have their own problems to contend with. As they’re made from metal, they can rust or corrode over time when exposed to the elements. This isn’t an issue with synthetic ropes, and if they’re looked after properly, they’ll be more durable in most situations.
Steel cables are typically a little cheaper than synthetic winch ropes. However, the price gap has been narrowing for years. A typical cable will cost around 20 bucks if it’s short, all the way up to 100 bucks for a longer one. You can find synthetic winch ropes for the same price; for example, the budget Ucreative sits at the lower end of the price range.
Higher quality synthetic ropes, such as the super-strong Off Road Boar will cost a bit more, and the premium ropes will be significantly more expensive.
Choosing the Right Synthetic Winch Rope for Your Needs
If you’re unsure which synthetic rope will be best for your needs, these three questions may help you decide.
What Will You Be Using the Synthetic Winch Rope For?
Are you going to be pulling a heavy vehicle, like a truck, or a lighter vehicle, like an ATV? What you’re moving will determine the breaking strength the winch rope needs to be.
If you’re pulling something heavy, you’ll need a rope like the X-BULL Synthetic Rope with a high breaking strength. However, if you’re only doing light work, a cheaper and lower strength rope will be more than enough.
Also, if you’re looking for something to pull your vehicle over a longer distance, a winch rope probably isn’t the best choice for you. Instead, you should take a look at the best tow straps available.
What Conditions Will You Be Using the Synthetic Winch Rope In?
If you’re going to be using the rope in the wet, make sure the material is waterproof and that it floats on water. This winch rope is moisture resistant, so it’d be an excellent choice for use in wet environments. If you’re using it in cold temperatures, be sure to pick one that can withstand cold sub-zero Celsius climates.
If you’re using the rope in the sunlight for long periods or storing it uncovered, you’ll need a synthetic winch rope with UV protection. Ropes without UV protection will degrade over time if left exposed to sunlight.
How Often Will You Be Using the Synthetic Winch Rope?
Finally, will you be using the rope regularly or just once in a while? If you use your winch every week, you’ll be better off paying a little extra for a higher quality rope. It’ll work out cheaper in the long run to buy a more expensive, higher-quality rope, as it’ll last much longer than a cheap one when used frequently.
Additional Things to Consider in a Synthetic Winch Rope
At the beginning of this guide, we looked at the major factors to consider in a synthetic winch rope. Those factors are crucial to get right, as they’ll determine what your rope is suitable for.
There are some additional, less pressing considerations to think about, which we’ve listed below.
Some synthetic winch ropes are easier to install than others. This will depend on the type of winch you have and what the rope has at the end of it. Some ropes come with a crimped eye so it can be easily bolted to a winch drum. Some have eyelets, and others have nothing at all. In addition to that, you may need to install a new fairlead as some ropes are only suitable for use with a hawse fairlead.
You may have installed a winch rope before, so you already know the drill. If you haven’t done it before, take a look at this video of a guy swapping his cable for synthetic rope to get a feel for the process.
The color of the rope is subjective; beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that. You’ll want something that looks nice on your vehicle. The Auxmart Synthetic Winch Rope has a great finish and looks fantastic on any vehicle, however the black color doesn’t stand out too much in the dark. The color of your winch rope has a practical use as well, as a bright rope is easier to see in low light conditions.
Be sure to check whether the manufacturer provides any type of warranty with the rope. While the rope should handle whatever you throw at it, provided you’re using it correctly, defective products from the factory do occur. A good manufacturer will honor a replacement or a refund if the rope snaps through no fault of your own.
Synthetic winch ropes are made from synthetic material, and there are a few different types, each with different properties. A very popular type is Dyneema.
Others will use a mixture of different materials, such as wire, polyurethane, and nylon, among others. One way to determine whether the material is good is to look at the breaking strength, which is noted in all of our reviews.
Heat and abrasion are the two main ways in which synthetic ropes get damaged. Ensuring the winch rope has protection against excessive heat and abrasion is crucial if you’re using it for long periods of time or in rough conditions. Most ropes will have a protective sleeve to protect against rocks, and many have another protective layer at the drum end to protect against heat.
Most ropes will have UV protection and chemical resistance to ensure they don’t break down if exposed to sunlight or chemicals. It’s also worth checking whether they have moisture resistance too, especially if you’re using the winch rope in the water.
Be sure to check if the rope can be used in cold temperatures if you’re in a cold environment. Some synthetic ropes work in temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Some products only supply the winch rope, meaning you’ll need to have your own hook and rubber stopper. Others come as full kits and include everything you need to get up and running. One such example is the YaeKoo Winch Rope Kit, which includes a high-quality hook.
While this isn’t going to make or break a product, it’s worth remembering that you may need to spend extra money if you don’t already have a hook. It’s also good to check out the quality of the hook that’s included, as some of them aren’t the best quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are our answers to the most frequently asked questions when it comes to synthetic winch ropes.
Q: Can a Roller Fairlead Be Used With a Synthetic Rope?
A: In some cases, they can be; however, most synthetic ropes will wear and break down if used with a roller fairlead. Instead, synthetic ropes are best used with a hawse type fairlead.
Q: Is a Synthetic Winch Rope Better Than a Metal Cable?
A: In many aspects, yes. Synthetic ropes are lighter, easier to handle, and just as strong, if not stronger, than cable. Take a look at our full section on synthetic ropes vs. steel cables where we look at the pros and cons in more detail.
Q: How Long Do Synthetic Ropes Last?
A: This depends on how often you use it and how much stress you put it through. Assuming you look after the synthetic winch rope, it should last for up to 10 years before needing to be replaced.
Q: Do Synthetic Winch Ropes Require Any Maintenance?
A: Synthetic ropes can be kept in good working order by regularly cleaning them with warm water and a mild detergent. Rinse and wash the rope thoroughly, then dislodge any dirt or debris stuck in the braids. Always make sure to dry the rope after cleaning, and use a winch cover when storing for long periods to limit UV exposure.
Q: How Do You Install a Winch Rope?
A: Installation will vary depending on your specific winch and the rope in question. Firstly, you’ll need to remove your old rope so that the winch is ready for the new one. Most winch cables have a small eyelet at the end, which is bolted to the winch drum. Once it’s connected, make sure the winch rope is tightly wound to the winch drum.
Take your time with this, as you don’t want any slack. If it’s not tight enough, the rope can skip, which causes it to fray prematurely.
As we’ve seen, synthetic materials are the way forward when it comes to winch ropes. They have many advantages over their steel cable counterparts, making them an attractive choice for most people.
Considering their durability, strength, and reasonable price point, synthetic winch ropes are worth the investment as they will help you out of sticky situations for many years to come.
There are plenty of different ropes on the market, each with something unique for every situation. Regardless of whether you’re pulling an ATV out of a ditch or a truck through the mud, there’s a suitable synthetic winch rope for everybody.