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It’s often said that if you don’t get stuck during a day of off-roading, you’re not trying hard enough. That’s why we’re strong champions of making a reliable winch part of any Jeep or truck build. Yes, we should all wheel with a buddy, but there are occasions when recovery by your trail friend is not possible. Or, as is often the case, everyone is stuck at the same time.

Luckily, the crew at Superwinch have sunk a tremendous amount of R&D into their new SX Series of winch products. Built to provide an ideal combination of power and speed, these winches are just the ticket for getting you, or your buddy, out of a jam. The fact that they look good on the front of your rig is just a bonus.

Superwinch SX Series Jeep

So, with a little help from the experts at Superwinch, here’s a closer look at everything you need to know about choosing the right winch for your Jeep or truck, from which features you should be looking for to install tips and more.

Features to Consider

Superwinch SX Series

What to look for:

  • Winch Capacity
  • IP Rating
  • Controls: Wired or Wireless?
  • Gear Type

Most off-roaders know that if a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing (save for that unneeded burst of throttle that got you stuck in the first place). And this line of thinking helps explain why SX Series winches are offered in both 10,000 lb and 12,000 lb capacities—which should be more than enough pulling power to get you out of even the trickiest of messes.

Jeep winch

In addition to determining how much winching power you’ll need, thinking about the conditions in which the winch will be used is also crucial. The very nature of off-roading virtually assures your winch will be tasked with operating in tough conditions, so always look for one that is appropriately suited for that kind of dirty work. SX Series winches bear an IP68 rating, which is an international standard meaning they are deemed fit enough to withstand operating in dusty, dirty, and sandy environments. Most importantly, it also means these winches are resistant to being dunked in about 5 feet of water for up to thirty minutes.

Another key feature to consider? The control for your new winch. Fumbling in the dark is no fun, making the lighted wired remote that comes with the SX Series a welcome companion after the sun goes down. The addition of a patented drumlight is a smart feature as well, one which comes in handy at night to help users see how much rope they have left on the winch drum. It also permits users to make sure the line is spooling up correctly when retracting the cable, rather than returning to base and finding the thing tangled like a rat’s nest.

Superwinch SX10000 drumlight

Finally, it’s important to know the type of gear being used by your winch. There are three basic types – planetary, worm, and spun – with the latter having largely been phased out of production these days. Of the other two, planetary gears use a brake inside the drum center and are a good choice due to their low weight and compact size—two big reasons why Superwinch uses this type of gear in their SX Series.

Determining Capacity

Once you’ve settled on the overall winch capacity that best suits your needs, it’s important to look at some of the winch’s other functional capacities. Most crucially, the product wrapped around the drum spool, aka the rope. There are two key points to consider here: namely, what’s it made of, and how long is it? Both the SX 10000 and SX 10000SR are well equipped in this department—but they each take different approaches in terms of construction and total length. (We’ll get into more details on that below.)

Jeep winch rope close up

And while the outright horsepower rating of a winch isn’t a be-all-end-all harbinger of its performance, it never hurts to have an extra few ponies on tap. SX 10 Series models have 5.5hp sealed motors to drive the unit, while SX 12 models bump that up to 6hp. Both also feature a relocatable die-cast aluminum control box, a boon for those of us who are prone to fabbing a custom bumper onto which off-the-shelf solutions don’t fit.

Read More Off-Road Tips: How to Upgrade Your Truck’s Front Bumper

SX 10000 Winch

Superwinch SX10000 Winch

In addition to the features just mentioned, this SX 10 Series winch comes with a rope made of steel wire construction measuring 85 feet. It’s operated by a 12-foot handheld wired remote which, in a fit of ingenuity, also features a flashlight with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This means it can help light the way before you plug the remote into the winch, meaning no more fumbling around in the dark for the plug port or tripping on your way up to the front of your rig. (Pro tip: never underestimate the value of having as many lights as possible out on the trail—especially when trying to extricate oneself from a sticky or sandy mess.)

A durable metallic graphite powder coat finish helps the SX 10000 look good while providing real-world protection; remember, this thing is out there on the front end of your rig, constantly being assailed by whatever muck or grit you’re blasting through.

SX 10000SR Winch

Superwinch SX 10000SR Winch

The key differentiator for the SX 10000SR winch? It employs a synthetic rope for its pulling duties, which is the same diameter (3/8”) as the wire rope found on the SX 10000, only it’s 5 feet shorter. It’s up to you if the synthetic’s inherent advantages – ease of use, light weight – are worth putting up with the slightly shorter overall length and potential for abrasion damage if used improperly. As we mentioned earlier, it all comes back to how, and where, you plan on using your winch.

The 10000SR also sees fit to include a wireless handheld remote in addition to the 12-foot wired remote mentioned above; this is an excellent addition, and one that most off-roaders insist on having once they’ve tried it for themselves. It’s easy to see why wireless remotes are becoming increasingly popular: there are no wires to get tangled, and the range of most wireless remotes place its operator well out of harm’s way. (It’s worth noting that this option can be added to the SX 10000 as well for wireless remote converts who prefer a wire rope on their winch.)

Install Tips

As with any tool capable of hauling several tons, it’s extremely important that a winch be properly installed—and if you’re unsure about any of the steps, the safest bet is to have your new winch installed by a pro. There are few more terrifying sounds than the ‘patwang‘ of an improperly-fitted winch being ripped off its mounting brackets under stress. Same goes for the rope (wire or synthetic). Incorrect routing of the fairing can cause abrasions and binding, neither of which are good news for winch owners.

If you feel comfortable installing a winch on your own, always make sure the bumper onto which the winch is being mounted can handle the strain. Many off-roaders elect to fit an aftermarket steel bumper in preparation for winch duty, and many of these accessories have a spot specifically meant for a winch to be installed.

Jeep winch

Stoutly-installed and carefully-operated, a winch can be one of the handiest tools in your off-road arsenal, helping transform your Jeep or truck into a machine capable of handling just about anything. Make sure to do your homework before purchasing, and you’ll be ready for your next off-road adventure in no time.

For more on the Superwinch SX Series, click here.