Synthetic Winch Rope versus Steel Wire
Synthetic and steel winch ropes.

Mick Farmer specialises in 4WD driver training for organisations like the United Nations, who service developing African countries, particularly in Uganda. Off-road driving conditions on the African and Australian continents are similar in many respects and much of what Mick says is relevant to us over here. The obvious major difference is that here, we don't have to negotiate too many land mines, and it's not an everyday occurrence that someone shoots at you as belt across the Nullarbor.

We recently decided to fit synthetic winch rope to our winches. The decision was made from a purely safety stand point. Winch wire tends to get easily damaged especially when you’ve got a class full people who have never used a winch before. We were getting increasingly concerned of the consequences of one snapping. The probability of it happening was pretty low as we maintain the gear well. But…you never know.

If one did break with 3 tons of pull on I wouldn’t like to see the consequences even if it were dampened.

A while ago I had read some pros and cons of synthetic winch rope and the only real con seemed to be price. It’s a little bit more expensive but a hell of a lot lighter. So it worked out about the same once it was shipped to Uganda.

The Results

We’ve been using it now for about a year and I think we’ve put it through some very rigorous tests using it on the recovery course. So here goes with my purely personal opinion of the stuff.

  • It’s lighter and friendlier to use.
  • It has a higher safe working load than its wire counterpart.
  • It doesn’t kink itself when you don’t have a straight line pull therefore less chance of causing irreparable damage.
  • If it does break under load reports have said that it self dampens. But we put a dampener on for the belt and braces approach.
  • It’s friendlier on the pulley when doing a 2:1.
  • You get rid of those horrible roller fairleads.
  • It’s easier to clean and then load back onto the drum when carrying out maintenance.
  • You don’t get any stray wire strands going through your gloves.
  • You can let it slide through your gloves without the risk of damaging your gloves and hands.
  • Your carrying almost 12kg less on the front of your 4wd.
  • It’s safer safer safer safer….
  • It’s bloody brilliant.

Mick questions their need at all in - Power Winches - Do You Need One?

This article is published under CCL.

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