Winches seem to generate as much discussion as tires, lift kits, or trash talk on forums. There are those who feel they want the best and have strong opinions to render, and those who are cost-conscious and are happy with a less-prestigious product.
So goes the discussion regarding Warn, Smittybilt, Mile Marker, etc…
I’ve always owned Warn winches and found them to be outstanding products. Even as long as 8 or 10 years ago they were pricey for their class, but anyone who bought one was assured they were receiving a good product. The problem is that it was seldom used, and if I had to measure the cost per pull, I’d be nearing the breakeven cost of having a wrecker come get me each time.
Unfortunately, Warn’s prices haven’t gotten any better with respect to their competitors, who have upped their game and are producing better products. While the value of a winch shouldn’t be measured on a per-use basis, I also want to ensure that if it’ll seldom be used, it will work when I need it to. I won’t be abusing or wearing it out by any means, but electronics and connections do go bad just being out in the elements.
So after some consideration I settled on a Smittybilt XC8 with the synthetic rope to cut down a bit on weight. So what do I get for half the cost of a comparable Warn? I surely get a made-in-China product which doesn’t thrill me, but I have to think they’re engineered and designed here in the U.S. I get mixed reviews because I can’t decide who’s blowing more exhaust – the Warn aficionados or those who are happy with their Smittybilts.
Finally the cost won me over to the Smittybilt. It may not last as long, but I can replace it twice as often as a Warn for the same overall cost. I also figure I can take a chance on the product for $400.
The ultimate test of course, will be to ensure it works when I need it. I think the solution to that is to check it often and maintain it. The Warns sat on the bumpers untouched and unused for years at a time. Testing and caring for the Smittybilt every few months should alert me to potential problems that can be addressed early.
The next few parts of the bumper prep should include the winch install.