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Winch Line - Cable vs Synthetic Rope

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by admin, Jun 7, 2013.

  1. admin

    admin Your club! I just turn it on!
    Staff Member Moderator Lifetime Member Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Many of people ask this question. Which is a better choice, Cable or Rope? Everyone has an opinion on this topic. So we have collected this information from around the web.

    Most synthetic rope is made from a type of ultra high molecular polyethylene material. Some even come with a urethane that helps protect the rope from chemicals and ultra-violet rays. Many winch factory ropes include sliding sleeve to protect it from wear and abrasion while winching. A polished aluminum hawse fair-lead is required to be used with all rope lines. A roller fair-lead could pinch the rope and damage it. Do not use a hawse if it is rough or frayed up.

    Synthetic Rope Pro's
    - Lightweight.
    - Does not store engery (safer when pulling).
    - Floats.
    - Thinner diameter (more line on the drum).
    - Stronger.
    - Can be spliced back together.
    - Flexible.
    - Easy on the hands.
    Wire Rope Pros
    - Durable, Tried and true.
    - Can Drag On Rocks.
    - UV Stable.
    - Abrasion resistant.
    - Cheaper.
    - Uses either fair-lead style.
    - last longer
    Synthetic Rope Cons
    - UV damage (keep out of sun).
    - Will melt.
    - Subject to internal damage by dirt, mud, and sand.
    - Needs more protection when using.
    - Hard to find a weak spot.
    - More expensive.
    - Requires polished aluminum hawes fair-lead.
    Wire Rope Cons
    - Weight
    - Stores Energy, can pop back if it snaps
    - Doesn't float
    - Not very flexible
    - Though on hands, steel splinters
    - Very difficult to fix on the trail.
    This debate has heated up recently. Synthetic rope is becoming more popular and more mainstream. Here is what we think about it.

    Synthetic rope is the winner in our book. It is a super great product that can be used for many ATV/SXS recovery situations. If you use your winch a lot and are concerned about weight, synthetic is the way to go. It doesn't develop sharp burrs like steel rope, and doesn't store as much potential energy when under load. On the flip side, synthetic rope is more prone to abrasion, and should be regularly inspected for frays or other damage caused by UV, chemicals, and overall use. And when using synthetic, you always want to lay down the abrasion sleeve when needed to guard against rope damage.

    Steel rope is extremely durable, and is good for both vehicle recovery and utility work, such as moving trees, rocks, etc., since it resists abrasion very well. Ultra-violet wear is also not a factor with steel rope, and it may be a better choice for you if you don't frequently use your winch. Steel rope is heavier than synthetic, can develop rust, and can also develop sharp burrs. This is one reason why we always recommend users always wear heavy gloves to protect their hands while handling the rope.

    Some people immediately think synthetic rope is safer than steel rope. Although steel rope will store more potential energy, since it's made out of steel, it is less prone to abrasion (and possible fraying). The bottom line is that no matter which line you choose, you need to follow safe winching techniques and take all necessary safety precautions. Honda has put together a Winching Safely post. Follow these guidelines for safe winching.

    Credit - Warn and Honda.
    #1 admin, Jun 7, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 20, 2015
  2. nutmeg

    nutmeg New Member

    Jun 15, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I bought a winch with cable. I ended up backlashing it and messing it up. I replaced it with rope a few weeks later. I really like the rope. My next winch will have rope I will not go back to cable.
  3. greenatv

    greenatv New Member
    Lifetime Member

    Feb 18, 2013
    Likes Received:
    YEP... I am a hard core rope guy. I will not own another winch with wire.
  4. bobbyhill

    bobbyhill Pay to Play and I'm broke all around!
    Junior Moderator Lifetime Member Supporting Member Club Contributor

    Apr 8, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Smithfield, VA
    I have to agree with @scott !
    I guess I am an old school “wire” guy! If you follow standard safety precautions then steal Cable is the better and safer buy.
    scott and p500fan like this.

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