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If your vehicle is fitted with a winch, be sure that you know the correct safety procedures and how to maximise the effectiveness of a winch. There are commonly four types of winches used off road, two are mechanical and two are powered by the vehicle. A fifth type is the capstan winch that attaches to the wheel rim, but is seldom seen.

The mechanical two are the hi-lift jack and donza winch. Both of these require hard labour and could be used for backward winching as well. When using these two methods, you are in the middle of the danger zone, and safety lanyards are to be used. Safety checks are of utmost importance.

A vehicle mounted winch is a great self recovery tool for forward direction recovery only. The vehicle mounted power assisted winches are the electrical winch and the hydraulic winch. The electric type being the most common is connected directly to the vehicle battery, preferably the auxiliary battery.

The hydraulic type is usually more expensive and connects into the power steering system. All of these winching methods have pros and cons and are personal preferences. With vehicle mounted winches the most power is attainable when the cable is at the last layer at the winch drum, as the cable or synthetic rope is now pulled out to its maximum length. The cable normally has a maximum mark about four winds from the end.

The power of the winch pull can be doubled up by using a snatch block and connecting a double line pull. A triple line pull could also be connected if two snatch blocks are available. The required strength of the pull must be roughly calculated before hand based on the vehicle mass, severity of the stuck condition, slope etc. to ensure that the winch is powerful enough for the recovery.

Correct safety procedures are to be followed at all times as this could be a potentially dangerous recovery technique. Safety lanyards and recovery blankets are to be used.

Recovery training is advised.


Double line winching with safety lanyard in position

Line connection with safety lanyard in place