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Should You Use A Steel Rope or Synthetic Rope For Your Warn Winch?

Should You Use A Steel Rope or Synthetic Rope For Your Warn Winch?

Choosing the Right Winch Rope: Steel vs Synthetic

The Legacy of Steel Rope

Steel rope, the pioneer of winch ropes, has been a trusted choice since 1959 when WARN introduced the electric winch. Crafted from aircraft-grade galvanized steel, it boasts exceptional durability and resistance to abrasion, making it the preferred choice for heavy-duty industrial applications such as towing or moving logs.

Strengths of Steel Rope

One of the key advantages of steel rope is its remarkable resistance to abrasion. It can withstand contact with rough surfaces like rocks or stumps without compromising its integrity. Additionally, it is resistant to UV rays and chemicals, enhancing its longevity. When it comes to cost-effectiveness, steel rope outperforms synthetic rope, costing about a quarter of the price over its lifespan.

Limitations of Steel Rope

Despite its strengths, steel rope has its drawbacks. It is heavier than synthetic rope, which can be a consideration for some users. Over time, it can develop barbs that necessitate the use of gloves when handling. It can also be less flexible and more challenging to manage than synthetic rope. Moreover, when under load, steel rope can store a significant amount of energy, necessitating careful handling and adherence to safety procedures, including the use of a damper on the line.

The Rise of Synthetic Rope

Synthetic rope, initially used in the marine industry, has gained popularity in the vehicle recovery winch sector over the past 15 years. Made from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), it is incredibly strong. A special urethane coating protects it against UV damage and prevents dirt and grit from infiltrating the weave.

Benefits of Synthetic Rope

Synthetic rope is not only exceptionally strong but also lightweight, making it suitable for truck winches with a capacity of 16,500 pounds or less. It is easy to handle, flexible, and soft, and unlike wire rope, it doesn't develop barbs or "fish hooks." Synthetic rope also doesn't store as much potential energy as steel, reducing the risk of injury due to rope failure.

Drawbacks of Synthetic Rope

Despite its benefits, synthetic rope comes with a higher price tag than steel, costing about two-thirds as much. It also generally doesn't last as long as steel.

In conclusion, the choice between steel and synthetic rope depends on your specific needs and applications. Both have their pros and cons, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision. Always remember to follow the correct rigging techniques and safety procedures when using either type of rope.

For a high-quality synthetic rope winch, consider the WARN Winch M15-S 12 Volt Electric with a 15,000-pound line pull and 80-foot Spydura synthetic rope. For more information on how to use the product and important safety tips, visit or refer to the product literature.