Loading and unloading a boat is difficult, requiring a lot of effort and equipment to mount on a trailer and get off the water. With the best boat trailer winch, there are no complications. Mounted on the stand of a trailer tongue, all I need is to rotate the winch and it handles the weight of my boat easily.
Choosing a boat winch is overwhelming. Aside from deciding whether to pick a manual or electric winch, it is also crucial to consider the correct one that can handle the size and weight of your boat. The type of line and design of the crank are also important factors.
Are you looking for the best boat winch? Read this guide and I will walk you through some of the top products worth considering and valuable information to learn about boat winches.
Table of Contents
- Best Boat Trailer Winch Reviews
- 1. Reese Towpower 74329 Trailer Winch
- 2. Camco 50001 Marine Towing Winch
- 3. Fulton FW32000101 F2 Trailer Winch
- 4. TR Industrial 8542121457 Trailer Winch
- 5. AC-DK THW3500C Hand-Crank Winch
- 6. Megaflint Reversible Electric Winch
- 7. Goldenrod 14825 Hand Trailer Winch
- 8. Master Lock 2953AT Electric Winch
- 9. OpenRoad Boat Trailer Winch
- 10. Shoreline Marine SL52338 Trailer Winch
- 11. Bravex Electric Trailer Winch
- 12. 8MileLake SZ1008 Hand Winch
- What is a Boat Trailer Winch and How Does It Work
- Types of Boat Trailer Winches
- Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Boat Trailer Winches
- Buyer’s Guide
- Care and Maintenance
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Boat Trailer Winch Reviews
1. Reese Towpower 74329 Trailer Winch
With the reputation of the manufacturer and its low price, it is hard to go wrong with this small boat winch. It comes with a 20-foot strap and a maximum weight capacity of 1,500 pounds. Meanwhile, it has a gear ratio of 4:1, which means that cranking the handle four times is equal to turning the drum once.
One thing I love the most about this manual winch is its durability. The gear is made of wear-resistant high-carbon steel. It is anodized to create a protective oxide layer to minimize corrosion and maximize the functional life of the core material. To add, it also has a premium shaft and drum bushings that need minimal maintenance.
Aside from being durable, this Reese Towpower winch is also user-friendly. Thanks to the design of the handle, I enjoy easy cranking. Even with a heavy load, I don’t feel the weight of my boat when rotating the handle. I also like that the handle is a bit long, which gives better leverage.
More so, this winch is easy to install. I installed it in roughly 15 minutes without a helping hand. It does not include the necessary mounting hardware, but it is a breeze to install. The bolts and nuts needed are pretty standard, so there’s no problem in finding them.
2. Camco 50001 Marine Towing Winch
If you are looking for a heavy-duty boat trailer winch, this is one option you should not miss. With a 1,200-pound capacity, it is effortless to load and tow a boat within its range. The two-inch UV-resistant polyester web strap makes sure that it will handle boats even with minimal effort.
This winch has a durable steel body, so I am confident that it will last through the years. Even with constant exposure to the sun and saltwater, it is not easily prone to wear. The zinc plating and powder coating protect the inner material from external damages.
The power of this winch is also notable. One reason for this is the double-drive gear. This gear is unlike other winches that are only on one side. The heavy-duty gear is also worth mentioning because of its simplicity. Even for first-time trailer winch users, it is straightforward to operate.
I also like the long handle of the winch. It can interfere with the bumper of the trailer, so we may need a spacer. Nonetheless, I like the length because it is easy to grip and crank, even if I have a large hand. The rubber that wraps the handle is also a plus, making it effortless to rotate even when my hand is wet.
3. Fulton FW32000101 F2 Trailer Winch
While it might be quite expensive, this Fulton boat trailer winch is worth every dollar. It has a sleek design and advanced features, which complement almost any boat and trailer. Among others, I most like its enclosed design since it protects the internal components against dust, debris, saltwater, and other things that speed up wear.
With a rated maximum load capacity of 3,200 pounds, this is perfect even for large boats. It has a dual-gear drum and two-speed planetary gearing system for smooth and effortless one-hand cranking.
The Fulton F2 two-speed winch is corrosion-resistant and maintenance-free. Even after years of use, it stays highly functional without requiring too much from me. I don’t need to oil and tighten the components.
Aside from its remarkable construction, this Fulton 2-speed winch is also incredible because of its adjustable soft-touch handle. I can customize its length from six to nine inches, depending on the most compatible size with my trailer set-up. This additionally allows me to better balance speed and torque. I can also set-up the handle left or right.
Fulton isn’t making any baseless claim in marketing this hand winch since their product’s performance was rigorously tested in the harshest environments. The material, including the coating, withstood all these tests. To demonstrate their confidence in the quality of the winch, the manufacturer is offering a five-year warranty.
4. TR Industrial 8542121457 Trailer Winch
I highly recommend this small boat trailer winch if you hate complications. The assembly is a breeze since the shipping package is pre-installed. All that I need to do is to attach the handle and the winch is ready. It is already fitted with a nylon strap and a hook that fits a chain of up to 5/6-inch.
The versatile drum design is one of its best features. While it comes with a 20-foot strap, the drum is flexible enough to accommodate even ropes or steel cables. Regardless of what I choose, it delivers the same incredible performance.
Another thing that I love about this winch is its premium construction. The steel body is already enduring on its own. It is even made better by the zinc and black plating. It will provide tough protection against extreme elements, making the winch weather-resistant.
The ergonomic handle is also worth noting. It cranks effortlessly and large enough so that I can hold it easily. It rotates smoothly. The textured grip is also a plus, allowing me to hold it firmly even if my hand is wet.
Performance-wise, this is also a great product. It has a 4:1 gear ratio for quick loading and unloading. Plus, it has a two-way pawl. By flipping the ratchet, I can change the way the reel engages the gear.
5. AC-DK THW3500C Hand-Crank Winch
Built to lift boats with a maximum weight of 3,500 pounds, this product is one of the boat trailer winches on my list. Like many of the products in this buying guide, it is made of durable steel. With zinc plating, the heat-treated steel will resist rust and corrosion. Even in unforgiving surroundings, the winch remains incredible.
For efficient cranking, I like how it comes with two handles. It has an eight and ten-inch handle, both of which are built to minimize fatigue, ensure comfort, and enhance productivity. They have an anti-slip cover, allowing me to hold it tightly, especially when the trailer is heavy.
Another good thing about this manual boat trailer winch is the superior mooring hook with a safety pawl. It lifts a load without a problem. Also, there is a two-way ratchet system for versatility. It moves forward or backward, depending on what a specific situation requires.
The winch set includes a gear grease. This makes it easier to keep the gear lubricated, resulting in a smoother mechanism. I don’t have to worry about the friction that can slow down and make the boat winch prone to wear.
6. Megaflint Reversible Electric Winch
With its dual-mode operation, I can use this product both as a manual and electric winch. I recommend using it as a manual winch for lighter loads. For a heavier boat, I use it as an electric winch to tow with minimal effort. The best thing is that it ratchets without noise while having optimal power delivery. It is unlike other loud and annoying electric winches, especially with a hefty load.
Ease of use is another reason why this power boat winch stands out. It has a 9’9” corded remote. I can operate the winch even from a distance. All I need to do is to press the rocker switch to power-in and power-out the winch.
Technically speaking, this electric boat trailer winch is superb. I was easily hooked with its amazing specs. This 6000-lb boat trailer winch has a great rolling and pulling capacity. To add, it has a 12-volt DC motor that delivers up to 30% more power compared to most electric winches.
I applaud this Megaflint trailer winch for having both mechanical friction and dynamic brake. Those added features prevent unwinding under tension for safer loading and unloading. It tightens the drum to prevent it from spooling.
7. Goldenrod 14825 Hand Trailer Winch
The versatility of this hand-crank winch is notable. It has two operating modes to choose from, and each one is most suitable for a specific application. I can choose from the normal 5.4:1 gear or the low 17.3:1 gear ratio.
One thing that sets it apart from other manual winches is the Tuffplate zinc plating. Compared to a standard zinc finish, it has up to three times stronger corrosion resistance. Laboratory neutral salt spray tests confirm that this is indeed effective in preventing corrosion.
Another striking feature of this boat winch is the 9.5-inch quick-attach handle. The spring-loaded clip lets me quickly change from a high to low gear or vice versa by using only my thumb. I can secure it into the drive shaft without any tool. Plus, it has an ergonomic grip for comfortable handling, even at the maximum weight capacity.
This manual winch has a reversible hatchet. I can turn it clockwise or counterclockwise without any problem. Regardless of the direction in which I crank the steel cable or nylon strap, it is smooth and effortless.
8. Master Lock 2953AT Electric Winch
The weight of your boat is never an issue with this product. The galvanized cable steel makes sure that it pulls without exerting a lot of effort. This 5,000-lb boat trailer winch delivers powerful performance for both pulling and rolling a load.
This tough electric winch has a durable steel hook permanently attached to the cable. This way, I am confident that the hook will not detach from the chain or tow strap. The motor is enclosed, which protects it against external elements.
Electric winches can be prone to failure. It is frustrating when the winch suddenly stops working. Luckily, this model comes with a back-up hand crank, which means that I can instantly convert it into a manual winch.
It offers flexible mounting options. I can install it permanently or temporarily on a flat surface or ball-mount hitch. A mounting plate is already included.
More so, I love how this electric boat trailer winch with strap has a toggle remote. It has a 9’9” cord, allowing me to control the movement of the winch even without physical access to the main unit. I can easily stand out of the way of the trailer.
9. OpenRoad Boat Trailer Winch
Like many others in this buying guide, the heavy-duty steel body of this hand winch is one of its best assets. It has a 10-meter steel cable, which easily supports a maximum weight capacity of 1,600 pounds.
The bushes, shaft, and gear are made of heat-treated carbon steel. They are powder-coated and zinc-plated. With the superior treatment, I am confident of its corrosion resistance even after years of use.
I also admire this affordable but heavy-duty boat winch because of its user-friendly design. Installation is a breeze because it already comes with standard mounting holes. Cranking is effortless because of the anti-slip handle. I can grip it tightly without suffering from user fatigue.
This manual boat trailer winch has a 4.1:1 ratio. The adjustable speed means that I can customize its operation depending on the handle position. To add, I can crank it both forward and backward.
The winch drum’s large diameter is also worth mentioning. It results in minimal wear on the steel cable. Furthermore, it winds smoothly to reduce friction. The drum sits tightly on the wall plate and is highly responsive to the direction of the crank, even when the trailer is at a full load.
10. Shoreline Marine SL52338 Trailer Winch
If you are on a budget, this manual boat trailer winch is a great option. While it is cheap, it has decent quality. Admittedly, the performance is far from the more premium boat winches, but it is pretty decent. It has a two-way ratchet that can also lock in a neutral position, making it effortless and safe to load my boat onto the trailer.
The heavy-duty construction is one thing that makes it extraordinary. Cheap is one word I can use to refer only to its price tag but not its materials. The zinc-plated steel body is designed even for the most demanding surroundings. It is not easily prone to damage, even with exposure to saltwater. Even the strap is sturdy.
With its rubber power handle, cranking is not a problem. I can rotate it smoothly with a strong grip, even if I have a wet hand. The textured surface will ensure that my hand does not slip, even if I exert more force when cranking.
I also like the built-in hook on the strap. It has solid stitching, so I am confident that the nylon strap will not disintegrate easily. The hook, meanwhile, has a large clasp, which accommodates my boat’s bow eye.
11. Bravex Electric Trailer Winch
If you are searching for the best electric boat trailer winch, this is one product to include on your list. It has a pulley inside the box, which doubles its pulling force. The manufacturer claims that the motor power is up to 30% higher compared to similar electric winches.
This dual-direction power winch for boat trailers offers versatility. I can use it for both pulling and spooling. Whether for power-in or power-out, it has incredible performance. To add, it also has a dual-operation mode, which means that I can use it either as a manual or electric winch. An emergency crank is included if I want to convert it into a hand winch.
The galvanized steel cable is another distinguishing feature of this winch. It has a maximum rolling capacity of 6,000 pounds and a pulling capacity of 2,000 pounds. With its solid construction, this electric boat trailer winch has a high weight capacity. Plus, it is protected against external elements that can speed up the damage.
In several 12-volt electric boat trailer winch reviews, this product was praised because of its low-noise design. Even if the cable is steel, it has no annoying sound. With less than 75 decibels, it has an ultra-quiet operation.
For safety, this electric boat winch has an automatic braking system. This prevents the load of the winch from turning the handle. In turn, it minimizes the chances that the steel cable will freespool.
12. 8MileLake SZ1008 Hand Winch
The price tag of this winch is one thing that attracts many buyers. It is one of the most affordable products on my list. While it is economical, it is packed with striking features, many of which are present even in higher-end boat trailer winches. It provides excellent value for the money, especially because it has a high weight capacity.
This 2500-lb boat trailer winch has a polyester webbed strap. It resists wear and harsh weather, so it stays strong even after a while. Even if it gets wet, it does not easily stretch, allowing it to support the stated capacity. Unlike a steel cable, it does not corrode. The 24-foot strap has a width of two inches.
At the end of the strap, there is a 3-3/8-inch hook with a 3-4-inch opening. It also comes with a convenient clasp that easily connects to the bow eye of my boat.
The one-way handle is large and ergonomic for effortless cranking. I am comfortable throughout its use and it minimizes fatigue. I love the large grip and the smooth turning mechanism, even if my trailer is loaded.
Another good thing about this product is its two-speed design that offers optimal flexibility. It also comes with forward and reverse ratcheting to suit multiple applications.
What is a Boat Trailer Winch and How Does It Work
A trailer winch is one of the most important boating accessories. It is used to haul a boat to easily load it onto a trailer and connect to a tow vehicle. It makes the launch and retrieval of the boat effortless.
It is operated electrically or manually. The strap tightens to pull the boat to the trailer. On the other hand, the strap loosens to release the boat from the trailer. The strap can be made of nylon or steel cables.
Types of Boat Trailer Winches
Before you purchase a trailer winch, it is important to know the different types available, including their respective pros and cons.
Manual Boat Trailer Winch
This is the most common and affordable type of trailer winch. It is known for its simplicity, although it requires quite an effort to operate. It lifts a heavy load, but you still have to exert muscle power in cranking the handle. You will rotate the crank clockwise to pull a boat onto the trailer. Meanwhile, you will rotate it counterclockwise to release the boat.
Electric Boat Trailer Winch
If you are looking for a more modern and user-friendly alternative, electric winches are great. Instead of a crank, it is hooked to a 12-volt car battery. It is more expensive but powerful. It has a higher weight capacity and requires minimal effort. There are some winches with buttons in the housing, while some have a corded remote to control even at a distance. It can also have several settings to offer versatile functionality.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Boat Trailer Winches
The best thing about a boat trailer winch is that it hauls heavy loads without requiring a lot of effort. Even if I have a big boat, I don’t have to think about loading and unloading it onto the trailer. By ensuring proper handling, it also minimizes the chances that the boat and my tow vehicle will be damaged. Plus, it keeps me and the people around the boat safer.
Honestly, I don’t see any drawback in owning a boat trailer winch. The main issue for some would be its cost. Nonetheless, there are a lot of affordable winches. To add, the benefits outweigh the cost, making a high-quality winch worth every dollar.
With too many options for boat trailer winches, it is easy to be overwhelmed. To help you decide what to pick, below are important considerations.
Like in other boating essentials, the winch material is indicative of price, durability, and performance. Steel is the most common core material. It is heavy and sturdy. On its own, however, steel is prone to external damages including rust and corrosion. It is commonly zinc-plated and powder-coated to make a heavy-duty trailer winch.
The line of the boat trailer winch is the part that reels in and out of the winch drum. Its quality is directly related to the pulling capacity or weight limit. The stronger the line is, the more weight it can support.
Steel cable and nylon strap are the most common line materials. Nylon straps are similar to a car’s seat belt. It is flat and strong. Even if it is wet, nylon does not stretch. Meanwhile, for a more durable alternative, I recommend a steel cable. It has a higher pulling stretch, but it is bulky, heavy, and will demand more effort from you and your car battery.
Find the best boat trailer winch that matches the size and weight of the boat. If the boat is too heavy, the winch will end up breaking, which is a serious safety hazard. As a rule of thumb, pick a winch that supports at least ¾ of the overall weight of the trailer and boat. Do not buy a winch with the same capacity as the weight of your boat. For instance, if you have a 1,500-pound boat, then you will need at least a 2000-lb boat trailer winch.
In some products, capacity is stated in different categories. Pulling, rolling, and marine capacity are some of the words that you will often encounter. Consider the specific environment where the boat trailer winch will be used.
It is the speed of the winch or the number of revolutions made by the larger gear in relation to the smaller gear. It is also indicative of the number of cranks for every turn of the drum. The higher the number, the more efficient is the trailer winch. Heavier boats require a higher gear ratio. High gear ratios are important for more demanding applications.
A single-speed trailer winch is best for small boats. Meanwhile, for heavier boats, I recommend choosing a two-speed winch. The latter has a low and fast speed, so I can choose which one is more appropriate for a specific situation.
In a manual boat trailer winch, the handle is used for cranking. It reels the strap, cable, or rope in and out, depending on if you are getting the boat off or onto the trailer. The length is one of the most important. It should have enough clearance and should be comfortable for you to hold. There should also be an ergonomic grip, usually made of rubber. Plus, it is good if it is textured, which will prevent your hand from slipping when cranking.
Electric winches are powered by a motor. This must be enclosed by a plastic or steel frame, which protects the internal components from water and other external elements. The motor must deliver exceptional power to match the load. It should also be energy-efficient to save battery.
Controlling electric winches can be done through built-in buttons. There are usually two buttons to reel in and out. Meanwhile, some have a remote, which allows me to control the main unit without being next to it. The length of the cord is an important consideration. Others are more advanced and will have a wireless remote.
Getting a boat on and off the trailer will have safety repercussions, especially amongst inexperienced users. It is important to have a good braking system. This will prevent the strap or cable from freespooling. A self-locking gear will make sure that the line will not move unless you are rotating the handle or pushing a button on the controller.
The best boat winches have an exceptional warranty. The standard offered by many manufacturers is one-year. I suggest that you look for longer coverage, such as five years. Within this period, the winch is warranted to be free against defects. If there’s any problem, the manufacturer will extend a hand. This is important for peace of mind.
Care and Maintenance
From UV to saltwater exposure, external elements cause boat winches to degrade over time. It results in premature wear and compromises performance. To keep the trailer winch in its peak condition, here are the best things to do.
- Carefully read the manual. From installation to operation, follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Trailer winches can be made of varying materials, and hence, they also have different care requirements.
- Clean the winch regularly. If possible, wash it after every use. Dirt and debris, including mud and leaves, can harden if they are not properly cleaned. It can affect the performance of the winch and speed up wear.
- Check the line carefully and look for signs of damage. Whether in steel cable or nylon straps, watch out for fraying and kinking. Regular lubrication is also a must, especially in steel cable. It promotes smoother reeling to minimize friction while also reducing noise.
- While using grease is important for regular maintenance, do not use it in pawls. Adding a lubricant will cause the latter to stick. In turn, it prevents the gears from engaging. Using a light oil is best for lubricating the pawls.
- As a part of regular maintenance, disassemble the winch at least once a year. Keep all components safe as you will need to assemble them later. Clean each part. Do not use chemicals, abrasives, or other cleaners with harsh ingredients.
- Spool the cable or strap into the drum. Otherwise, it is prone to tangling and can be a pain to wind and unwind. The structural integrity is also compromised if it is not properly spooled.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before closing this buying guide, allow me to answer a few questions about boat trailer winches.
Who makes the best boat trailer winch?
Some of the best brands are Reese Towpower, Camco, PowerWinch, Fulton, Megaflint, and Dutton Lainson, among others. These providers of top-notch boat trailer winch products offer a diverse selection that suits different budgets.
How do you size a boat trailer winch?
Getting the right size of the winch can make a huge difference when loading or unloading a boat onto the trailer. It can save you from frustration while also keeping you and other people safe. The most important is to use the weight of the boat as the basis for sizing the winch and not its length. The maximum weight that the boat can support should be more than the maximum weight capacity of the winch.
At the very least, the weight of the boat must be ¾ the load capacity of the winch. For instance, if the boat is 1,500 pounds, then the maximum capacity of the winch should be 2,000 pounds. To err on the side of caution, I would recommend doubling the weight of the boat. So, for a 1,000-pound boat, choose a winch with a 2,000-pound weight capacity.
How much weight can a 2500-lb winch pull?
A 2,500-pound trailer winch can pull a boat with a maximum weight of 1,875 pounds. However, this is not an absolute figure as it depends on several situations, such as whether you are pulling a boat from an incline or in the water. The material of the strap and the overall quality will also dictate the overall capacity. I recommend that you consult with the manufacturer to be sure.
How do you set-up and use a boat trailer winch?
Setting up a winch is overwhelming for beginners. Read the manual since the instructions may vary depending on the design of the product. In most cases, however, here are the things that you need to do:
- If there is an existing winch, remove it first. Disconnect the wires, pull off the strap, and remove the old nuts.
- Once you are ready with the installation of the new winch, check the holes. Make sure that they line up. Otherwise, you will need to install a new boat trailer winch stand or bracket. Drill based on the patterns of the holes in the new winch.
- Position the winch in the trailer arm. Secure using the appropriate nuts and bolts.
- In some models, the strap or cable is not yet installed. If that’s the case, then install it on the winch drum.
- Test the boat trailer winch. Crank the drum to see if the straps are moving. For electrical winches, push the button and see if there is any activity on the drum.
- Once the winch is in place, connect it to the boat using the hook provided.
How do I replace a winch strap?
With constant exposure to UV rays and saltwater, the boat trailer winch strap is prone to damage. If it needs a replacement, here’s how to do it:
- The first and most important thing to do is to select the right strap. Consider the material, width, length, and load. The maximum breaking load should be at least 20% of the total weight of the boat, including everything it is loaded with.
- Get rid of the old strap. Loosen the bolt or nut that holds the strap. Once it is free, pull the strap.
- Remove the bolt and inspect for damage. If there are serious signs of wear, replace it.
- Clean the winch drum and see if there is rust or corrosion. After cleaning, install the new strap. Wind the strap into the drum.
- Finish by adding a light grease to lubricate the new strap.
How do I use a boat trailer winch safely?
Whether you are operating a manual or electric boat trailer winch, below are some of the most important safety tips:
- Start by reading the manual and religiously follow the operation instructions from the manufacturer. Follow the stated weight capacity.
- Do not use the winch to tie a boat in a trailer. Instead, use a bow, gunwale, or similar material specifically designed to function as a tie down.
- See to it that the winch line does not rub on rough edges. This will minimize chafe and prolong its functional life.
- If using an electric winch, turn on the engine of the tow vehicle when winching. This will help conserve the battery.
- Do not touch the wire rope, cable, or strap when the winch drum is rolling. Excessive pressure can hurt or break your finger.
- Pay attention to the ramp, not just the winch. See to it that it is strong enough to accommodate the weight of the boat as it is loaded on and off the trailer.
- Regularly check the line, drum, handle, and all other components. If there is any sign of damage, address the problem immediately.
Where can I buy a trailer winch?
Check out some of the most popular e-commerce sites, such as Amazon and eBay. Aside from a great selection of brand-new models, you will also find a used boat trailer winch, which is a great option for those on a budget. Make sure to read online reviews and compare prices from different sellers.
The best boat trailer winch is a great investment. It is a must-have for effortless loading and unloading of my boat. I do not need to exert considerable muscle power. Whether manual or electric, a high-quality winch is a lifesaver! From construction to performance, take note of the products I reviewed above, and it is hard to go wrong!