Best Hydraulic Winches of 2019 – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Finding the best hydraulic winch might be a challenge. But if you have a good understanding of what they are and what they can do, the search process may not be as tough. A good, solid winch is great for hitching or towing campers, trailers, or anything that needs to be transported from one place to the next. So it’s important to find one that will best fit your vehicle and also is able to support a certain amount of weight (or specifically, something you plan on taking with you).

To help you find the best hydraulic winch for your own personal use, we’ve come across five that are the best on the market. These are believed to be the best out of the many currently being sold both online or offline.

Before we get to the list itself, we’ll talk about what a hydraulic winch is and what it’s used for. We’ll also cover how they work and how you can choose one for your own personal use. 

Comparison of the Best Hydraulic Winches

Product

Rating

Price

Smittybilt 98510 X2O

Smittybilt (98510) X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch - 10000 lb. Load Capacity

Best Overall

Warn 89305 ZEON 8-S

Warn 89305 ZEON 8-S Winch with Synthetic Rope - 8000 lb. Capacity

Runner-up

Superwinch 1595200

Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC winch, 9,500 lb/4,309 kg capacity with roller fairlead

Best for the Money

Mile Marker 76-50260W

Mile Marker 76-50260W SEC15(ES) Truck/SUV Premium Sealed Electric Winch - 15,000 lb. Capacity, 1 Pack

Best Mile Marker Hydraulic Winch

WARN 26502 M8000 8000-lb

WARN 26502 M8000 8000-lb Winch

Best Warn Hydraulic Winch

What is a Hydraulic Winch and What is it Used For?

Hydraulic winches are powered by hydraulic systems that use fluids. They are the alternatives to electric winches (which are powered by vehicle batteries or the electrical system). Ironically though, hydraulic winches need slightly more power than their electric counterparts.

Warn 89305 ZEON 8-S

They are designed to handle heavy loads you may want to hitch to your winch. So if you are looking to hitch it to a larger-sized vehicle, that’s a good example of a heavy load. 

How Does a Hydraulic Winch Work?

A hydraulic winch is powered by fluid but still needs electricity in order to function. They are powered with the help of the power take-off (or PTO). The revolving shaft is moved at a pre-determined speed (which you can speed up or down with the use of a controller, if available). You can produce enough pressure for a winch to carry what you are planning on transporting from one place to the other. 

What to Look For When Buying a Hydraulic Winch

It’s important that while you are looking for a hydraulic winch, you should keep an eye out for a few characteristics and features that stand out. Knowing what they are and how to distinguish a great winch from one that isn’t the best is key. Here are some things you should look for while looking for a hydraulic winch:

Price

Yes, the price is important to many budget shoppers but it shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all reason why you purchase a winch. What you need to do is invest in the best one you can afford in terms of quality and performance. The last thing you need to do is waste money on one that won’t get the job done. 

How Much Power Do You Need?

Wattage will, in all likelihood, matter to you in terms of finding a winch. If you are looking for something with a lot of power, then considering something with high-wattage is the obvious choice. You may also find one that is energy-efficient but can still get all kinds of stuff done. 

A Winch That Can Handle What You Need to Move

Is it a vehicle? A boat? What exactly are you looking to hitch using your winch? Be sure to keep your eyes peeled in terms of the maximum weight capacity. Some hydraulic winches can handle a good amount of weight, while some others will not. It’s further proof as to why not every hydraulic winch is created equal. 

Quick Take - Best Hydraulic Winches

Skip the review - here are the best hydraulic winches:

  1. Smittybilt 98510 X2O
  2. Warn 89305 ZEON 8-S
  3. Superwinch 1595200

Review of the Best Hydraulic Winches

The following is a list of the five best hydraulic winches currently on the market. It’s important to find one that will fit your personal needs and preferences and you should find one that will work perfectly for all your hauling activities. It needs to be strong, reliable, and have enough power to work consistently. Let’s begin with our best overall choice:

Best Overall:
Smittybilt 98510 X2O

Smittybilt (98510) X2O Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch - 10000 lb. Load Capacity

PROS

  • Lightweight for a winch
  • Super-solid construction
  • Winch cable extends out pretty far
  • Wireless remote makes it easy to use
  • Strong enough to tote around a small vehicle (i.e.--a Jeep)

CONS

  • May not work properly out of the box
  • The spool may rust severely over time
  • Some say the steel rope may be a little too long for them

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of recent buyers were pretty impressed with the winch altogether. Not only was it packing a good amount of power, but it was also actually able to tote around a good number of heavy objects, like small trailers and vehicles like Jeeps. One user said he used it while he was moving around equipment from his old business site to his new site. He said the steel rope is strong and gave him a good amount of length each time. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This winch is solid in construction, but in terms of weight, it’s pretty light. One of the other things that really made this winch stand out is the fact that it’s waterproof. So it can be useful for all kinds of marine activities, like hauling or towing boats. You won’t have to worry about ruining it or causing a power failure because of water. It has 98 feet of steel rope and is more than enough to handle all kinds of hauling and towing. 

Who Will Use This Most

This will be great for those who are involved with commercial, industrial, marine jobs, or occupations where the need for moving around heavy equipment is the norm. Not to mention, it’s great for hauling and transporting vehicles and even small RVs or campers, if needed. In short, it’s a multi-purpose winch that you can use for all your heavy-duty needs. 

Bottom Line

The Smittybilt Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch is perhaps one of the best choices you can find for heavy-duty hauling and towing. You get all kinds of steel rope to work with and can power it all by a nifty wireless remote. Not bad for a winch that is considered the best of the best. Use this to your advantage and you can get just about any hauling job done without any problems.

Warn 89305 ZEON 8-S Winch with Synthetic Rope - 8000 lb. Capacity

PROS

  • Super-strong durability
  • Can handle a good amount of weight
  • Great for hitching and towing small vehicles
  • A perfect fit for most things that need to be hitched
  • Excellent for recovering vehicles that veer off the road

CONS

  • May be too expensive for some users
  • Some have had issues with the mounting plate
  • Rope may not be easy to pull through manually sometimes

What Recent Buyers Report

This hydraulic winch was a hit with most users. They used this for the purpose of hauling small trailers and vehicles (among other things) from one place to the next. One user who was heading south for the winter even used this for the purpose of hauling his camper. He had no complaints with the power of the winch, plus had no issue with the deployment of the rope. He added that the rope was quite strong and maintains its strength.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This winch is probably one of the best for those looking for a strong rope that can handle a lot of weight. So if you are looking for something that is strong enough to pull something like a small vehicle, an RV, a boat, or whatever, this is exactly what you’ll want to have on hand. It’s tough, sturdy, and will definitely rise to the challenge in handling the heavy stuff when other winches won’t do the world justice. 

Who Will Use This Most

This winch will be great for those who like to transport their vehicles from one place to the next without having to drive it themselves. It will also be great for RVs and campers. So if you want to go camping and need something that will allow you to carry it from one place to the next without any problems, this might be the winch you’ll need.

Bottom Line

The Warn ZEON 8-S Winch is, in all likelihood, one of the best winches you can invest in if you want top-notch quality and super-durable toting. Don’t be surprised if the rope’s durability helps you out in more ways than one. This is the winch you’ll want for the long-term for all the right reasons. 

Best for the Money:
Superwinch 1595200

Superwinch 1595200 Tiger Shark 9.5, 12 VDC winch, 9,500 lb/4,309 kg capacity with roller fairlead

PROS

  • Affordable for most budgets
  • Quite sturdy for a “budget” winch
  • Great for pulling vehicles out of ditches
  • Easy to operate with the use of a remote
  • Easy to install on most heavy-duty objects

CONS

  • Some complained about the hook being a bit too large
  • Cable may become damaged if over-exerted on a regular basis
  • Motor may corrode due to too much water exposure

What Recent Buyers Report

A lot of new users were on a budget and in search of a winch that would get the job done in terms of pulling vehicles out or towing other heavy equipment or vehicles. They said the steel rope was nice and solid and managed to handle all tasks that required the use of a winch. The installation was quick and easy and was powerful enough to deploy the rope without the need to increase the speed. One user said he uses it for his towing business and said it has yet to disappoint him.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This hydraulic winch is not a cheap and flimsy model by any stretch of the imagination. It’s made from high-quality materials like steel and aluminum, which are both proven to sustain a lot of heavy-duty damage and even stay strong in environmental factors. In short, it’s not afraid to get down and dirty, especially if you use it to pull out a vehicle that’s stranded in a ditch, which is another good reason why people love it.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be great for commercial towing, but it will also do some good as a simple winch that can haul around vehicles, trailers, and everything in-between. You won’t find an affordable winch quite like this anywhere else. And for the price it’s going for, it’s probably going to end up being a steal for many budget shoppers. If you want high quality and performance at an affordable price, this winch might be your best option. 

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a super-sturdy winch that will get the job done and won’t suck the life out of your bank account, the Superwinch Tiger Shark will definitely be your best friend in any hitching or emergency situation. No matter what you use it for, it’s a winch that is bound to be one of the best for the budget user. And it can last you quite a while if taken care of properly. 

Best Mile Marker Hydraulic Winch:
Mile Marker 76-50260W

Mile Marker 76-50260W SEC15(ES) Truck/SUV Premium Sealed Electric Winch - 15,000 lb. Capacity, 1 Pack

PROS

  • Superior power
  • Steel rope is quite strong
  • Hitches without any issues
  • Super-strong and really durable
  • Great for towing or recovering vehicles that went off the road

CONS

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report

New users were not disappointed in the slightest by this hydraulic winch. In fact, they were pretty happy with how it can handle so much weight. One user even said he was able to lift heavy objects and vehicles with the use of this winch. For example, he needed something to pull his boat so he could transport it back home for repairs. The winch was able to handle it with no problem, without getting damaged by water or any other environmental elements.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This winch can do a great job handling all kinds of heavy-duty applications like towing, rescue and recovery, and marine towing (think tugboats). While you’ll be using a truck instead (or some other vehicle that can support this), you’ll certainly work with a winch that will be strong enough to handle all kinds of jobs that other winches might not be up for. So if you are serious about getting the job done and it involves a lot of heavy equipment, then you’ll need a winch that will rise to the occasion. This one will definitely fits the bill. 

Who Will Use This Most

This will definitely be put to good use by those who run a towing or auto shop business. Alternatively, it will be perfect for those who want a “do-it-all” kind of winch. Don’t try and hitch a tractor-trailer to it, though. But if you want something with absolute power and serious durability, this might be precisely your cup of coffee. 

Bottom Line

The Mile Marker Truck/SUV Sealed Electric Winch will certainly be your best friend in any emergency or usual towing application. It can handle the weight and can certainly hold its own almost every single time you use it. This will not disappoint you at all if you want something that can handle the heavy stuff. 

Best Warn Hydraulic Winch:
WARN 26502 M8000 8000-lb

WARN 26502 M8000 8000-lb Winch

PROS

  • Superior durability
  • Cable is really durable
  • Affordable for budget shoppers
  • Can handle the heavy-duty loads like trucks, Jeeps, etc.
  • Has excellent pulling power for towing and getting vehicles out of ditches

CONS

  • Some have had difficulty installing it
  • The solenoid bracket might be a little too small
  • A few users have received the wrong instructions

What Recent Buyers Report

Many users were quite happy with the winch since it was able to do a great job pulling all kinds of objects, like trucks and other vehicles that weigh between 5,000 to 10,000 pounds. The quality was, as expected, top-notch. They installed the hitch without any issue onto their load of choice without the rope snapping or causing any snags in the process. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

This winch isn’t huge in size. But it can definitely get the job done when it comes to pulling things out of muddy roadways or ditches. If you want to hitch a boat, truck, or camper, you can do just that, as well. If you tend to tow things on a regular basis, this winch will certainly stand out as one of the best winches for even heavier loads. Pulling 10,000 pounds is no problem for this winch, in particular.

Who Will Use This Most

This will be perfect for those looking for a winch that will be great for commercial towing or even personal towing. No matter what the intent or purpose is, this winch will be reliable whenever you need it most (whether in a normal or emergency situation). And since you’ll have a lot of pull to work with, using this will be as easy as pie. 

Bottom Line

The Warn M8000 Winch is probably one of the go-to choices for those who tow cars and trucks for a living or for using it to carry around large vehicles or campers. Either way, you can easily pull around heavy loads without any issue. Why settle for less when you can have a winch with a rope that is stronger than any kind of steel?

Pros and Cons of Hydraulic Winches

Below are the main pros and cons:

Pros

There are advantages and disadvantages to hydraulic winches. It’s important to know what they are before you purchase one for your own use. Let’s begin by taking a look at the pros:

Excellent For Heavier Loads

Of course, we begin with what it’s known for. When it comes to pulling heavy loads around, hydraulic winches will out-pull electric winches any day of the week, especially when it comes to pulling vehicles like trucks or Jeeps. Not to mention, it’s one of the preferred choices for tow trucks and auto mechanic shops.

Smaller in Size

Most of the winches are smaller in size, so they won’t take up all kinds of room. And since they’re smaller in size, there’s a good chance they will also be a little lighter in weight compared to other winches. It’s a small package that somehow tends to do big things that involve vehicles and heavy equipment. 

More Durability

If you are looking for a steel rope that is more durable compared to electric winches, there’s a good chance you might want to go with a hydraulic winch. Most of the steel ropes and cables are made from higher quality materials, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking while you’re trying to pull something out of a ditch or if something is towed to the end of cable itself. 

Cons

Yes, with pros come the cons. It shouldn’t discourage you from getting a hydraulic winch. But it should make you aware of where exactly these fall short. Here are the following cons:

Slower in Speed

The speed of the spool will be quite slower than electric winches. That’s because since it’s fluid powered, it will maintain a certain speed unless you adjust it by way of remote control. Even at max speed, it will still be slower compared to your average electric winch.

It Depends on Your Vehicle’s Engine

A hydraulic winch needs more power to run compared to an electric winch. Its source of power is your vehicle. This means you have to start your vehicle in order for the winch to actually work. And if the engine is failing, you’re going to have a hard time using the winch. So be sure to check your vehicle’s engine on a regular basis if you tend to use your winch often.

Conclusion

The best hydraulic winch is out there. You should find one that will be able to handle the heavy loads that are considered the norm for you. Whether it’s for personal use or if you are using it to pull others out of harm’s way on the side of the road, a strong, well-functioning winch will definitely get the job done, no matter how often you use it.