Ever been stuck? It’s worse when hunting. Most of the time you’re not going to be near your other vehicle, you may or may not have cell service and it tends to really ruin your day. I now live in the Rocky Mountain region and you’d think I’d be more likely to get stuck here than in the flat lands of Texas, but you’d wrong, so far. And it seems most farm trucks don’t have winches. Sure you might round up a tractor, but that could literally take something close to forever. And then find a chain or strong enough rope. This hasn’t ever worked out well for me. So, when partnering with Extreme Terrain for our Ultimate Hunting Vehicle series, a winch was a high priority for me.
My used 2012 Rubicon came with a winch but no details. Best we can tell it was probably a 9000 pound winch that had been on the jeep for a long time. It had a synthetic line (yay!), but it appeared to have sat in the sun its entire life. Sun can degrade the line’s integrity and that could degrade your “I’m stuck” day even more. I wasn’t comfortable with that scenario so here’s what we did and why we did it.
With the vastly improved suspension we added in part one of this series, our Rubicon probably weighs somewhere around 4200 pounds before I load it down with gear. So a winch rated for 5000 pounds should work, right? Actually, no. Whatever the rating of a winch, it’s calculated based on the cable being fully spooled out. The winch has the most leverage at this point when the diameter of the cable spool is the smallest. By the time you roll the cable back into the spool the diameter is bigger and you have less mechanical advantage. Seems sneaky, but in reality it gives us an objective measurement to compare winch models to each other and our needs. Essentially, plan on getting a winch that is rated for roughly two and a half times your hunting vehicle’s weight, unless of course you might find yourself pulling a loaded vehicle, jerking the line, etc. But who can predict that?
Since I don’t want to live too close to the edge, we opted for the Barricade 12,000 pound winch with synthetic rope. It’s not overkill and despite its name it weighs in at a mere 44 pounds. It gets me some peace of mind. With the cover to protect from the sun, the kit runs $539.99 from Extreme Terrain. That’s less that what you likely paid for your hunting rifle even if it’s an entry level AR-15. And you probably have more than one of those already.
The kit leaves little out. It has a 6.6 HP 12-Volt Series Wound Electric Motor sufficient for anything I’d need. The three stage Planetary gear with 187.2:1 gear ratio takes that power and turns into something useful enough to get the Ultimate Hunting Vehicle out of a jam. The bright orange synthetic rope… Well, some might say it clashes with the reddish hue of my jeep. Maybe, but then my Intense Carbine mountain bike sports orange and red as well. So now both off road sets of wheels visually roar together!
Practically speaking, the synthetic rope made the most sense to me. My prior Wrangler had a steel cable winch, and while it was stronger and would hypothetically outlast the synthetic rope, it was just a pain to deal with. It almost had a mind of its own. It was heavy, not a big deal for the jeep to move around, but just more difficult to manage when spooled out. That’s where this synthetic rope can really pay off.
For example, say you’ve shot a big elk in the mountains, or hogzilla somewhere in the Southeast. Savvy hunters have for years used winches to assist in retrieving their oversized and heavy animals. You can buy a stand-alone winch for this purpose, or even an ATV winch. But those won’t get your Ultimate Hunting Vehicle unstuck like the 12,000 pound Barricade. For game retrieval, we’ll just pack some extra rope and maybe pulleys to give us more options.
One last note on the synthetic line: It’s a lot safer to use than a steel cable. A good friend of mine has a story of hunting in Alaska where they were winching their way through the wilderness in a couple of Gators. When a steel cable snapped, it recoiled through the back window of a Gator almost killing the driver who was many hours from any possible rescue. He made it, but a synthetic rope would have just dropped to the ground and the story would have been very different.
Our Barricade winch comes with a remote on a twelve-foot cable. You can run it from inside the jeep if necessary or outside the jeep, standing clear. Options are awesome. Our winch has a steel housing and most people will find it to be a relatively easy and solid installation. The only thing not as solid as I’d envision is the winch’s clutch handle. There’s nothing wrong with it, it just doesn’t feel as stout as I’d expected.
I don’t love the bumper that came on my ’12 Rubicon, but it is of the winch ready genre. You’ll either need a winch ready bumper or a winch plate for your own Ultimate Hunting Vehicle build. Either way, be sure to check dimensions. Our installation couldn’t be any tighter. The winch body is solidly up against the bumper. I don’t know of a real downside. I suppose we could see rust if the bumper and winch rub, but that doesn’t seem likely. And perhaps I’ll swap out bumpers later and get a better fit.
Short of a winch ready bumper, the Barricade comes with pretty much everything you need. Everything we’ve already covered, plus a fairlead, hook, remote mountable solenoid box and the required wiring (you’ll connect a positive and negative lead to your jeep battery). It’s pretty simply really, but I was glad my friends at Bach Crawlers offered to help put the winch on my jeep.
You can spend a lot more money and buy a higher tech heavier duty winch. No doubt, that’s cool and if you’re going to bog yourself down or have to winch your way off rocks regularly, you should consider going that route. But that’s not me, so for the Ultimate Hunting Vehicle build, the Barricade 12,000 pound winch was the ideal call. It might be for you too, but if your UHV is a pickup, you might check out the options at americantrucks.com. Either way, for a vehicle to claim the “Ultimate Hunting Vehicle” title you’ll need a winch. Glad to have checked that box! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter so you don’t miss what comes next!