If you're serious about ATV camping, then an ATV winch is a necessary accessory. Every since I was little I have always tried to make my stuff better. Whether it was my bicycle, motorcycle, car, truck, or ATV, I had to modify it in some way to make it better, faster, more rugged and durable than stock. In doing this I then always had to test my creations to find its limitations and since most of my toys were for offroad that usually meant driving it until it wouldn't go any further or in other words, until it was stuck! Having done this several times in all types of situations I became very familiar with the advantages of having a winch. A winch is probably one of the most important accessories to have on your utility 4x4 ATV since a utility 4x4 ATV can take you to some very extreme places especially if you are ATV camping.
But having a winch does not guarantee to get you out of a stuck situation. You must also have the proper winch accessories, knowledge of proper winch usage and a couple of friends with cameras to ensure you make the best of a stuck situation. A good pair of gloves, recovery strap, snatch block, d-ring shackles, shovel, and a tree saver strap are just some of the winch accessories you will need to carry in your rack bags. I have put together a list of things I have learned over the years about proper winching techniques and accessories: Make sure you have a good strong battery, preferably the largest ATV battery with the highest "Cold Cranking Amps" to provide the best initial pull of the winch.
Try to use as much winch cable or rope as possible because the more cable that is off the drum (always leave a least one layer of cable on the drum) the more pulling power the winch has. The use of a snatch block helps increase the pulling power of the winch. Remember whenever using a snatch block the speed of the pull is decreased while the pulling power is increased. Whenever possible have the front tires pointed in the direction of the pull. Never pull a heavy load with a winch for more than 1-1/2 minutes at a time. Allow the winch to cool between pulls and this also allows time for the battery to recharge.
Apply the throttle lightly to assist the battery during a pull. During a pull, if possible the stuck ATV should be driven in the direction of the pull using moderate throttle until unstuck, at which time the winch cable or rope should be disconnected. Whenever possible keep the winch cable or rope perpendicular to the drum of the winch during a pull and keep an eye on the drum to ensure the spooling of the cable or rope is even. Pulling at an angle causes the cable to spool unevenly which can lead to binding of the winch and damage to the gears. In the event a pull must be done with the cable at an angle to the drum, turn the front tires in the direction of the pull and pull in small amounts and reposition the cable often to prevent uneven spooling.
When securing to a tree, always use a minimum 3" wide tree saver strap with D-Ring shackles. To prevent severe damage to a tree never wrap the winch cable or rope around a tree. Protect our environment! When pulling the winch cable or rope out for a pull always inspect the line for kinks, frays, and worn areas. Always wear gloves when handling a winch cable. When using the winch to pull out another ATV, secure the ATV with the winch to a tree or other object using the appropriate accessories before beginning the pull. If stuck in deep snow or mud, dig out around the tires and if possible find some rocks and/or branches to stick under the tires for traction during the pull.
After a pull always try to re-spool the cable or rope even and tightly. Unravel the entire spool if necessary and draw the cable back in maintaining pressure on the cable to ensure a tight spool. This will help prevent a snarl in the cable on the spool.
Never exceed the strength limits of your winch and cable. Never use a winch to tow another ATV, always use a tow or recovery strap rated for the load.
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