A 12V winch should be the first accessory anyone new to 4WDing should buy and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. The very nature of owning a 4X4 means you’ll be heading far beyond the help of your local road service. You’ll often be on your own, and frequently in challenging, or at least interesting terrain. While mud tyres and suspension lifts are great to stop you getting stuck, they’re not a great deal of help once it does happen. A simple 12V winch and the right kit means with a little work, you can self-recover yourself from most situations. If you haven’t seen it already, check out our 2022 winch buyers guide. However, today we’re discussing 7 winch accessories that’ll change not only how you do recoveries, but how you use your winch around home.
Ever seen someone mucking around with an elastic band and accidentally flicking themselves? It’s not only hilarious, it’s a perfect example of what happens when pent up energy is quickly released. In 4X4 land, that typically means a winch line snapping. Thankfully, the synthetic rope common these days is far better at absorbing the energy and falling to the ground than the old steel cable. But it’s not a guarantee. By swapping out your heavy steel bow shackles for lightweight soft shackles you’re not only saving weight in your rig, you’re also reducing the potential danger if the line does snap. A flying winch line with a bit of rope tied to the end is far less deadly than a chunk of steel.
We know we just said to remove steel from your winching system where possible, but some situations call for something a little heavier duty. Back country tracks aren’t always as maintained as they could be, so it’s not uncommon to come across a downed tree blocking your path. In an ideal world you’d lop up the tree into firewood, but laws and timelines mean that sometimes dragging the tree off the track is the preferred option. A drag chain will allow you to move everything from concrete chunks to downed trees without tearing your gear to shreds. They can even be used around the house for home renos too if you’ve got a stump that needs pulling or a fence uprighted.
Need to redirect your winch line to do a slingshot or winch around a corner? A snatch block has been the go-to for years, but they do have their downsides. Heavy, cumbersome, requiring maintenance and pinch points that always catch your fingers. Thankfully, with your flash new soft shackles, a snatch ring is an upgrade worth spending your hard earned cash on. At around ¼ the weight of a snatch block, snatch rings are light weight aluminium offerings that are not only safer, they’re easily stowable in the glovebox or under a seat. The result is you can fit multiple in your rig without any weight penalties allowing for even more recovery options.
Wireless remote control
Having a winch is brilliant. Being in a vehicle that’s in need of recovery isn’t always. Sure, 99% of the time your fancy in-cab controls will allow you to quickly and easily recover yourself. But sometimes you want to be as far away from your 4X4 as possible. Whether it’s because of unavoid safety concerns. Needing to be on the outside to see what’s going on. Or because your 4X4 is half off an embankment, being able to remove yourself from the situation can be a lifesaver. Many winches these days come with included wireless controllers. But if not a universal kit can be had for bugger all and wire into your existing winch with a little know-how.
Winch Extension Strap
Your winch is designed to shorten the distance between itself, and whatever it’s attached to. Typically they’ll come with 25-30m of winch rope, but it’s frequently not enough. Your mate might be stuck halfway up a hill and you need to be parked up top to actually get the job done. You might be winching across a river and need to be well back from the river bank. Or might be solo recovering and need that little extra help to reach a solid anchor point, either way, 25m of winch line frequently isn’t enough. A 20m winch extension strap will give you a safe, reliable way to nearly double your reachable distance.
Winch Rope Lock
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. There is no better way to describe the sinking feeling when you’re finally about to winch yourself out. Then your winch line falls off your winch and onto the ground. Almost every winch on the market uses the friction of the rope on the winch drum to keep it attached. Wind out past that mark and the rope will come loose and fall off. A winch rope lock is a clever little accessory that’ll stop your winch line unspooling while it still has a full loop on the drum. It may not seem like much, but it’s $20 that could save you hours of headache the very first time it does its job.
Number Plate Flip
Modern bull bar designers are essentially miracle workers. The frontal profile of 4X4s is getting more complex. The tech in the bumpers is getting ridiculous. And the fancy designs people want are making packaging a seriously difficult affair. A number plate flip kit is a simple piece of kit that’ll allow your winch and your number plate to occupy the same space, then flip the number plate up and out of the way when things go pear shaped rather than trying to cram the plate in somewhere else. For less than $100 your 4X4 will look far better, and your winch be readily accessible when it’s go time.