Synthetic Winch Rope
Selecting Winch Rope: Synthetic winch rope versus Wire
Time was when the only decision you had to make about the winch cable on your drum was the length and diameter of the cable. But times and technology have changed and the latest improvement in winching technology is the use of synthetic winch rope. This alternative to traditional winch cable entered the off road market in the 1990's and synthetic winch rope has been gaining in popularity ever since. Amsteel Blue is the most widely used synthetic rope available today and despite the name, it comes in red and yellow as well as blue. Let's look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of synthetic rope.
Selecting Winch Rope: The Upside and Downside of Synthetic Winch Rope
Most lower priced winches available today -- and even some of the higher priced ones -- use planetary gear drives and their braking systems will heat up synthetic winch rope a lot in certain applications. If your winch has a spur or worm gear drive you won't have to worry about this. If you have a planetary gear drive, carefully read and follow the manufacturers instructions regarding length of synthetic winch rope to spool out and cooling periods for certain winching applications.
The final downside of synthetic rope is that it can fray when stretched under tension over sharp edged objects like rocks. Some synthetic winch ropes on the market include a 10 foot nylon abrasion guard that can be moved along the rope and placed on top of rocks and other sharp objects.
The upsides of synthetic rope are many. First, it's actually stronger than wire winch cable. It's also lighter and easier to respool. It won't rust and it even floats! And most importantly, since synthetic rope doesn't store energy, if it does break during winching it doesn't recoil and snap around like steel winch cable. It simply falls to the ground. If you have a winch with wire cable, you might want to seriously consider replacing it with synthetic winch rope. Once you've used it, you'll be glad you did.