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Choosing the Correct Size Winch Rope for Your Winch?

safety thimble fairlead

It’s finally time to replace that worn out old steel winch cable? Or maybe your wanting to replace your current winch rope with one of ours? How do you choose the correct size winch rope?  What size diameter and length will fit on my winch? Many people assume that when they are purchasing a new winch rope for their winch,  they can get the largest and longest size they can find.  This is absolutely not true and can cause major damage to your winch.  If you want to know the details of this issue continue to read on, or you can go straight to our Winch Rope Conversion Chart to see what size winch rope is recommended for your particular winch model. If you don’t see your winch model, feel free to contact us!

Why the Correct Diameter Size Winch Rope Matters

Winch rope comes in many different size diameters and lengths to fit many different brands and sizes of winches. Let’s look at why it’s important to determine the correct size winch rope in both diameter and length. I will use a common 9,000lb winch for example. From the manufacturer, let’s say this winch originally comes with 100 feet  of 5/16″ diameter steel cable.  While you can simply use the exact same diameter and length in synthetic winch rope, it is common practice to increase the diameter size of the winch rope to gain an increase in breaking strength and working load capacity.  5/16″ steel cable is rated at 9,800lbs which is just above the maximum pull strength of the winch. 5/16″ synthetic winch rope is around 12,000lbs breaking strength. But, the most common size used on winches ranging from 8k to 12k is 3/8″ diameter for the reasons mentioned above.  Our 3/8″ synthetic winch rope has a breaking strength of 20,000lbs!

Why You Need to Choose the Correct Length Winch Rope

What about the correct size winch rope length? The “Rule of Thumb” we go by is for every size up in diameter over the original size winch cable or rope, you reduce the length by 15 feet. This allows you to run the larger, stronger size diameter rope while still maintaining the pulling power of the winch. Each layer of rope added on the winch drum reduces your winch’s pulling power.  Remember, the first layer of rope on the winch drum is where the winch can achieve its maximum pulling strength. The correct length also keeps from overloading one side of the winch drum during angled pulls. Very rarely do we get lucky enough to have consistent straight pulls. If you overload one side of the winch drum during an angled pull due to too much length of rope, the rope could come in contact with the winch’s tie-bars which can damage your rope and destroy the winch. So what do you do if you need more length from your winch rope? Check out our winch rope extensions!


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How Do I Attach My Synthetic Winch Rope to My Winch Drum?

If you just purchased a new TRE Synthetic Winch Rope to replace your worn out, kinked, frayed, and rusty steel winch cable, you may be wondering how it will attach to your winch drum. Most standard self-recovery winches use a screw on style drum attachment on either side of the drum flange. Many times these are in the form of a crimped on electrical lug, a pressed aluminum tube, or a crimped terminal in the case of steel cable. While the drum attachment screw should never see a load, these inferior style winch rope drum attachments leave a lot to be desired. Also, very few, if any synthetic winch rope resellers include the necessary hardware to help finish off your installation! You can damage your winch if you use an attachment screw that is too long!


pressed aluminum tube
Inferior style winch rope attachments: pressed aluminum tube
Cable drum attachment
Standard Cable Drum Attachment
crimped on electrical lug
Inferior style drum attachment: crimped on electrical lug

What is Special about Tactical Recovery Equipment Drum Attachment?

Our unique drum attachment design is secured to the winch rope by sliding over the tail end of the rope. It is then locked in place by pushing a 7″ to 8″ length of the rope tail through the braided ropes center. Once attached, it cannot be removed unless you physically pull the tail lock out, unlike all of the previously mentioned styles of drum attachments. The reason for the short length of tail stick-out is to lay across the width of the winch drum surface. This enables the first layer of spooled winch rope to bed and grip the tail which creates the strongest drum attachment! The T.R.E. Drum Attachment is laser cut from 12 Gauge Grade 304 Stainless Steel. They are then media tumbled to remove any sharp edges. Our Drum Attachment comes pre-installed on our new synthetic winch ropes AND includes the hardware to fit most winch drums. We include a correct length metric M6 screw, a SAE 1/4-20 thread screw, and a 5/32″ Hex Allen key tool to help ease your installation. We also have the Drum Attachment with hardware available separately if your current rope doesn’t have one, or if you simply want to upgrade how your current winch rope attaches!



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Off-road Rescue Recovery Eh?! In Canada with kratos.jku


One of our Brand Ambassadors @ kratos.jku got called out for an evening rescue recovery.  Looks like this truck attempted a river crossing and had a slight miscalculation.  Matt was able to position his Jeep behind the truck by crossing the river himself, enabling him to perform a more direct in-line recovery.  Although not always possible, straight line winching or pulling is always desirable for the safety and strength of you and your equipment. Usually the one who is stuck gets to do the attaching if it is safe to exit the vehicle, especially if its in nasty mud! We aren’t sure who was pulling the synthetic winch rope to attach to the truck with the TRE soft-shackle, but we bet that water was cold! Using his winch, equipped with Tactical Recovery Equipment synthetic winch line with Safety Thimble II, Matt was able to perform a safe and quick recovery. This is a good reason to never go out alone, or without having the correct gear for the terrain.   His Jeep Wrangler JKU is equipped with our synthetic winch rope, Safety Thimble II, Safety Thimble Fairlead, and our Quick Release Soft-shackles for performing safe and smooth off road vehicle recoveries.

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