Hydraulic Winch Mechanism, Top Picks and Selection Tips

hydraulic winch

A hydraulic winch will not let you down, whether you are dredging through the untamed wilderness or merely looking to haul your camper or boat. These mechanical devices offer impressive pulling capabilities, but they come at a high cost compared to other winch technologies. So let us discuss what makes them powerful, the best options on the market and how you can select the most ideal for you.

What Are Hydraulic Winches and How Do They Work?

Winches are mechanical equipment that can either wind up or out to tweak the tension in a cable for pulling in or letting down the weight attached at the end. These devices have two basic parts: the drum or spool, which accumulates the cable or rope, and a crank that adjusts the tension. A hydraulic winch relies on fluid mechanics to power the operations of winding up or letting down the cable.

Hydraulic winches work by combining Bernoulli's principle and compressibility of fluids. The former states that the pressure in fluids is inversely proportional to their speed. For instance, increasing the speed decreases the pressure in a closed system with a fluid (liquid or air). On the other hand, compressibility refers to how the volume of a fluid changes when pressure is applied to it.

In summary, hydraulic winches work by compressing a fluid within its mechanism to create a pressure differential that alters the speed of the liquid inside. The change in speed generates mechanical energy that you can use to do work. In this case, it is pulling up or letting down heavy loads.

The hydraulic winch features a motor that powers a pump for moving the fluid. In addition, some valves guide where the fluid flows to help increase or decrease the pressure within the closed system. So, what are the best hydraulic winches you can buy?

5 Best Hydraulic Winches

1. Mile Marker 70-52000C H Series Hydraulic Winch

Mile Marker 70-52000C H Series Hydraulic Winch (12,000 lb. Capacity, 2 Speed)
  • 2 Speed
  • Free spooling
  • Mechanical lock
  • Can use underwater
  • Fit type: Universal Fit

The Mile Marker 70-52000C H Series features a planetary gear train with a ratio of 6:1 and an option to mount it in the front or rear. In addition, the hydraulic winch allows you to choose whether to set it up permanently or as a detachable device. The freedom of installation is due to its independence from the solenoid control valve. If you want the best portable winch, you can check out our top choices for off-roading.

The winch has free spooling and a mechanical lock for more control using the 100-foot-long durable steel cable. In addition, the impressive pull capacity of 12,000 pounds ensures you never get stuck in the mud. After all, the heavy-duty construction is corrosion resistant and features tie bars and fasteners made from stainless steel.


  • You can use it underwater since the internal components are waterproof.
  • Freedom to mount it in the front or back thanks to the independent solenoid control valve.
  • Built to withstand the elements and heavy-duty use.
  • Smoothly operates thanks to the 2-speed spooling.


  • It is pretty pricey.

2. VEVOR Industrial Hydraulic Winch

VEVOR Industrial Hydraulic Winch 15,000lbs, Hydraulic Anchor Winch with 24m Strong Steel Cable,...
  • Sturdy & Durable Material: The hydraulic winch housing is made of...
  • Advanced Steel Cable: The hydraulic winch for tow truck works...
  • Fast & Smooth Spooling: The hydraulic anchor winch starts...
  • Accessory on the Par with the Winch: The hydraulic drive winch...
  • Wide Application: The high-speed winch of pulling capacity up to...

The VEVOR Industrial Hydraulic Winch is decked out with accessories that make the pull work easier. You get an oil tube, a weather-resistant cast iron fairlead, a stapping band, and fasteners for starters. Hence, you can take advantage of the 15,000-pound pull capacity worry-free.

Although the cable is about 78 feet long, the advanced steel material offers impressive tensile rigidity for reliable performance. In addition, the cable lock adds an element of safety to the robust construction. Plus, the aluminum alloy body keeps the internals protected from the elements for longevity.


  • Fast line speeds thanks to the 2-stage gear.
  • Durable construction for body, fairlead and cable.
  • It comes with numerous accessories.
  • Impressive pull capacity of 15,000 pounds.


  • The cable length is only 78 feet.

3. Mile Marker HI Series HI10500 Hydraulic Truck Winch

Mile Marker HI-Series 12 Volt DC Powered Hydraulic Truck Winch - 10,500-lb. Capacity, Galvanized...
  • Requires a vehicle specific 35-series vehicle adapter kit
  • 2-speed motor
  • Integrated solenoid valve
  • Can be used under water
  • Corrosion resistant

Another reliable hydraulic winch from the Mile Marker brand is the HI10500. Unlike the 70-52000C, this model features an integrated solenoid control valve, which has to be installed permanently. Nevertheless, it still allows you to choose whether you want it in the rear or front bumpers.

Still, the HI10500 hydraulic winches come with mounting hardware like the required hoses, roller fairlead, remote control and fasteners. In addition, this model offers fast line speeds of 31 feet per minute to help you pull up to 10,500 pounds quickly. Plus, it is durable enough to use underwater.


  • Remote control switching.
  • Galvanized fair lead for durability.
  • Versatile mounting positions for front and rear.
  • Useable underwater.
  • It uses a galvanized aircraft cable that is 100 feet long.


  • The solenoid control valve is integrated within the hydraulic winch.

4. Mile Marker 70-50080C H Series

Mile Marker 70-50080C H Series Hydraulic Winch (9,000 lb. Capacity, 2 Speed)
  • 2 Speed
  • Free spooling
  • Mechanical lock
  • Can use underwater
  • Corrosion resistant

The 70-50080C from Mile Marker has a pull capacity of 9,000 pounds, the lowest on our list. Nevertheless, the versatility in mounting options for front, rear, permanent or detachable makes this model appealing. In addition, the free spooling eases use while a mechanical lock helps in safety.

If you plan on going through a swampy area, the sealed construction keeps the internal parts safe from water damage. Overall, the body is corrosion-resistant, while the fasteners and tie bars will not rust thanks to the stainless steel material. Plus, this model can work underwater like the other hydraulic winches in the H Series.


  • Sturdy and weather-resistant construction.
  • Mounting freedom.
  • Lightweight.


  • Low pull capacity of 9,000 pounds.

5. Prowinch Hydraulic Winch

If you are interested in plowing through the wilderness without any fears of getting stuck, the Prowinch Hydraulic Winch could fit your needs. This model can pull up to 20,000 pounds for sufficient strength and has an IP67 waterproof rating to ensure the elements do not compromise its functionality. Plus, the drum brake is reliable to ensure you do not slide back down the hill as soon as you stop pulling.

The wireless remote control capabilities of these hydraulic winches offer plenty of conveniences. You can sit comfortably in your car and tweak various mechanical device functions. Plus, the steel hook is sturdy enough to handle the pull strength.


  • Wireless remote control.
  • It can pull up to 20,000 pounds.
  • IP67 rating.
  • IWRC wire rope.


  • It is pretty heavy.

Hydraulic Winch Buying Guide (Essential Considerations)

Hydraulic winches are ideal for industrial and commercial applications since they can pull heavy loads. Consequently, try to prioritize features that complement the abilities of these mechanical devices. The following are some of the considerations to keep in mind. If you want to learn more about picking the right one for your vehicle, you can check out some tips for trucks and car trailers.

a). A Powerful Winching Pull Capacity

If you are going for a hydraulic winch, you are planning on loading or pulling some pretty hefty things. Begin with taking account of the total weight you want to handle, as this helps you narrow down your search. Remember pushing your device to the limit might result in disastrous effects like your cargo falling off or the cable snapping under immense pressure.

Unfortunately, a higher pulling capacity means spending more on your hydraulic winch. After all, unlike an electric winch, most options designed for industrial and commercial applications do not come cheap. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile investment as it guarantees safety and peace of mind.

b). Fast Line Speeds

The pace at which a winch can reel back its cable is called its line speed. Typically, you will find this rating denoted in feet per minute. However, electric winches are often faster than hydraulic ones, so you may not get comparable performance if you do not spend the big bucks.

Although fast line speeds should not be your biggest consideration, the right choice can save you plenty of frustrations. For instance, hydraulic winches that are too fast may be difficult to control, especially when trying to pull your truck from the mud without skidding or damaging something. On the other hand, a slow pull could mean investing more time while loading something.

c). Is the Cable Tough Enough?

Typically, you have two options for the cable material: steel and synthetic. The latter is more popular in hydraulic winches as it complements the high pulling capacity of the mechanical device. In addition, it is durable and less susceptible to wear, damage and corrosion. Still, synthetic cables are found in budget models and electric winches.

The length of the rope is another critical consideration. Here, it helps determine the kinds of use cases you want to subject the hydraulic winch to. Still, most options feature a standard length which will be enough for most uses.

d). Motor Strength

Hydraulic motors are pretty efficient when compared to an electric winch. Although vehicle manufacturers ensure their products can power the devices, some models can drain your car battery quickly, especially when the engine is not running. Still, this consideration gels with the pulling capacity as a strong motor can handle more loading weight.

e). Application and Construction

Where do you intend to use your hydraulic winch? Some hydraulic winches come with accessories geared toward outdoor use, such as remote control functions and waterproof motor housing. Additionally, if you intend to expose the device to the elements, it helps to consider its rust resistance.

Moreover, the construction should enable the hydraulic winch to handle the pulling capacity rating. After all, you do not want to be on the road and discover a dent that makes the mechanics unusable. Although industrial and commercial applications mean spending more for your needs, it is worth the investment.


If you are looking for unbeatable power, hydraulic winches are a better option when compared with other technologies. In addition, you do not have to worry about them draining your battery while repairs are simpler. Plus, they are more resistant to the elements. 

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