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How to Properly Use an ATV/ UTV Winch in the Field

Many four-wheeler and ATV operators know one thing when it comes to mudding – they are going to have times when they get stuck. More importantly, they also know that they’re going to need to have an ATV winch with a strong winch cable to do all sorts of things (including pulling them out of the pit so they can keep going strong). Using a winch on an ATV or UTV is a lot more than just hooking up a cable and flipping a switch. It requires a lot of care and precision and can be quite dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t worry though – we’ll show you how to use an ATV winch and even give you some practical ATV uses to help you.

winching atv in the woods

How to Use a Winch the Right Way

We all know that no matter whether you do things the right way, accidents can (and sometimes do) happen. However, the main thing to consider when using an ATV or UTV winch is the safety of you and others around you. In order to do so, you need to know a few basic safety rules when using a winch to tie down a UTV or ATV.

  • Always wear PPE – Personal protective equipment is essential when you use an ATV winch. While you may already have your eyes protected by your helmet, you should always wear heavy-duty gloves. If you don’t, you can risk cutting or hurting yourself with the cable itself, or anything that gets stuck into the cables. Steel cables are like needles when they fray and can poke you.

  • Make sure the winch is wound to the proper tension. This means you should always release the winch line so you can have plenty of slack when you connect it to your anchor or for winding it back up later.

  • Use mechanical rewinding to ensure proper tension and avoid unnecessary damage to your cable or your winch.

  • Don’t put loose clothing, hair, or your body parts near the winch drum and roller.

  • Keep your battery strong by leaving your engine on.

  • Make sure everyone is away from the cable or whatever you’re towing.

Some Common Uses for ATV and UTV Winches

While you may be a serious ATV off-roader, there are more ways to use your winch aside from getting unstuck. Here are some ways that winches are often used on an ATV or UTV.

  • Manual labor – When you live on a farm or have to do the heavy lifting, a winch can greatly help you in achieving these tasks. Winches also allow you to tow things like logs, branches, or other objects, and even to rip out tree saplings when necessary.

  • Towing Your Kill – Hunters often use a winch with their UTV or ATV so they can haul their big game, or sometimes be used to fetch it. At times, deer, for example, will fall and die where you may have a hard time getting your vehicle. That’s when a winch would come in handy to lift it up from drop-offs and ravines. You can also use your winch to lift your deer or other animals so you can clean it.

  • Camping is Fun Too – If you’re an avid camper, then you’ve probably brought your four-wheeler or UTV on your camping trip too. There are many tricks that campers use winches for. You can turn it into a clothesline by hooking u to a tree, setting up a quick emergency tent, and more!

  • Snow Plow – Many people attach plows to their ATVs and use a snow plow that utilizes your winch to help your private drives and pathways clear.

The Best Way to Tie Down a UTV Using a Winch

When using a winch to tie down your UTV or ATV, there are important steps to take. Here is how to use your ATV winch properly.

  1. Use a tree as an anchor point and use a guard strap to protect your winch cable around the bottom of the tree. Always make sure your anchor point is always large and strong, and more than capable of withstanding your vehicle’s weight.

  2. Release your winch and extend your cable or wire to wrap around the base of the tree or ground anchor – hooking the winch cable with the hook.

  3. Place a blanket or winch dampening cover on the middle of your winch point to protect from line snaps. If necessary, use a snatch block to give you a better anchor point.

  4. Make sure that you have plenty of slack on the winch and that it’s lying on the ground and free from debris when it tightens.

  5. Turn on the winch and let it run slowly while leaving your ATV’s engine on if possible and in neutral so the winch can roll it easier.

  6. Once your vehicle’s unstuck, put your four-wheeler in park and apply your handbrake (or e-brake pedal if yours has one). Release the tension on the cable so it drops to the ground and gives you plenty of slack.

  7. Disconnect your winch from the mounting point and rewind your winch.

  8. Keep on going!

Now that you know how to use a winch the right way, you can use your winch to help you out of a jam or put it to work for you!


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