How to Determine Winch Size For Your Jeep?

Picking a winch can sometimes be a rather stressful event. Once you decide whether you want cable or rope, you need to figure out what size winch you need for your Jeep.

The size of the winch reflects its strength, and there are certain rules to take into consideration when picking the best winch for your Jeep.

What Size Winch Do I Need For My Jeep?

The size or strength of the winch will depend on your Jeep’s size, or rather its weight. To make the most of the winch, it needs to be able to pull more than your vehicle weights.

Jeep Cherokee

Let’s start with the oldest model you would probably take off-roading, Jeep Cherokee XJ. We are assuming here that if you are an owner of Jeep Cherokee SJ, you are not going to drag it through any mud or rough terrain on purpose and probably won’t need a winch. For Jeep Cherokee XJ, you are looking at a winch that can pull at least between 6900 – 7350 lbs

If you are planning on kiting out Jeep Cherokee KJ with a winch, you would probably have to look for a winch with 8550 – 9150 lbs pull or more. To equip Jeep Cherokee KK with a winch, you need to look for one that can pull at least between 8550 – 9225 lbs.

Jeep Cherokee KL is plenty capable off-road, but just in case, the winch that can pull KL out of trouble should be between 7575 – 8250 lbs strong. 

For Jeep Grand Cherokee ZJ enthusiasts, recommended winch size is a minimum between 7425 – 7950 lbs. If you want to equip Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ with a winch, you need to look for one that can pull at least 7725 – 8100 lbs. For Jeep Grand Cherokee WK, the winch should be a little bit stronger, between 8550 – 9225 lbs. The biggest winch you would need for Jeep Grand Cherokee WK2. It would have to pull between 9750 – 9900 lbs to pull this Jeep out of struggle.


If you are an owner of Jeep Wrangler YJ and would like to purchase a winch for your vehicle, you should look at a winch that can pull a minimum of 6450 lbs. For Jeep Wrangler TJ, one needs a winch that is capable of hauling more than 6675 lbsJeep Wrangler JK and Jeep Wrangler JL need a little bit bigger winches. For JK, the winch should be at least 8100 lbs, and for JL – 8700 lbs.

How Do I Choose a Winch For My Jeep?

Picking the type of winch is a challenge of its own, but another one is deciding what size winch you need. There are certain rules you should take into consideration when picking a winch for your Jeep. 

The most important one is to always go for a winch that can pull 1.5 times your vehicle’s GVWR. The GVWR stands for gross vehicle weight rating, and it is the maximum weight of your car when loaded to its full capacity. 

Knowing your vehicle’s GVWR is also important while going off-roading or overlanding because you can’t pack your Jeep more than it is capable of carrying. You can find that information in the Owner’s Manual, front or back doorjamb, or under the hook of your Jeep.

The rule of 1.5xGVWR of a vehicle makes sense because your winch needs to be able to pull your Jeep and whatever you carry in it out of trouble. It is the minimum your winch should be able to pull to be of any use to you. To be on the safe side, you can try picking a winch that can handle double GVWR of your Jeep

The first reason for it is straightforward enough. When you get stuck in the mud, the weight of your vehicle doesn’t change, but the suction of the muck makes it heavier for your winch. Another reason is that to make the most out of your winch, you need it to pull in the straight line. That’s when your winch is the strongest, but that’s also not possible in most cases. You need to make sure then that when your winch doesn’t operate in its total capacity, it will still be able to pull your fully loaded Jeep out of the mud.

The winch capacity is usually measured in a clean environment with a new setup. That means a new battery to power it and new connectors. It provides the ultimate power for the winch, making it work in its full capacity.

Considering that during off-roading and overlanding, Jeeps usually pick up a lot of dirt and rust, we can assume that it’ll be the same with your connectors at some point, and your battery won’t be brand new all that time. Whether new or not, it means your winch may not receive the amount of power it needs to run at peak performance. 

In those circumstances, you would want a stronger winch to allow for power loss, pulling angle, and the additional weight of any obstacles. Because there is no need to overdo anything, if your Jeep’s GVWR is 5000 lbs, you don’t need 25 000 lbs winch. A 10 000 lbs winch is plenty enough for you. 

How Much Does a Jeep Winch Weigh?

The weight of a winch depends on its size and whether it has a synthetic rope or a steel cable. Winches are heavy in general, usually around 80-140 lbs. Those are mostly steel cable winches.

It is a considerable weight to put in the front of your Jeep, but if you are worried too much about it, you can try going with a winch equipped with synthetic rope. Those are usually around 25% lighter than ones with steel cables. 

The most popular winches:

  • WARN 103252 V has a 10 000 lbs capacity on a steel cable and weighs 91 lbs.
  • WARN M12 17801 can pull 12 000 lbs on a steel cable and weighs 133 lbs.
  • SMITTYBILT X20 COMP equipped with a steel cable can pull 12 000 lbs and weighs 99 lbs.
  • STEGODON New 9500 has 9 500 lbs pull on a synthetic rope, and its weight is 48 lbs.
  • ZESUPER 9500 can pull 9 500 lbs with a synthetic rope and weighs 53 lbs.
  • X-BULL 13000 with a synthetic rope can pull 13 000 lbs and weighs 58 lbs.


A winch is one of the most important mods you don’t want to get caught without when you hit some trouble out off-roading. 

Picking the right size winch for your Jeep is essential. The winch needs to pull the weight of your Jeep, and whatever you have loaded in it from whatever difficult situation you find yourself in.

The best size winch for your Jeep is twice the gross vehicle weight ratio. The rule of 1.5 times GVWR is the bare minimum, but considering the circumstances, the safest option is to go a little bit bigger than that.

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