Field & Stream Online Editors
Field & Stream Online Editors

The ultimate recovery tool (for yourself and your grateful buddies) keeps evolving and improving. While a comprehensive guide to winches and winching would take more room than we have, here are some of the newest winches and winch-related products.

Warn Industries has just introduced the M15000, an electric winch with a massive 15,000-pound capacity that’s ideal for big 4×4 rigs. Warn is also developing winch mount systems that are sturdy enough to handle the stresses generated by so much pulling power. Mounts for the Ford SuperDuty pickups are available now, while the mounts for the GM three-quarter and one-ton trucks will be on the market this spring.

Superwinch has brought to market the SuperMount System, a portable winch cradle that slides into any standard two-inch Class III receiver hitch. With the SuperMount, you can have the versatility of winching from either end of your truck, plus the security of being able to lock the winch in your cab when it’s not being used.

And Ramsey Winch has developed a universal wireless remote that allows you to operate a winch from up to 50 feet away. We’ve heard of other wireless winch controls, but to our knowledge this is the first that will work with just about any front-mount winch that has an electric solenoid, not just one made by Ramsey.

Other Recovery Accessories
We’ve seen factory tow hooks snap in two under moderate tugging pressure, so it’s a good idea to beef up your truck’s strap or winch-cable attachment points by bolting beefier aftermarket hooks securely to the frame. And if you have a receiver hitch, you can buy brackets or shackles that slide into the receiver for an easily accessible winch or strap attachment point.

Body Bolt-Ons
Despite their popularity on citified trucks, grille guards do serve a useful purpose on working trucks by keeping tree limbs, brush and other trailside hazards away from your rig’s vulnerable front-end parts. There are so many grille guards on the market it would be impossible for us to run through them all. But here are some things to keep in mind if you’re shopping for one:

  • Look for stainless-steel construction or powder-coated finishes to get maximum durability and weather protection.

  • Think ahead to other front-end modifications you may make in the future and look for a guard that will accommodate things like auxiliary lights, a receiver hitch or even a winch mount. (Better yet, if you intend to buy a winch, get a dedicated platform/guard combination from the winch-maker itself.)

  • Make sure the guard is sturdy enough, and mounts securely enough, to provide true front-end protection. We’ve seen products on the market that pass themselves off as guards but are really little more than light mount bars.

Beefed-Up Bumpers
Aftermarket bumpers are doing a lot more these days than helping you to survive a fender bender. Winch-makers use them to hide winch-mount systems, so the front of the truck remains relatively uncluttered. Some rear bumpers contain hollow storage cavities that are ideal for holding tools, rope and other gear. We recently spotted a custom Jeep bumper at a local 4×4 shop that served quadruple duty: It housed a winch, had shackles to attach recovery straps and served as a mount for two PIAA auxiliary lights. And it also had been turned into an air tank and plumbed with a quick-release hose fitting to air up tires or power pneumatic tools trailside.

You may want to consider mounting fender flares to your rig if you’ve added tires that are wider than the stock rubber. Most law-enforcement agencies frown on tires sticking out beyond your truck’s body, so flares will keep you legal. They’ll also keep your truck cleaner by stopping mud and other muck flung from your front tires. And if you’ve gone up a few tire sizes, a set of cutout flaares will keep your tires from banging into your fenders and bending the metal. Some flares bolt on, while others stick on with double-sided tape.

Bushwacker has developed a new flare assembly for the rear doors of Chevy and Toyota SUVs that requires no drilling into the door. No matter which style or brand you choose, be sure your flares are durable enough?and the mounting system is strong enough?to take the punishment your favorite trails dish out.

Auxiliary Lights
It gets darn dark in the woods or out in the desert, so whether you’re pulling your bass boat out after dark or heading into your duck blind before dawn, adding lights is an excellent idea. You will, however, need to decide what kind of light pattern you’re looking for, whether it’s the broad, low beam from a fog lamp, the long, narrow beam from a spotlight or something in between.

Though best known for its winch line, Warn also makes auxiliary lights that range from a big, 200,000-candlepower driving light/spotlight to a tiny projector-beam fog lamp that still throws 10,000 candlepower through the mist.

Hella has just introduced two new xenon high-intensity-discharge (HID) lights to the truck market. One is a small projector-beam driving light; the other is a driving light in a more traditional size.

Hella uses xenon in its HID lights because the gas is two-and-a-half times brighter than a standard halogen light source, yet it draws low amperage.

The kind of gear we take into the backcountry is bulky stuff?tents, sleeping bags, coolers, gun cases?that easily fills whatever storage space we have in our trucks. Sometimes we’re carrying supplies, like extra fuel, that we don’t want to put inside an SUV. If you’re typically full to the brim, consider adding an accessory rack. Con-Ferr makes one of the stoutest racks we’ve seen. Constructed of square-tube steel, 18-gauge corner braces and 16-gauge bottom crossbars, these racks are built to handle hundreds of pounds of cargo. The Con-Ferr racks can mount to a factory roof rack, clamp to rain gutters or be bolted straight to the truck roof itself. They’re also available with a number of brackets so you can attach things like a Hi Lift jack, spare tires, lights and tools to the rack. For soft-top vehicles like Jeeps, Con-Ferr makes a tubular-steel frame that attaches to the windshield posts and tailgate to hold the rack.