One of the best hand winch lifting a log of wood

Best Hand Winch With Reviews

Choosing the best hand winch or manual winch out of over 51 brands and so many models can be a tedious task. We take this tedious task off you by presenting some of the top rated hand winches out of so many, from which you can choose the one that suits your needs best.

So if you are planning to buy a small winch, and you are after the best in terms of durability and reliability, I will rather suggest that you hold your peace a little while until you have gone through this guide.

This is necessary since wrong choice can be costly in terms of time and money.

The reviews when combined with the list of the top rated hand winches will provide you with a complete guide that will help you make the final choice of the best hand winch that you will be very happy and proud of.

In this write up, we will take a detailed look at the following:

Qualities of Good Hand Winches

Types of Hand or Manual Winches

Advantages of Best Hand Winch

Determining the Right Winch Capacity

Reviews of Three Top Hand Winches

If peradventure you do not have the patience to go through it all, you may wish to look up any section of interest, or probably head over here to check out for more options.


Qualities of Good Hand Winches

For a hand winch to qualify as among the top rated, a number of desirable qualities or characteristics must be present. All these qualities combine to ensure that the winch has:

Easy operation;

Acceptable durability;

Appreciable safety during operation;

As well as cost effectiveness.

Some of the important qualities are listed below:

  • Presence of Smooth Bearings

Rotating parts, whether it is gear or shaft, should have quality ball bearings that are either sealed or submerged in oil. This makes for smooth running, minimizes noise and increases durability.

Where the bearings are absent, abnormal noise usually occurs with time as a result of wear.

  • Quality Body Strength

The main body (and drum where applicable) are reinforced with high tensile strength so that the main body and drum do not bulge under pressure when working within the limit of its capacity.

A stay bolt can also be used to achieve this by attaching it on the upper part of the body of the winch.



  • Presence of Automatic Brake System

Most winches have either automatic brake system or manually operated brake system.

Automatic brake system is turned on or off automatically. Top rated winches have this type of brake system which is by far more preferable than the manually operated system.

The automatic brake system is usually enclosed so that it is not exposed to outside where it may hurt the user.

The manually operated brake system has the disadvantage that the operator can forget to turn on the brake. This can be dangerous in the case of lifting as the load will fall down. The absence of this important safety feature in any winch will make it not be considered as among the best hand winch.

  • Enclosed Gear System

Most of the good quality hand winches have their gear enclosed or covered. This minimizes the exposure of the gears to moisture and consequently reduces the rate of rusting.

Quality winches have the gear tooth surface carbonized or hardened so that tear and wear are reduced to the barest minimum.

The covered gear also has the advantage of protecting the operator from being wounded by the turning gear.

Cheaper winches have the gear system exposed and are left at the mercy of the rains and dusts. This causes rust. Their gear system materials are usually of steel which is relatively not strong enough, and sometimes, may not be durable or reliable.

  • Big Winch Drum Diameter

Winch rope life span has a direct relationship with the diameter of the winch drum. Winch drum diameter of 2.5 inches and above, by far extend the rope life span than those with a diameter of one and half inches or less.

  • Presence of Wire Anchoring Plate

In order to prevent the slipping out of winch wire or rope, which can make the work clumsy and frustrating, wire anchoring plate to guide the winding rope, is usually present in quality winches. To be classified among the best hand winch, this feature should be present.

Having seen some of what to look out for in among the best hand winch, we want to take a look at different types available before creating a comparison chart that will enable us to easily view and compare the advantages and disadvantages of the different types.


Types of Hand or Manual Winches

Hand winches can be classified into types based on their type of gear, design, speed, capacity and even purpose.

  • Types Based on Speed


Single Speed:

This type of hand winch uses only one gear and so has only one speed which depends on the speed of cranking.


This type of winch usually has small capacities ranging between 400 and 2000 lbs. They are usually best for pulling through short distances such as small boats or lifting small loads up.


Double Speed:

This type of hand winch uses two gears and so has two speeds-low speed and high speed.

The low speed is usually applied for more powerful cranking while the high speed is often applied for faster and easier cranking.

Their capacities vary between 1500 to 3700 lbs and are best for pulling heavy objects through long distances such as big boats or recovering of stuck vehicles.


  • Types Based on Brake System


Automatic Brake system:

Brake is automatically turned on or applied whenever cranking stops and are also automatically turned off whenever cranking starts. This type of brake system makes such winches to be among the best hand winch and are well suited for vertical lifting of objects which are prevented from falling when cranking stops as brakes are automatically applied.


This type of winch has varying capacities ranging from 1000 to 3500 Lbs and they are ideal for pickup cranes, boat lifts, etc


Manual Brake System:

In this type of winch, the brake is turned on or off according to the desire of the operator. Such brake system is usually applied when pulling is the major use of the winch.

Their capacities are within the same range as in the case of the automatic brake type and they are ideal for pulling purposes.


  • Types Based on Crank System

There are three crank types: Standard Crank, Ratchet Crank and Loop Drive.


Standard or Rotating Hand Crank:
Example of best hand winch with a standard or rotating crank
Hand Winch with Standard Crank

In this type of winches, the handle is turned in a circular motion and this in turn turns the winch cable or strap thereby pulling the object continuously. This type of winch is preferable for lifting.


Ratchet Hand Crank:


In this type of winch, the winch drum is turned by moving the handle or ratchet in a to and fro motion, like the pendulum.



Example of best hand winch with a standard or rotating crank
Example of best hand winch with a ratcheting crank

The ratchet hand crank is better suited for pulling along an inclined or horizontal surface. The handle usually moves between 0 and 90 degrees. and so has the advantage of the economy of space unlike the rotating hand crank that moves through 360 degrees.


Loop Drive Crank:

In this type of winch, the cranking is done using an extension pole that turns the winch drum.

Loop Drive Crank Hand Winch
Loop Drive Crank Hand Winch

The use of an extension pole makes it possible for the winch to be mounted in a convenient position which may be out of working space.


Crank Handle For Loop Drive Hand Winch
Crank Handle


  • Types Based on Gear System


Planetary Gear Type:



Planetary Gear Type of Some Best Hand Winch
Planetary Gear Type of Some Best Hand Winch

In this type of winch, the main gear turns a smaller gear or gears depending on whether the winch is a single gear or two gear system.


The planetary gear system is usually more efficient as it cranks much more easily.


Worm Gear System:
Worm gear for hand winch
Worm Gear Type

Here the worm gear is the main gear that turns the other gear. This is basically the same principle that the screw car jack uses. This type

of gear system is usually less efficient than the planetary gear system but creates more stability and power than the planetary gear system type. Example of worm gear is shown below.




There are a number of other types of winches that are not the hand winch type. Other types of winches include snubbing winch, water skate winch, winch glider, air winch.






Table 1. Hand Winch Types and Characteristcs

NameSpeedGear TypeCrank TypeLock DesignCapacity (Ib)
1Reese Tow power 74337
2Reese Towpower 74329
3Dutton-Lainsson D-L2500A
4Dutton-Lainson WA 2000
5Tekton 5547
6Tekton 5553
1PlanetaryRatchetManual4 ton
9Maasdam Powr Pull
10Fulton 2 Speed Trailer Winch
Fulton 2 Speed
11Fulton Single Speed Winch
fulton single speed
12Fulton F 2 Fully Enclosed
Fulton f2


Advantages of Best Hand Winch
  • They are portable and light, and so can easily be moved from one place to another without much inconvenience. The weight varies from a few pounds to few hundred pounds. This is not much when compared with some industrial winches that weigh as much 50tonnes.


  • They are manually operated and so can be operated even in the remotest place of adventure where winches are needed without worry over power issues.



  • They are easy to operate because its operating system is not really complicated. Using them in boat trailing can be fun!


  • Assembling and dismantling them can be easy using their manual. Their parts are joined together with a number of bolts and nuts. This makes for flexible and easy maintenance, repairs and change of parts.



  • Majority of the good quality winches are rugged, durable and reliable.


Determining the Right Winch Capacity

The ability to choose or calculate the capacity of winch necessary for your use is an important aspect of getting the best hand winch.

A winch that is below the capacity of what is required will be a bad mistake as you will not get the best out of it even if it is the best in the world. This will cause the winch to work under unacceptable stress.

For hand winches, the winch capacity is usually a function of the mechanical advantage (MA) of the winch.


Winch Capacity is directly proportional to the load it will pull or lift

Or, Winch Capacity =K(Load to be pulled or lifted)

where K is the proportionality Constant.


The proportionality constant of a winch usually varies between 1 and 3, depending on a number of factors which include the following:


  • The angle of inclination of the pull.
  • The coefficient of friction of the object being pulled.
  • The number of layers of the turn of the rope around the drum of the winch.
  • The presence of pulley block or roller fairlead.
  • The quality of the winch.


While the first 3 factors tend to decrease the mechanical advantage of the winch, the last 2 factors tend to increase it.

For most small winches, the average mechanical advantage is 1.

This implies that for a boat of weight of 2400 pounds, for example, the winch capacity will be:

Winch Capacity (Lb)     =  K x Load (lb)


=2400 Lb

If the angle of inclination and coefficient of friction are high, thereby increasing the proportionality constant to, say, 1.5; then in this case:

Winch Capacity =1.5×2400


For low or zero angle of inclination, low coefficient of friction, good quality winch and pulley blocks, the proportionality constant can reduce to as low as 0.8. In this case, the winch capacity that will be required will be

Winch Capacity= 0.8×2400

= 1920 Lbs

From the above calculations we see how the required winch capacity can vary for the same weight under varying conditions.



It is however better to work with the average mechanical advantage for hand winches.


Also bearing in mind that the winch’s capacity is reduced by about 10% by each additional layer of turn after the first, it is advisable to make for such allowance when choosing the winch’s capacity.


In the example above, it will be advisable to choose a winch with a capacity of 30000Lbs instead of the calculated 2400Lbs. This means a 25 percent allowance has been made. An allowance of more than this will not cause any harm. It will rather help the winch to work with less stress and consequently prolong its durability.


For ATV, UTV, and SUV, the winch capacity is still directly proportional to the weight of the vehicle.

Expressed mathematically:

Winch Capacity (lb)∝ Gross Vehicle Weight  (GVW) (lb)


Winch Capacity (lb) = k(GVW) (lb)
where k is the proportionality constant and on the average is taken as 1.5.


Winch Capacity = 1.5GVW

Where GVW is the Gross Vehicle Weight which is made up of the weight of the vehicle and every other additional weight in it including fuel for example.

The 0.5 or 50% is added or allowed in order take care of the variables that may affect winching capacity as pointed out above.

Thus for a vehicle of GVW of 6000 pounds, the appropriate winch capacity will be

Winch Capacity (lb)  =        1.5GVW(lb)

=        1.5 x 600n Lbs

=        9000 Ibs.

Reviews Of Three Top  Hand Winches

It is important at this point to note that hand winch or manual winch is quite different from portable winch that are electrically operated.


Warn, a reputable winch manufacturer does not produce such winch. So don’t be surprised that it is not among the one listed below!


Considering the things that one needs to look out for in a best hand winch, and what people who bought and used such hand winches have to say, we present the following hand winches as among the top rated.


Reese Towpower 74329 Reviews



Towpower Hand Winch by Reese
Reese Towpower 74337 Hand Winch


When you think of a quality hand winch that is built for durability and reliability, theReese Tow power 74329 quickly comes to mind. It is definitely among the best hand winch by every standard.


Whether you intend to use it for load lifting or for pulling, it serves well.


The winch is portable as it weighs only 3.9 Lbs. It has a dimension of 7.2 x 6 x 8.1 inches. It has a rated capacity of 1500 Lbs and is very easy to install.

The Reese Towpower winch has a review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars at the Amazon by the buyers who have actually used it.


It has a two-way ratchet which can be set to work in both directions-forward and reverse. The ratchet can be set to neutral which allows for freewheel. This allows you to pull the strap out much more faster and more easily.


The hand winch comes with a 20 feet tough strap and hook which sometimes is preferable to cable.


The 8 inches grip handle is designed for comfort and good hold when cranking. This in turn reduces fatigue.


The frame is heavily reinforced such that gear alignment is properly maintained.


Corrosion resistance for this winch is increased by the use of Zinc-plated finishing while the gears are made of SAE 1050 steel to increase resistance to wear.

BrandReese Towpower
Dimensions7.2 x 6 x 8.1 inches
Weight10.2 pounds
Gear TypePlanetary
Break TypeAutomatic
Line TypeStrap
model number74329

Mountain hardware is usually not included majorly because most people don’t need it. However, when it is needed it can be ordered separated.


Almost all the desirable qualities needed in a best hand winch are found in this winch which is very solid particularly in consideration of its price


 Tekton 4-Ton Dual Gear Power Puller Review
Power puller type of hand winch by Tekton
Tekton 4- ton dual gear hand winch

Not many products come with a life time guarantee. So when a product comes with such a guarantee, it is an indicator that the manufacturer is sure of the product. The4-ton Tekton 5547 comes with a limited lifetime guarantee!


This is definitely one of the best hand winch. This winch,popularly known as dual gear power puller, is a jaw puller.The rated capacity  is 4-ton. It weighs 14.7 pounds and has a dimension of 6 x 31.5 x 6 inches, making it also a highly portable winch. It is one of the best hand winch anyone could wish for.

The Tekton jaw puller has a smaller  version size of 2-ton capacity.


This hand winch is simple and cheap but rugged, reinforced, strengthened and very well made. It is ideal for trailering.


The hand winch operates using a ratcheting gear pulley system that makes the pulling of heavy loads a very simple matter.


It has dual gear made up of low speed gear for more powerful cranking and high speed gear for faster and easier cranking.


There is the option of using a single line or double line depending on the capacity or distance of what is to be pulled or lifted.


In order to minimize corrosion, the all steel construction is hardened and galvanized.


The winch uses thick wire cable of 12 feet long and ¼ inch thick. Such thick cable ensures that it does not disappoint when pulling the load.


The winch is actually designed to last a lifetime if it is operated within the capacity for which it is made.


The price is also very,very attractive.

Item model number5547
Item Weight13.2 pounds
Product Dimensions29.5 x 4.2 x 6.5 inches
No of Gears2
Gear TypeRatcheting
LineSingle or Double
Cable Diameter7/32 inches
Hook Size5/16 inches
Handle Lenght21 inches
Fulton F2 2 Speed Trailer Winch Review
This unique winch, in addition to having all the features required of a best hand winch, is completely enclosed.


Enclosed hand winch
Fulton F2 Fully Enclosed
Hand Winch

This makes the Fulton F2 2 Speed Trailer Winch definitely one of the best hand winch and is  better suited for marine use.

This is so as rust resistance is increased greatly though the use of corrosion resistant coating. The fact that it is also fully enclosed minimizes the abilty of water to penetrate inside it.


The Fulton F2 2 Speed Trailer Winch is sleek and portable weighing only 9Lbs and measuring 10 x 8 x 10 inches.


Its capacity is rated at 3200Ibs.  Though it has several variations. Some have capacity of 1600 lb while some have capacities of 2000 lbs


This great winch has 2 speeds. The fast speed enables quick pull-in while the low speed enables more powerful cranking when increased mechanical accuracy is needed.


The handle length can be adjusted from 6 to 9 inches while the handle grip is soft making for extra comfort while cranking. The handle has provision for switching from left-to-right-hand drive configuration.


The winch is designed for ease of operation.


The presence of the E.I.S or the easy install system and a user friendly pull and turn knob to engage the ratchet plunger pin are proofs to this fact.


This winch has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars by the rating of verified buyers at


This winch is a winner particularly if one must operate a hand winch where children are around


With all the above excellent and desirable qualities of this great winch,  having one within reach is indeed a very sound idea. It is readily available at this site.


Product Dimensions10 x 8 x 10 inches
Capacity3200 pounds
Item Weight8.5 pounds
Product Rating4.6 out of 5 Stars

It is my belief that this guide has dealt extensively on what is necessary to look out for if one wants to buy the best hand winch that he will be happy with.

We have been able to point out the qualities you must look out for when choosing the best hand winch.

 The various types of hand or manual winches were pointed out in detail. The advantages of hand winches over ATV winches were outlined.

You should also be able to determine the winch capacity required at different occasions requiring the use of a winch.

The reviews will also be a good guide to making an informed decision. Quality winches at the best prices are available at the amazon site. You may wish tocheck them out now.