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Which Winch: Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope?

Which Winch: Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope?

Which Winch: Steel Cable or Synthetic Rope?

You probably have a good idea where and when you are going to use your winch. While both steel cable and synthetic rope are great for getting out of sticky situations on the trail, you may need to use your winch for other applications.

So how do you choose between steel or synthetic rope when you purchase your winch? Let’s take a look at the difference between the two.


Traditional steel cable is durable, abrasion-resistant and perfect for utility applications. Heavier and less flexible than synthetic rope, it is what you want when you know your line is going to be in contact with rocks, stumps and other things that will rub against it. Used for decades by riders and drivers, it is cheaper than a synthetic rope.

Dyneema® Synthetic Rope

Strong, lightweight, easy-to-handle with the ability to float in water, Dyneema Synthetic Rope is the result of innovation. It is the perfect choice for vehicle recovery and will not add additional weight to your vehicle. You can push the limits of your vehicle and feel confident using your winch frequently with this synthetic rope. Keep in mind that Dyneema rope is more prone to damage from abrasions and you should always use the abrasion sleeve when the rope comes into contact with other objects. Always check your synthetic rope on a regular basis for wear. It is more expensive to replace than steel cable.

When you’re shopping for your winch, consider the following questions:

  • What are the primary applications for which you will use your winch?

    If you are going to be using your winch to pull up rocks, stumps or other items that will cause the rope damage, consider using steel cable. If you need flexibility and less weight on your ATV, Dyneema Synthetic Rope is the better option.

  • Do you need something that is good on the trail and for working in the yard?

    If yes, then steel cable is the better option for you.

  • Are you concerned about the amount of weight you are carrying on your vehicle?

    If yes, then Dyneema Synthetic Rope may be a better option for you.

  • If you have to replace your winch rope often, is price an issue?

    If yes, then you may wish to consider steel cable for your winch. It is cheaper than synthetic rope.

QuadBoss offers winches in 2,500 lbs., 3,500 lbs. and 5,000 lbs., all with steel cable or Dyneema synthetic rope. Once you know what you’re going to do with your winch, we can set you up and keep you riding.