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Getting ready to buy my winch. Just wondering what everyone's opinion is on the subject of synthetic rope or cable on a winch.
 

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My opinion- either one will serve you fine. I've had a winch on my ATV for years, and have not used it much. At this point, it has been used so little and so infrequently, that synthetic rope would make no difference. The added weight of steel wire probably has more effect than the functional difference between the two (for my application).
Again, for me- the proper quality winch, and size, would be more important than which rope is on it.
 

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I prefer synthetic since it’s less dangerous - no recoil if it snaps - and doesn’t poke my fingers lol Steel cable is more robust though and doesn’t really require any maintenance. Synthetic cable should be cleaned once and awhile.


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If money isn't the issue, synthetic. It won't stab you when it frays and it doesn't kink. I will replace my cable with synthetic in the not too distant future so I don't have to worry about stabbing myself.

I think hodge5 meant either cable or synthetic will serve you just fine, but if you choose a a small cheaply made winch, you will be disappointed regardless.
 

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........the proper quality winch, and size, would be more important than which rope is on it.
Am somewhat confused by what you meant with your statement ..... ?
There are different quality levels of winches available- not every one is equal. And, not every winch is up to certain tasks- get an ATV mired bad in mud, and a 1000 or 1500 pound winch might not do the job. A good, suitable winch will work, with either cable.
 

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Many large outdoor mud events require synthetic rope for safety reasons and I too like synthetic rope which doesn’t store as much energy as a steel cable does, meaning it won’t become as much of a problem/projectile if it breaks under load. Also, synthetic is lighter, highly flexible, relatively easy to repair in the field, etc. Steel cable has been around for a long time and well tested/proven so either will work. For me, the safety factor of synthetic rope is what I use and I generally carry an additional 50’ lightweight one in my storage when I may need to really reach out there.
 

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I am a synthetic guy also... They work much better when plowing... if they break they don't snap back like steel cable does.. and if it breaks/gets cut you can just tie it in a knot. Also a big plus for me is they don't get broken strands that will put a strand right through your fingers like a fish hook!!!

If you are pulling across a lot of rocks or rough terrain.. the steel will hold up longer and resist cutting much better. Other than that I feel the synthetic is a much better option!!!
 

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Synthetic. I put a nylon sleeve over the last 3 feet of it, stitch it in place, and it protects it while plowing, handles the repetition better than steel, and still works great all summer.
 

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steel cable

i got aircraft steel cable for a different purpose. its smaller in diameter than regular steel cable, yet holds more weight. it does have the cons though. if it snaps, it could come back at you, an stick ya.
when i got mine, it was made in USA. steel cable now, who knows. what i got back then, mine had no plastic sheath, i could get it in that way, but didnt. yet, after 8 yrs, in the elements, still shows no rust. it, is, inside a barn, that barn leaks everywhere. from the bottom floor, and more from the roof. the moisture doesnt seem to bother the cable, though its exposed to moisture,[not my barn, else, the water problem would be fixed], the aircraft steel cable, was not that much more, in price, than regular steel cable, at the time. i believe what i got at the time was stainless 1/8, 7x19, rated at 1,500lbs break strength. i may be wrong, wouldnt be the first time.
 

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I was into the Spectrum rope , it worked on my shrimping rig for years without problems but I only had 20ft on the spool , but on the atv it didn't do as good a job for me with a full spool , it was flattening the rope , piling to one side and jumped in between the drum and the mount and was very hard to get out , so I went back to cable , the cable is much cheaper , when it gets messed up change it
 

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I stick with steel too. I have syn on the wife's rig just because the Warn I put on hers already had the synthetic on it when I traded for the winch.

I have Jeep winches from the 70's with steel cable on them that is still fine. I don't think synthetic will ever make that claim.

I'm not as adamant about "steel only" as I used to be, but steel works, and it lasts, and I'm used to handling it so it falls under the "if it ain't broke" rule
 

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i got aircraft steel cable for a different purpose. its smaller in diameter than regular steel cable, yet holds more weight. it does have the cons though. if it snaps, it could come back at you, an stick ya.
when i got mine, it was made in USA. steel cable now, who knows. what i got back then, mine had no plastic sheath, i could get it in that way, but didnt. yet, after 8 yrs, in the elements, still shows no rust. it, is, inside a barn, that barn leaks everywhere. from the bottom floor, and more from the roof. the moisture doesnt seem to bother the cable, though its exposed to moisture,[not my barn, else, the water problem would be fixed], the aircraft steel cable, was not that much more, in price, than regular steel cable, at the time. i believe what i got at the time was stainless 1/8, 7x19, rated at 1,500lbs break strength. i may be wrong, wouldnt be the first time.
So something like this? https://www.fastenal.com/products/details/45503

I can see how the thin steel cable would be nice for handling. But a 2000 lb breaking strength with a cable that stores energy on a winch capable of exerting 3000 lbs or more sounds like a disaster waiting to happen.
 

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Synthetic only for me. Ive had both. The steel kinks if you arent careful. And there was a boy killed a couple miles from here when his steel cable snapped and decapitated him. It was like a sharp sword, took his head right off. Thats enough for me.
 

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If a winch is for those ‘just in case’ moments a synthetic rope would be the safer option. Wire ropes rot from the inside out, synthetic does not rot at all.
At the same time, if you plan on winching a lot, synthetic does not fray and stab you in the hand, it’s easier to coil up, lighter to manoeuvre etc.
The only pros are, lighter and ease of use.

Also, a main factor, if a steel cable has rotted and snaps, it stand a good chance of whipping back and causing you serious injury, synthetic will just hurt IF it manages to reach you, usually it snaps and drops to the floor.

Many deaths from still cables have occurred here in the UK, admittedly when used on 4x4’s but never the less, the proof is in the pudding.
 

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I have been on both sides the fence of cable verses synthetic rope ---------- one think I did learn along the way , don't waste you money and buy that " knock off " junk Harbor Freight sells , it is no where near the quality of the real synthetic ropes
 
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