Best Small Winches Available and How to Use Them

If you’re interested in purchasing an electric winch, chances are good that you’re anticipating having to rescue a stuck vehicle. Or perhaps you want a strong, durable tool to help lift or pull a heavy load in a tough situation (i.e. on a construction site). When people think of an electric winch, most people’s minds go straight to the idea of a heavy duty winch, and big, heavy trucks needing to be pulled out from a ditch. They first consider opting for a standard winch, and question if a small winch is really worth the money.

muddy small winch on vehicle

A winch that has a high pull capacity is excellent for towing large farm equipment or for pulling half ton trucks out of a ditch, but these are not the only scenarios that require a winch. One common purpose for winching today is for outdoor entertainment and gear, such as four-wheelers, boats, and campers, among other things of course.

In these situations when a large pickup winch isn’t necessary because you have a light load of gear, and you don’t need a heavy load capacity, there is no reason to pay the extra money or take up more space in your vehicle. With that said, it is important to never forgo a quality product just to save a few bucks. In the long run, you will be out more money if your winch fails. This article will provide you some great products to think about, as well as give you some tips on what you should look for when buying your own compact winch.

Is it worth it to buy a small winch?

If you are considering buying a small winch or a mini winch, whether it’s worth the money will depend on the job you want to use it for. Remember, a small winch equals a small task! Here is our list of pros and cons for purchasing small winches for use with less gear. Use these tips to help you determine what size winch is right for you.

man with rope and winch in front of suv stuck in mud

Pros of Small Winches

Here’s a list of reasons why you may want to consider a smaller size electric winch rather than going bigger.

  • Small winches are lighter and easier to work with. Having a lighter winch makes it easier to maneuver, and you can use it in places you wouldn’t have been able to before (i.e., pulling an ATV into a trailer.)
  • Small winches cost less money. A smaller winch requires less power and less material goes into its construction, making it more affordable than larger winches.
  • Small winches are versatile. A small, light duty winch can go in ATVs, boats, trailers, and UTVs.
  • Small winches take up less space. You won’t have to worry about finding room to mount a small winch. In fact, some small winches don’t require hookups at all. This creates a sense of having a portable winch, one that you can transport with relative ease.

Cons of Small Winches

  • Small, mini winches can’t pull heavier items and gear, like a stuck vehicle if you need it or an extremely heavy load. If you find yourself stuck in a ditch on a snowy day, you can’t use a small winch for that kind of load, no matter how badly you’ll want to.

In our opinion, as long as the winch has the pulling capacity for what you’re using it for, a small winch is definitely worth it. You’ll be saving some money while winching, yet still have a machine that can do all the heavy lifting for you.

What to Look for When Purchasing a Small Winch

When you’re looking to purchase a mini winch, there are a few things you want to make sure to keep in mind.

  • The electric winch can meet your pull capacity needs and load. Even though it’s relatively light weight compared to large winches, it can still do the job you need.
  • It’s waterproof. Having a waterproof design helps keep the product from rusting or wearing out.
  • It’s durable. Check the winch and the line to make sure they’re high quality and strong.
  • It is wireless remote. This aspect shouldn’t be a deal-breaker, but it’s definitely a perk. Having an easy-access remote control, as well, makes the job easier.
  • It’s easy to install. You want a product that you can install easily, so that no errors during setup will lead to damage or harm.
  • The winch is lightweight. If you’re going to get a small winch, try to find one that’s lightweight and easy to manage.
  • It comes with a warranty. A warranty isn’t only good for getting a product fixed if something happens, but it also provides reassurance that the manufacturer is sure of his product and isn’t worried he will have to fix or replace it.

4 of the Best Small Electric Winches

Warn 885001 PullzAll Hand Held Electric Winch


This Warn handheld winch is ideal for jobs requiring pulling objects or gear that are 1000 lbs or less. When using a handheld winch, you have the flexibility to get as close to an object as you can in order to move it directly to where you want it to go.

WARN PullzAll Corded 120V AC Portable Electric Winch
  • Easy to use
  • Highly durable
  • Always remove any element or obstacle that may interfere with safe operation of the pulling tool
  • No load line speed: 13.8 fpm
  • Lifts or pulls up to 1,000 pounds
  • Replaces old fashioned come-a-longs and chain falls
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This is the smallest electric winch of the bunch and weighs in at just about 19 lbs, making it easy to travel with and light enough to carry around. The winch runs on 110 volts of AC power, and the best part is it’s never connected up to your vehicle, so it won’t drain your battery. It’s not a manual wench, but it’s probably the best hand winch for an ATV.

Megaflint Trailer Winch, Reversible Electric Winch


The Megaflint Trailer winch is a great winch to use for a boat. It has a reversible line which allows the electric winch to let out slack and also pull in. The winch can pull a boat in water up to 5,000 lbs, roll up to 6,000, and for deadweight load, pull up to 2,000 lbs.

Megaflint Trailer Electric Winch
  • Dual mode operation, Power-in, Power-out, and Freewheel operation.
  • Electric and manual dual model operation, both for in and out.
  • Galvanized steel cable and hook for additional safety.
  • CAPACITY 6,000 lbs. rolling; 5,000 lbs. marine; 2,000 lbs. pulling; Max boat weight: 5,000 lbs
  • Rocker switch corded remote control
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The winch mounts easily and can be hooked up to a trailer, truck, car or boat. The enhanced design gives it 30% more pull weight than most small winches and still outperforms many. If you are looking for a boat winch or a tiny winch in general, this is a great option for you to consider.

OPEN ROAD 3500lbs ATV/UTV Winch


Are you looking for a great winch for your ATV adventures? Check out OpenRoads ATV/UTV winch. The high-grade copper wire magnetic motor creates more pull with less batter strain on your vehicle. You can feel comfortable recovering your mud-covered ride without having to deal with a dead battery once it’s back on solid ground.

OPENROAD 3500Lbs 12 Volts Electric Winch
  • Suitable for most ATV,UTV and Boat Trailer.
  • 12V DC 1.0HP Copper Wire Permanent Magnet Motor
  • 3-stage planetary gear and the gear speed ratio of 153:1
  • 2 wireless remote controls and 1 wired remote control
  • 1 year product warranty and lifetime product technical support
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It has a 3500 lbs pull capacity and is small enough to fit perfectly on any ATV, UTV, trailer, or boat. This electric winch comes with a wireless remote, allowing you to do the load job even if you’re alone. If you enjoy riding through the woods and getting a little muddy, this winch will be there when you find yourself in a sticky situation.

Campion ATV/UTV Winch Kit


This small winch is perfect for those hard-to-reach ATVs that took a wrong turn into a big ditch, or the UTV that took its chances on some wet ground and found itself buried in mud. This winch has a 2,000-pound pull capacity and a one hP 12v motor.

Champion Power Equipment ATV/UTV Winch Kit
  • 2000-lb. rated line pull powered by a 1-horsepower (12-volt) DC motor
  • Line speed of 3.3 feet per minute with a full load, and 10.5 feet per minute with no load
  • Included mounting channel, remote control and roller fairlead create an easier than ever winching experience
  • The roller fairlead creates a safe and smooth pull with the dependable 49-foot galvanized super-duty aircraft cable which is able to withstand abrasive terrain without fraying

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The winch line is made from galvanized steel and is very strong and durable, with the ability to tow just about any load within its weight limits.

How to Use a Small Winch

Using a small wench is just like using a larger, standard winch. The only difference you may come across is applicable if you opt for a handheld winch. In that case, the instructions remain the same with a slight tweak:

  1. Hook your electric winch line to the vehicle you’re planning on towing. You will do this by attaching the line to a hook and then connecting the hook to the vehicle.
  2. Drape a cloth or tarp over the line in case of the rare chance the strap snaps. This will absorb some of the energy from the recoil, keeping anyone from getting seriously hurt.
  3. Switch on the winch until the line is tight and then make sure the line is straight and secure.
  4. If everything is good to go, turn the winch back on and let it do its job.

Winch Solo Recovery

If you are using a small winch attached to an ATV, you will need to make a recovery with a large, sturdy structure. More likely than not, this will be via a tree. When you are making a solo recovery, the steps are similar; however, instead of hooking your winch to a vehicle that needs rescuing, you’ll be hooking the vehicle that needs rescuing to a tree.

In this situation, you should always have a tree saver strap in your supplies. This will wrap around the tree, creating a barrier and keeping it safe from the winch’s rope.

Food for Thought

When purchasing an electric winch, never sacrifice performance for size. Just because it’s smaller doesn’t necessarily mean it will have less power. A winch with less power will take more time to pull, and if it is attached to your vehicle battery, it could drain the battery at a quicker speed.

Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more out of pocket if you’re getting a winch that will last you a long time and do the job correctly without any issues.


A smaller winch doesn’t mean a winch with less quality or value. It means less pull load, strength, and horsepower. This isn’t a bad quality, but just means its features are used for smaller situations. Small winches are definitely worth purchasing if it works for the job you need it to do, and there’s no reason to buy a large winch that you will never use. You will be wasting money, and you will own a bigger, bulkier winch when you don’t necessarily need it. When looking to purchase a winch, what really matters is its durability, quality, and strength.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.