— Things you should know when going off-road —

In the “Recreation Utility UTV Buyer’s Guide” 30 of the machines come standard with a winch, with most winches being Warn 4500-pound units. The thing is, a 4500-pound winch can actually stretch the frame of a UTV, especially if you use a snatch block to extricate a large UTV! Snatch blocks double and quadruple a winch’s power rating, and winch lines can girdle and injure or kill trees, so you want to have tree-protector straps on hand for hard-core winching. Warn has accessory kits for proper winching, and they include special winching gloves with extra palm, web and finger protection. We know of racers who have lost fingertips when winching with racing gloves. Stretching frames, strangling trees, losing body parts and breaking lines don’t come with proper winching techniques, so we went to the experts, Warn Winch employees, to learn how to do it right during Warn’s 70th anniversary celebration.

As part of its 70th anniversary celebration, Warn Industries introduced its all-new Axon and VRX UTV/ATV winch lines with a series of winching demonstrations. If your UTV weighs anywhere near the winch’s load limit, it’s best to winch with a driver only; Warn was showing off here.
Warn winching gloves (#88895, $50.00) are available separately or as part of Warn’s winching accessories kits. Warn winching gloves are made of synthetic leather with Kevlar reinforcement panels in the palm and fingers, with an extra panel for the web of your hands to protect from barbs while handling steel rope.
Warn’s Light-Duty winching kit (#88915) for UTVs (and ATVs) includes a 1/2-inch shackle with 4500-pound rating, a maximum-capacity (9000-pound) snatch block, two 8-foot tree trunk protectors, Warn winching gloves and a 600-denier carry bag, all for $109.22.
First of all, hook onto your shackle with the winch’s hook latch facing up; that way, if it rotates during winching, it’s all hook and no weak latch for maximum safety.
If you’re using both tree protectors, you can hook the two loops together, but you get a cushion if you use the carry bag as a buffer.
Bring the free ends together, whether using one or more protectors, so they can be looped into the shackle or winch hook.


If using a snatch block for a retrieval, loop a tree protector through your UTV’s (or ATV’s) frame instead of a bumper for a more secure anchor.
Secure the other tree protector to the tree or rock and pass both loops and the snatch block anchor through your shackle. Also, Warn recommends not tightening the shackle bolt all the way. If the shackle bends with a tight bolt, it can freeze.
Here’s the proper setup for using a snatch block to double your winch’s power for a particularly tough extraction. Note that the hook latch is up and the shackle’s anchor bolt is heads-up and free-end down.


If the extraction is a heavy or severely stuck vehicle, use tree protectors to anchor the rescue vehicle to a large tree. Warn’s line of accessory front bumpers have many anchor points for shackles.
The extraction may call for a pivot point to get the winch line at the proper angle. Here is the pro setup for protecting the tree and using a snatch block as the pivot point. Stay on the uphill side of the rope.
The Axon 55-S pulled the Ford F250 up the hill with no problems, and the extraction didn’t harm the tree or the Gator’s frame. Anchoring to a tree also saves having to chock tires or stress brakes.
Even if your UTV has a windshield, it’s safest to wear a helmet and safety glasses when winching. If a rope or strap breaks, the whiplash can do ugly things to flesh and UTV parts.
Using a weight on the winch rope can dampen any kickback from a broken rope. Also, ropes usually break at the hook (or drum), so you can re-thread a synthetic rope end into itself and push it in a few inches. The web acts like a Chinese finger trap when pulled tight. A climber’s knot will work on the drum end in a pinch.
A tree-protector strap can also be used as an anchor to winch a broken machine into the hauler. Never wrap a synthetic rope around a rock or any other abrasive or sharp object.
In a pinch, a winch can be used as a jack to repair or change a flat tire. Be sure both UTVs are in Park mode, and make sure your strap is rated to handle the load. Double up if needed, and we have used a junker wheel as a jack stand for safety while repairing a Wildcat XX axle.


Warn Industries

12900 SE Capps Road

Clackamas, OR 97015

(800) 543-9276

[email protected]

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