With so many options out there, buying a synthetic winch rope for your winch can be confusing. There are a few factors to consider here, such as the pulling capacity and drum size of the winch. This guide should help you choose the correct winch line to fit your needs.


A common misconception is that it is best to fit as much rope as you can on your winch drum. This is wrong for a couple reasons. First is the issue of pulling power. All winches are rated from the first wrap of the drum, where the pulling power of the winch is at its greatest. With each additional wrap on the drum, the pulling power of the winch decreases because the winch is having to work harder to turn the drum as the size increases.

Another problem with overloading the drum the with winch line is that it makes it easier to damage the winch or winch line when carrying out angled pulls. Situations arise where it is very hard, if not impossible, to correctly spool the winch line evenly while extracting a vehicle. This can result in the line spooling on one end of the drum and coming into contact with the tie bars on the winch which can damage both the winch and the winch line. By using a shorter winch line, you decrease the chance of overloading the winch and damaging both the winch and the winch line.

The RED Winches published winch rope capacities for each model (see the table below) take these factors into account to advise on the optimum amount of rope. 

Diameter / Strength

Choosing a winch line diameter comes down to the strength of the winch line. RED Winches recommends using a 2:1 safety factor with the winch that you are installing the winch line on. This means the winch line should have a breaking strength 2 times the pulling power of the winch. For example, if you have a winch with a 4,500kg pulling capacity, the line should have a breaking strength of 9,000kg or higher.

It is always possible to put a larger diameter winch line for additional strength, but keep in mind that as winch line diameter increases, the length of the line has to decrease for it to fit on the drum. This is where the high breaking strengths of the RED Winches UHMWPE (Ultra High Weight Molecular Weight Polyethylene) rope comes into its own. 

RED Winches UHMWPE Rope

RED Winches UHMWPE rope is batch tested for Minimum Breaking Strength (MBS) and can be supplied in a range of sizes, but we do find that the 11mm and 12mm ropes are the most popular with users. 

  • Manufactured from UHMWPE (Ultra High Weight Molecular Weight Polyethylene):
    • Very light weight – 8 x lighter than steel wire for given strength
    • Low stretch
    • Good resistance to chemicals and UV
    • Zero water shrinkage
    • Low creep UHMWPE fiber
  • Construction:
    • Twisted Fiber Construction – 12 Strand braided construction:
    • Improved abrasion resistance
    • Optimized pitch to yarn twist – improves strength & longevity
    • Firmer rounder rope, aids handling
    • Easy to splice
    • Flexible product and easily handled
    • Torque balanced
  • Coating: 
    • Specially formulated polyurethane coating
    • Improves abrasion resistance and durability
    • Increases friction, aids handling & Splicing

RED Winches Ropes are spliced in house allowing us to manufacture any length of rope and rope termination configuration that the customer requires. 

The table below shows the optimum rope lengths for each RED Winches products for each diameter of rope.

If you need any further help with regards to choosing a winch rope please contact us.