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Hand Winches


A hand winch is a tool that makes it easier to pull or lift large or heavy items such as:

Note: Winches should never be used to hoist, lift, support or transport people. Winches should not be used for loads over areas where people may be present.



single speed winch

Single Speed

Two speed winch

Two Speed

worm gear

Worm Gear

brake winch

Brake Winches

light duty electric winch

Light-Duty Electric Winches

Crank Types

standard hand crank

Standard Hand Crank

racheting winch


loop drive

Loop Drive

Drum Types

single reel winch

Single Reel

split reel winch

Split Reel

Winch Capacities

Hand winch capacities are rated with one layer of rope wrapped around the drum. For every additional layer, the capacity is reduced by an additional 10 percent. The table below shows the amount that pulling capacity is reduced with each additional layer of cable. For maximum efficiency, use only the amount of line required.

Winch CapacityLayer 1Layer 2Layer 3Layer 4Layer 5Layer 6
600 lbs600 lbs540 lbs480 lbs420 lbs360 lbs300 lbs
900 lbs900 lbs810 lbs750 lbs690 lbs600 lbs510 lbs
1,200 lbs1,200 lbs1,000 lbs960 lbs 840 lbs720 lbs600 lbs

Finding the Right Capacity Winch for your Boat Trailer

For example, a 2,200-lb boat generally requires a 1,100-lb winch. If the same boat were winched a short distance with a low incline and with rollers in good condition, it can be safely winched with a 900-lb winch. The boat requires a winch with a 2,200-lb capacity if you are winching a longer distance with more resistance; for example, if the trailer had carpeted, wooden bunks or was set on a steeper incline.

Winching on an Incline

Static Loads vs. Rolling Loads

A static load (or dead load) is a weight without motion. The absence of wheels makes the load more resistant to pulling. The winch capacity is listed for pulling static loads.

A rolling load (for example, a vehicle) can be winched or moved more easily because it has wheels. When winching a rolling load, the winch can handle more weight than its rated capcity. On level ground, a winch can pull 10 times its capacity.


Pulling a load up a ramp or incline adds extra resistance. To find the amount of load that can be pulled up an incline, multiply the winch capacity by the factor shown in the chart. The multiplication factor shown includes a 10 percent rolling factor. Note: 5 percent incline is a 1/2 ft rise in 10 ft.

% InclineMultiply By:
0% (Level surface)10
5% (3-degree)6.67
10% (6-degree)5.02
20% (11-degree)3.40
30% (17-degree)2.61
50% (26-degree)1.86
70% (35-degree)1.53
100% (45-degree)1.29

For example, a 2,000-lb winch pulling a rolling load on a level surface can handle up to 20,000 lbs. At a 5 percent incline, the same winch can handle a rolling load up to 13,340 lbs. As the incline increases, the weight a winch can pull decreases.


Mechanical Advantage

For example, a 1,500-lb, single-speed hand winch has a maximum mechanical advantage of 49:1 at its most effective (with one layer of cable on the drum). This mechanical advantage can decrease to 15:1 as the cable or strap winds around the drum. The greater a machine's mechanical advantage, the greater its output force compared to its input force.

Gear Ratio

For example, a 1,400-lb hand winch has a gear ratio of 4.4:1. A larger capacity winch, such as a 2,500-lb, has a gear ratio of 17.3:1. Worm gear winches with a 2,000-lb capacity provide up to 40:1 gear ratio. Light-duty electric winches have gear ratios up to 570:1.

Freespooling or Freewheeling

Worm Gears vs Planetary Gears

worm gear

Worm Gears

planetary gear

Planetary Gear

Winch Accessories

pulley block with hook

Pulley Blocks

To attach a pulley block to the load you are moving, run the cable from the winch, through the block and back to an attachment point close to the winch. A pulley block helps the winch cable stay closer to layer 1, so the winch is pulling at its highest capacity.

wire rope or wire cable

Wire Rope or Cable


Winch Straps

marine grease grease gun kit


Rob O.


I have a 2021 Shorlandr Boat Trailer with a Dutton-Lainson DL1802A winch. I want to upgrade to a 2-speed winch like the Fulton F2. I see no way to mount a new winch as there are no mounting holes. Suggestions?

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


If you don't have any mounting holes in your current setup then you'll probably need to drill holes into it once you have your winch.

Bill C.


Has anyone used a winch to help pull a load up an incline? With the help of a couple friends, I need to pull a 1000 lb hot tub up a ramp over my deck stairs. I’m unsure which type of winch is best and what size. I have a come-along but it is only 12’ and I need to pull it 20 ft. Any suggestions?

Etrailer Expert

Chris R.


A hand winch can certainly help to pull a load up an incline.One with a hand brake is probably your safest option so you can manually control the release. I recommend the Dutton-Lainson # DL14830 specifically that can be used with the 25' Cable # DL24102.



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