As a boat owner, you are aware that unloading the boat into the water and loading it back on the trailer can be difficult. However, having a good trailer winch makes this task quicker, easier and safer. There are two types of winches available – manual and electric. First one is operated using your hands, while electric winches use your car battery for power.

We reviewed some excellent winches to help you with your task. In addition, to learn how to find the best marine trailer winch be sure to go through the buying guide below. We’ll be explaining the types in more detail, as well as some features and specs you should look for.

How To Choose The Best Boat Trailer Winch – Buying Guide


The winch you’re buying needs to be suitable for your boat (in terms of capacity), sturdy, durable and reliable. It’s also a big plus if the operation is straightforward and safe.

Manual Winch

This is a type you’ve probably seen many times. While there are different products in this category, the principle is the same – you have a drum with line, and a hand crank. Cranking the handle pulls the line into the drum, and your boat with it. Usually there is a ratchet lock too, which prevents the line from going in the opposite direction, while pulled by the boat weight.

It can have a single speed, or a gearbox which increases its efficiency. Changing gear multiplies your strength, so you can load a much heavier boat. Gear ratios range from 1:1, 3:1, 5:1 and some of the best boat trailer winches have 16:1 or more. For example, 5:1 means you need five cranks for one drum turn. This makes it easier because a much smaller amount of strength is required.

Electric Winch

An electric winch is generally easier to use, and has a larger capacity. However, it’s also more expensive. There is an electromotor inside which pulls the line in. Because it doesn’t depend on your muscle power, it can pull a much heavier boat. The line is usually a low stretching steel cable, which adds strength. In addition to pulling the line in, it’s a plus if the winch has reverse, so you can control the descent of your boat.

It’s advisable to keep the vehicle running while you’re using the winch, because it can be a significant drain on your battery. In some situations it may completely drain it, meaning you won’t be able to start the car. Also, always set the parking break and have someone behind the wheel (if possible). This minimizes the chance of trailer pulling the tow vehicle into the water.


Some electric winches come with a cable controller, while others have a wireless remote which is powered by batteries. Having a remote control allows you to operate the winch from a safer distance, and have better flexibility. A wired controller sometimes has limited cable length so you need to be closer to the winch.

Winch Capacity

This is how winches are rated, by the amount of weight they are able to pull up a ramp and onto your trailer. Range goes from several hundred pounds (good for inflatables and smaller vessels), to over 10,000 pounds on some electric models. A winch needs to have a larger capacity than your boat. You need to take into consideration that you will have gear on board, like an outboard motor, marine cooler or extra batteries.

Capacity should exceed the weight of your fully loaded boat. This way you will be safer while operating. You will also get solid performance from the winch in more difficult conditions – when the ramp is steeper or in rough water.

Strap or Cable

Your winch can either be equipped with a nylon strap or a steel cable. Both are good, and both have some ups and downs. Steel cables are generally tougher and handle a heavy load better. On the other hand, straps are used for lighter vessels. They are usually found on manual winches. Straps are much softer on your hands, compared to cables which can slice them.

Whichever type you choose, it needs to be durable and resistant to saltwater (if you’re taking your boat to sea or ocean). It will be exposed to it, and it needs protection against corrosion. Many winches have special coatings for this purpose. To additionally help prevent this, simply rinse off your winch with fresh water when you get home. Steel cables should be lubricated from time to time, since this will reduce friction and preserve the structure. Straps don’t need this, but if they get wet you should unroll them and leave to dry because they can mold and rot.

Keep in mind that no matter which winch you have, it can’t serve as a tiedown for your boat. It only pulls it onto the trailer. For keeping the boat on you need to buy proper straps to tie it and secure it.



Q: What Is A Boat Trailer Winch?


It’s a device which helps you line up the boat on the ramp, and pull the boat across the ramp onto your trailer. One end of the line is attached to the bow eye of your boat, while the other is on the drum. You reel the line in, either manually or with an electric motor. The winch itself is installed on the trailer tongue. Bolts are often universal, meaning different winches can be mounted on your trailer.

Q: Why Do I Need A Boat Trailer Winch?


Pulling the boat onto the trailer is very difficult without a winch. More physical effort is required, often by several people. You also need to back your trailer all the way into the water, which can be very inconvenient when you load it and need to get out. With a winch, you simply pull it on. It’s much easier, and there is a smaller chance of boat damage.

Q: Why Choose an Electric Winch?


An electric winch replaces your manual cranking, so it’s much less work. In addition, some boats are simply too heavy for manual winches. A better gear ratio allows the electric winch to have more power at a slower speed, which wouldn’t be possible manually. Also, it’s safer since you’re not in a position to be injured by the handle.

Q: Do I Need A Single-speed or Two-speed Winch?


This depends mainly on the type of boat you have. For lighter vessels like inflatable boats and dinghies, a single speed with 3:1 or 5:1 gear ratio will do the job just fine. However, heavier boats need a two-speed winches. The first one allows higher speed while pulling the boat in and lining it to the ramp. The second does the heavy lifting, where the speed is lower but the pull is more powerful.

Globo Surf Overview

Having a quality winch on your trailer is an excellent investment. It can make loading and unloading easy, so you’ll have more time for fishing and enjoying the water. To get the best boat trailer winch, please consider the things we mentioned when choosing. You can find a product which will be reliable for many years to come, but won’t overload your budget.

More Boat Reviews:

Have you tried a boat trailer winch that made it onto our list? Which one did you choose? Was easy to use and strong enough for your needs? Please share your experience with us in the comment section below.

Review Title
Review Content

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!