Winching wisdom

An important rule, often overlooked

Ontario's ATV trails are vast and varied. At one point or another you or someone in your group may find yourself stuck and will need a tow. A common mistake made by ATVers is yanking on one ATV with another connected by the winch cable. All too often I see ATVers hooking up the winch cable and then reversing, or worse, reverse tugging to pull another ATV out. The stress this puts on the winch and cable is many times the capacity of the unit.

A winch rated for 2,500 lbs can reach its threshold when pulling a fully loaded ATV, driver, and gear uphill in the mud. When you start using the power of the ATV to assist with the pull, you have far exceeded the winch's capabilities, and this is when the units start to fail. In order to keep your winch in good working order for many seasons, keep the towing ATV stationary. If the brakes are not enough, run a rope or tow strap from the winching ATV to a tree to keep it from sliding and use the winch motor to do the work.

Many of us are far too impatient for this (me included) and simply want to get on the throttle and pull the other machine out in a jiffy. There is nothing wrong with this approach, as long as you use a tow strap or tow rope. Not only will the tow strap save your winch, but the small amount of stretch in it allows you to get a run at the operation, and still gently pull the stuck ATV without damaging yours, or worse, your body.

About Mark Hamerton

Ontario facinates me; the farther I go in the bush, the more I feel at home. I love showing people new riding areas, and the countless stunning locations you can get to on an ATV.

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