best marine winch for heavy duty use

5 Best Boat Trailer Winches 2018

A boat trailer winch can either be a manual winch (hand driven) to electric. The purpose of a boat winch is to pull your boat onto the trailer with ease and allow you to angle the boat correctly in the center of the trailer.

The best boat trailer winch is the Fulton F2 Two-Speed with a high pulling power of 3,200 LBS with a dual operated drum for smoothness and a 5 year warranty.

Factors to consider with a top rated boat trailer winch are maximum loads, speed of the winch, length and type of the line. Failure to meet these factors could result in the winch being too small to reach the boat or worse. Electric boat trailer winches are more expensive but provide even more ease when loading the boat.

Best Manual and Electric Boat Winches

Trailer WinchPowerOur Rating
Reese Towpower 74329Manual4.7
3500LBS Dual Gear Hand Manual4.8
Fulton F2 Two-SpeedManual4.9
Powerwinch RC 30Electric4.8
Five OceansElectric4.3

Choosing between a manual or electric boat winch is dependent upon your budget and whether its worthwhile. The hand driven manual is simple and uses a drum with a line and a vertical spinner to activate the pulling. An electric boat trailer winch can be used for large boats as they can be pull up to 7,000 KG with a click of a button.

Both have separate benefits and it is your decision to make but they are essential for safely pulling your boat onto a trailer. Without a boat trailer winch, you will struggle and need to drop your trailer all the way into the water to get your boat onto it.

Heavy duty winches are essential and buying a top rated winch makes loading the boat that much easier. Below is a list of the best boat trailer winches with a choice of manual and electric depending upon your budget and needs.

Reese Towpower 74329 Manual Boat Winch


Reese Towpower is a manual boat trailer winch that has a rated pulling power of 1,500 lbs via a high quality 20 foot strap. As your boat trailer will be spending some of its time in saltwater, its important that the winch is lubricated. The Reese Towpower has been permanently lubricated so that it won’t lock up or become corroded.

The Towpower has a 4:1 gear ratio that requires four cranks of the handle to be equivalent to one turn. This boat trailer winch is made from high quality steel that is lightly oiled as an anti-corrosion additive.

Overall, the Towpower by Reese provides a boat trailer winch that is highly rated and is excellent value for money. It is the best cheap manual boat trailer winch and you just know that it will be long lasting and reliable due to the nature of the build.

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3500LBS Dual Gear Hand Trailer Winch

If you are looking for a heavy duty boat trailer winch, then this 3500 LBS rated winch is the one for you. The heavy duty zinc plated steel frame is as rigid as they come as you will be able to tell this straight away due to the weight of the winch.

The load capacity is 3500 pounds thanks to a 33 foot cables that adapts to ratcheting or free spooling. The dual gear hand winch has to gear ratios of 5:1: and 12:1 to improve the ease of loading heavier boats on to the trailer.

The excellent pulling power make this winch one of the most powerful in its class and great value for money before moving to an electric winch. It is the best heavy duty boat winch with the addition of two gear ratios to make the pulling even easier.

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Fulton F2 Two-Speed Manual Boat Winch

Fulton F2 is a popular manual trailer winch with a boat pulling power of 3200 pounds via a strap. Thanks to a dual operated drum, the pulling is smooth and not erratic like many cheaper models available.

The structure of the manual winch is simply a one piece rust resistant aluminium frame and a aluminium handle. The soft grip handle will adjust to 4 positions ranging from 6 inch to 9 inch to balance the torque speed. The heavy duty strap has a length of 20 foot with a strap guide to maintain the smoothness of the pulling.

The Fulton F2 manual boat winch is more expensive than the manual winches but provides a easy to use performance winch to bring the majority of boats up from the water to the trailer. This winch has been tested under harsh conditions and has been backed by a 5 year limited lifetime warranty.

The enclosed stylish design of the Fulton winch looks great and means there is no extra lubrication/maintenance required to avoid corrosion. Overall it is the best boat winch for your trailer and offers supreme quality over the alternatives.

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Powerwinch RC 30 Electric Wireless Trailer Winch

The Powerwinch RC 30 is a powerful electric boat winch for those not wanting the hassle of using a hand driven winch. This is a premium winch and not recommended for those on a budget but more aimed at those wanted to upgrade their trailer.

The Powerwinch RC30 is able to pull a boat with a max weight of 11,500 pounds which is very impressive. The 12V power is as rugged as they come and can be activated from a wireless remote control. The cable length is 40 foot long and has a diameter of 32 inches.

One feature that I think is an excellent feature is the LED light, which is great for pulling the boat onto the trailer at night. There is also an emergency crank located in the winch cover in case the winch has no power. Included is a one year warranty backed by Powerwinch.

This winch is recommended for those with heavy boats who simply cannot pull the boat on their own using a hand driven winch. It may be expensive but rewards you with effortless pulling of your boat controlled using a remote.

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Five Oceans Cheap Electric Boat Trailer Winch


Electric winches are known for being expensive but Five Oceans have taken advantage and built a 12v winch. The winch is capable of pulling a boat with the maximum weight of 2000 pounds with a line speed of 6 feet per minute.

At the relatively cheap price, you would think the relatively low price would mean features would be scarce. However, this winch comes with a remote control to activate pulling, mounting plate, hook and pulley and more.

The Five Oceans electric winch is a budget winch with plenty of pulling power and is worth every penny.

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Launching and Loading a Boat from a Trailer

Launching the boat is less important than retrieving the boat due to safety risks. As you are retrieving the boat, its important that it is aligned correctly on the trailer as more than likely it will be driven on the road straight after. If not aligned correctly, there is risk it could slip on the trailer whilst driving on the road.

Launching a Boat to a Trailer

  • Do not let the trailer go into the water when the hubs are hot
  • Don’t block other users from using the slipway
  • Ensure all safety straps have been removed beforehand
  • Reverse into the water until the stern of the boat begins to float. Have a second person checking this before getting out the vehicle. Once complete, turn off the car, put the car in gear and engage the handbrake
  • Remove the bow and strap chain
  • Let the boat slowly glide of the trailer with someone holding a rope so it doesn’t stroll away in the water
  • Tie the boat up and park your car up

Loading a Boat to a Trailer

  • Tilt the engine up so it does not scrape against the floor
  • Tie the bow to the strap
  • Start winching the boat up the trailer
  • Ensure the boat is dead center of the trailer
  • Attach the chain once winched up tight
  • Drive the boat/trailer up the slipway
  • Attach all safety straps
  • Perform necessary checks before embarking on your journey

Manual Boat Trailer Winches

By far the most common winch on a boat trailer, which is very basic but effective at pulling the boat onto the trailer. A combination of a drum with the line (often a strap), a vertical spinner to activate the pulling and a ratchet lock to connect to the front of the boat.

The larger the manual boat trailer winch, the lower the gear ratio is, which increases the pull of the boat. These larger models will often includes two speeds for additional power.

Electric Boat Trailer Winches

An electric winch provides its pulling power via a 12V motor that is capable of pulling up to 7000KG in most cases. An electric boat trailer is a must have for a larger boat unless you have biceps bigger than Pop Eye.

An electric boat trailer winch uses a low-stretching steel cable that connects to the boat where you can then click a button or use a remote to activate the pulling.

What is the Best Boat Trailer Winch?

The choice between a manual hand drive or electric boat trailer winch is completely up to you. The best manual boat trailer winch is the Fulton F2 by a country mile. It may be on the expensive side but it is a premium winch that will serve you for years to come. If you are looking for the best electric boat trailer winch, the Powerwinch RC 30 provides all the power you could ever need from a winch.

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