Harbor Freight Winches Review
If you are reading this review, then it is likely that you have once found yourself stuck on a rocky climb, muddy terrain, deep snow, a sandy hill or similar situation.
You probably didn’t have a winch, and if you did, then it may not have been good enough for the job. Human strength may not have been enough to get you out of the predicament. Now that can be frustrating.
But, don’t fret, we have a solution. We want to introduce you to Harbor Freight Badland winches which are some of the best winches in the market. A winch is a heavy-duty device fixed on a truck for lifting, towing or hauling.
Harbor Freight winches are designed to produce a powerful torque that can easily pull a vehicle that weighs several tons.
These tools are manufactured in Calabasas, California and are sold throughout the world. Read on and find out what more the badland winch has to offer.
- Supports up to 12,000 pounds
- Automatic Load-Holding Brake
- 00 horsepower
- The three-stage planetary gear system
- 5% duty cycle rating
- Fairlead Roller with nylon bushings
- Automatic load-holding brake
- In-Line circuit breaker
- 6 HP Series wound motor
- Galvanized steel aircraft wire rope
- 3/8” clevis hook
- 5 gauge battery cables
- 10” ×5” mounting bolt pattern
- 85 dB sound rating
- Suitable for off-road vehicles
This beast of a winch is a high quality and affordable winch perfect for off-road vehicles (Trucks and SUVs). The Badland winch has an overall ergonomic design with high-quality parts that offer topnotch performance.
It is equipped with a three-stage planetary gear system that delivers fast line speed and smooth, consistent power. It also has a free-spooling feature for a fast line-out. The Badland winch features a 6 HP series-wound motor that remains cool even during a long winch pulls.
An automatic load-hold braking system prevents the motor from overheating when there is an upsurge in pulling temperature.
It can pull up to 12,000 pounds which makes it stand out from other winches in the same price category.
The Badland is a water-resistant model, and the metal parts are resistant to rust. The overall performance of the winch never wavers even in bad weather. It is durable, reliable and highly efficient.
You are going to get a long life from this product so long as you follow the instructions on the user manual.
It also equipped an assortment of safety features, that is, an automatic load-holding brake that immediately stops the pull when there is a safety issue.
The manufacturers also made a handheld remote for this baby to keep you at a safe distance when operating the winch. This model comes with a universal remote that offers convenience when operating the winch.
The installation of the Badland winch couldn’t get any easier. First, mount the fairlead then attach the controller box followed by the winch via the front bumper plate.
Get in touch with a professional if you find the process confusing or follow the instructions on the manual.
- Comes with a sleek handheld remote
- Works for a wide range of vehicles
- Long and string galvanized cable
- Easy to install
- Supports vehicles on a heavyweight profile
- Offers superb load control
- Runs on a powerful motor
- Affordable product
- Waterproof winch
- Built for safety
- Slow pooling action
- May drain your battery due to its high-performance power
What are the customers saying?
The Badland winch is strong enough to handle pulling big trucks.
Installing it is easy if you can handle carrying about 90 pounds and is a professional product which you can get when you are on a budget.
The fact that an extended warranty backs it gives you peace of mind when purchasing it.
But that shouldn’t be an issue since it’s made of high-quality material that will provide you with many years of excellent performance.
It wouldn’t be a proper review if we didn’t throw in something extra for you to consider. We bet that you have heard of Warn industries or at least seen their products stacked in several auto dealer shops.
Hard not to when the company has a legion of customers in 65 countries on six continents thereby making it one of the biggest brands in manufacturing vehicle performance enhancing equipment.
Warn Industries is based in Clackamas Oregon and their industrial unit markets hydraulic and electric winches and hoists to commercial, industrial and duty customers in the world over.
The company prides itself in its state of the art line of winches and hoists built for every DIYer and professional trade workers.
Here’s a look into one of their products.
- Has an 8000-pound pulling capacity
- The sturdy three-stage planetary gear train
- 12V DC series-wound motor
- Exclusive brake design
- 216:1 gear ratio
- Durable steel rope
- Rotating ring gear clutch ( free-spooling )
- Contactor electrical controls
- Cast Iron Hawse Fairlead
- Powder coat over primer undercoating finish
The VR8 is the first in the Warn VR series winches and represents the Warn reliability and upgraded performance that you can rely on.
The VR8 provides the fastest no-load line speed in the VR series and is very easy to install. It has a pre-set pulling capacity of 8000 pounds with the help of a rotating ring gear free-spooling clutch.
It features a three-stage planetary gear system that is smooth, durable and reliable enough to pull you out of any jam. Its brake is specially designed to offer unparalleled winch control no matter the circumstance you are operating in.
The powder coat over primer undercoating finish gives the winch resistance to rust, and the coat doesn’t chip.
The general look of the winch is aesthetically appealing and entails a strong build thereby guaranteeing it a long life.
It also features a waterproof Albright contactor for excellent winch control meaning that it maintains its performance level no matter what weather condition Mother Nature may hit you with.
- Works great
- Good quality product from a great manufacturer
- You get the advantage of both an upright or low profile mounting application
- Fits well on most SUVs, ATVs, and Trucks
- Durable and dependable construction
- Easy to use
- Massive torque and power
- It’s a low profile design that can fit almost all 4WD
- You can use either steel or synthetic rope
- You get fast line speed from the powerful motor
- Fastest VR series winch
- Durable steel rope
- Fairly priced
- Short positive cable
What are the customers saying?
The Warn 96800 VR8 winch maintains its enthusiasm in mud trails, rocks, and off-road terrains.
It’s pretty easy to install even on tailor-made bumpers.
It has excellent torque, and the company provides both synthetic and steel ropes for convenience sake.
The winch and hawse fit perfectly together and are perfect for anyone in dire need of a winch for an emergency recovery situation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Harbor Freight have a lifetime warranty?
Some Harbor Freight hand tools are covered by a lifetime warranty. You will get a replacement in case the tool is found to be defective as a result of poor workmanship. Harbor Freight also reserves the right to give you a substitute replacement tool in case the identical item isn’t available.
The warranty is only applicable to the original purchases of the product and is nontransferable. You are allowed to exchange the defective item at any other store other than the one which it was initially purchased.
However, the following conditions apply:
- Proof of purchase is required to process the warranty
- The buyer has the right to return the merchandise for a full money back guarantee within 90 days of the original purchase. Debit card and check purchases may also be returned in cash.
- Any shipping or handling charges incurred are non-refundable
- Returned products must not contain any gas or oil for safety reasons
- The manager reserves the right to reject returned items if the defect is found to be a result of unintended use of the product
- You must present a valid government issued ID at the tie of return
Is Harbor Freight and American Company?
Yes, it is an All American Company. Its tools are also gussied up with brands like ‘Chicago Electric’ to indicate that they are American made.
It has its headquarters in Calabasas, California and operates a chain of retail stores, ecommerce, and mail-order businesses.
They have over 17,000 employees in the United States with 800 stores stretching ought throughout 47 states.
Where is Harbor Freight manufactured?
Since it’s an American made company, its manufacturing plants are also located at the headquarters, that is, Calabasas, California.
Who is the owner of Harbor Freight?
Harbor Freight was founded by Allan Smidt who passed the button of ownership to his son Eric Smidt. Eric Smidt is now the CEO and chairman of Harbor Freight Tools.
Where is WARN Winch made?
The incredible Winch is made in Clackamas, Oregon.
They have a 180,000 sq. Ft. Manufacturing facility that doubles as an engineering facility and also has office spaces. Most of Warn industries Inc. tools like industrial and military hoists, industrial winches and ATV winches are the United States made.
Who owns Warn Industries?
Arthur and Sadie Warn founded the Warn Industries in 1948. The business started as a door-to-door sales business in Seattle but then grew into a booming business and an OE supplier to leading companies like Nissan, Chrysler, Ford, SsangYong, Kia and GM among others.
The new leadership team currently entails
- Kyle Shiminski as the Vice President, General Manager
- Eric Banks as the Vice President of Operations & Engineering
- Laurel Smith as the Vice President of Marketing
- George Lathouris as the Vice President of Global Sales
- Kristin Buckner as the Director of Human Resources
- And Karl Tao as the Controller
What is the difference between a synthetic line and steel cable winch?
Steel cables, also known as wire ropes are made up of strands of carbon steel wire. Steel cables are the most traditional forms of winch cables, and most winches come fitted with these steel cables since they are flexible and cheap to produce.
What’s more is they are highly resistant to heat and abrasion. The only disadvantage of the steel cables is that they are heavy and can crush easily if wrongly re-spooled. This inconvenience is what necessitated the invention of synthetic lines.
A synthetic line, on the other hand, is a new invention in the winch industry, and they are made to be stronger than the traditional wire ropes. They also are lighter in comparison but maintain their rigidity regardless. Synthetic lines can withstand more tension than wire ropes.
Most winch manufacturers give you an extra synthetic rope when you buy their winch so you can sample out both options.
What is the difference between an electric and hydraulic winch?
The difference lies in their work cycle. An electric winch offers maximum spooling power when the engine is dead. But it can only run for 5 minutes in that situation.
Electric winches utilize permanent magnet (PM) motors and series wound (SW) motors. SW motors are robust, and that is why they are ideal for off-road adventure vehicles.
In contrast, a hydraulic winch can spool continuously for as long as the engine is running. That is why they are perfect for ranching and farming.
Which is the best winch for my truck?
Choosing the best winch largely depends on how well the features fit into your truck and the intended use.
Consider going for winches that have longer rope length for further reach, gear trains for performance optimization and a series wound motor which produces about 15% more amps in comparison to a permanent magnet.
If you are looking for a high-quality product that can be found at a reasonable price, then consider going for the Badland winches. The Badland winch is built for safety, has exceptional features and is backed by a lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.
The Warn winch albeit being a bit pricey is also a high-performance winch, consists of a strong winch and offers both low profile and upright mounting applications.
To Wrap Up
Our review shows that Harbor freight winches are built for excellence and you will not be throwing your money away when you buy the Badland 12,000 lbs. Winch.
If you are still undecided, then weigh the pros and cons of purchasing a winch. You probably want to say goodbye to the days of risking your safety and comfort by waiting for a tow truck that may take hours to come.
Not to mention the high service charges that you may incur. The power is now in your hands.
Travis Gill says
I bought my first Harbor Freight Badland 12,000 lb winch for my first Jeep Wrangler, a JKU. The red fabric pull thing did not last long in the Florida sun. My dad laughed at me when I bought it in February 2018. Then in the summer we had an unusual season of nonstop rain. The yards were mud. I got a call from my dad’s house. My sister got stuck in his yard and she could not afford a tow truck. I was able to use my Jeep in 4 wheel drive and use the Badland winch to get her unstuck.
Fast forward to yesterday, June 15th 2019. I waited until the 12,000 lb Badland winch went on sale with coupon ($289) and bought it for my wife’s Jeep Wrangler YJ. The 12,000 lb Badland winch pulled the YJ like it was nothing due to the lighter weight compared to the JKU when load spooling for the first time. I was looking at other options, but just could not trust anything else for the price range when it came to the Badland winch. However, it did kill my YJ’s battery as the gauge went from a normally healthy 14 volts to just barely above 11 volts. Time to look for a deep cycle battery!
Have you ever been in Harbor Freight??? Everything in there in manufactured in China with Taiwan being on a few exceptions. There are NO USA made tools there for sale that I have EVER found over the last 30 years.
Ted Noel Jr says
how can I order a new circuit breaker for my ZXR 12000 winch?
You’ve actually got quite a bit wrong here. Hardly anything sold at Harbor Freight is made in the US, most of it is made in China. Country of origin will matter to some folks, but the fact of the matter is China is capable of very high end manufacturing and bottom of the barrel manufacturing. Everything depends upon the price point. For example, Warn’s higher end winches are indeed still made in the US and represent the best in the market – the VR line is manufactured overseas (China if I’m not mistaken) and from the time spent checking into it, the VR8 Evo (current model) looks like a pretty solid choice.
I’m actually in the market for two winches… A nicer one for the truck I plan to use a lot for hunting, fishing, and camping; and a cheaper one that might be used for potentially getting unstuck in the winter (or helping others), moving heavy stuff, and if the suv is being used hunting and fishing in remote locations. In this circumstance I was really looking forward to a comparison of the Warn VR-8 and the Badland winch from Harbor Freight, the review seemed to fit my need but left me disappointed to the point of leaving a comment.
People shopping for either of these winches are not considering a hydraulic winch. Virtually all electric winches are series wound. “Longer rope” as you recommend looking for in your review/comparison is not necessarily a great thing, as your actual capacity goes down pretty quickly with each layer of wraps (increasing the demand on the winch motor). An important consideration (at least to me) is the relative efficiency, or what the amp load is on each winch at comparable loads. Why? Well if I can get by with an efficient winch that costs a little more but doesn’t require a second battery, a battery isolation system, and the extra complexity entailed that may well save me money in the long term.