Best 12,000 lb. Winch for RV in 2020 (Top 5 Reviews with Comparison)

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Whether you need a winch for your working truck or off-road adventures, you need to ensure you’ve got the right one for every job and occasion.

The minimum recommended weight capacity is 8,000 lbs, but experienced off-road and rough terrain workers will tell you to get a winch with at least 10,000 lbs capacity.

That might seem like overkill depending on the type of truck you drive, but that additional weight handling can make a significant difference between stuck and back on the trail.

According to my research, the best weight capacity is going to be in the 12,000 lbs. range.

I’ve reviewed a number of 12,000 lb. winches to determine their value, capabilities and pros/cons.

There’s one here for any preference and budget, and I’m going to break down the pros and cons of each one so you can make an informed decision. Check out what I’ve got for you.

COMPARISON CHART

IMAGE PRODUCT
Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity 1. Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity
  • High performance Generation 2 Series
  • IP68 Waterproof
  • Industrial-grade hook
  • Easy installation
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X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity 2. X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity
  • Includes both wireless and wired remotes
  • Weather-sealed control box
  • Integrated circuit breaker
  • Easy to install and operate
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WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 80' Length, 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Pulling Capacity 3. WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 80'
  • Rechargeable wireless remote
  • IP68 waterproof
  • Easy to install with the correct bumper
  • Extremely lightweight compared to other winches in its power class
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LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch - 12,000 lbs. Capacity - Wireless Remote Control - by Driver Recovery Products 4. Driver Recovery Products LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch - 12,000 lbs. Capacity - Wireless Remote Control
  • Upgraded power-in/power-out motor
  • Wireless remote
  • Automatic locking brake
  • Stainless steel exterior
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MotoAlliance VIPER Winch 12 VDC 12000lb/5443kg, Integrated Contactor, Wireless Remote, BLACK Rope 5. MotoAlliance VIPER Winch 12 VDC 12000lb/5443kg, Integrated Contactor, Wireless Remote, BLACK Rope
  • Constructed from military-grade materials
  • Includes wireless and wired remote
  • IP67 Waterproof
  • Limited lifetime warranty
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OUR TOP 5 PICKS

#1 Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity

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Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity

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Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity

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Smittybilt 12000 lb 97412 XRC GEN2 Winch-12000 Pound Load Capacity

Specifications

Dimensions

21.2" X 6.4" X 7.8"

Total Weight

85 lb

Load Capacity

12000 lbs. @ 5.248 ft/min

Max GVWR

8000 lbs.

Cable Material

Steel

Features

  • IP68 Waterproof
  • Easy installation
  • 94’ steel cable
  • Industrial-grade hook
  • 12’ wired remote
  • High performance Generation 2 Series

This is a top-of-the-line winch built to handle any job you can throw at it. Thanks to feedback, research and testing from the Gen 1 XRC, the Smittybilt Gen 2 XRC has exceptional form, fit and function. More importantly, it has an excellent reputation for long-term durability and reliability. The 97412 XRC Gen 2 definitely offers tremendous value for the price point, and it is available in several other weight capacities if you need more than the 12,000 lb. max load capacity.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

Let’s start with the basics. The tow hook included in the box is definitely professional grade, and the 94ft steel cable winds and unwinds with no tangling. The lever control is oversized to make it easier to operate while wearing gloves, and the wired remote is designed with similar use in mind. Best of all, the control pack can be mounted in several ways, allowing for greater versatility depending on the task at hand or the type of vehicle you’re using.

#2 X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity

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X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity

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X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity

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X-BULL 12V Steel Cable Electric Winch 12000 lb Load Capacity

Specifications

Dimensions

21.5” x 6.3” x 7.6”

Total Weight

​79.2 lbs

Load Capacity

12000 lbs. @ 5.248 ft/min

Max GVWR

8000 lbs.

Cable Material

Steel

Features

  • Weather-sealed control box
  • Integrated circuit breaker
  • Power-in/power-out motor
  • Includes both wireless and wired remotes
  • Easy to install and operate
  • Superior noise dampening

X-BULL is a brand known for making quality winches at a value price. I’d recommend the 12,000 lb X-Series model for the off-road enthusiast or truck owner who wants a “just-in-case” winch. It’s an excellent quality product that has plenty of features, but there are other winches on this list I’d recommend that are better suited to regular, heavy-duty use.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

Water and weather proofing are great, and the control box is sealed to protect the solenoids. It’s also got an integrated circuit breaker to prevent accidental overloads. The 4-way roller fairlead is also a premium feature I wouldn’t expect to find in a winch at this price point.

Another unexpected bonus is the power-in/power-out motor, providing a greater degree of control when paying out or taking in the steel cable. Best of all, the motor is surprisingly quiet for its power output, which means you won’t feel the need for hearing protection while operating it.

#3 WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 80'

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WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 80' Length, 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Pulling Capacity

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WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 80' Length, 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Pulling Capacity

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WARN 89120 ZEON 12 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 80' Length, 6 Ton (12,000 lb) Pulling Capacity

Specifications

Dimensions

26.2 x 8.5 x 19.8 inches

Total Weight

​16 lbs.

Load Capacity

12000 lbs. @ 3.3 ft/min

Max GVWR

8000 lbs.

Cable Material

Steel

Features

  • Rechargeable wireless remote
  • Extremely lightweight compared to other winches in its power class
  • Large aluminum winch drum reduces gross weight and cuts down on cable wear and  tear.
  • Easy to install with the correct bumper
  • Convertible control pack offers several custom mounting options
  • IP68 waterproof

Warn is considered to be a premium brand in off-road vehicle accessories, and the degree of precision engineering and high-end materials definitely support this reputation. The Zeon12 is a 6-ton winch that can easily recover any vehicle in any conditions, and owners frequently rave about both the ease of installation and operation. All that performance does come at a premium price however, and this probably isn’t the winch for you if you have a tight budget. If money’s not an issue, you are definitely getting what you pay for.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

A rechargeable wireless remote and easy installation/operation are only the beginning of what makes the ZEON 12 a great truck winch. The aluminum drum is the key to making this one of the lightest winches on the market, and the high quality fairlead and steel cable make it the complete package in terms of power and capacity.

You can also mount the control pack in several ways, allowing you to customize the unit to your needs.Combined with a sealed IP68 waterproof housing, and you’ve got a tough-as-nails winch ready to work in any weather at any time.

#4 Driver Recovery Products LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch - 12,000 lbs. Capacity - Wireless Remote Control

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LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch - 12,000 lbs. Capacity - Wireless Remote Control - by Driver Recovery Products

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LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch - 12,000 lbs. Capacity - Wireless Remote Control - by Driver Recovery Products

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LD12-ELITE Electric Heavy Duty Recovery Winch - 12,000 lbs. Capacity - Wireless Remote Control - by Driver Recovery Products

Specifications

Dimensions

23.8 x 13.1 x 12.8 inches

Total Weight

​87.7 lbs

Load Capacity

​12000 lbs

Max GVWR

8000 lbs.

Cable Material

Steel

Features

  • Automatic locking brake
  • Upgraded power-in/power-out motor
  • Wireless remote
  • Stainless steel exterior

If you’re in the market for a budget winch that can handle 12,000 lbs., the LD-12 Elite from Driver Recovery Products is definitely going to be one of the least expensive options. It’s got some nice extras like a wireless remote, automatic locking brake and power-in/power-out motor, but nothing much beyond essentials.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

The materials and construction of the LD-12 are on par with the quality of other winches in its class, but they also don't stand out. There’s nothing lacking in fit or function, and the wireless remote works well out to about seventy-five feet. I also really like the 4-way setup of the drum roller and fairleads, as it operates reliably and smoothly without any indication of tangling.

#5 MotoAlliance VIPER Winch 12 VDC 12000lb/5443kg, Integrated Contactor, Wireless Remote, BLACK Rope

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MotoAlliance VIPER Winch 12 VDC 12000lb/5443kg, Integrated Contactor, Wireless Remote, BLACK Rope

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MotoAlliance VIPER Winch 12 VDC 12000lb/5443kg, Integrated Contactor, Wireless Remote, BLACK Rope

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MotoAlliance VIPER Winch 12 VDC 12000lb/5443kg, Integrated Contactor, Wireless Remote, BLACK Rope

Specifications

Dimensions

​21.3” x 6.3” x 8.6”

Total Weight

​60 lbs.

Load Capacity

​12000 lbs

Max GVWR

8000 lbs.

Cable Material

Dyneema Towing Rope

Features

  • Constructed from military-grade materials
  • IP67 Waterproof
  • Synthetic Dyneena rope and hawse included
  • ncludes wireless and wired remote
  • Limited lifetime warranty

The Viper 12,000 lb winch is perfect for off-road enthusiasts that drive trucks or 4x4s and want to have a high-quality, six ton emergency winch. Not only is the Viper a cost-effective solution for drivers that need a recovery winch, but it is built to last using military grade materials. I do have a few reservations about this winch though, as there are certain deficiencies that should be considered before making a purchase.

  • WHAT WE LIKE
  • WHAT WE DON’T LIKE
  • PROS/CONS OVERVIEW

This winch has plenty of convenient options like a wireless remote and oversized clutch lever handle for easier operation while wearing gloves. It’s also got plenty of power for shifting your 4x4 or pickup truck and all its gear should you get jammed up along the trail somewhere.

BUYER'S GUIDE

How does a winch work?

Winches are emergency vehicle recovery tools usually mounted to the front bumper of a truck or 4 x 4. There is usually a large hook at one end used to attach it to a stable surface or to form a stable loop around some kind of anchor point. The winch is connected to the vehicle battery and operated by a handheld remote. The cable on the winch can be spooled or unspooled manually or by using the remote.

 When a vehicle becomes stuck somewhere and cannot be pulled out from the dirt, mud or uneven terrain where it has become trapped, the winch can be used to pull the vehicle out of danger. Once the winch hook is attached to an anchor point, the wince itself is activated and slowly begins to pull the vehicle towards the anchor point. The idea is to pull the vehicle back to a position where it can gain traction again and move freely.

What size winch do I need?

Here’s the formula for calculating gross truck weight, which is the number you need for your vehicle to shop for the right winch:

Gross Truck Weight=Jeep (4000 lb) + Passengers (400 lbs) + Baggage Weight (100 lbs)

Gross Truck Weight= 4500 lbs

If your winch’s towing GTW capacity exceeds your GTW, then you are good to go.

How do I choose a winch?

Start by calculating your gross truck weight when loaded up with your favorite adventure gear. Then consider how often you think you’ll need the winch to pull yourself or other out of trouble. Once you’ve done that, you should have a much clearer idea of what type of winch you need and what an appropriate budget would be to spend on one.

Is synthetic winch rope better than cable?

There are advantages and disadvantages to synthetic rope when compared to steel cable. For example, synthetic rope is more flexible than steel cable and is far less likely to tangle. It also has a tendency to allow for more tolerance in the line, often giving it a high tensile strength than steel cable.

The drawback to a synthetic winch rope is that no UV treatment or chemical process can overcome the challenges of long term storage. UV radiation from sunlight degrades the rope slowly over time, and this process can be accelerated when ropes are nor replaced after multiple or extended uses.

CONCLUSION

All in all, the best value winch is the Smittybilt XRC Gen 2. It offers the most features, the best quality construction and the best performance out of all the 12,000 lb winches I reviewed. Best of all, the XRC Gen 2 offers the most for the best price, making it a real bargain in terms of value to cost ratio. If you’re looking for a reliable winch for your vehicle that you can rely on, get a Smittybilt XRC Gen 2.

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