Recently, as I was recounting the fun I had winching myself up an icy hill on Sevenmile, someone laughed and said, “You Jeepers are the only people I know who are happy when you get stuck!” Yep, right on – as long as we have a winch, or a friend with a winch, right?! So, here’s why I chose a winch as an important addition to my Jeep, as well as other features I like about my AEV front bumper setup.
First, if you like to off-road the time will come when you get stuck – in the snow, mud, whatever. Having a winch can make this tough situation a pretty enjoyable one actually! When I modified my stock Jeep having a winch was imperative and I ended up choosing the WARN Zeon 10,000 lb Winch. Here’s what I like about it:
- 10,000 lb pulling capacity exceeds my Jeep’s weight (plus resistance when stuck)
- Synthetic rope – off-roaders have differing opinions about choosing a synthetic or a steel winch line and it’s a matter of personal preference. I prefer a synthetic winch rope because it’s lighter (easier to use when spooled all the way out and less weight on my front axle when stored), it isn’t as much of a projectile if it breaks (meaning you don’t have to carry/use a heavy blanket for recoil absorption), and it’s safer to handle without gloves than steel cable (although I still recommend using gloves).
- 12 foot remote control lead makes for easy operation from outside my Jeep or from the driver’s seat. My winch also came with a wireless remote which works intermittently (the batteries seem to die quickly) so I actually prefer using the control lead instead – just plug in and go!
My winch is mounted on the AEV Premium Front Bumper behind a license plate bracket – so my front license plate unscrews quickly and easily when winch use is needed.
As far as bumpers go, everybody’s got an opinion about which is best. I’ve chosen the American manufacturer AEV for a lot of my modifications for a few reasons:
- American-made, baby!
- AEV accessories are Jeep Wrangler-specific
- AEV makes high quality mods for my Jeep that perform well off-road and on, and are safety-tested
- AEV provides highly functional and long-lived products, albeit at a higher cost than mass-market overseas products (but I don’t mind paying a little more for top quality American-made gear that will last a long time)
- While I was recently a little peeved at the lack of off-road performance of my AEV Pintler wheels, overall I still think that AEV makes great quality stuff.
The AEV Premium Front Bumper is a full-width design and safety-tested with airbag crush cans (important to me since my off-road Jeep is also my daily driver). The bar that extends upward is unique to this bumper and isn’t just for cool looks – it’s a grille/radiator guard (which means that if my Jeep rolls over it protects the radiator and I can drive myself away – after a friend winches me upright of course. I actually hope I never have to test the radiator guard!).
And, of course this front bumper has reinforced areas on the underside for a hi-lift jack (yep, they work), recovery points (yep, they also work great!), factory fog light mounts, and auxiliary light mounts (in which I have IPF lights installed – just because they were “free” with the bumper purchase and because you can never have too much light in the woods at night, right?!).
Do you have a modified front bumper on your off-road rig? What brand/type did you choose, and why? What’s your winch preference? Leave comments below!