Superwinch’s Theory Of Winching

Posted on: March 1, 2013

Superwinch are undoubtedly one of the leading winch manufacturers anywhere in the world and, here at Brookwells, we are proud to be official distributors of their full range which includes the TalonTiger Shark, and Husky winches to name just a few. 

(To find out more about the winches listed above, click on their name and their page on our website will open in a new web browser window.)

If you are familiar to winches, you will already be well aware of the extremely high global reputation that Superwinch’s products demand. If you’re not however, take a look at the second of our three blogs from Superwinch outlining what they believe to be the “theory of winching” and you’ll get a feel of the extraordinary level of passion and expertise they display in their field.

So, hopefully you paid attention in maths at school because it’s finally going to come in useful! Here, Superwinch explain how to work out if your winch is suitable for the load you’re attempting to pull and how the conditions/gradient will affect the chances of success. This theory will try and help you to avoid biting off more than you can chew while helping you to prevent breaking/wearing out your prized winch.


For winching purposes the resistance to motion of a wheeled vehicle is dependent on four main factors:

  • The inherent resistance to movement of the vehicle.
  • The total weight of the vehicle.
  • The nature of the surface to be crossed.
  • The gradient up which the vehicle is to be moved.

The ground surface and gradient the load is to be moved over will affect the effort required to move the load, the approximate surface resistance is as follows:

  • Hard Road: 0.04 times vehicle weight.
  • Grass: 0.145 times vehicle weight.
  • Sand, (hard wet): 0.17 times vehicle weight.
  • Sand, (soft wet): 0.2 times vehicle weight.
  • Sand, (soft dry / loose): 0.25 times vehicle weight.
  • Gravel: 0.2 times vehicle weight.
  • Shallow Mud: 0.33 times vehicle weight.
  • Bog / Marsh: 0.5 times vehicle weight.
  • Clay: 0.5 times vehicle weight.



For practical winching purposes, gradient resistance can be taken as 1/60th of the weight of the vehicle for each degree of the slope up to 45 degrees, after 45 degrees the full weight of the vehicle should be used.

This information will allow you to calculate the approximate effort required to pull a wheeled vehicle across different surfaces and up various inclines.

In the following example we have a vehicle that weighs 2.0 tonnes, the surface is gravel and the incline is 15 degrees.


(Gradient×Weight)÷60=(15×2,000)÷60=500 kg


Weight×Surface Resistance=2,000×0.2=400 kg

In this example the effort needed to pull this vehicle up this incline and upon this surface will be: 500kg+400kg=900kg

NOTE: This figure is approximate and should be used as a guide,  there are many factors which may affect the resistance of a load to move, tyre pressures, surface irregularities, some surfaces react differently when wet etc.

So there it is! Once you’ve got your head around it, it all makes sense (eventually!) and coming from the industry leaders, it’s definitely worth taking note.

If you’re off Greenlaning this weekend, or at any point in the future, it’s well worth taking note of the surface resistant factors (shallow mud, bog/marsh and clay in particular) if you need to do some quick “on the back of a fag packet” calculations which could well save you a few bob on keeping your winch in tip-top condition.

For all other Land Rover parts and accessories, look no further than Brookwells Supplies. If there’s anything you fancy that isn’t listed on our website yet, please don’t hesitate to drop us an email at or phone our UK helpline 01626 832555 and we’ll be happy to help with your query.

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