If you are a fan of off-road driving on a four-wheeler, then most probably you already know the importance of having a quality winch. An adventurous off-road journey can turn into a nightmare all of a sudden if your vehicle gets stuck somewhere and you don’t have a winch to pull it out.
When it comes to well-known brands of winches, two names pop up initially as always- Smittybilt and Warn. Though they are not equal in terms of price and quality, still they do have some comparable models and characteristics to talk about.
In this article, we will give you a comparative analysis between Smittybilt winch vs Warn so that you don’t get confused while spending your money on any of them.
You will also be able to decide whether you should pay some extra bucks for Warn or get their cheaper counterparts from Smittybilt.
Smittybilt Winch Overview
Smittybilt winches are electric motor-based winches; well-known for their powerful, durable performance and affordable price range.
The very first thing you may notice about the Smittybilt winches is that they are made in China. This particular information may make you not consider Smittybilt winches as an option. But, not all “Made in China” products are equal in terms of providing quality performance.
In fact, if you look into the market for 4×4 winches, you will find out that most of them are made in China. Smittybilt is putting a great deal of effort these days to level up their quality and make their position stronger in the market.
That’s the reason, people are giving a lot of positive reviews about Smittybilt winches in recent years. Coming to the product series part, Smittybilt has two major lines- X20 and XRC. Both these lines have two different models- one is the base model, and the other is the COMP or advanced model.
XRC lines will give you the utmost flexibility and will fit in versatile conditions. On the other hand, X20 line winches are basically feature-packed winches to satisfy the customer.
Let’s give a little touch about these two winches, before going into the comparison part with warn winches.
Smittybilt X20 COMP Winch
This one is one of the finest winches you will find in the market. What’s not included in it? You will have a wireless remote, a completely waterproof winch with 5 years electrical warranty, along with 10,000 lb. capacity as well.
Smittybilt GEN 2 XRC Winch
This winch has a little less capacity compared to the previous one. But you can always get up to 17,500 lbs. capacity with the help of a pulley block.
That is why capacity is not an issue here. You can almost get everything just like the previous one. Needless to say, it’s worth the money yet again.
Warn Winch Overview
Let’s give a little touch about Warn winches so that even if you are completely new in winching, the following comparison makes total sense. If you think you are well acquainted with Warn winches, you can always skip this section.
Warn is like Apple in the winch industry. You pay more, and you get the reliability you deserve. Not belittling Smittybilt winches, but Warn is always the number one in the winch industry.
Although sometimes you may have to pay some extra bucks to get your hands on a Warn winch of the same specifications from other brands, we think it is worth it. The reliability and durability you can get from a Warn winch are incomparable to any other brand.
Warn is famous for its premium winches. But they are not just sitting up there and watching the budget winch market competition. To compete with other brands, they are also in the business with the models like VR 10.
Although these low-budget winches are not that premium like their pricy ones, you will still feel that these winches have a decent Warn touch.
If you compare VR 10 with its counterparts from other brands, it will raise its head high as the most advanced one among them. The 12V DC motor is just the start of its tons of features.
Not to mention, the moment you start winching, you will be totally free of any tension of snapping the winch or the likes.
Now you might have this curiosity, is it worth it to buy Warn winches? The answer mostly depends on your budget. We always think putting some extra money on the table to get a better product is always the best way to go.
But hold on, don’t decide before you go through a head-to-head comparison between these two brands. So, let’s get into it.
Smittybilt vs. Warn: Comparison in General
We have divided our comparison into two parts. At first, we will compare Smittybilt and Warn winches in general. Later, we will pick a specific model from each brand and compare them.
In this way, we think you will have a better idea overall about both the products and brands.
Even though Warn is not proactive in recent years, the reviews of their products still make their side heavier than that of Smittybilt.
The premium feeling will be incomparable to any other brand which makes winches. Winches made by Warn are durable and heavy performing at the same time.
On the other side, Smittybilt is like the clever player in the fight. They give some high-end features to their consumers, but not everything. Yet they make a lot of sales because of their products’ price range.
In terms of build quality, our verdict goes to Warn. Their winches are more premium and durable and give a great vibe when you use them.
Although you know that Warn winches are pricey and Smittybilt winches are cheaper, we are discussing this section to justify the price of Warn winches. At the same time, we will also figure out whether Smittybilt winches are worth every penny you are spending.
As we have already mentioned, Smittybilt winches are made in China that makes it easily possible for Smittybilt to produce cheap range winches. They do not give everything at this low price, though.
Warn winches are not justified altogether in price. They could easily reduce the price a little bit so that more people could consider their winches as their option.
Again, Warn is a clear winner here. They always bring new features with their winches to keep their consumers engaged. If you add the features with Warn’s reliability, then Warn winches are invincible here.
You can’t just throw away Smittybilt from the comparison if the specification is the concern. Although they are not rich in specifications like Warn, they surely provide more specifications if you consider the high price winches of their product line.
In recent years, Smittybilt has received a lot of positive reviews. You will hardly find any negative reviews about Smittybilt’s recent winch models. They are the first choice for many users in terms of reliability and user satisfaction at a low price comparatively.
Talking about Warn, they are the king of the industry. But they have to do some little more to avoid intruders taking their kingship away.
A lot of people think, Warn should reduce the price range whereas most of their customers are happy with their top-quality performance even with this high range.
Smittybilt X20 vs. Warn VR 10: Head to Head Comparison
As per our overall comparison, it seems Warn is a clear winner. Anyway, that seems an unfair comparison to us as the consumer target of the brands is different.
For this reason, we have picked up a Warn winch which is relatively similar in price (Warn VR 10 96810) to compare it with the Smittybilt winch (Smittybilt X20 98510).
Let’s see how it goes.
The first thing you would want to know while buying a winch is the amount of load that particular winch can pull. Both the Smittybilt and Warn are the same in terms of capacity. Both of them have a huge capacity of 10,000 lbs.
If you think you need more, you can always use the help of a pulley block and thus multiply the capacity almost two times.
In terms of capacity, no one is the clear winner here. Even Warn’s reliability doesn’t make their side heavier here as Smittybilt winches are very good in taking loads.
Line Pull at the Minimum & Maximum Load
Don’t confuse the term ‘line pull’ here with rated pull. We are going to discuss the length of wire pulled in a minute at the minimum and maximum load. If the force is minimum (0 lbs.), the line pull is relatively closer in both Warn VR 10 and Smittybilt X20.
X20 gets a slight edge here with 9.5 MPM at 0 lbs. whereas VR 10 has a rating of 7.6 MPM.
But if we see the line pull at maximum load, Smittybilt is unbeatable. It has a rating of 1.8 MPM, whereas VR 10 has almost half of its rating, 1 MPM.
Our verdict goes to X20 in terms of line pull.
The cable-type of this particular model of Warn winch is steel. On the other hand, Smittybilt X20 has a synthetic rope. That makes Warn VR 10 a clear winner here. Synthetic rope is not that durable if you compare it with a steel wire.
Besides, you don’t even need to wash a steel cable. But every time you use a synthetic rope, you have to make sure that you have washed it properly after usage.
We don’t think it matters to most people as they often carry the winches inside their vehicle. We are doing it only for the sake of this comparison. A steel cable will be heavier; it is a rule of thumb. But how much?
Warn VR 10 weighs 52 lbs. whereas Smittybilt X20 is only 16 lbs. It makes total sense as Smittybilt X20 is of synthetic rope.
The more the gear ratio is, the more power you will get from winches. But it comes with a cost. More gear ratio also means less speed. A balanced gear ratio and speed will be a must to give a verdict to a winch.
The gear ratio is very high in Warn VR 10 compared to Smittybilt X20. VR 10 has a rating of 261:1, whereas the rating is 218:1 in X20. If you examine the specs a little closer, you will see that the line pull speed is less in VR 10.
In terms of gear ratio, Warn VR 10 is the clear winner here.
X20 has a wireless remote, whereas VR10 has a handheld remote. Well, we are talking about only these two particular models. The advanced versions are way better in both brands.
In this section, X20 is the winner again.
X20 has an IP68 rating. Although VR 10 has a waterproof feature, it is not IP68 rated. You can’t say that the VR 10 is totally waterproof.
So, X20 goes ahead in this case again.
Whereas VR 10 has a 12V DC motor, X20 has a 5.5 HP motor. Thus, in the motor section, VR 10 is the clear winner as it gives better real-life performance than an X20.
Quick Comparison Chart
If you have missed any of the points above, don’t worry, here we have a comparison chart for you to get the things real quick.
|Models||WARN VR 10 (96810)||Smittybilt X20 (98510)|
|Motor||12V DC Motor||5.5 HP Motor|
|Capacity||10,000 lbs.||10,000 lbs.|
|Line Pull||7.6 MPM (0 lbs.)|
1 MPM (max lbs.)
|9.5 MPM (0 lbs.)
1.8 MPM (max lbs.)
|Cable Type||Steel||Synthetic Rope|
|Weight||52 lbs.||16 lbs.|
|Waterproofness||Not IP68 rated (Waterproof)||IP68 rated|
Overall, Warn winches are great. But if you look at them in the low-budget segment, they can’t compete that well. This particular comparison of Smittybilt winch vs Warn (VR 10 96810 vs. X20 98510) shows that clearly.
What are you getting by paying more than 50% extra bucks? A good motor, durable cable, and improved gear ratio. If it is no pressure to spend this much, go for it. Otherwise, Smittybilt X20 is the perfect choice as in some sectors, it even beats Warn VR 10.