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SMITTYBILT vs WARN

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Let’s face it, Warn winches are better. Better in nearly every single way. Build quality, design, durability. However, you may not want to, or can’t spend a fortune on a winch and you’d like to find out how do Smittybilt winches compare to the widely accepted benchmark, the Warn winches. 

Smittybilt and Warn are both producers of high-quality trucks and 4×4 accessories. This review will take a look at winches produced by these two brands side-by-side.

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While Smittybilt and Warn are both reputable winch brands, Warn tends to be seen as the highest standard for winches, and Smittybilt is generally looked at as a top alternative to Warn’s higher-priced products.

But that does not necessarily mean Smittybilt winches are much lower quality – both brands have their own loyal customer base.

For a more in-depth look at how winches from these two brands stack up against each other, read on.

BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
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Smittybilt X2O-10K Waterproof Wireless Winch Gen2 97510
WARN 96810 VR10 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 94' Length, 5 Ton (10,000 lb) Pulling Capacity
Available with Synthetic Rope as well
Weight
99 pounds with wire cable
89 pounds with wire cable
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
Quick Comparison of Simittybilt X2O 10,000 vs WARN 96810 VR 10
Smittybilt X2O-10K Waterproof Wireless Winch Gen2 97510
Available with Synthetic Rope as well
Weight
99 pounds with wire cable
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WARN 96810 VR10 Electric 12V Winch with Steel Cable Wire Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 94' Length, 5 Ton (10,000 lb) Pulling Capacity
Available with Synthetic Rope as well
Weight
89 pounds with wire cable

Smittybilt vs Warn Winch: General Comparison

To start off, let’s look into the customer ratings of Smittybilt and Warn winches in general. Customer reviews can give us a good idea of the quality, durability, and overall customer satisfaction of both products.

Smittybilt Winch Review – in General

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Where are Smittybilt Winches Made? Who Makes Smittybilt Winches?

Smittybilt winches are made in China. However, the company is headquartered in the United States. The winches are designed and engineered in the US, but production takes place in China.

This has led to some criticism from consumers regarding who makes Smittybuilt Winches. They feel that products made in China are not as reliable as those made in the US.

However, Smittybilt maintains that its winches are of the highest quality and meet or exceed all safety standards.

Customer Satisfaction

Overall, most Smittybilt customers are satisfied with the product they paid for.

As mentioned earlier, Smittybilt winches are not expected to come with the same high-quality build and durability as Warn winches, so people tend to be impressed with the quality they get.

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Some customers have been disappointed with the design of their Smitybuilt winches – particularly with the solenoid center mounts.

That does not have any effect on the performance or lasting durability of the winch, though. Smittybilt winches are generally reported to be very easy to install and to perform exactly as advertised for multiple years of use.

When it comes to the brand, customers are happy with the customer service and Smittybilt warranty they have received with their winches.

Price

Smittybilt winches are cheaper than most Warn models (There is a cheap Warn winch though). The price difference of a Smittybilt winch vs Warn is not necessarily dramatic, but they do qualify as mid-range options compared to other winch brands on the market.

smitty built

Features and Accessories 

Smittybilt winches (often misspelled as Smitty build winches) do come with several convenient features – most notably a wireless remote.

The remote is super helpful for self-recoveries and one-person operations.

Some customers have reported durability issues with the wireless remote, but the winch will not need the remote to function.

Waterproofing is another great feature of Smittybilt winches. Amphibious motors and an IP68 waterproof rating guarantee sturdy use in all conditions.

Warn Winches in General

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Warn Winch 10000 lb

Where are Warn Winches made?

Warn Winches are made in the United States. The company has been making winches for off-road vehicles since the early 1950s.

Warn produces a variety of winches, from small units that can pull a few hundred pounds to massive 10,000-pound models, like this 10000 lb Warn winch model we are reviewing right now.

All Warn winches are designed and manufactured in the company’s facilities in Clackamas, Oregon except the VR series that are made in China (like Warn VR10s).

Customer Satisfaction

Warn is considered the last word in winches by a lot of people, so their customers are generally highly satisfied with their products.

That said, Warn winches are also much more expensive than others, so any flaws in the build or performance come as a huge letdown.

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Warn 10000 Winch

Some customers have complained about the difficulty of installing their Warn winch, as well as the quality of the build – cracks in the waterproof casing are not uncommon but can occur.

When it comes to performance, though, Warn works exactly as it should.

Warn winches come with warranties up to seven years and are built to last far longer, with only minor repairs and replacements of the rope.

Overall, the customer satisfaction of Warn winches is comparable with that of Smittybilt, but for a higher price.

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Price

Compared to Smittybilt and other brand names, Warn winch pricing is on the higher end.

The price tag is generally much higher, but they are also built to last much longer than others, so you will spend less money on repair and replacement in the long run.

Features and Accessories

Unlike Smittybilt, Warn winches do not come with a wireless remote. That is generally not an issue for use, but it can make it more difficult to use the winch by yourself in a self-recovery.

Their modern VR line of winches do, however, come with a high degree of waterproofing, a unique clutch lever and a cast iron structural brace to support the winch and give it a more rugged look.

But let’s see some specifics!

image 9197587 13774554

Simittybilt X2O 10,000   vs.   WARN 96810 VR 10

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Now that we’ve taken a look at the general quality and customer satisfaction of a Smittybilt vs Warn winch, let’s get a bit more specific.

The Simittybilt X2O 10,000 and WARN 96810 VR 10 are both modern models from the two brands, respectively. We’ve put together a closer look at how these two specific winches compare to each other.

Smittybilt X2O Winch Reviews

Overview

Smittybilt winch reviews

A highly enhanced Smittybilt winch improved on previous models.

Smittybilt 10000 lb winch is outfitted with a completely encased 6.6 horsepower motor, 3-stage planetary gear train system and 500 amp solenoid.

This winch is completely waterproof, with an amphibious motor and certified IP68 rating. It is available with either synthetic or wire rope, according to customer preferences.

It comes with a certified lifetime mechanical Smittybilt winch warranty and 5-year electrical warranty.

Product Details

  • Gear ratio: 218:1
  • Rated line pull: 10,000 pounds
  • Weight: 99 pounds
  • Brake: Automatic, out-of-drum
  • Remote: wireless remote switch, 12 foot lead included
Smittybilt X2O-10K Waterproof Wireless Winch Gen2 97510
  • Your purchase includes: Smittybilt X20 Steel Cable Winch, 4-way roller fairlead with forged hook, All required power cables to hook up to your vehicle, Rope Sleeve and Wireless Remote
  • Winch can be operated with the remote or manually
  • Technical Specification: 6.6 HP Amphibious motor, 3-Stage Planetary Gear System, Stainless Steel Hardware, Dynamic Braking System, 2 Solenoid Mounting Options
  • Lifetime Mechanical Warranty, 5 Year Electrical Warranty
  • Overall Dimensions: 22.3"L x 5.4"W x 9.4" H. Mounting Bolt Pattern: 10” x 4.5”. Net weight: 94lbs.

Customer Satisfaction

Most customers have been impressed with the long-term performance of the Smittybilt X20. Reviews are mainly positive, emphasizing the speed and reliability of this product for its price.

Some of them mentioned the XRC model too. If you are interested in that one too, you can see the details here: Smittybilt XRC vs X20.

The main complaint from the customers is the Smittybilt x20 winch installation. They have problem with the design of the solenoid mount, which is not intuitive to install and not compatible with all vehicles.

PROS:

  • Lower cost
  • Reliable use
  • Wireless remote
  • IP68 waterproof rating

CONS:

  • Shorter warranty and less trusted brand name
  • Slightly lower quality build

Warn VR Evo 10s Review

Overview

warren winch

This powerful, sturdy 10k Warn winch from Warn’s VR line, comes with the most recent improvements and features compared to past models.

Warn 10k winch has a 12 volt DC motor, 3-stage planetary gear train system and a cast-iron hawse fairlead.

It is compatible with synthetic or wire rope and can be ordered with either.

The Warn VR10 is also made in China.

Warn’s more premium winch ranges like the Zeon are made in the USA, but the VR series is made in China.

Warn Winch warranty policy comes with 7-years.

Product Details

  • Gear ratio: 261:1
  • Rated line pull: warn winch 10000 pounds
  • Warn Evo 10s weight: 89 pounds
  • Brake: automatic, direct drive cone
  • Remote: handheld remote, 12 foot lead
WARN 103253 VR EVO 10-S Electric 12V DC Winch with Synthetic Rope: 3/8" Diameter x 90' Length, 5 Ton (10,000 lb) Pulling Capacity
  • Standard duty winch with a synthetic rope and an 10, 000 lb. capacity; Ideal for 1/2-ton pickup trucks, jeeps, and larger SUVs
  • Powerful series-wound motor and planetary gear train deliver faster line speed under load, with lower amp draw, Gear Reduction Ratio: 218:1, Free Spooling : Yes, Brake Type: Spring
  • High-performance Albright contactor delivers maximum reliability; Control packs can be relocated for low-profile installations
  • Features IP68-rated waterproof construction, two-in-one remote with wired and wireless options, and one-piece cast-aluminum tie-plate
  • Designed, engineered, and tested in the USA; Limited lifetime for mechanical parts and 7 years on electrical. Mounting Pattern Length- 10 Inch. Mounting Pattern Width- 4-1/2 Inch

Customer Satisfaction

Customer reviews of the Warn VR10-S are more or less in line with reviews of most Warn products (Read more about Warn winch comparison here.)– people are generally highly satisfied with the look, performance, and durability of this winch, but have had some issues with ease of installation and the build.

The only negative feedback Warn 10 000 lb winch receives pertains to its sturdiness upon arrival.

There are very few, if any major complaints about its performance, speed, or reliability for recoveries.

PROS:

  • Long warranty, guaranteed reliability
  • Powerful 12V motor
  • Waterproof Albright contractor control
  • Sleek design

CONS:

  • Expensive compared to other brands of similar quality
  • Not entirely waterproof
warn wenches

The Final Verdict of warn vs smittybilt

It would be impossible to say that Smittybilt winches are necessarily better than Warn’s VR range, or vice versa.

When you’re debating over Warn vs. Smittybilt, what it really comes down to is how much you are willing to pay for top quality. If your budget is higher, then go for a Warn winch. Warn Industries has been designing and manufacturing winches for 60 years. Chances are you won’t be disappointed.

From our perspective, the Warn VR winches vs. Smittybilt winches are basically the same in terms of overall performance and reliability.

Considering the two models reviewed above, both have a rated line pull of 10,000 pounds, both operate at around the same speed, and both are reported to have lasting quality and only minor issues at the outset.

Smittybilt X2O-10K Waterproof Wireless Winch Gen2 97510
  • Your purchase includes: Smittybilt X20 Steel Cable Winch, 4-way roller fairlead with forged hook, All required power cables to hook up to your vehicle, Rope Sleeve and Wireless Remote
  • Winch can be operated with the remote or manually
  • Technical Specification: 6.6 HP Amphibious motor, 3-Stage Planetary Gear System, Stainless Steel Hardware, Dynamic Braking System, 2 Solenoid Mounting Options
  • Lifetime Mechanical Warranty, 5 Year Electrical Warranty
  • Overall Dimensions: 22.3"L x 5.4"W x 9.4" H. Mounting Bolt Pattern: 10” x 4.5”. Net weight: 94lbs.

So, even though Warn is widely regarded as the better brand, and rightly so, when you consider the prices, buyers are definitely getting more bang for their buck with the Smittybilt.

The takeaway here is that neither a Smittybilt nor a Warn winch will let you down.

If you are interested in a better value for a good winch, though, a Smittybilt winch would be the way to go.

But if you’d like to know more about the Warn winches, click here to read our Warn M8000 vs VR8000 review.

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AUTHOR
Ferenc
Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.
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4 thoughts on “SMITTYBILT vs WARN”

  1. About 8 yrs ago I bought a Smittie built 8000# winch for my jeep and it worked perfectly until this spring it stopped working so I took the control cover off and it was corroded beyond repair so I went to the 4 x 4 shop and inquired about a new control box and was quoted $197 so I just bought the 9500# winch for $301 so for the money they are not worth repairing.

    Reply

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