Smittybilt Winch Review

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Due to a multitude of factors, even the most experienced off-road drivers can end up being stuck in the middle of nowhere. This is where winches come into play. We’ve prepared two Smittybilt Winch reviews for you (reviewing the XRC and the X2O winch lineup) so that you can decide if these products meet your requirements. Are Smittybilt winches any good? – fellow overlanders ask. This article endeavors to answer this question.

Vehicles can easily end up in a ditch or get stuck in snow or mud. The list of scenarios in which overlanders get stuck is endless. However, that wouldn’t be a problem if there was a towing company nearby.

If you drive with another overlander, you can help each other out just with a tow strap. But what if you get stuck with your rig in the middle of nowhere, miles away from another vehicle?

Getting your own winch will ensure that no matter where your rig ends up, you’ll probably be able to free it without too much hassle.

Our aim in this article is to review the Smittybilt winches (usually misspelled Smittybuilt winches) and also to help you choose between the Smittybilt XRC and the XO2 winches.

smittybuilt winch
Smittybilt XRC 9500 – 97495 Smittybilt model
smittybilt atv winch review
Smittybilt X20 Winch

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smittybilt winches reviews

Smittybilt Winch X20 Review

smitty built winch
Smittybilt 12k Winch

The X2O Waterproof Winch range from Smittybilt has a few features that put it apart from other series marked by the brand.

Each model has been enhanced in such a manner to increase the performance and provide a hassle-free operation.

Overall, here is a list of the features provided by the X20 Smittybilt winch:

  • Series Wound 6.6 HP Motor
  • 3-Stage Planetary Gear System
  • 500 AMP Waterproof IP68 Solenoid Pack
  • Lightning-fast optimized gear ratio
  • Smittybilt X2o Gen2 winch synthetic rope / steel wired rope
  • Dynamic Braking System
  • Different capacities depending on the vehicle
  • It comes with a lifetime Smittybilt winch warranty

Every winch from the X2O range features a Series Wound 6.6 HP motor that has been completely sealed off from external factors, ensuring maximum protection.

The motor is also fairly quiet, offering superior comfort as you are operating the units.

Furthermore, depending on the model from the range, you may choose smaller to bigger capacities.

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You can go from Smittybilt 10k winch (Smittybilt 98510) to 17,500 lbs., based on the load that you need to pull and lift. If you have a bigger vehicle, it’s obvious that you may want to go for something such as the Smittybilt 15500 winch model or Smittybilt winch 17500 with its load capacity and the steel wire rope. If you want a winch with a lower capacity, you should try XRC8 winch by Smittybilt (Smittybilt 8000 lb winch).

This range also includes a 3-Stage Planetary Gear System as well as a fully waterproof solenoid pack of 500 AMP power.

Smittybilt X20 remote
Smittybilt X20 wireless remote replacement
Smittybilt X20 winch parts
Smittybilt X20 10k synthetic rope winch cover

You can mount Smittybilt X20 Gen2 in two different locations, without wasting any effort on cables. Everything can be unplugged, acting with Smittybilt X20 winch wireless remote. You should check the Smittybilt winch installation instructions for the details – and how to use Smittybilt winch as well.

This line also features optimized ratios of the gear to ensure a top speed of the line.

Smittybilt X2o Winch Reviews

For ultra-high performance, you may also want to go for the Smittybilt X2O COMP (Smittybilt 98512) models. They all have the same features of the original X2O series, with the addition of a Smittybilt winch with synthetic rope.

However, the original models were made with a steel wire rope that is also very durable.

Additionally, the Smittybilt Gen 2 XRC Winch and Smittybilt Gen3 Winch winch feature a Dynamic Braking System as well as an aluminum fairlead.

The braking system will help reduce the temperature of the drum by as much as 66%, ensuring the lifelong functioning of the models.

Every winch also features a Smittybilt winch remote control that allows you to operate the device from a safe distance.

This is a very important feature, in our opinion, but it comes with its drawbacks as you will read it later.

smittybilt winch 12,000
Smittybilt X20 12k

In this Smittybilt X20 10k review have to talk about the warranty. The Smittybilt range features a mechanical lifetime warranty, offering peace of mind to users in the event that any of the devices malfunctions.

Considering all of these features, you may expect that the Smittybilt will be a very useful tool regardless of the circumstance. 


  • Variety if load capacities to choose from
  • The steel wire rope is durable
  • The 6.6 HP motor is quiet and strong
  • t is fairly easy to install
  • It is waterproof


  • The solenoid may be rather difficult to mount
  • The models from the range are quite heavy

XRC Smittybilt Winch Review

smittybilt xrc8 winch reviews
Smittybilt XRC 9,500 Review

The Smittybilt XRC winches have also undergone a series of developments to make them more performant.

This range can be found as a result of two generations – still, Smittybilt XRC Gen 2 winch is the one that most people seem to prefer. Smittybilt Gen 3 Winch is the other.

Here are the overall features of the XRC range:

  • Waterproof IP67
  • High-quality Smittybilt synthetic rope
  • 6.6 HO Series Wound Motor
  • The 3-Stage Planetary gear system
  • Solenoid box that may be mounted in 3 places
  • 2.5” drum size
  • Different capacity models
  • Mechanical lifetime warranty

Like the X2O, this range is also waterproof enough to resist being stuck even in a downpour.

The general waterproof rating is IP67, which means that it’s completely sealed off from water damage, but not as isolated as the X2O winches.

smittybilt gen2 xrc winch
Smittybilt X20 Gen 2 Winch Review

The motor is also the classic 6.6 HP Series Wound, popular for its quiet operation and the fact that it can handle rather heavy loads.

For this reason, this winch is very popular when it comes to pulling 4×4 or off-road vehicles.

Every Smittybilt winch uses a high-quality aluminum fairlead. Depending on the model, you can choose from the lowest capacity, which is 9500 Smittybilt winch, to the highest, that is Smittybilt 17500 winch. The most popular is Smittybilt 12000 lb winch – Smittybilt 98612.

smittybilt 9500 xrc winch
Smittybilt Synthetic Winch
smittybilt xrc 9.5 winch review

Similar to the X2O, Smittybilt winch XRC Gen 3 (and Gen 2) also features a 3-stage planetary gear system.

Its revised gear ratio will permit a much stronger pulling power as well as a faster line speed, allowing you to release your vehicles from “slippery” situations.

The solenoid box may also be mounted in three locations.

The entire assembly measures around 46 lbs., making it quite easy for the rig to carry it around.

Most winches also come with a remote, but not all of them. For example, this Smittybilt XRC 9500 winch (Smittybilt 98695 model or Smittybilt 97495 with Steel Cable) does feature a remote control – but it is not wireless.

Smittybilt XRC Gen 3 Review

Depending on the state of the rod, you may have to get your hands (and clothes) rather dirty.

Featuring a sliding ring gear clutch and a 2.5” drum, you could say that it is, once again, similar to the X2O.

The rope size can also be chosen depending on the size of the vehicle – but the difference remains in the material.

The fully synthetic ropes used are military grade. An excellent choice for most vehicles!

smittybilt winch xrc 9500
Smittybilt 17500 Winch Review

The Smittybilt XRC range also includes a lifetime warranty – so, in the event that the unit breaks down on you, you can rest assured the manufacturer will help you.

However, you should know that it is durable. So, chances are that you won’t even need the warranty.

Overall, if you choose a winch from this range, it is a good option to take with you on an overlanding adventure.


  • Large load capacity models
  • Durable construction
  • It has a mechanical lifetime warranty
  • Stainless steel construction that is sturdy


  • The winch is not wireless
  • The motor is strong, so some bigger models may be noisy

Who Makes Smittybilt Winches?

There is no straightforward answer to this question.

In short, we know that the Smittybilt winches are made both in the United States and in China. However, in terms of volume, Smittybilt does not disclose their numbers as to how many are manufactured in each country.

Bear in mind that, if and when they are manufacturing some of their products in a foreign country, doesn’t mean that the quality of the Smittybilt winches is poor. The quality inspections and checks are completed to US standards.

Smittybilt winches are quite popular both because of the affordability and the quality of the devices. This company also manufacturing some Smittybilt Apollo products for your jeep.

Final Thoughts – Smittybilt Winch Reviews

The X2O and the XRC winches made by Smittybilt are very similar. However, let’s see where are the main differences:


The X2O is rated IP68, whereas the XRC is rated IP67. Now, what does that mean? According to the official explanation by the International Electrotechnical Commission:

IP6X = Protection from contact with harmful dust

IPX7 = Protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins

IPX8 = Protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter (manufacturer must specify exact depth)

Please note these ratings are for freshwater though. So be careful when you’re stuck on a beach.

Remote Control

The X2O are available with Smittybilt winch wireless remote, whereas the XRC Smittybilt winches come with corded ones.

smittybilt xrc 9,500 remote
XRC 9,500 winch remote

Now that can be very convenient and safe, but what about dead batteries in the remote? That’s when you’d want a corded remote!

Price And Warranty

The Smittybilt XRC and X2O winches are roughly in the same price range, with the XRC being slightly more expensive on average.

In terms of warranty, the X2O winches win again, as they come with a lifetime mechanical warranty and a 5-year electrical warranty.

The XRC winches are also covered by a lifetime mechanical warranty but only with a 3-year electrical warranty. This is probably due to their lower waterproofing rating.

smitty winch
Smittybilt X20 Review
smitty winches
Smittybilt XRC 12 Winch Review

The 4 Wheel Parts Special Deals Page Features Monthly Promotions With Savings Of Up To 20% On Off-road Parts And Accessories.

Smittybilt XRC vs X20 – Choose the Smittybilt x20 10k or the XRC Smittybilt 9500 Winch?

For folks who use their winch more often and for deliberate off-roading, we’d recommend the X2O range with the appropriate load capacity (Smittybilt 97510). If you prefer synthetic winch rope you should go for a Smittybilt X20 Comp model.

If you want to install a winch for your overland rig as an insurance policy, so you don’t expect it to use it that often, then choose a winch from the XRC range with their corded remote.

If you don’t end up using your winch too often, make sure to check it from time to time. A winch needs to work when you’re in a hopeless situation!

If you have an ATV/UTV you should check for some lower capacity ones from – Smittybilt UTV winch models.

Look after it and it will help you in those few but difficult situations in the wilderness.

If you’re still unsure, read our comprehensive guide on how to choose the best winch for your vehicle here.

What winch do I need
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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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