What Size Winch Do I Need For My Boat?


In Brief: What Size Winch Do I Need For My Boat?

To determine the size of winch you need for your boat, consider the weight of the boat when laden. The minimum capacity you require is a third of the weight if you use good rollers over a short distance. Ideally, a 2-to-1 ratio should be your aim. For long winches with bad rollers, match the capacity to the weight.

The size of the winch that you need for your boat will depend on how you use the winch, the weight of the boat, and how much caution you want to display.

The general rule of thumb is that you can choose a winch that has a rated capacity of half the weight of your boat, accounting for anything that is on or in the boat while it is being winched.

But the 2-to-1 rule does not always hold, especially if you need to winch irregularly.

With a set of proper rollers and shorter winching distances, you can get by with a winch with a load capacity of a third of the weight of your boat.

With poor rollers and longer winching distances, you will need to get a winch with a capacity that roughly matches the weight of your boat.

Refer to the table below for examples of boat weights and the winch capacity you will need.

Table 1 – Minimum, Ideal, and Maximum Recommended Winch Sizes For Boat Weights

Boat Weight (lbs)Min. Winch Size (lbs)Ideal Winch Size (lbs)Max. Winch Size

Remember, you need to find a winch that is at or above the capacity you identified from the table above.

For instance, a 2500 lb boat requires a minimum winch size of 850 lbs. Therefore, if you see winches with capacities of 800 lb and 900 lb, the latter would be the one you should opt for.


We hope this guide has helped you understand what size winch you need for your boat.

If you have any questions or comments about this guide or winching boats in general, please feel free to leave them in the section below.

About Richard Allen

Richard is a senior writer at Mechanicology and has an overall experience of 15 years in writing on power, gadgets, and electronic appliances related topics. He holds a degree in electronics engineering.