Boat Winch Buying Guide

Boat Winch Weight Capacity

When choosing a boat winch, the weight capacity, also called safe working load (SWL) capacity, should be your first consideration. The weight you need should be determined by the total weight of your boat, motor, fuel, and onboard equipment, meaning that heavier boats require more powerful boat winches. As a rule of thumb, you can use 6.3 pounds per gallon of fuel. Don’t forget that your motor(s) are not included in the dry weight of your vessel.


In the industry, a general rule is to choose a boat winch with a capacity rating of at least 3/4th the total weight. However, there are other considerations when making a purchase. These include the slope of the boat ramps you use or the material on your trailer (rollers are better than a material you are pulling over). If you have bunk carpeting on your trailer, consider sizing up. The difference cost to go up in size is minimal, so we recommend a boat winch capacity rating closer to the total weight to account for all launch and trailer conditions.

Video provides an example of how to calculate weight capacity:

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