Everything that's under tension or pulling a lot of weight has the chance of snapping and causing injuries and damage. The same goes when you're winching as no matter how strong the rope or cable you're using, it is susceptible to breaking. Safe winching doesn't only require you to set up your winch correctly or to stand far enough back from the extraction point. It also requires you to use the right type of equipment and when bundled all together it will help make for a safer recovery. No matter what you're winching out if the winch itself and the equipment you use can take it you're all good. The same goes for the winch cable.
Benefits of Synthetic Winch Cables
Although metals have proven to be stronger than synthetics a synthetic cable is still quite strong for what it's made of. Also, the ability to not fly away as much as a steel cable, makes synthetic winch cables a better option overall. But this isn't the only reason why you'd buy a synthetic winch cable.
The weight of a synthetic winch cable is another factor that you should keep in mind. For the level of strength it offers, a synthetic 4WD winch cable is quite light. Being lightweight means you can carry it without being as burdensome. There's also a safety advantage regarding this.
One of the more important reasons why you should buy a synthetic winch cable is the fact that it's a lot safer than a steel one. Why? Because when it comes to the cable snapping, it won't snap right away. You'll hear some of its looser fibres snapping away first, which is a clear indication that the cable is going to let go of the load.
What to Look for in a Synthetic Winch Cable
The weight capacity of a winch cable is going to tell you how heavy of a pull it's able to take. There are two ways to determine this. The first one is breaking strength, which refers to the weight at which the cable is going to snap. This is not the maximum the cable can safely pull, but rather its breaking point if you will. Some cables can have a breaking strength as high as 10,000 kg.
The other factor you'll want to consider is the cable weight capacity related to the winch. For example, if your winch cable has a breaking strength of the above 10,000 kg, you won't want to pair it with a, say 4,500 kg winch. It won't make any difference. What you want to do is use a cable that has a breaking strength close to the winch's weight capacity.
Shackles and Hooks
Using a winch cable on its own is not going to make ant extraction possible. Because of this, you'll want to couple your synthetic winch cable with decent shackles and hooks. These serve as the connection between the cable and the winch. Snap hooks are the most common in this case as they are considered to be the strongest.
But you can also go for removable hooks with a high-visibility cloth tab. You can choose from a wide range of shackles as long as you have a cable with a steel eye loop. These include soft shackles, flat link shackles and steel shackles too. Whatever you go for, make sure it's rust-resistant and strong.
The length of a winch cable is going to determine how versatile it is. A longer cable makes for a generally speaking better option since you can make recoveries from further away. But just ensure that the material the rope is made of can handle all the weight from far away.
A good quality synthetic winch cable should have a dense enough weave and the right coating on it. An example of a good quality synthetic winch cable is one with a compact and dense weave paired with either a urethane or polyurethane coating. The former prevents abrasive materials and moisture from penetrating through and the latter keeps away chemicals and UV rays.
Types of Synthetic Winch Cables
Synthetic winch cables made of Dyneema fibres are the most common ones. This is because these fibres make them quite durable and strong with the most common Dyneema fibres used in winch cables being Sk75 and Sk60.
Although winch cables made of Spectra fibres are quite similar to ones made of Dyneema fibres, they're not the same. Spectra fibres are not as durable or as strong as Dyneema fibres.
Vectran & Technora
A synthetic 4WD winch cable made of either Technora or Vectran fibres are both heat-resistant. But other than that they're not as long-lasting as they have what is called bending fatigue. Meaning you can't use them for winching unless you avoid using the cable around a snatch block, which is a big no-no.