Synthetic Winch Rope vs Steel Winch Rope: Which Winch Rope is Better?

Let’s learn the difference between the synthetic winch and streel winch in this “Synthetic Winch Rope vs Steel Winch Rope” article.

There was only one type of rope used on a winch in earlier times: Steel rope. Steel cable winches were the only available ones in the market at that time. 

Then, after some time in the ’90s, the invention of Synthetic winch rope took place. From that point on, there has always been a debate as to which winch rope is better.

Which winch rope you will choose totally depends upon the purpose for which you are going to use it. 

Some people prefer synthetic winch rope because it is lightweight and more flexible in comparison to Steel cables. And some people prefer steel cables because of their durability.

So, to settle this score for once and for all, we have this article ‘Which winch rope is better: synthetic or steel?’ The article will give you a clear idea of the differences between them.

Synthetic Winch Rope vs Steel Winch Rope

Synthetic Rope

A synthetic rope was invented in the mid-nineties and became an alternative to the Steel cable

It is made from polythene material and is considered safer than Steel rope; and also is lighter in weight and does not store as much energy as the other cable does. 

Because of its lightweight, it is way more flexible, easier to handle, and does not get rusted. The synthetic rope can also float in the water.

However, the synthetic rope has higher chances of breaking, but it can be easily repaired using proper repairing techniques given in the field. 

The synthetic rope has susceptibility to chemicals, abrasion, heat, and UV exposure, reducing its lifespan. 

Due to this, the synthetic rope must be protected with an anti-abrasion sleeve and a special protective coating. 

If you are using it in water, it adds weight and can become a little more difficult to use because of its ability to absorb the water. Synthetic rope is very high maintenance as well. 

Because if you are using it in water, mud or snow, it becomes necessary to clean it after using it because if you don’t clean it properly, it can reduce the rope’s lifespan.

Steel Cable

From the start, the winch has always come with a steel cable. It is way more durable than a synthetic Rope. 

Steel cable is most suitable for using it in muddy areas, in sand or on rocks, as it is a lot less prone to damage. 

In comparison to synthetic cable, steel cable is very low maintenance and is a lot more affordable. Steel rope is way more substantial than synthetic rope.

However, it is heavier in weight and takes more strength to use than synthetic rope. Steel cable can get rusted easily and damage your hands if you are using it without gloves. 

Because of the trust issue, a steel cable must get a coat of WD-40 twice a year to prevent rusting. 

It stores a lot of energy. Compared to synthetic rope, if a steel cable breaks, it will be impossible to fix it even temporarily. 

Some factors that you can consider

There are a lot of factors that you need to consider when choosing which type of rope you can use for your work. These factors are given below:-


If you are talking about strength, then a synthetic Rope is much stronger than a steel rope. 

It is because it does not break down because of its lack of strength but rather a breakdown due to rubbing or sliding on hard surfaces.


If you are considering weight, then the synthetic rope is way much lighter than a steel rope. 

It is a lot easier to do free spooling in the case of synthetic rope. Steel rope can never outshine or outnumber a synthetic rope.


If you choose the rope, you will be using, saying how easily you can repair your rope, then go with the synthetic rope. 

Synthetic rope is easily repairable, and you can even repair it on the field. Steel rope cannot even be fixed for a temporary period, let alone in the field.


If you are considering this factor, then go with the Steel rope because, for a synthetic rope, UV rays and heat are the biggest disadvantages. 

UV light can break down the fibres of the rope and ultimately make it brittle. 

Cost of the winch rope

If you consider the cost of a winch rope, and it is an important factor for you, then go with the Steel rope. Because Synthetic Rope is way more expensive than steel rope.


Safety is the most important factor that you need to consider while choosing which winch rope to get. 

It is common knowledge that synthetic rope is way safer in comparison to Steel cable. Steel rope on breaking or getting rusted can harm you a lot.

Final Thoughts

Both the ropes have their own pros and cons. They both are suitable for their own kind of work. 

However, In my opinion, the most suitable winch rope will be a Synthetic winch rope

Because it is way safer to use, light in weight, and flexible than the Steel cable.

But you don’t need to go with me. You can always choose Steel winch rope if that’s what is required for your work.

Whichever kind of rope you choose, you will need to always follow all safe maintaining techniques and take proper safety precautions. 

Because of this, not only the winch rope will be safe from getting damaged, but also the winch rope will not cause you any harm.

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As an avid off-road enthusiast, I know firsthand the importance of having a reliable winch. That's why I created WinchAdvice – to help fellow off-roaders like myself make informed decisions when selecting their next winch. So whether you're an experienced pro or a beginner just starting out, my website offers valuable advice and guidance on all things winching.

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