Why Choose Synthetic? Because some winch lines are better-suited for winching situations than others
by Alex Riedo
When it comes to outfitting the winch used to recover your vehicle and others there are a few important decisions to be made, one of them is synthetic rope verses steel cable.
Cable has been around since before the winch, it is the standard on nearly every winch offered and works fairly well for its intended use.
Synthetic winch ropes in the form of Dyneema Sk75 were invented in the 1980’s and technology has progressed since then, producing stronger and more durable products that are available on the market today.
Dyneema Sk75 is the fiber from which nearly all synthetic winch ropes are made.
There are some ropes constructed of heat resistant materials such as Vectran or Technora for high heat applications, but Dyneema Sk75 is seen as the premier winch rope material.
Originally developed by DSM in the Netherlands for the fishing industry the Dyneema fiber is made of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) and offers many advantages over steel cable.
Winch rope vs. cable
There are many advantages of synthetics over steel cable. Many of them revolve around safety.
For example if a synthetic rope breaks it will fall to the ground where as a steel cable can whip around violently. This is because synthetics store no energy and will not elongate like a cable can.
In addition synthetic ropes are easy to handle because of their low weight, extreme flexibility, and they won’t get sharp burs that can cut your hands.
The name recognized by most people when synthetics are brought up is Amsteel Blue, this is the most popular Dyneema Sk75 rope on the market today. (It was also the first rope available for off road use by Master Pull Recovery Gear in 1996.)
Amsteel Blue is an open weave 12-strand synthetic rope that offers incredibly high strength to weight.
Since then there have been imitators attempting to create their own version of Amsteel Blue for a fraction of the cost, but with less strength and durability.
Some of these can be found on cheaper brand winches or through large wholesalers.
New winch ropes
Beyond the basic 12-strand winch ropes there are a few other options for stronger and more durable synthetics on the market today.
One of them is Master Pull Superline which is created with a unique manufacturing process which takes a larger diameter of rope and stretches it while heat is applied.
This reduces the overall diameter of the rope while increasing size, giving a higher size to strength rating than any other rope offered.
Superline is a much denser rope with a tighter braid which reduces the likelihood of a strand being snagged while winching and also keeps dirt and grit from working their way between the strands.
The final rope available is Master Pull Superline XD, which has a core of Superline with a tightly braided outer cover.
The outer cover is made to act as a light abrasion guard while at the same time also helping to protect the load bearing core from dirt, debris, and anything else. This allows Superline XD to be used longer than traditional open weave winch ropes.
(Alex Riedo is the Off-Road Director at Master-Pull LLC)