Master Pull first introduced synthetic winch lines to the off road market in the late 1990’s. Synthetic ropes had already been highly used in industrial applications, such as commercial fishing and mining. The numerous advantages of synthetic winch lines made them an obvious choice for many off roaders.
One of the most important features of synthetic winch lines is the safety benefits they provide. Synthetic lines do not store energy while under load and are very lightweight. This means that if something should go wrong and the rope breaks, it will harmlessly fall to the ground. Steel wire rope on the other hand, stores a tremendous amount of energy under load, and in the case of breakage, will violently snap back and whiplash. This can cause serious injury to people involved in the winching procedure.
Synthetic winch lines don’t have any wire splinters or burrs like steel wire ropes commonly do, so there is no chance of getting a surprise hand injury while handling a synthetic line.
Finally, there is the issue of weight. Synthetic winch lines are much lighter than their steel counterpart, which reduces the chance of strain and body fatigue when handling lines in winching procedures. This may not be as noticeable when using smaller diameter lines, but in applications that involve very heavy equipment, steel wire rope lines and extensions can weigh upwards of 200 pounds and require multiple people to handle them. Synthetic winch lines are up to 80% lighter, making them much easier to carry and handle.
Synthetic winch lines have breaking strengths 30-90% higher than steel wire rope. This is a tremendous increase and allows for smaller diameter winch lines to be used when switching to synthetic, therefore increasing the amount of line that can be installed on the winch.
Synthetic winch lines are up to 80% lighter than steel wire rope. Aside from the safety benefits mentioned above, this offers some obvious advantages. On a typical recreational off road vehicle, switching to a synthetic winch line and an aluminum hawse fairlead will shave up to 30 pounds of weight from the front of the vehicle. Rigging vehicle extractions is also much easier, especially in loose, hilly terrain. Synthetic winch lines are so light, they even float.
Once a steel wire cable kinks it’s breaking strength is seriously compromised and should be removed from service. You don’t need to worry about kinks with a synthetic rope because it doesn’t have memory.
There are many aspects of synthetic winch lines which make them easier to use than steel wire rope. As mentioned in the section on safety, synthetic lines are up to 80% lighter, making it much easier to rig up vehicle extractions. Synthetic lines are also much more forgiving to hands than steel wire rope because they do not have sharp burrs or “meat hooks” as they are sometimes referred to.