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Why switch from Steel Cable to Synthetic Winchlines? Safety, Strength, & Ease of Handling

Safety: Both steel and synthetic winchlines give a very small amount of stretch, the equivalent of less than 1% at breaking pressure. This tiny amount of stretch stores kinetic energy that is released when the line breaks. Since steel winchline is much heavier than synthetic winchline, the force of that stored energy is devastatingly powerful, particularly dangerous with people near. The synthetic line is so light and therefore stores less kinetic energy, which when released, the winchline virtually falls to the ground with a fraction of the force of steel. For this reason, 4x4 offroad racing sanctioning bodies do not allow steel cables because of their inherent danger. Synthetic winchlines are now mandatory.

Training: While synthetic winchlines are much safer, recovery operations are still dangerous and we encourage all winch owners with steel or synthetic winchlines to attend safety and training classes from certified trainers such as: Bill Burke, Tom Severin, Bruce Elfstrom, Garrett Porterfield and Overland Training. See I4WDTA for more information.

Ease of Handling: Steel winch cables have a tendency to kink, rust, and have very sharp strands once nicked. They also tend to straighten by the nature of the material making them harder to spool back on the winch properly. Our synthetic winchlines have none of these problems. However, synthetic lines are more susceptible to sharp edges (bumpers in particular) and heat, but they are much stronger, safer and easier to work with.

Strength: Dyneema® synthetic winchline fiber is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel and 40% stronger than Aramid fibers on weight for weight basis. This means the replacement synthetic winchline is typically 35-45% stronger than steel cable! Steel cables are typically sized to match the strength of a winch. For example a 9,500 lb capacity winch will have roughly a 9,500-10,000 lb capacity steel cable. The replacement synthetic line would be 5/16" (7.9mm) or 3/8" (9.5mm). Our Viking Winchlines are rated at 12,300 lb (6 metric ton) for the 5/16" and 17,600 lb (8 metric ton) for 3/8", making them approximately 23% and 46% stronger on the conservative side.

A note about "rated" strength of recovery equipment for vehicles. There is no governing criteria to measure the strength of products used in vehicle recovery. Some products like hooks and shackles come from Overhead Lifting industry that have strict rules about safety factors measured as Working Load Limit (WLL) Safe Working Load is somtimes also used (SWL). As an example a typical Bow Shackle will have a WLL of 4.75 US Ton with a 4:1 safety factor or approximately a 38,000 Lb. breaking strength. When it comes to the breaking strength of rope it becomes even more confusing. There are several methods by which rope is measured, and comparing these data is like comparing apples and oranges. In the past we have taken the widely accepted average breaking strength. However, Viking Offroad has taken a lead by leveling the field with a straight forward measurement: MBS or Minimum Breaking Strength. Rated shackles is posted in our literature with their MBS, rather than WLL, and all our ropes including winchlines carry the same MBS rating.
Another distinction of Viking Winchlines is that they are break tested with spliced eyes, whereas some ropes are lab tested to measure the strength of the rope only without eyes. this measure ment is good for examining variations in rope types but for the practical purpose of fitting a winchline to a vehicle it is better to use a conservative figure such as MBS.

Viking Winchlines are all US Made from the strongest fiber currently available: Dyneema SK-75, and with a viking winchline you can be assured of the best quality from the USA and Europe. Accept no cheap imitations.

Note: There are variations of very strong synthetic ropes that we have seen on the market. These can include Amsteel rather than AmSteel-Blue (both can be blue and virtually indistinguishable) and Dyneema SK-60 available as well. Viking Offroad will never substitute synthetic ropes of lesser strength or quality. We always use genuine US made High Performance Dyneema 12 strand ropes for our winchlines.

Viking Winchlines are used in by many: Recreational four wheeling, racing, ATV's, and towing industry. They are also used by the top trainers in the world including several military trainers who train the best of US Armed Forces. Our non civilian customers include: DOD (Department of Defense), Navy, Navy Seals, Army, Army Rangers, Marines, Air Force, SWAT, DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) Etc.. Additionally First Responders such as Fire and Police Departments, Search and Rescue, US Forest Service, and California Beach Lifeguards. (Note: not all US gov't agencies use synthetic recovery gear, typically only areas of these agencies do. If you work for a gov't agency and do not currently use synthetic winchlines, discuss this option with a supervisor or purchasing agent and contact us for a quote).

Viking Winch Lines

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