Steel Wire Winch Cable vs Synthetic Rope
Product Info
Winch Cable

Steel Wire Winch Cable vs Synthetic Rope

What is the difference between Steel Wire Winch Cable and Synthetic Rope?

Synthetic rope is an ideal product for many vehicle recovery situations. It's light weight and easy to handle. It does not kink like steel cable and retains it's shape.
It does not conduct heat or electricity so you won't burn your hands or freeze.

And like Steel it does have some disadvantages.

Synthetic ropes can weakened by heat, UV exposure, chemicals and abrasions. Good ropes come with special coating for more protection.

Since it's a rope it can add water making it hard to use in freezing temperatures.
It requires proper maintenance. Your line should be washed every now and than as grains of dirt and sand can make their way to the rope's core. This will abrasion will cut at the core and weaken the line.

Steel Wire Rope cable is great on rough terrain as it's  less prone to fraying and abrading.  But it can wear and rust.  It can also kink which can decrease it's strength and make it hard to winch up.  Steel cable is more durable than synthetic rope but it is at the expense of strength and weight.

Below are some Pros & Cons - Steel Cable vs. Synthetic Rope:

Steel Cable


  • More durable, longer lasting
  • Can drag on rocks
  • Abrasion resistant
  • Less expensive


  • Heavy
  • Stores energy, which is dangerous if it breaks
  • Doesn’t float in water - Not buoyant in water

  • It's not flexible and more difficult to handle
  • Frays, kinks, and can rust

Synthetic Rope


  • Lightweight and Stronger

  • Buoyant in water - Float is water and mud

  • Does become brittle and good in snow applications

  • Does not  store energy, safer if it breaks.  

  • Can be spliced in field if it breaks
  • Does Not Conduct Heat or Electricity
  • No kinks or permanent coiled shape
  • Resists rust


  • Can melt if exposed to heat - should not be used in a fire situation

  • Not UV stable - can weaken.

  • Can keep water if not dried and freeze

  • More expensive

  • Subject to internal fraying by dirt and sand if not cared for.  Need to be cleaned.

  • Hard to visually detect weakened/damaged rope
  • Lots of cheap imitations on the market

It basically comes to choice.  Both will get the job done.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Proper maintenance is key with either.  It basically comes down to personal choice.

At we supply several winch cables, Steel and Fiber core, with a variety of hooks.  All our Synthetic Winch Lines are made HMPE fibers and are High Visibility Green for enhanced visibility during use.

For product availability and  information follow this link:

All gear should be thoroughly inspected before each and every use. Worn or unsafe rigging and safety gear should never be used.  Products should be used in strict accordance with all industry and OSHA standards.