Taco Tuesday: 7 Winch Setups For 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma – WARN VS. Smittybilt

Lifted Overland Built 3rd Gen Tacoma with KC HiLites LED Lights

We Asked 7 Toyota Tacoma Owners Which Winch They Chose To Run & What They Like Most About Their Current Setup

This Week’s Topic: Winch Options

Hey guys! Welcome back to another Taco Tuesday! If you missed last week’s TT, we looked at 2nd Gen Tacoma rock sliders.

This week we will be taking a look at several rigs that are either running a WARN or Smittybilt winch for their recovery needs. These two brands are commonly recommended winches in the off-road/overland community. With that being said, we asked each owner for some details about their specific setup and also what they enjoy most about their winch choice to help with your future purchase.

As always, feel free to DM the owners on IG to ask any additional questions about their setup if needed.

Enjoy!

Top Products Featured

  1. Smittybilt X2O GEN2 10K Waterproof Wireless Winch: Check Price
  2. Smittybilt XRC GEN2 10K Waterproof Wireless Winch: Check Price
  3. Smittybilt XRC GEN3 10K Waterproof Wireless Winch: Check Price
  4. WARN VR EVO 10-S 10K Winch: Check Price
  5. Agency 6 Winch Shackle: Check Price
  6. Agency 6 Fairlead: Check Price
  7. Factor 55 Winch Shackle: Check Price
  8. Factor 55 Rope Guard: Check Price
  9. Factor 55 Fairlead: Check Price
  10. BONUS: Superwinch SX10SR Winch: Check Price

Adding A Winch To Your Tacoma

3rd Gen Tacoma with 4 Wheel Parts Front Bumper With High Clearance Attachments & Smittybilt Winch

If you plan to take your Toyota Tacoma off-road, it is good practice to ensure you are as prepared as possible. This includes all of the recovery gear essentials and equipment necessary to get out of unavoidable situations that you may get your truck into. Yes, recovery boards and a shovel can get you out of trouble in most cases, but a solid winch is a must-have tool, especially if you are solo off-roading.

Adding a winch to your Tacoma takes some commitment. However, just being super stuck one time will easily convince you to get one. The reason why I say it takes some commitment is due to the installation process. If you don’t already have an aftermarket front bumper, you’ll likely want one for mounting a winch. Installing an aftermarket front bumper makes adding a winch super easy, however, many require modification of your front bumper cover.

When selecting a winch, consider the variety of line-pull ratings available. Remember that even though your vehicle may be under 6000lbs, this doesn’t mean you should settle for that same weight capacity of line-pull. A 6000lb truck loaded with gear stuck in the mud takes way more than 6000lbs equivalent to pull out.

Typically, when you get stuck, it’s in mud or sand. Or, you happened to get yourself high-centered on a pesky obstacle. Being stuck in sand and mud add loads of extra friction that when added to the weight of your Tacoma, requires a high-capacity winch. A 10,000lb winch or slightly under is what I’d recommend purchasing to be safe.

There are a variety of winch brands out on the market currently, all with different features and prices. WARN and Smittybilt are usually the go-to brands that truck owners gravitate towards. Below, you will find those two brands but in several models and price ranges depending on budget.

Let’s now look at why these six owners chose to add a winch to their Tacomas, and what they enjoy about their winch setup so far.

1. Travis Pfahler (@sykyota) – WARN Industries

VR EVO 10-S WARN Industries Winch Mounted On 3rd Gen Tacoma Demello Front Bumper

Winch Details

  • Model: VR Evo 10-S
  • Weight Capacity: 10,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $960

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I chose to go with WARN Industries due to its reputation and durability in the off-road community. The 2-in-1 plugin or wireless remote makes the operation of this winch smooth as silk. The control packs can also be relocated for a low-profile install. Plus, the 7-year warranty on the electrical and their customer service is top notch!

2. Daniel Linitskiy (@overlanding_tbd) – Smittybilt

3rd Gen Tacoma with Smittybilt X20 Gen 2 Winch Mounted In C4 Overland Front Bumper

Winch Details

  • Model: X20 Gen 2
  • Weight Capacity: 12,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $670

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I chose this winch because of the price (cheaper than WARN) and because it had a waterproof rating of IP68. Smittybilt has a good reputation, my buddy has this winch on his truck as well and hasn’t had any issues. The great thing about this winch is the wireless remote. A cable is also included and can be used as a backup. This winch is pretty compact and will fit most aftermarket steel bumpers without any modifications.

3. Alex Potvin (@hex.vsls) – Smittybilt

3rd Gen Tacoma with Low Profile Front Bumper & Smittybilt X20 WinchWinch Details

  • Model: X20
  • Weight Capacity: 10,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $700

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

The Smittybilt X20 winch was a great unit for the price. It’s wireless as well with an easy-to-use remote. The synthetic line and 10K capacity are really nice features to have and give me the confidence that this winch will always get me out of a sticky situation. 

4. Kevin Boortz (@bo.rtz) – WARN Industries

3rd Gen Tacoma With Relentless Fabrication Front Bumper with WARN Winch

Winch Details

  • Model: VR Evo 10-S
  • Weight Capacity: 10,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $960

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

After doing a ton of research trying to find a bargain winch that was “just as good,” I decided to buy a WARN winch because of its reliability and reputation.

I have the winch mounted to a Relentless Fabrication Hybrid Bumper, and the installation was very easy with the bumper removed. The front of my truck is heavy with the steel bumper and steel skids, so the synthetic line saves a little weight. The hook that comes on the winch isn’t the best, so I replaced it with a Factor 55 FlatLink E.

5. Reilly McCarthy (@subzero_taco) – Smittybilt

Lifted 3rd Gen Tacoma with Smittybilt XRC Gen 2 Winch & Baja Designs Lights

Winch Details

  • Model: XRC Gen 2
  • Weight Capacity: 9,500lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $450

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I chose this winch because it was budget friendly. I never really needed a winch but got one for the piece of mind. The steel cable was switched out for synthetic rope due to it being safer if I needed to use it. I also added a Factor 55 winch shackle so that I can easily attach a D-Ring.

One thing I recommend is to occasionally cycle the winch for maintenance purposes. Otherwise, you will run into issues as I did after not cycling it for a while. 

6. Brandon Gray (@rollin_taco_20) – Smittybilt

Lifted Super White 3rd Gen Tacoma With New 4WP Front Bumper & Smittybilt Winch

Winch Details

  • Model: X20 Gen 2
  • Weight Capacity: 10,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $670

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

I chose this winch solely for its intended purpose, which is to get me and also others out of sketchy situations. This winch has done very well for me ever since installation. My favorite part of my setup has to be my 4 Wheel Parts front bumper. This bumper has a great base for my winch which made installation a breeze!

6. Brenan Greene (@Trail4R) – Smittybilt

Lifted 2nd Gen Tacoma on 37" Tires with Smittybilt Winch

Winch Details

  • Model: X20 Gen 3
  • Weight Capacity: 10,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $700+

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

Everyone who wheels should have a winch. Next to tires, it’s one of the most important mods you can do to your Tacoma. I’ve run the Smittybilt line of winches for about 7 years now on many 5th Gen 4Runner builds and now this 2nd Gen Tacoma LT build. Smittybilt offers up a huge line of winch options most of which all come with a synthetic line and can be mounted behind just about any mainstream bumper on the market; C4 Fabrication, CBI, you name it. I’ve paired my setup with Agency 6 everything; 1″ black fairlead and a black winch shackle. 

7. Konrad Chojnowski (@trail_tacoma) – Superwinch

3rd Gen Tacoma With GFC Camper & Superwinch SX10SR

Winch Details

  • Model: SX10SR
  • Weight Capacity: 10,000lbs
  • Rope Type: Synthetic
  • Price: $750

Why Did You Need A Winch? What Do You Like About Your Setup?

Unless you’re only going to spend time in parking lots, a winch is a must have mod if you wheel. You don’t want to rely on someone else and you definitely don’t want to hit anything solo without one. Most of the best trails are far from service and rescue if you really get bogged down. Save yourself the time, hassle, headaches, and costs by getting a winch. All things considered, spending $700 is a worthy investment and most quality winches will last you 7+ years. The Superwinch, as far as I’ve seen, isn’t run by too many people in the Toyota community. It has solid components and an awesome warranty. Near as I can tell, it’s relatively similar to the direct competitors. I like to test and run different products, so the Superwinch fit the bill here. And I absolutely love the color and design.

Final Thoughts

Lifted Super White 3rd Gen Tacoma With Full Width Low Profile Front Bumper From 4WP

Anytime I go out on a trail ride and see that we have a rig with a winch, I feel a bit more secure knowing that the chances of getting stuck and stranded out on the trail are much lower.

Winches are definitely one of those accessories that you want to save up for. You don’t really need one right away for light trails, but they are really nice to have. However, they are highly recommended if you frequently hit the trails alone. If this is you, then I suggest considering a winch as one of your next recovery purchases.

If you want to be featured for Taco Tuesday, submit your build through TrailTacoma.com/Feature. Next week’s Taco Tuesday will be featuring Aftermarket 3rd Gen Tacoma Front Skid Plates that owners are running and what they like about them. We’re looking for sweet rides to showcase! If this is you and you love your setup, send in your details because we want to see it.

Thanks for reading guys. I’ll see you next week!

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Bruce
Bruce
3 days ago

When I had a winch on my trucks I used them 100% of the time to get someone else’s vehicle that was stuck. On my vehicles a rear winch would have been more useful to get my truck out of a situation and a winch that can easily mount on a trailer ball at the rear would be better than one in the front.

The custom bumpers for front mounted winches are very likely to prevent the air bags from deploying in an accident as the sensors integrated with the factory bumper assembly.

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