Why you should avoid installing a

Winch mount kit on a factory bumper Wrangler JK/JKU Rubicon JL/JLU and Gladiator


Instead of a surface mount, you better go the extra mile and buy a genuine expedition bumper ready to house a recessed winch for as little as $500 USD ($600 CAD)


The truth is that we are currently in the middle of a price war between bumper manufacturers. Big names are cutting prices in an attempt to increase their share of the market and off-roaders should take advantage of the situation instead of spending 150$-250$ on a factory bumper winch mount kit. There are dozens of better alternatives for your Jeep Wrangler JK / JL 2-Doors, JKU / JLU Unlimited and Jeep Gladiator.

Jeep Solo Off-Roading


Prepare your first expedition with your Jeep in the extreme remote wilderness. A factory bumper is no match for a strong, heavy-duty aftermarket front bumper that has built-in winch plates and is rated to pull 12,000 lbs..


If You Buy a Factory Bumper Winch Mount

This one made by Rough Country is very popular (and probably the best one available on the market for the money).

Rough Country Wrangler JK Factory Bumper Winch Mount






1. Lightweight: By keeping your factory bumper, you save on weight and can use the payload capacity of your Jeep to carry other things. Aluminum and steel bumpers (equipped with a winch mount) weigh from 75 lbs to 200 lbs.

2. . Easier to remove the winch: You may want to remove your winch for long periods of time (for example, if you drive your Wrangler to commute on a daily basis).

3. You save money: It’s true. You are going to save $200 to $300 (money you could use to buy a cheap winch afterward like a Vortexx 6,000 lbs).

4. It’s going to work: The stock bumper is strong enough to be used in combination with a winch able to pull 8,000 lbs. No worries about that. The weekend wheelers are generally satisfied with that kind of setup.







1. Not that easy to install compared to a quality aftermarket front bumper: The fact is that you will have to remove the factory bumper anyway to install the mount. And you will have to deal with surprises, like having to buy and install a relocation bracket for the brake pump. So, get ready to work a bit.

2. Thieves will like you: A surface-mounted winch is way easier to steal (five minutes tops) compared to a winch recessed in a steel bumper. Trying to save money at all cost could actually force you to buy a second winch eventually.

3. No protection against impact (for the winch): Your surface-mounted winch will now offer some protection to your Wrangler’s grille. That’s cool for the grille but not cool for the winch. Stray branches and small rocks will constantly hit that vulnerable winch. An animal collision could also occur. Winches are not “armored” because they are actually designed to be as light as possible. Unless you carry a very cheap or an old winch you don’t value much, it would be a terrible idea to spend from $600 to $1,000 for a top-of-the-line winch and not protect your investment at all. Especially, if you are a solo Jeeper used to scouting the remote wilderness all alone. Damaging your winch is something you could regret bitterly. I personally consider my XRC Winch as my primary recovery system, and I take great care of it. It’s hell of a precious thing in my life.

4. Reduced airflow: An external winch mount somehow blocks airflow to the radiator, A/C, and transmission cooler. Of course, it won’t impact much, but you should keep that in mind before making a final decision.

5. You can’t use the factory bumper as a ram: The factory plastic bumper is not designed to take severe hits that come with extreme off-roading. Also, it can’t be used to push heavy obstacles out of the way. It’s important to mention because, in some situations, you won’t need to pull but to push. Don’t take for granted that you could just turn back if you are ever facing a heavy and insurmountable obstacle. It doesn’t work like that. A trail washout, a fallen tree, or a closed gate on a logging road could get you stranded for good, and there won’t be any other option but to keep moving forward and clear a path. Most aftermarket steel bumpers are constructed of steel plates that are welded on both the inside and the outside and are mounted to the Wrangler’s frame with sub-frames. That’s why they have so much resistance.

6. No grille guard: With the factory bumper, your only option to add extra front-end protection is to mount a bull bar under the bumper. The problem is that it reduces your clearance. It costs money too. On the other hand, there are plenty of aftermarket bumpers that already come with a grille guard, a stinger, or an overrider. If you keep the stock bumper but want to mount a winch and a bull bar, you are just wasting your time, money, and clearance.

7. A high pulling point is not optimal: Some would argue, but spending so much time winching alone made me realize that pulling from a high profile brings the nose of my Jeep down into the mud, water, or snow. And that’s not good. With a lower pulling point, it’s easier to get unstuck. And to achieve that goal, the only way is to use a low-profile winch mount.

8. Appearance: A surface mount looks cluttered, less capable, and unprofessional. If you are looking for a job in the remote wilderness that involves driving your own off-road vehicle, I recommend you upgrade your bumper to show that you mean business.



What you can get on a limited budget
If You Buy a $4500 Winch Bumper

You Still Get Something like THIS:

Restyling Factory Full Width Winch Bumper Wrangler

Price under $500 / Weight 81 lbs.

- Where to buy -

Buy on Amazon.com
(USA + World)



Buy on Amazon.ca




1. Winch plate mounts

2. Grill Guard

3. 2 LED light mounts

4. 2 D-Ring Mounts

5. Housing for 2 Fog Light (you can move your factory fog lights)

No, it’s not a top-of-the-line bumper offering perfect corrosion protection, an amazing finish, or the highest level of impact resistance. But the factory bumper is no match to that kind of product, and you can install it alone if you follow the instructions carefully.

This bumper is made by Restyling Factory, but there are dozens of other similar bumpers from brands like EAG, Fab Fours, Rugged Ridge, Poison Spyder, Rockhard, Fishbone Offroad, or TACTIK. Those offer “entry level” bumpers under $500 that meet six goals:


1. To not add a ton of extra weight.

4. Affordable (under $500 USD / $600 CAN).

2. A strong mounting plate to house a recessed winch. 5. Easy to install alone and with basic tools.
3. Corrosion resistance (black powder coating). 6. Awesome look!


A popular choice among serious and seasoned off-roaders
Now : The Winch I Like the Most

SmittyBilt XRC Winch 97495

XRC SmittyBilt Winch 97495 - 9500 lbs.

Everything has been said and written about this winch. It’s probably the best pick for the money.

1. Affordable: Easy to find for under $500.

2. Amphibious motor: Don’t fear getting stuck in the middle of a creek anymore.

3. Recessable: Easy to hide in a recessed bumper.

4. Can be operated from the driver’s seat: The cord of the remote control is long enough to reach the driver’s window. A solo Jeeper can hold the remote in his left hand and hold the steering wheel with his right hand at the same time. And yes, the winch stops if the remote control ever falls from your hand. So, it’s safe.

5. Tow hook is indestructible

6. Cable is almost 100 feet long

You can easily find comparison websites recommending that winch. I can speak for it because it’s the one I’ve been using over the last two years (and probably a thousand times without a problem). But for full disclosure, I need to say that I have the XRC Comp Series, which has a synthetic rope instead of a steel wire rope. Being solo most of the time, it makes me feel a bit safer. It’s more expensive, but a synthetic rope weighs a little less, doesn’t become a deadly projective if it breaks, and can be repaired on the trail.

XRC SmittyBilt Winch 97495 Wrangler JK


Synthetic Rope SmittyBilt XRC Comp Series 98495

(Weight 65 lbs.)

- Where to buy -

Buy on Amazon.com
(USA + World)



Buy on Amazon.ca



Tip: If you can’t find any sturdy tree trunk or big boulder on the trail, you can still use your spare tire as an anchor. It’s going towork, especially if you can “jam” your spare tire in a ditch or fill the wheel with sand and rocks.



More stuff for your Wrangler JK

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