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Portable Winch Vs Come Along: Pros, Cons, & Differences

You might be wondering what type of winch best fits your work. Don't worry because we have done research to provide you with everything you need to know about a portable winch and a come-along winch.

A portable winch can be electric, gas-powered, or manual while a come-along winch is a hand crank winch.

A portable winch can be used with a remote or an on-and-off switch that will activate the motor. A come-along winch has a crank that needs to be manually shifted to adjust the pull of the cable.

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A portable winch needs to be connected to one anchor point to be able to operate. A portable winch can be more expensive than a come-along winch.

Continue reading as we discuss all the other important information you will need when choosing between a portable winch and a come-along winch.

collab photo of a portable winch and a come along winch comparison, Portable Winch Vs Come Along: Pros, Cons, & Differences

What Are The Pros, Cons, and Differences Between A Portable and a Come-Along Winch?

A winch can be used to pull in or control the distance of an object. Depending on the type, a winch has a hook at either one or both ends of the cable. The hook's purpose is to attach to the large object that the winch is going to pull in or hold onto. 

There are multiple types of winches used for a variety of purposes. A portable winch and a come-along winch are used to pull vehicles by either another vehicle or a sturdy anchor point.

The main purpose of vehicles using winches is to rescue or move another vehicle that is either unable or prevented from moving by itself.

Despite the similarities, a portable winch and a come-along winch have differences in their methods of operation. Each type of winch also has features and disadvantages.

Below is a general list of pros, cons, and differences between a portable winch and a come-along winch.

Pros And Cons Of A Portable Winch

Portable winches can be electric, gas-powered, or manually operated. Depending on the situation and the task at hand, one type of portable winch can be beneficial over the other. 

detail photo car winch close up red paint

Electric/Gas-Powered Portable Winch

Pros
  • The motorized winch will have a stronger pulling power than the user.
  • The operation can be activated and controlled with the touch of a button.
  • Does not need to be lugged around when attached to a vehicle.
  • Frees the user from manual cranking.

The latter pro may be beneficial to an isolated user in a situation where the large object being pulled requires to be operated or maneuvered. The user simply needs to secure the motorized winch to a sturdy anchor point before handling the large object being hauled.

Cons 
  • Needs an external power source to operate. 
  • The external power source, such as the battery or extra fuel, will add weight to the winch, especially for winches that are not attached to vehicles. 
  • Can be subject to motor failure or malfunction.
  • Electric winches need a backup power source in case the main power source fails.

Hand-cranked Portable Winch

close hand winch hook isolated on white

Pros
  • Does not require an external power source. Hand-cranked winches can be used at any time even when fuel or electricity is not available.
  • Operating power will rely on the capability of the user/users. 
  • The simple mechanism can make the hand-crank portable winch less susceptible to motor failure or malfunction.
  • Can be more portable than an electric or gas-powered winch due to the lack of battery or gas tank attachments. 

Cons
  • Will only operate as long as the user can operate it. Hand-crank portable winches may not be as reliable in emergencies.
  • Requires physical exertion from the user. Hand-crank portable winches may not be serviceable for everybody.
  • The manual operation forces the user to stand close to the cable while it is holding a lot of tension.
  • Requires one person to handle the winch.

The latter con may pose an issue to an isolated user during emergencies where one person needs to operate the winch and another person to operate or maneuver the large object being pulled. 

Pros And Cons Of A Come-Along Winch

Despite having a different name, a come-along winch is also a type of portable winch. The feature of a come-along that sets it apart from a typical portable winch is the lever it uses to adjust the length of the cable. 

Come Along Winch

steel wire rope winch on car vehicle

Pros
  • Anchors extending from both sides of the winch allow a more convenient method of attachment from the anchor point and the object being pulled.
  • The ratchet in the gear system can automatically lock. This can allow an isolated user to set up the device before handling the object being pulled.
  • The cables of this winch may operate with a single or double purchase system.

A benefit of a come-along winch is its ability to increase the pulling strength of the anchor point when it is using the double purchase system. This can be beneficial in a situation where the available anchor point may not be able to pull the large object with a single purchase system.

Most portable winches are limited to a single purchase system. A come-along has pawls on both sides of the ratchet which allows the device to have two cables engage and pull an object bearing twice the weight of the original anchor point. 

Cons
  • Can only be secured to anchor points by hooks.
  • Set up process is more complicated than a typical portable winch.
  • Requires physical effort when adjusting the ratchet.

A come-along requires a longer setup process. Typical portable winches are usually secured directly to the anchor point. On the other hand, a come-along is designed to be secured on an anchor point using a chain and a hook.

This may not be convenient during emergencies because you must first secure a chain around the object being hauled before you can hook the come-along onto the chain. The same process is also usually applied when attaching to the anchor point. 

What Are The Differences Between A Portable and A Come-Along Winch?

manual all purpose winch closeup monochrome

Apart from the exact method of operation that each winch has, a portable winch and a come-along winch also come with different price ranges.

Hand-crank winches are the cheapest type of portable winch. Hand-crank winch prices may range from 20 to 300 dollars, depending on the manufacturer of the device.

Click here to shop for a hand-crank winch on Amazon.

Gas-powered and electric portable winches may cost more than a thousand dollars due to the motorized system of the device. 

On the other hand, a come-along winch is cheaper, costing from 20 to 100 dollars apiece.

Click here to shop for a come-along winch on Amazon.

Can You Use A Come-Along As A Winch?

You can use a come-along as a winch if the load is suitable for a come-along winch.

Come-along is a type of winch that can be used to pull or control the length of a cable. The adjusting cable can then be attached to another free object in order to pull it or control its direction to a certain angle. 

You can use a come-along in place of another type of winch as long as the task at hand involves weight that a come-along can pull. Otherwise, the cables of the come-along will not be able to restrain the excessive tension and may result in the cables snapping.

The average capacity of a come-along winch is 2000 pounds. However, it can lift weights up to 4000 pounds.

It is also important to note that a come-along winch should not be used in place of a ratchet lever hoist.

A ratchet lever hoist is also a winch that shares similar features with a come-along winch. However, a come-along winch should not substitute a rather lever hoist if the task involves overhead lifting.

Is A Winch Better Than A Come-Along?

There isn't one best type of winch because all types of winch have specific features and purposes.

The better type of winch for you will depend on the winching task you have at hand. However, due to their limited lifting capacity, other types of winches may be better than a come-along.

Come-along winches also require more time to set up compared to other types of winches. Because of this, come-along winches are less convenient to use compared to winches that can either be readily strapped to an anchor point or are already anchor points themselves.

In terms of price, come-along winches are cheaper but require physical effort to be operated. Other types of winches might be more expensive than a come-along, but they are often operated by a machine.

However, machine-powered winches would need their batteries or gas tanks refueled while a manual winch such as a come-along can be used anytime. 

To Wrap Up

collab photo of a portable winch and a come along winch comparison

A portable winch and a come-along winch are two types of winches. A portable winch can be either manual, electric, or gas-powered. A come-along winch is only manual.

In this article, we discussed the pros, cons, and differences between a portable winch and a come-along winch.

We also discussed if you can use a come-along winch in place of other winches and if other winches are better than a come-along. Make sure to choose the best type of winch for the job you will complete.

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