Last updated: August 17, 2021

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In today's text, we will talk about the hand winch, the tool that is your best ally when you need that extra strength.

The hand winch is a portable physics concept, a lever at its best expression. It is the most efficient and practical equipment on the market when it comes to load suspension, whatever it may be. But if its operation is simple, choosing a model may not be so easy. That is why we have made it our mission in this Guide to help you find the ideal model.


  • The vast majority of manual hook models are operated by a crank or a lever.
  • The two most common types of conductors of pull for the hand winch are wire rope and webbing.
  • The hand winch is also known as a "tirfor". Use this word in your searches if you are not finding a sufficient number of models.

The Best Hand Winch: Our Picks

In the following exclusive list, we have gathered the best hand winch models in the market. The items were evaluated based on their components, their material and especially their capacity, besides, of course, their cost-benefit.

Buying guide: everything you need to know about the best hand winch

Moving things - objects, loads, etc. - has always been a challenge in human history. If before, however, the obstacle was technological, today it is a matter of resources, from the money to buy machines to do the job to the time you can wait for this type of device to solve your problem.

The hand winch is the solution to these modern impasses, an accessible, practical and versatile tool to face today's challenges. However, since we're talking about ton loads, you can't be too careful. In this Buying Guide, we'll give you the information you need to choose the ideal and safest model.

Imagem de guincho manual.

The hand winch is a practical and accessible tool. (Source: Omid Nakhjavani / 123RF)

What is a hand winch and what is it used for?

The hand winch, also called tirfor, is a tool that uses the physical concept of the lever, using a fixed point to multiply the mechanical force applied by the person handling it.

The multiplied force, which is applied by a lever (object) or crank, is used for lifting, towing and dragging heavy objects and loads, as most models support the weight of at least one ton.

The hand winch is widely used in towing vehicles of various modes, especially automobiles and stranded sailing, and in supporting the transport of cargo, hoisting and moving it to and from trucks, cargo ships and other types of transport.

Imagem mostra três caminhões enfileirados no acostamento de uma estrada estreita e arborizada.

The hand winch is very useful for loading and unloading trucks. (Source: jackmac34 / Pexels)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the hand winch?

Before you go out hoisting and towing around, it is good to know the advantages and disadvantages of the hand winch. Among the advantages, the first, and most obvious, is the ability to move objects that are simply impossible to carry by hand.

It is an extremely versatile tool, and can be used for many different types of objects.

Another advantage is its practicality, as it is entirely analogue and uses a simple principle such as the lever. Finally, it is an extremely versatile tool that can be used for various types of objects, in various configurations and at various angles, from lifting a barrel to unsticking a car, for example.

On the other hand, among the disadvantages is the fact that, despite being very practical, the hand winch physically demands you, in turning the crank or pulling its lever.

Another negative point are the cables, whose sizes and materials are not standardised, and may not meet your needs at certain times, either in strength or length.

  • Movement of very heavy loads
  • Practicality
  • Versatility
  • Physical demand
  • Non-standardised cables

Hand winch with lever or crank?

A basic variety of the hand winch that you will find in your research is the mechanism that applies mechanical force, i.e. the part you handle to make the tool work.

There are hand winches that use levers, which are nothing more than rods around 50 cm long, with grips on their end. To "operate" them, you must push and pull repeatedly.

The other mechanism is the good old crank, which needs no introduction, but has smaller dimensions than the lever rod. There are models of various characteristics, but the manual crank winches tend to have a smaller capacity.

Lever Crank
Movement Linear Circular
Size Approximately 50 cm Approximately 20 cm
Weight supported High Medium

Hand Winch; Rope or Belt?

Another common variety in hand winches is the traction conductor used, the "wire" that attaches to the hook, which in turn attaches to the object that needs to be moved or hoisted.

There are the models that use a metallic cable, most of the time absolutely made of steel, and those that use the so-called belt, which is a ribbon of synthetic material, usually nylon, and sometimes with elastic properties.

As is to be expected, there are practical differences in the use of these conductors, although the operation is the same, being rolled up and unrolled on the winches' reels.

Cable models have greater strength and support a greater weight. They are used to move huge loads, and mainly to lift them. The belts, on the other hand, are more used in the so-called drag models, common in car towing situations.

Cable Belt
Material Steel Nylon
Weight High Medium
Use Hoisting Dragging/Towing

Purchase Criteria: How to choose the best winch

Now for another list, this time of purchase criteria, which are items - elements of the product and characteristics of its use - that should be noted before you consolidate your choice.

  • Cable
  • Cost-effective
  • Ratchet
  • Lifting capacity

Below, we will detail each of the items, so that you have as much information as possible at the time of your purchase.


A hand winch is only as good as its cable. After all, what good is a super mechanism if the cable (or strap) snaps during a lift? Therefore, note the dimensions (length and diameter), and the material of the cable of the model in question.

Ideally it should have a large diameter, and as long a length as possible, but of course a size that meets the needs of your operation is worthwhile. If the cable is not made of steel, it's not even worth it. Better yet if it is stainless steel.

Imagem mostra , em plano detalhe, o cabo de aço de um guincho antigo, com marcas de ferrugem.

A good cable looks like this: long, thick and resistant even to the effects of time. (Source: jackmac34 / Pixabay)


Remember that the hand winch is a multi-use tool, and you never know what will have to be hoisted or dragged.

The idea here is to go for the most cost-effective. And what better benefit from a hand winch but great weight supported? There are many models that exceed the two, three ton mark, and are quite affordable.

Ideally, though, the weight the model supports should meet your needs, even more so if it's priced well. Keep an eye on the value, sometimes you pay little difference between a model that supports 2 or 4 tons. Remember that the hand winch is a multi-purpose tool, and you never know what will have to be lifted or dragged.


The ratchet criterion is simple, even eliminatory. In simple terms, the ratchet is a support for the rope reel or webbing, the mechanism that ensures the rope will wind onto the reel smoothly.

So, give preference to models with ratchet, which will only improve its operation. If possible, look for models with double or triple ratchets.

Imagem mostra um guincho manual industrial.

The ratchet will support the best movement of the cable or the strap on the reel of your winch. (Source: Eugene Sergeev / 123rf)

Lifting capacity

We keep hitting the key that the hand winch is a multi-purpose tool, which can have more uses for you than you initially needed. So it's worth having the most complete model possible.

In this last criterion, this means a winch capable of lifting objects and that this lifting can support the greatest possible weight. There are models of up to 4 tons. Be aware of the capacity you need and always buy models that can handle a little extra weight.

(Source of the highlighted image: Eugene Sergeev / 123rf)