Learn How to Double Your Winch’s Pulling Power with a Double Line Setup

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Published By: Aaron Redstone
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Total: 5 min read time

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Yes, you can perform a double line pull with a winch. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Attach the winch to the first line and pull it in.
  2. Attach the winch to the second line and pull it in.

Remember to always follow safety guidelines when operating a winch to prevent accidents and ensure a successful double line pull.

In this article, I’ll walk through step-by-step how to set up a double-line rig with your winch for heavy-duty pulling. I’ll also cover some key safety tips, equipment basics, and tricks I’ve learned over the years while wheeling in rocky terrain.

Even if you never plan on doing self-recovery, understanding double line techniques can get your friends unstuck while out on the trail. Let’s get started!

Required Equipment

  1. Winch: Your primary tool. Ensure it’s suitable for the load you intend to pull.
  2. Tow Straps/Ropes: These are essential for connecting your load to the winch.
  3. Pulleys: Pulleys are used to create the double line setup.
  4. Gloves: Safety first! Gloves protect your hands from rope burns and injuries.
  5. Anchor Points for the Winch: These must be sturdy and reliable, as they will bear the brunt of the pulling force.

Step-by-Step Process for Double Pulling Power of a Winch

how to double pulling power of a winch

Step 1: Establish Your Winching Anchor Points

Setting up appropriate anchor points on both the winching vehicle and the vehicle being recovered is crucial before rigging a double line system.

You need solid vehicle connection points that can withstand the forces generated during a heavy winch pull.

On the winching vehicle, options like the hitch receiver, dedicated tow hooks/D-rings, or built-in recovery eyes on the chassis and bumpers are good choices.

Anything attached to the actual frame, skid plates, or winch mount of a truck, Jeep, or SUV tends to work well. Stay away from using brush guards, light bars, or non-load-rated accessories though.

For the vehicle being winched, aim for sturdy steel bumpers, frame tie-ins, suspension mounts, or axle components.

Factory tow hooks are ideal. Shackles attached to beefy metal skids also hold up. Just keep the angles straight in line with the pull direction as much as possible.

The key is distributing the massive resultant forces across robust mounting points with redundant welds, thick steel, and backup plates/brackets.

This prevents ripping out sections of the body or cracking fragile parts. Taking time to set up proper anchor points ensures both trucks can handle the 2:1 load multiplication safely.

Step 2: Rig Your Pulleys and Run Winch Cable Through

The goal of this step is to set up pulleys on the winching vehicle and thread the winch cable through them to create the “double line” system.

This rigging splits the load on the cable, allowing your winch to pull with twice its normal capacity.

You’ll want to use heavy-duty snatch blocks rated for at least twice your winch’s pound rating.

Attach the snatch block securely to a load-bearing anchor point on the front of the winching vehicle like a tow hook, hitch receiver, or recovery eyelet on the frame.

These structural connection points on the chassis can handle the high loads.

For maximum cable reach, you can use a wireless remote switch, a hawse fairlead, or rope guide ramps. But be cautious of length – always maintain 5-6 full wraps of cable on the winch drum even when extended, to avoid pull-off.

Take care when handling the cable to avoid getting hands or loose clothing caught in roller fairleads too.

Ultimately, the cable gets threaded through the snatch block pulley system first, before connecting to the vehicle being winched.

This sets up the 2:1 mechanical advantage necessary for doubling the winch capacity through that rigging.

Step 3: Connect Tow Straps to Vehicle Being Recovered

With your snatch block pulley secured to the winching vehicle and the winch cable threaded through, now you need to connect to the target vehicle being recovered.

For that vital attachment, heavy-duty tow straps made of dense nylon webbing or polyester worked best in my experience.

Avoid elastic “bungee” style straps as they can snap back dangerously. Ensure the tow strap rating exceeds your winch capacity by at least 2x.

Attach one tow strap end securely to a designated anchor point on the front of the vehicle being winched.

This may require doubling up straps or extensions using shackles to reach a sturdy chassis or suspension member.

You want frame rails, steel bumpers, recovery eyes – solid tie-ins only.

Connect the other end of the long tow strap to the threaded winch cable emerging from the snatch block. Double check any hook latches, snap closures, shackles, chain, or loops holding the system together. Get rid of any weak links beforehand!

Take your time ensuring integrity all around. With the tow strap affixed to the disabled vehicle and linked to the winch cable, you are ready to gently take up slack and then start power winching.

Step 4: Engage Winch, Spotter Guides Pull

With your double line rigging set up, anchor points established, and tow straps connected between the winching vehicle and target vehicle, it’s time to start the winch recovery.

Have a spotter assist you during the pull to provide an extra set of eyes.

Make sure to chock tires on both vehicles, set parking brakes, and put the transmission in park.

The winching vehicle needs to withstand the pull without rolling free.

Give about 5-10 feet of slack in the tow strap connection to the vehicle being winched. This allows for some spool-up on the drum before the load sets.

Then slowly engage your winch in low gear, gradually taking up the slack while the spotter oversees. Take care not to shock load the system.

Once the tow strap connection tightens and tension builds, the spotter guides the pull by watching for evenly layered cable spooled onto the drum.

Focus on smooth power application and steady cranking. Shock forces risk damaging components and breaking straps.

Avoid quick bursts or temporary lock-ups waiting for movement. The winching vehicle should apply constant tension while the other vehicle starts minimal rolling movement. Stop and re-evaluate if frame or hardware damage occur.

Step 5: Monitor Vehicle and Winch Progress

As the winching vehicle maintains steady power and tension builds on the double line system, a few things need close monitoring:

Cable Spooling – The winch cable must wind evenly in consistent layers onto the drum. Bunching up risks binding and damage. Have the spotter watch spooling. Stop periodically to re-layer if needed.

Vehicle Movement – The winching vehicle needs to avoid rolling while winching. Chock tires, engage the parking brake, and weigh down if needed. The target vehicle should begin slowly yielding once loading ramps up. Too much resistance strains components.

Anchor Point Integrity – Carefully inspect chassis tie-in points, frame members, tow hooks, and suspension components during the heavy pull. Bending, cracks, popping noises all mean stop and reevaluate! Max loading requires robust, redundant mounting points.

Recovery Gear – Check tow strap webbing, shackle openings, pulley bracket welds – anything under load during the process. Heat/tension fatigue leads to catastrophic failures without warning. Always stop the operation if damage appears on rigging gear.

The key is controlled, steady progression while thoroughly monitoring for signs of excess loading, shock peaks, debris on the cable, or hardware distortion at anchor points.

Step 6: Recover Vehicle and Reverse Rigging

As the winching vehicle continues applying steady tension, the mired vehicle should slowly approach easier ground. Once the operator determines the vehicle is no longer stuck, it’s crucial the rigging team carefully reverses the set-up process.

First, communicate to the winch operator to slowly, carefully let cable back out under control to substantially reduce the load.

No free-spooling! This lets riggers safely disconnect straps and components between the two trucks without deadly tension or unpredictable whiplash.

With tow straps detached and load secured, slowly spool out the winch cable entirely while a spotter loosely guides it into the drum.

Keep hands clear of the roller fairlead openings and watch for loose clothing/items getting sucked in! NEVER disengage the winch clutch while under residual tension.

Finally, neatly rewind and layer the cable safely by hand after disconnecting the snatch block. Remove and inspect all rigging gear for damage or defects needing replacement.

Get anchor point weld joints, frame sections, and vehicle suspensions looked over by an expert before the next off-road adventure!

Tips and Tricks

Using a Snatch Block

Snatch Block

Snatch blocks make it easy to change winch cable direction and gain added reach. Their pulley-wheel housing self-aligns under load, limiting side pressure on the fairlead.

For double line pulls, a snatch block securely anchored to the winching vehicle simplifies the rigging process without extra components.

Improving Cable Spooling

After the first few winching cycles, stop and lay the winch cable over itself in figure-8 stacks on the drum. This helps apply even pressure across the spooling surface area. Take care to keep your hands clear of the drum and PTO shaft! Also apply “spooling straps” to add grip.


Winch Damper

Inline shock absorbers made specifically for winch cables take the bite out of each high-tension layer as it spools tightly onto the drum. This protects the cable and drum from damage during peak loading. Always opt for dampeners on double line winch rigging setups pulling near capacity.

Common Questions

What size/type of pulleys should be used?

For most winches in the 12,000-lb and under class, I suggest using 4″+ structural snatch blocks rated for 30,000+ lb dynamic loads. This matches high capacity tow straps without exceeding the winch or vehicle framing limitations. Larger winches used in industrial rigging may need appropriately bigger tackle.

How much can my winch truly pull safely?

Despite a winch’s peak rating on the spec sheet, there are many limiting factors in play out on the trail. Actual safe working capacity depends on cable condition, battery output, drum winding technique, ambient temperatures, inclines, and rigging pulley efficiency. Max winch ratings are almost always misleading. I consider 3,000-5,000 lb working loads much more realistic for casual overlanding or day trips.

What attachments ensure the tow straps don’t come loose?

Tow strap hooks can unexpectedly bounce loose when cycles of tension are introduced during winching. To keep hook-ups secure, I recommend threading the strap back through its own looped end after connecting to an anchor point. This creates a simple fail-safe to avoid dangerous runaways!


In summary, a double line pull allows winches to develop almost twice their rated line tension by using pulleys to split the load.

With two points sharing the load, cables and winch components stay within a safe working range. When set up properly and winched under control, it’s an indispensable technique for the off-road toolbox!

Closing Thoughts

While this article covers the basics, there are many specialty winching and rigging techniques to further explore.

For deep muddy recoveries, try incorporating a snatch block handle wedged tightly in the ground for a makeshift anchor point.

Adding kinetic ropes in the system introduces helpful elasticity for shock absorption too.

And for extreme pulls, combining double line principles with a mechanical advantage pulley system takes capabilities to the next level!

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. But all my reviews and guides are genuine and come from my experience.

Aaron Redstone 

Hi, I'm Aaron, the founder of Off-Road Pull. My love for off-roading began in my teenage years while exploring the diverse landscapes of Arizona.

With more than 16 years of experience in off-roading and winching, I bring a blend of practical know-how and a background in mechanical engineering to provide you with detailed and trustworthy advice.

My passion is to share this knowledge with both newcomers to adventure and experienced off-roaders. When I'm not tackling rugged terrain or crafting in-depth articles, you'll find me capturing the scenic beauty of the outdoors through my lens.

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