Hawse Fairlead vs. Roller Fairlead : Which One to Choose and Why

Comparison Chart of Roller Fairlead vs Hawse Fairlead

Determiner    Roller FairleadsHawse Fairleads (Aluminum)Hawse Fairleads (Steel)
Weight10-13 lbs.2-3 lbs.4-5 lbs.
FinishesGalvanizedAnodized or PolishedPowder-coat
Type of Winch lineSynthetic or Steel CableSyntheticSynthetic or Steel Cable
Distance of Bolt mounting10 inch10 inch10 inch
Typical Stick-out3.5 inch0.75-1.5 inch1.25 inch
Typical Winch line typesSteel CableSyntheticSteel Cable

What is Winch Fairlead?

What is Winch Fairlead

A fairlead is a tool that is used to show the path to a rope, cable, or line around an object so that it can stop sidewise movement. Most of the devoted off-road drivers are well-aware of the essentiality of a winch as a safety measure to get on your car.

If you always prefer to drive through off-roads, then possessing a winch will ensure the recovery for yourself and others if they get stuck. Especially, when you are a lone wolf and love to explore the wild environments all alone, a winch can come in a very handy and useful tool.

But often the off-road drivers find themselves in need of a fairlead that is capable of helping their winch at the time of pulling angle to take away sidewise strain from their winch.

Only an average winch won’t be able to pull a large amount of weight because mostly the winch consumes all the energy of pulling. The reason behind this is scraping across the mounting bracket winch and vehicle bumper and to solve it, you have to install a winch fairlead.

Fairleads usually come with all the essential hardware and equipment for the installation process on a vast variety of winch cables. Installing a high-quality winch fairlead will make sure the functionality it was meant to provide.

Whenever you will try to pull an angle with the winch, a winch fairlead will reduce the lateral pressure on your winch. Winch fairleads will also show the path to the rope around the drum of the winch.

Finally, effective spooling will save your time as well as save your winch from getting damaged.

Types of Winch Fairlead

Types of Winch Fairlead

There are different kinds of winch fairlead available on the market. But two of the most popular and basic winch fairleads are Hawse Fairleads & Roller Fairleads. Here we are giving a discussion on them as follows:

About Hawse Fairlead

About Hawse Fairlead

You can use hawse fairlead for the synthetic ropes. It is made of aluminum and has rounded borders around the center hole. This type of fairleads are simple with no moving portions and they won’t usually break because of regular use.

A hawse fairlead isn’t made of a lot of parts like a roller fairlead. Rather they have only one part and it reduces the chances of breaking down as well.

A hawse fairlead has a narrower hole and it is modeled in a way to get a simple slide over the cable. A regular aluminum hawse fairlead weighs around 2 lbs. only and therefore it can reduce 40 lbs. of total weight if you switch to an aluminum hawse fairlead with a synthetic rope.

Hawse fairleads weigh lighter than roller fairleads always because of their fair small size and material. They also stick out differently and the amount is less than one inch of the steel roller fairleads. Therefore, they certainly will provide you a rather better angle for approaching.

Roller Fairlead

Roller Fairlead

Roller fairleads can save your cables from experiencing damage by the sharp edges. You need to use steel winch cables for them. To show the path from a different angle to the steel cable, roller fairleads use two horizontal and two vertical rollers that are mounted.

Nowadays, all available steel winch cables come with steel roller fairleads. It is very rare and tough to find out someone who can provide aluminum fairleads because they are not good enough for the four-wheelers.

Roller fairleads were considered as a standard for the quality of winches for a lot of years. You won’t be able to see a lot of failure in the roller fairleads because their pins are really hard to bend as well as they don’t start spinning at top speed.

But they are a bit heavier in terms of weight than a regular hawse fairlead. It weighs 11.5 lbs. and sticks out up to 4 inches from the surface of the fairlead mounting.

You will find four rollers in the roller fairleads where the first two will be vertically mounted and the other two will be horizontally mounted. It also permits the fairlead to give away the same type of cable guidelines at any practical angle.

Roller fairleads can still be worked for the synthetic lines. But if the roller fairleads were used earlier for the steel cable wires, then you must clean them first.

Steel cable wires even can scar your roller fairleads. It can also provide sharp edges and burrs which can do damage to a synthetic rope.

Steel Hawse Fairlead

Steel Hawse Fairlead

Steel is a hard metal and as you can see fairleads mostly come in two materials which are: steel and aluminum. A steel cable winch can easily chew up the aluminum fairlead because steel is more solid than aluminum.

Therefore, with steel cable winch you will require to get a steel fairlead so that it can be used.

What is an Aluminum Hawse Fairlead?

What is Aluminum Hawse Fairlead

Aluminum hawse fairleads can only be used with a synthetic winch line so that it eventually can result in getting a heavier weight of total winch.

As they stick out a bit less from the bumper of your vehicle, so they are most likely to provide you a rather apprehended angle for approaching.

Type 3 coatings of the anode on an aluminum hawse fairlead are the only coating that is bound to last forever. All the other types of coating such as galvanized, powder-coat, and polished edges will wear out and will oxidize or rust eventually.

Aluminum Fairlead

Aluminum is comparatively a soft metal and therefore it gets chewed by the steel fairleads because they are less hard than steel. Therefore, you can use aluminum fairleads only with synthetic rope winch.

What is the best fairlead for Synthetic Rope?

These are the best 7 fairlead for synthetic rope and here is a detailed insight on them as follows:

Ranger ATV Aluminum Hawse Fairlead

Ranger ATV Aluminum Hawse Fairlead 2000-3500 LBs ATV Winch

This is another outstanding product from the renowned Ultranger Equipment. All of their products will certainly ensure the satisfaction of the customers because they build and design their products with a quality that is far superior to others.

They even make sure of customer service during the using period for their customers which keeps them happy and satisfied.


  • Unmatchable quality and performance
  • Entirely CNC Machined
  • 6061 Series Aluminum
  • Four 7-8 inches bolt centers for 2000-3500 lbs. winches
  • Anodized Finish
  • Won’t tangle or fray the synthetic rope.


  • Unavailability.

Champion Roller Fairlead

Champion - 20009 Wire Rope Roller Fairlead for 3500-lb

Champion roller fairlead 20009 power equipment is specially designed for 3500 lbs. and less UTV or ATV winches. This roller fairlead is built in a way to be used with winch wire rope exclusively to prevent the wire damage and give maximum durability to the life of the rope. You should go for this model without a doubt because it also provides a 1-year warranty.


  • This one is quite a versatile model.
  • It is equipped with steel rollers (stainless) and it avoids tackles and binding of pulling angle comfortably.
  • Exclusive and unique design to use with synthetic winch rope.
  • Four 7-8 inches bolt pattern
  • With one year warranty, they are the most reliable fairlead on the market.


  • Too small.

ATV UTV Fairlead

ATV UTV RZR, Turbo, General, Ranger, Maverick, X3, Pioneer, Teyrx, Mule, Viking, Rhino, Wolverine 6061 Aluminum

You can use this hawse fairlead with a synthetic winch rope cable. They are made from the powerful CNC machine 6061 series Aluminum. They also come with 6 inches of the standard mount bolt pattern.

They will reduce both friction and binding that is caused by the angled pulls. They can prevent heat get transferred to the synthetic winch rope and this is how it protects the synthetic rope from the wear-out. They will never tangle or fray a synthetic winch rope.


  • Can be used for various purposes and operations
  • Incredibly versatile
  • Fully assembled so no installation worry
  • High-quality product with reliability
  • Heavy-duty roller fairlead


  • No lineup winch holes
  • Doesn’t include any hardware.

4. Ranger UTV Hawse Fairlead

Ranger UTV Side by Side Aluminum Hawse Fairlead for 4000-5500 LBs

The weight of this hawse fairlead is only 9.5 ounces because the company wants to build lightweight fairlead with high-quality winches for their customers so they can stand tall in the industry.

They are made from the CNC machined 6061 series billet aluminum and therefore you won’t have to worry about fraying or tangling the rope.

The installation process is easy and simple and with just two pieces of bolts, you will be able to put this hawse fairlead together. It comes with 6 inches of bolt patterns and is compatible with 4000-5500 lbs. UTV winch ropes.


  • Stylish outlook makes it look great
  • With anodized finish
  • Easy and simple installation process
  • Top-notch quality product
  • Durable and reliable


  • Comes with no fasteners.

5. Ranger UTV Roller Fairlead

Ranger UTV Side by Side Winch Roller Fairlead 6

This model is made from the CNC machined steel frame and therefore won’t tangle or fray the winch cable or rope in any situation. It comes with 6 inches of bolt patterns which is suitable for the 4000-5500 lbs.

UTV winches. Their quality is unparalleled and unmatchable. They provide zinc coat rollers with a powder coat finish.


  • Extremely well-built and designed
  • Easy installation procedures
  • Comes with corrosion resistance
  • Super strength in pulling hefty items
  • Useful and durable


  • Unavailability.

Rough Country Hawse Fairlead

Rough Country Winch License Plate Bracket Kit

It permits the full use of a winch even without removing the license plate. It keeps the front part of the license plate always visible when you are using a winch.

It can bolt straight through your fairlead and winch plate. Three years of warranty makes it durable and reliable to their customers. Their built quality and designs always satisfy the customers.


  • Comes with a three-year warranty
  • Easy and simple Bolt-On installation process backed by RC
  • Incredible performance
  • Outstanding finish with a precise fit
  • Decent and well-suited for the job


  • Unavailability.

7. ZESUPER Roller Fairlead

ZESUPER Flip-Up Winch Roller Fairlead Stainless Steel

They provide a fill-up mounted license plate container for roller fairlead that is only fitted for the 8- 3 or 4 inches mounting hole. It also protects your roller fairlead from the debris of the road. You can do winching on it just by flipping the back bracket up and down.

The main material of this fairlead is steel but it comes with all the necessary accessories like a license plate container, fill-up roller, and other essential installation accessories. Therefore, your installation process won’t be hard at all.


  • Comes with proper safety measure
  • Easy and simple to use
  • One-year warranty with customer service
  • Comes with proper accessories
  • Well-fitted for the given job


  • Rarely starts fading after several uses.

Why can’t you use a Roller Fairlead with Synthetic Rope?

The steel rollers located on a regular roller fairlead are not well-matched with the synthetic rope because they are certain to cause abrasion as well as chafing. Therefore, most rope manufacturers highly recommend using aluminum fairleads with synthetic rope.

Heavy-duty winch roller fairlead

Here are some of the heavy-duty roller fairlead products as follows:

  • Yaeko Roller Fairlead
  • Ranger ATV Roller Winch Fairlead
  • Champion Roller Fairlead
  • ATV Roller Fairlead

Hawse fairlead for Synthetic Rope

There are two types of hawse fairleads: steel and aluminum. But only one of them is good enough for synthetic winch rope. Aluminum hawse fairleads are the one that is compatible to synthetic rope.

Best Hawse Fairlead

Here are some of the best hawse fairleads as follows:

  1. X-BULL Universal Hawse Fairlead with 10 inches of synthetic winch
  2. Ranger UTV Lateral Hawse Fairlead
  3. WARN Hawse Fairlead (73850)
  4. ORCHISH Universal Hawse Fairlead with 10 inches of Aluminum winch
  5. ZESUPER Hawse Fairlead (10 inches aluminum)

Winch Fairlead Roller Replacement Steps

These are the replacement steps of the Winch fairlead roller as follows:

  1. Take all the necessary safety precautions at first.
  2. Get familiar with winch basics and the way winch works.
  3. Use all the winch accessories to enhance the winch properly.
  4. Check out if the winch is okay before pulling.
  5. If everything is fine, then start pulling.
  6. Finish it with the rigging techniques.

To get a practical view and understanding, watch this video out:

Warn Hawse Fairlead

WARN Hawse Fairlead (73850) and WARN Hawse Fairlead (97900) are two of the best standard warn hawse fairlead available on the market these days. Apart from these two, there are two matte warn hawse fairleads one with the standard drum (87914) and one with a shorter drum (73852).

Factor 55 Fairlead

Factor 55 fairlead products are built using in-house software 3D CAD and are optimized by using the Cosmos Finite Element Analysis. They always try to provide the best quality and best-valued products for their customers.

Their products are made of the best materials as well like 6000 and 7000 aluminum series as well as 6AL-4V double titanium shear pins.

People Also Asked

Can you use a roller fairlead with synthetic winch rope?

No, you can’t use a roller fairlead with synthetic winch rope because they are not compatible with each other as they can be the reason for abrasion and chafing. However, you will be only able to use that by converting the winch which can be very costly as well as ineffective if not properly done.

What does a Hawse fairlead do?

A hawse fairlead is a tool that can be used for guiding a rope, line, or cable around any object to stop this from sidewise movement. It also helps your winch to function properly and can reduce the sidewise strain as well.

Why is a Hawse fairlead needed for synthetic rope?

The abrade on an aluminum or steel hawse fairlead permits the synthetic rope or steel winch to slide over it perfectly. The bigger the abrade and the deeper the hawse, then the easier they are on the rope. Therefore, a hawse fairlead is needed for synthetic rope.

Can you use a winch without fairlead?

No, you can’t use a winch without fairlead because you will require it to run the cable winch on the bumper. The job of a roller fairlead is to make a smooth glide for the rope back to the cable winch and prevent chaffing the rope.

What is the best synthetic winch rope?

The answer to this question will depend on your preference. If you want to have a heavy-duty winch rope, then HOOAI is your perfect option. But if you are searching for a less costly option but of top-quality, then you should go for the Ucreative Synthetic winch rope.

Is synthetic winch rope worth it?

Synthetic winch rope is an incredible product for many vehicles because of the recovery situations. If your winch is regularly and is also worried about weight, then the synthetic rope can be an ideal option as it is easy to handle as well as lightweight. However, it doesn’t produce burrs like the steel winch rope as well as doesn’t save potential energy when it is loaded.

Is synthetic winch rope better?

Synthetic winch rope is made from hi-tech polyethylene, therefore they are a considerably safer choice than steel cables. Now they are mandatory in most of the major off-road programs.

They are also significantly lighter than the steel winch and as they don’t store energy like a steel winch, so they won’t become a projectile when it breaks.

Can I put a synthetic rope on any winch?

Yes, you can put conventional synthetic ropes on any winch and they will work pretty fine when you will use them in the forward direction of winching. No heat will be generated in that direction from the brake.


When you will go to buy a winch, you must keep fairlead in your mind because there are various types of fairleads available on the market. In this article, we have provided information about the best hawse fairleads vs. roller fairleads.

We even showed you the differences between them in the beginning to get a proper idea about them. So, you can pick the right one easily according to your preference and requirements.

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