Home 4X4 Roller fairleads are good for synthetic rope, so maybe reconsider your use of a hawse!
Roller fairleads are good for synthetic rope, so maybe reconsider your use of a hawse!

Roller fairleads are good for synthetic rope, so maybe reconsider your use of a hawse!


Everyone runs a hawse for synthetic rope, right? Because “the rope gets stuck in the corners” and “you don’t need roller fairleads with synth rope”.

Both of those statements are wrong. In the video below I winch with synth rope in the corner of a roller, and it works. The rollers also…roll.

Ever seen a synth rope after it’s been run through a hawse at an angle? Tell me that abrasion is good for it? You can see the difference in the video.

Quite a few experts agree with me on rollers/synth rope, for example Chris Cole, president of the I4WDTA, commented on the video saying:

Hello Robert, thanks for a great video! I agree with you on the use of rollers with synthetic rope for the reasons you described. A couple of points that I’d like to add if I may: 1) Steel cable under load will unwind (much like a spring being pulled) and thus elongate. This is because of its construction being left hand lay and / or right hand lay. So when steel cable breaks it rapidly resumes its manufactured lay and this is what causes the rotational lateral whipping you describe. Synthetic rope is usually and 12 strand neutral braid and when it breaks, it recoils in the linear load direction and does not whip laterally like steel cable does, making it far safer. 2) The stowing load for steel cable is recommended at 10% of its rated capacity – very difficult to do by hand. Synthetic rope requires far less (about 100 – 150 lbs. is sufficient) and is doable by hand.

Chris Cole

They say never read the comments, but the people that follow me tend to be pretty smart, articulate and I often learn from the comments as I did above. What Chris explains is *why* something happens, which is really important for safety; if you understand how/why a thing happens, you’re able to mitigate risk, change tactics and so on much better than simply reacting and not knowing. Also, it’s fun nerdy stuff right? So I do try and read all my comments!

Always, always challenge the status quo. Any time you’ve told do X or Y or Z, as “why”. A true expert will be able to explain why, as Chris did above, and I try to as well. Sometime who is merely repeating what they’ve heard will say things like “my understanding is” and “that’s the way it is” or “I don’t know but”. That doesn’t mean to say their advice is wrong, but it does mean they can’t be sure they’re right.

So what are your alternatives? There’s a hawse, classic steel roller fairleads, and a couple of others like the Hawse Pro and Winchmax. But remember, even with rollers, take care of your rope and replace as and when needed. One good thing about synth rope is that you can cut out damage and resplice, or just re-purpose a damaged rope into smaller ropes used as bridles or similar. Rollers are good, but don’t remove the need for equipment care!

Robert Pepper Automotive journalist specialising in 4X4s, sportscars, camping and future tech.


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