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Cabela's Trail Tamer ATV Winch - A Field Test Review at Cabela's

Cabela's Trail Tamer ATV Winch - A Field Test Review

Author: Frank Ross

Someone once said "The ship that never runs aground never leaves port," and the same thing holds true for ATVs. If you've never had your ATV stuck, it has probably never been off of the beaten path. What's the point of having an All Terrain Vehicle, if you only drive it on terra firma?

When you've got an ATV buried deep, a Trail Tamer wench is your best friend.
For many terra "softa" is where the fun hides. If you have a penchant for playing hide and seek with fun that's hidden in locations covered in slime, sooner or later you'll find a spot that exceeds the ability to maintain traction. When that happens you need a better option than walking to camp for help.

On a recent field test outing, our group was doing an evaluation of a number of different products. One of our group seems to have a natural bent for finding those secret spots and the ATV we had just unloaded hadn't reached normal operating temperature before he was hopelessly mired in a pond. He narrowly avoided taking a ride over the handlebars. The stop was so quick that Mark's Goober grin changed to a grimace instantly as our group stared in amazement. "Dude," I called out, "you're a natural. Now what?"

Undaunted, our erstwhile explorer raised an arm to signal he was not injured, dismounted his sunken steed and started sloshing to high ground pulling the cable to the Cabela's Trail Tamer™ winch, mounted on the front bumper. In a matter of minutes he had attached the cable to a tree using a pulley block and was back in the driver's seat winching the Polaris toward dry ground.

After securing the cable and stowing the pulley and strap, he looked at us with the sincerity of a sane man and said, "I think I can make it through if I just don't let up on the throttle. I hesitated just a split second, and that's when I lost it. I'll be right back." With that, he tightened his chinstrap, revved up the motor and was lost in a spray of water mixed with mud and churned up plant matter. This time he made it across the pond, but it was very obvious that Mark was going to become intimately familiar with the Trail Tamer before the day was done.

Mark cuts loose for another run.
If you can identify with mudders like Mark, you too should become familiar with Cabela's Trail Tamer™ winches. They operate from an ATVs 12-volt system and are powered in both directions for ease of operation in a variety of situations. A free-spooling clutch makes it easy to run out cable, and models with a roller fairlead make the rewind a breeze. A remote rocker switch operates the winch and most people prefer to mount it on the left side of the handlebars where it's convenient to use while steering your way clear of a bad spot. It only takes a slight alteration of course, back and forth, to lay the steel cable back neatly for the next time it's needed.

The Trail Tamer is available in four different sizes, so you don't have to kill a fly with a sledgehammer. As one might surmise, the model number is directly related to the winch's pulling capacity. The 1800 generates 1,800 pounds of single-line pulling power, and so it goes with the 2000, 2300 and 3000 models. While the 1800 uses a dynamic braking action, the 2000, 2300 and 3000 use both a dynamic and friction action braking.

Dynamic braking uses an internal electric circuit to slow down a rotating DC motor and its load and releases this energy in the form of heat through a voltage regulated switching transistor and resistor. Friction action breaking utilizes a device similar to a car's brakes to slow and ultimately stop an electric motor. The advantage of having both is the security of redundancy.

Placing a coat over the cable will reduce the dangerous whip of a parted cable.
Speaking of safety, it's a good idea to drape a coat or other heavy garment or bag over the cable when you're pulling. This will help to dampen the whip effect, should a worn cable come apart. It's also a good idea for onlookers to stand clear of the cable until all pulling has ended and the cable is slack.

Included are a cable tensioner, battery cables with terminals, circuit breaker, handsaver bar and free load-doubling 8,000-pound capacity pulley block.

One thing to keep in mind, with a pulley block, you can double the pulling capacity. I wouldn't recommend buying a unit based on this extended capacity, because it's not always possible to find a suitable anchor close enough to use one. However, it may be a lifesaver when you get your truck stuck and need to pull it out with your ATV. Don't laugh, Mark's done it.

When your ship leaves port, be prepared for anything with a Cabela's Trail Tamer™ winch and dramatically reduce the chances that your trip back home won't be on foot.