About four months after we picked up our used Land Cruiser to build a budget project overlander out of, we really began to heap on the upgrades.
Already done up to this point were the wheels, tires and suspension. Now we looked to fortify the nose of the OVR LC100 with a bull bar style front bumper and a winch. We’ll get more into the bull bar in a separate article, right now we’ll focus on the winch.
Used for all manners of vehicle recovery, the winch can be a very useful tool when used correctly and under the right circumstances. If used incorrectly, it can be very dangerous. This is why it’s important to learn how to use a winch properly and to be careful when using one. This is also why its important to choose a quality unit that can stand up the rigors of winch use.
A 75 Year Legacy
As with most vehicle upgrades, we were looking at a plethora of great choices when it came to winches. A name that is synonymous with winches and winching in every sector, commercial as well as industrial, is WARN. Celebrating its 75th year in 2023, the company has been in the winch business for longer than most of us have been alive. When considering a winch for the OVR LC100, it’s one of the brands that was at the top of our list to look at.
After researching several models of winches from various brands, we ultimately chose WARN’s VR EVO 10-S winch. The reasons why we went with this winch include our past experience using WARN winches, which is nothing short of positive, the quality of the VR EVO’s materials, design and build, its pulling power, safety features and reasonable price point.
We also decided to install the WARN VR EVO 10-S winch onto our Land Cruiser for a few other reasons including the fact that it offers the ideal weight capacity and line speed for vehicles like 1/2-ton pickups, Jeeps, and larger SUVs like the Land Cruiser. This means it can handle a variety of off-road situations and provide reliable assistance when needed.
One standout feature that drew us to this winch is its IP68-rated waterproof construction. Off-roading often involves unpredictable weather conditions and splashing through mud and water. Knowing that the winch is built to withstand these elements is a huge plus. It gives us peace of mind that we can rely on it, even in the harshest conditions.
The inclusion of the Albright contactor inside a relocatable control pack is another practical feature. It not only enhances the winch’s reliability but also allows for flexible installation options, which we needed with our choice of an Ironman 4x4 bumper. This is particularly valuable as it means we could have it installed in a low-profile manner, preserving the OVR LC100’s aesthetics while ensuring it remains functional.
The fast line-speed and lower amp draw of the VR EVO 10-S are also significant advantages. When you’re stuck in a tough spot, having a winch that can quickly and efficiently pull you out is crucial. The lower amp draw helps conserve the vehicle’s electrical system, preventing potential strain or battery drain. Moreover, the durable, one-piece cast-aluminum tie-plate adds extra strength and longevity to the winch, ensuring it can handle the rigors of off-road adventures. And with the included corded remote featuring an 11.5-foot lead, we have the convenience of operating the winch from a safe distance, allowing us to make precise adjustments as needed.
The S model VR EVOs include a synthetic rope, which we specifically wanted. Our previous winch had a steel line which was heavy, less flexible and could be more dangerous if it failed. The 90-foot length synthetic rope that comes with the VR EVO 10-S has a 3/8-inch diameter and is finished in a grey color. It also comes with a Hawse fairlead that has rounded edges that help protect the synthetic rope from damage. On the end of the rope, you’ll find WARN’s iconic forged hook, which has been relied upon for recoveries for decades.
Lastly, the WARN VR EVO 10-S comes with a limited lifetime warranty for mechanical parts and a 7-year warranty for the electrical components. This kind of warranty gives us confidence in the product’s quality and durability. It shows that WARN stands behind their product and is willing to support customers in the long term.
We had the VR EVO installed by the experts at RPM Off-Road Garage. The RPM crew are avid off-roaders themselves so they know the right way to do things, which is especially important when it comes to installation and maintenance of off-road vehicle accessories. The winch was installed into the Ironman 4x4 bumper and the battery cables were hooked to the Land Cruiser’s primary battery without issue.
Due to the design of the Ironman 4x4 bumper, the control pack had to be relocated to the top of the bumper. This was made easy thanks to the design of the VR EVO. With the box on top of the bumper it is easy to plug in the wired controller and to be honest, we like seeing that red W on the front of the truck too.
After the winch was installed, they also pulled the line out all the way to respool and stretch it. Tensioning the line keeps it taut and avoids it from bunching up on itself, which could lead to rope failure. This is an important step that shouldn’t be skipped after a new winch install or respooling the line after a recovery.
Controlling The Winch
As mentioned, the VR EVO comes with a wired controller. The cable is 11.5-foot long and gives you plenty of distance for safe winch usage and is plugged into the right side of the control pack. The controller’s light glows red when it is plugged in indicating that it’s ready to go. The winch is controlled via two non-slip rubberized buttons with directional arrows on them. The motor control is smooth and immediate, allowing for precise movements. The winch can be disengaged for manual spooling with the pull of a lever.
VR EVO versus ZEON
If you’re shopping for a WARN winch, you’ll undoubtedly run into the conundrum of VR EVO versus ZEON. Both are winches made by WARN, but what’s the difference? There are many differences that can be looked up here, but the basic things to know are that the VR EVO is a standard duty winch while the ZEON is a premium series winch. The VR EVO is endowed with WARN’s engineering but is made overseas while ZEON contains the very best WARN has to offer and is made in the USA.
Being that we’re trying to keep the OVR LC100 a “budget build,” the main consideration for us to choose the VR EVO over the ZEON was that it comes at a price point that doesn’t break the bank, which is a significant factor for most everyone when considering various winch options.
Although we haven’t had to recover any vehicles with it yet, we’re confident that it will do what’s asked of it when the time comes. The WARN VR EVO 10-S winch provides the performance and reliability we need for off-road adventures in the OVR LC100 without exceeding our budget, and the peace of mind it offers us in challenging situations is priceless.
WARN EVO 10-S
Street Price: $814