You may find yourself in a situation where you need to use your winch, and may have someone spotting for you as you get yourself through it.

This Winching Hand Signals Guide come directly from the Warn Winch ‘Basic Guide To Winching Techniques‘.

Warn’s Winching Hand Signals

In some situations, recovery could involve two people. One driving and controlling the winch, while the other provides navigation instructions and ensures the wire rope is winding properly. You and your helper must established clear and precise hand signals and review so everyone clearly understands. It should also be understood that if the driver controlling the winch cannot see both hands of the assistant, the winch should not be activated. Suggested signals

1) Direction of Steering: Hold your arms out with thumbs up and tilt your hands in the direction you advise the driver to steer.

2) Power in The Cable: Hold your forefinger in the air above your shoulder height and draw small circles in the air to indicate to wind the winch.

3) Power Out The Cable: Hold your forefinger pointing down and draw circles in the air at about waist height to indicate feeding more wire from the winch.

4) Pulse Wind (Bump) The Cable: Tells the driver to wind the winch in short, quick bursts. Open and close the two fingertips until you want the winch to stop.


5) Stop The Winch: Clinch fist, palm to driver, held high enough for driver to see and other arm straight out at shoulder height is the sign to stop the winch.

6) Braking: Cross your palms together to tell the driver to apply the foot brake.

7) Drive Assist: Tells driver to give the tires more drive force to assist the winching process.

4Wheel & Off-Road’s Winching Hand Signals

in February 2014, 4Wheel & Off-Road Magazine published an article titled ‘See Spot Run – Trail Communication’. In that article they demonstrated some winching hand signals that are different than those shown in the Warn guide. All that matters when it comes to hand signals is that the driver and spotter have a mutual understanding of the signals and their meanings.

Winch In: Closed fists with thumbs pointed in indicate to the driver to power the winch in. Warn has includes its own hand signals in the instruction manual with every winch. While they differ from what we recommend here, the important thing is for the driver and spotter to agree on the commands ahead of time.

Winch Out: Closed fists with thumbs pointed out indicate to power the winch out. Note that the signals are even obvious with gloves on and different enough that they will not get confused.

Bump The Winch: Pinching the fingers together lets the driver know to just bump the winch controls in, as opposed to constant winching. In addition to the vehicle, the spotter must be conscious of the cable position and ensure that it is not run over.

Stop: Just as with driving, one or two closed fists means to stop powering the winch and stop the vehicle as well. Some winches (spur gear winches in particular) take a few feet before they stop spooling, and the spotter should keep this in mind.


Basic Guide To Winching Techniques

See Spot Run – Trail Communication



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