A winch hook is a device attached to the end of a cable that is used for securing that cable around a solid object. The hook and cable are parts of a winch, which is a device that allows the cable to be fed out or retracted as necessary to haul objects or move a vehicle. The design of the winch hook can vary according to the type of winch on which it is mounted and the general application of that device. Many hooks feature a retractable gate that prevents the cable from slipping off during use.
Mounting the winch hook to the cable is done by connecting the hook to a loop in the cable; a pin can be used to secure the hook in place. Other mounting methods exist as well, but just about all of them require some sort of loop in the cable to which the winch hook can be secured. Once in place, the hook will be able to haul a significant amount of weight; the winch system will often be limited by the strength of the cable as well as the motor that turns the drum, which in turns feeds or retracts the cable.
Other winch hook types can be used for various purposes. Some hooks are designed to allow other accessories to be used with the winch system; a swivel hook, for example, is hinged and allows another hook or fitting to be attached to the swivel. This adds versatility both in terms of securing the cable around an object and stowing the hook when the system is not in use. Sometimes a hook may feature a haul strap, which is used to wrap around objects that the hook cannot be used for securing.
Steel is the most common material used for making a winch hook because it is exceptionally strong and resistant to damage. Other materials can be used as well: plastic and aluminum can be used to make hooks that are used on very light duty winch systems, though they will usually not be appropriate for larger systems such as the ones found on off-road vehicles. The size of the hook will also sometimes dictate how useful and strong the item will be; larger, heavier hooks tend to be stronger and appropriate for heavier-duty applications, while small hooks are best for smaller systems. The hook will usually feature a weight capacity rating so the user knows exactly how much weight can be pulled with the hook.