Hawse Vs Roller Fairlead: The Best to Buy

A fairlead is the equipment used to define the route for a rope, cable, or line to be wrapped around an object in order to prevent sideways movement. However, off-road drivers frequently discover they require a fairlead that can assist their winch at the time of pulling angle to reduce lateral pressure on their winch.

On the market, there are many types of winch fairlead available. Among them, Hawse & Roller Fairleads are two of the most widely used and fundamental winch fairleads. Here, we will discuss them in the following states. 

Why Do You Need A Fairlead

A fairlead is a must-have piece of equipment if you have a winch for off-road recovery tools, whatever may be the winch or bumpers. 

Winching is an excellent technique for recovering stuck vehicles, but it can also be extremely dangerous if carried out improperly or with the wrong tools. So, it is necessary to practice safe winching techniques with the right tools because when it comes to off-road recoveries you can not afford to slip up. 

Most of the winch can’t pull a large amount of weight because mostly consumes all the energy of pulling which causes scraping across the mounting bracket winch and vehicle bumper. To solve such a problem you have to install a winch fairlead.

Besides these, whenever you will start pulling up your vehicle at an angle with the winch, winch fairleads will reduce the lateral pressure on your winch and also show the path to the winch rope around the drum of the winch.

Thus fairleads are very effective to save time and save winch from getting damaged.

Hawse Vs Roller Fairlead

Differences between Hawse Fairleads and Roller Fairleads at a glance 

FeaturesSteel Hawse FairleadAluminum Hawse FairleadsRoller Fairless
Weight4-5 lbs2-3 lbs10-13 lbs
Bolt Mounting Distance10 inch 10 inch10 inch
Typical Stickout1.25 inch0.75-1.5 inch3.5 inch
Winch LineSteel Cable/Synthetic CableSynthetic CableSteel Cable/ Synthetic Cable
Typical Winch LineSteel CableSynthetic CableSteel Cable
FinishesPowder CoatedAnodized or PolishedGalvanized

Hawse Fairleads

Hawse fairleads have a round edge in the center and a narrow opening is aluminum made lightweight fairleads especially used for synthetic winch rope which creates narrow friction and contains no part that could move which reduces the risk of breaking. 

Pros of Hawse Fairleads

  • Single piece metal build
  • Less possibility to break
  • Incredibly Lightweight
  • Narrow opening offer better cabling
  • Less stick out than roller fairleads

Cons of Hawse Fairleads

  • Aluminum is less durable than steel 
  • Narrow opening sometimes creates friction

Roller Fairleads

A roller fairlead is formed from a combination of four rollers. Two of them are placed horizontally and the other two are placed vertically.

This positioning of the rollers helps in maintaining a balance for cable steering which protects the cable from being harmed by sharp edges.

The majority of steel cable-equipped winches use roller fairleads.

Pros of Roller Fairleads

  • Made of several parts which allow them to move frequently
  • Support heavy steel-made cable
  • Create less friction and almost no failure
  • Roller fairleads are highly durable and very sturdy build

Cons of Roller Fairleads

  • Heavier than hawse fairleads
  • Increase winch weight

What Type Of Fairlead Do You Need For Synthetic Rope

For synthetic cable, hawse fairleads made of aluminum are the most popular choice. Roller fairleads are an alternative as well, but they must be smooth and free of any sharp edges.

Steel is hard and aluminum is soft. Roller fairleads contain burrs and sharp edges which may damage synthetic rope. Roller fairleads have the risk of the rope getting pinched in the corners of the rollers and becoming damaged. 

And also in order to reduce abrasion on a synthetic rope you need to have fairleads which are more geared towards use with a synthetic rope.

Which Type Of Fairlead Is The Best

You’ll probably notice that fairleads are made of either steel or aluminum right away.

You should keep in mind that while aluminum is soft, steel is hard. You must utilize a steel fairlead while using a steel winch cable. But you should use aluminum-made fairleads to use with a synthetic winch cable.

A steel winch cable will chew up a typical aluminum fairlead because steel is tougher than aluminum. Accordingly, you will either use a steel roller fairlead or a steel hawse fairlead with steel cable.

With a steel fairlead, synthetic winch rope is still an option but recommended to use hawse fairleads.

So, both hawse and roller fairleads are best depending upon your winch rope. If it is synthetic cable then aluminum build fairleads is the best but if it is steel winch rope then roller fairleads is the best.

Warn Premium Black Aluminum Hawse Fairlead – 100333

This is a Warn premium line fairlead that is aluminum built, type III Anodized Black and will hold up to gritty synthetic lines grinding. This fairlead is very suitable for synthetic winch rope.

Warn OEM Roller Fairlead

This is the standard OEM roller fairlead from Warn which you should get if you buy a new Winch. Because they are sturdy, heavy and stick out. 


What is a bumper fairlead?

The fairlead attached to the bumper of the vehicle known as bumper fairlead can be mounted on both the front and back of a car. 

Can I use steel cable with a Hawse fairlead?

You can use steel cable with a hawse fairlead but it is recommended to use Roller fairlead for steel cable and hawse for synthetic cable. Because hawse fairleads are mainly built in aluminum so they are very soft and prone to crack if they get heavy loads. 

Why don’t you use a roller fairlead with synthetic rope?

You can technically use a synthetic rope with a roller fairlead but the synthetic rope may get pinched in the corners and sharp edges of the rollers and become damaged. So Hawse fairlead is suitable for synthetic rope.  

Does a winch need a fairlead?

A fairlead is a must for a winch. Whatever type of bumper or winch you have, a fairlead is a must-have piece of equipment to unstuck your vehicle from danger. Fortunately, a winch often comes with a fairlead 90% of the time.

Final Thoughts

You must select the optimum fairlead for off-road driving in order to deploy your winch to save your car from danger. 

While you have to pick the best in the battle of hawse vs roller fairleads, your selection should satisfy your needs.

Hawse fairleads are without a doubt the best option if you desire a lightweight winch setup and synthetic line. Roller fairleads would be your best choice if you want increased tensile strength and less friction.

Choose accordingly to your preferences. Safe off-roading!

Ricardo Vaughn
Ricardo Vaughn

Vaughn is a seasoned off-roading expert and professional winch specialist. When he's not out on the trails, he shares his knowledge and experiences through his writing as a blog author in the off-roading and outdoor lifestyle space.

Articles: 98