Roller Fairleads vs. Hawse Fairleads: The Differences

You have three choices when choosing a new fairlead for your winch: roller, aluminum hawse, or steel hawse. Here's a quick rundown of the differences.

Roller Fairleads vs. Hawse Fairleads
Roller Fairleads Aluminum Hawse Fairleads Steel Hawse Fairleads
Material Steel Aluminum Steel
Typical Weight 10-13 lbs 2-3 lbs 4-5 lbs
Winch line types Steel cable or Synthetic Synthetic Synthetic or Steel cable
Typical winch line types Steel cable Synthetic Steel cable
Bolt mounting distance 10” 10” 10”
Finishes Galvanized Polished or Anodized Powdercoat
Typical Stickout 3.5” 0.75”-1.5” 1.25”

A Few Things You Should Know

Our chart has some basic generalizations about fairleads. If you want some more in-depth info and some product recommendations, check out our longer article on winch fairleads.

Here are a few tidbits you should know:

  • Roller and steel hawse fairleads are usually used with steel winch cable and result in a heavier total winch weight.
  • Aluminum hawse fairleads are ONLY used with synthetic winch line and result in a lighter total winch weight.
  • Nearly every fairlead manufacturer makes fairleads with a mounting distance of 10", except Smittybilt's slim steel roller (11", not recommended) and Warn industrial fairleads (variable distance).
  • Roller fairleads can be used with synthetic winch line if the rollers are clean and free of burrs/sharp edges. Running steel cable can often "scar" a roller, so you should clean it up if you want to use it with synthetic line.
  •  Hawse fairleads give you a slightly better approach angle since they stick out a little less from your bumper.
  • Type III anodized coatings on aluminum fairleads are the only coating that will last "forever". Powdercoat, galvanized, and polished finishes will eventually wear through and will rust/oxidize.


Tyler Branham

Tyler came out of the womb with a Birfield in one hand and a stick of 6010 in the other, ready to weld any piece of trail-busted steel back together. He has wheeled, broken, and modified a variety of rigs, from Toyotas to Jeeps to Fords to Chevies. He likes doing long distance overland travel and would happily spend every night in the bed of a pickup under the stars.

Last updated: June 11, 2019