The first important consideration in choosing a winch is the winch manufacturer's line pull rating. This is a combination of the mechanical capacity of the winch and the tensile strength of the line on the drum. The important part to remember is that, unless otherwise indicated, rated capacity is based on the first layer of winch cable (the one closest to the drum). Typically, there are three or four layers and that first one has the "lowest" gear ratio and the most pull.

How much pull is enough? The rule-of-thumb minimum is to take your GVW (that's Gross Vehicle Weight, not curb weight) and multiply it by 1.5. The recommended minimum is to multiply your GVW by 2. If your truck's GVW is 5,000 lbs, you will want to select a winch that has a 7,500 - 10,000 or more rated line pull.