Winches of East County and the Required Toyota Truck Gear

by : Andrew Bernhardt

Ah, the new FJ Cruiser. What a refreshing return to true SUVs, and a long-awaited departure from triple-weight minivans disguised as utility rides. Every time I see one, I raise my Double Gulp in salute, and in hopes that every other automaker produces an FJ knock-off that isn't as cool (and doesn't last as long, of course) but still populates the country with real off-road rigs.

But, every time I see an FJ, I also notice that there's something missing on most of them. What is it? You guessed it: a winch. The front of this rig is screaming for a winch; if it isn't there, then that's one FJ doomed to life as a pavement pansy, maybe with a hibiscus sticker on the back window, too. Almost every project FJ at the 2006 SEMA show in Las Vegas had a winch-even the one that had the back Camino-ed. There's just no reason not to have one.

Surprisingly, as I found out in a super-informal count on the roads between my house and my job, most Toyota pickup and SUV owners have the same gaping hole in their Toyota truck accessories arsenal: they don't have a winch. With all the places you'd figure that all-new Tundra could get itself into (or all the places it might need to yank a Ford, Dodge or Jeep out of), it's a safe bet that a winch should almost be standard. And, if you're doing some serious work, like grinding that Tundra on a ranch day-in and day-out, you'd be lost without one.

Me and my buddies, we all have the latest Tacoma. Mine is an '05, Ed-O has an '05 too, and Jimmy has an '07 that he's too afraid to screw up yet. That didn't stop him from grabbing the essential gear we all got before loading up for a desert run: a Mile Marker Winch. It comes in handy when some super genius who sank a fortune into a custom buggy gets hub-deep in a dune and has no idea how to make a dead man. We just pull him free, blow off the requisite conversation about it being his first time out, pound some beers and go hop on our quads. Not to mention all the pull a winch has with the ladies in my town. It shows your truck means business, and that you use it like a truck in places where trucks are supposed to go. It's kind of like the silver hair on the back of a gorilla. It's a mark.

Anyway, if you have a Toyota truck, there's no reason to leave a winch out of your Toyota truck accessories armament. I can guarantee that it will come in handy more than a few times, and it will keep you honest enough to continue using your truck like a truck.