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What Is a Grip Hoist?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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A grip hoist is a hand-operated mechanical hoist capable of moving very heavy objects that require no external power source beyond the arm strength of the operator. Unlike a winch, the grip hoist does not store the cable on a spool. The cable is simply run through the machine with the hook end facing the object to be moved, while the excess is kept in a coil behind the tool. The grip hoist must be securely anchored to a solid or heavy object in order to provide the required resistance needed to move the hoisted object toward the machine.

The grip hoist offers three transmission selections: in, out and free. The "in" position allows the grip hoist to retract the cable or to hoist the object toward the machine. The "out" position allows the operator to power-feed the cable away from the machine. This feature is often used when needing to re-hook to the object requiring the winching.

The "free" position allows the cable to slide freely from the hoist. The free position is fine for the initial setup of the machine, however, if the free spool position was selected while a load was on the machine, the cable would simply move through the grip hoist too fast to stop again. This is the reason for the out feature that allows only a small amount of cable to be released back toward the object at a time.

The ability of the grip hoist to move very heavy objects without the aid of electricity, gasoline or other fuels makes it a common rescue tool for fire departments and emergency rescue teams around the world. It can be used to move a wrecked vehicle, a vehicle that is blocking the access to a response scene, or pieces of a damaged building. The grip hoist is considered a very capable tool that, in the right hands, is often the difference in being able to reach a victim or save a life.

Not only a rescue tool, the small hand-held hoist is useful around the farm, garage or shop to move heavy items too large to move by hand alone. While not intended for vertical lifting, the grip hoist is very capable of powering objects horizontally across a floor, road or driveway. Requiring only a small length of chain to attach the hoist to a solid anchor point, the tool is sold complete and ready to use from many tool, rescue and machine dealers worldwide.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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