Many winches come with synthetic rope, which is much easier to handle than steel cable, the most popular tether spooled on most winches. Synthetic rope is just as strong as steel cable, and much easier to handle because it’s flexible. It won’t get burrs (which can penetrate your skin if you’re not wearing gloves), and it won’t kink or fray. But if you’ll be doing a lot of rock climbing, or using it anyplace where the cable would be exposed to abrasion, or if you’ll be using the winch to haul timber or other heavy items, steel is the better choice. It’ll stand up to rough use.