I'm not such a fan of HF for constant use tools or toys. I wouldn't buy a kitchen knife or air compressor from them. For "enabler tools" ... stuff you need to finish this job, right now, but may not use again for years? HF is a good resource. For some tools (e.g. wrenches to have as raw material for when you need to grind/cut/weld up a special wrench) they are great. The problem is when you buy the wrong tool for your needs and then blame the tool.
If you want a winch to make life a little easier occasionally, with no plans to base your route choice on the idea that you can winch yourself up cliffs or something, I don't see anything wrong with looking at cheap stuff. Honestly, I think buying a $1500 winch when your needs are met by a $300 model makes you a poser. OTOH buying a $300 winch when when you really are going to be using it hard, every week, for years on end makes you a f...we'll go with optimist.
It's too easy to get hung up on underdogs sometimes. Hard not to have that affect you one way or the other.
Anyway... I was reluctant to mention this until I had powered it up, and I don't know if this is a North Texas thing or of more general interest, but...
Going through my local Sam's Club last week they had Champion 10k winches marked down to $229. These are the classic dog slow low (3.6) HP series wound motor winches, 85' of steel cable and a part number (11005) that doesn't show up on the champion web page, but the price is right. I don't know if those are anywhere else, and obviously it may not be marked down everywhere, but it's worth a look.
The $229 got me the winch/cable, a snatch block, clevis hook, mount channel, fairlead, remote, and power cables. I picked up a cheapie winch bumper and came out well under $600 all up. I still have my other recovery gear but I kinda expect that this thing will be easier and quicker. As quick as the EPi9.0S I was trying to talk myself into? No, but I installed everything yesterday and gave myself a little test pull... much easier than using the hi-lift.