There are many types of tie-down straps for securing a variety of objects - whether they're being hauled on a trailer, in a van, or simply tied to a bike rack. Skipping the step of properly tying down your load is a no-no, plain and simple. Police will cite you for endangering public safety on public roads, and the well-being of your cargo is no longer under your control. Instead, it's at the mercy of the laws of physics and other such things that are unpredictable, potentially leading to loss of your personal property or worse.
Experts recommend that you play it overly safe when it comes to securing cargo. If using two straps is the minimum recommendation, they use four. These experts know that secure payload increases safety when in motion, and makes theft more inconvenient for those looking to grab your cargo and dash. We offer a great selection of tie downs in the Trailer Straps and Tie Downs section of our website, and we'll look at some of them in this article to help you make a more informed purchase.
"Working Load" vs "Breaking Strength" Ratings
These ratings are essential to know when purchasing any kind of tie-down gear. According to the Web Sling and Tie Down Association (WSTDA), working load is the amount of weight a strap can handle for a sustained period without developing rapid wear or breakage. Breaking strength is the load at which point any part of a synthetic web tie down will fail. Working load limit cannot exceed one-third of the complete assembly's breaking strength. So a strap with a break strength of 15,000 lbs. would have a working load limit of 5,000 lb., and vice-versa. For consistency within this article, we will reference working load ratings only.
Types Of Straps
You'll see the terms below used in product titles and descriptions of a variety of straps and tie-downs. Note that these terms are not exclusive of one another, and many items embody more than one of these features.
Loop straps: These have a loop at one or both ends in place of a hook. The loop can be placed over an object, or the strap can be passed through the loop to make an adjustable tie.
2-piece straps: This is a single assembly constructed of two separate straps. Each strap is connected in the middle at a fastener, and both of them typically have a hook on the end.
Ratchet tie downs: A ratchet is a mechanism that uses a pawl to engage angled teeth on a gearwheel or bar when a pressure stroke is applied. In this way a strap can be tensioned. Because of the angled teeth, motion is allowed in one direction only and slipback is eliminated. Ratchet straps often have a hook on one or both ends and are used for bigger, heavier loads.
Cambuckles: A cambuckle functions like a buckle to hold a strap in place, but it also allows tension to be added in one direction. Cambuckle tie-downs are usually designed for lighter, smaller items and may come in the form of a single strap with no hooks, or 2 straps joined together at the cambuckle with hooks at one end of each strap.
Simple "Bungee" Style One-Piece Straps With Hooks
For simple strapping needs, polyurethane specialist Energy Suspension offers the Power Band Tie Down elastic tie down strap with corrosion-free stainless steel "S" hooks on both ends. The polyurethane used in the construction is designed to offer the elasticity of rubber with a higher level of strength. Additionally, these straps won't dry out, crack, or crumble the way rubber does over time. The Product Options drop-down offers you these straps in different lengths, in your choice of black or red.
Retracting Strap Reels With 1 Hook At The End
All of the retracting strap reels we sell are excellent for strapping ATVs and other lighter weight items down, and all of them have a ratcheting handle to easily adjust tightness. For example, the CargoBuckle Retractable G3 Tie Down features 6 feet of 1-inch-wide strap length that's rated for 466 pounds of working load (1,400 pounds breaking strength).
If your needs dictate a three-point tie down setup for your trailer with a wider strap, the IMMI G2 Retractable Bow Tie Down is designed for just this. Each stainless steel G2 features 43 inches of 2-inch wide strap with a 500 pound working load rating.
If you have a floor surface on your trailer or in your van that's easy to cut holes into for permanent anchor mounts, consider the CargoBuckle Flush Mount Tie Down System. They're sold individually, and each strap is fitted with a J-hook at its top. The base of the strap is attached to a steel anchor bucket which stores the entire strap and hook assembly out of sight. When not in use, the built-in lid can be closed to make everything almost invisible. Thanks to a 3-inch wide strap that's 6 feet in length, these offer a higher working load rating of 1,167 pounds.
Bike Rack Support Straps
If you're looking for an easy way to provide extra support and take stress off your vehicle's hitch receiver when carrying hitch-mounted bike racks or cargo carriers, CURT offers their Bike Rack Support Strap with Cambuckle. The strap wraps around the upright bar of the bike rack and hooks onto the trunk or window of the vehicle. The attached cambuckle is then used to apply and hold tension.
Need straps to secure the gunwale (upper edge lip) of a smaller boat to a trailer frame? The IMMI G2 Retractable Gunwale Tie Down comes with a 2-inch wide strap that extends to 38 inches in length. Its strong wraparound J-hook is designed specifically for this application to handle an 833 pound working load.
IMMI also offers the Boat Cover Tie Down Snap Lock pack with 6 straps designed to be positioned in different locations around your trailer frame. Each features a snap buckle with an adjustable end that can be pulled to snug up tension for keeping the cover tightly buttoned down. Hooks at the top of each strap are especially designed to work with tie down holes found on most boat covers.
Ratcheting Tie Downs
RatchetX Tie Downs by SmartStraps offer you a choice of 2 or 4 ratchet buckle kits with differing strap lengths. The buckles themselves are adorned with the stylish look of carbon fiber, and in the Product Options field you'll see the 2-pack available in green (500 lb. safe work load), orange (1,000 lb. safe work load), or yellow (1,667 lb. safe work load). Or, choose traditional-looking SmartStraps Heavy Duty Padded Ratchet Tie Downs rated for 1,000 pounds of work load strength.
For heavier loads, Curt Ratchet Straps provide up to 3,333 pounds of work load each, with either J-hooks or flat style hooks. In the Product Options field, you'll also find traditional "ratchet straps" with hooks on both ends and "ratcheting tie down straps" designed to hook on one end and tie in place on the other. Strap color choices of red, black, yellow, blue, green, and orange are available with a choice of hook styles and weight ratings.
If you're securing an object that can be damaged easily by scratches and scuffs from tie-down equipment, the SmartStraps Standard Padded Ratchet Tie Downs comes with no-scratch rubber-coated hooks and straps which have a softer, abrasion-resistant layer.
Loop Straps & Tow Straps
Curt's Nylon Webbing Recovery Strap offers 6,000 pounds of work load strength from this 2-inch wide nylon strap that's 30 feet long with loops on both ends. For heavy-duty towing, TeraFlex's nylon Tow Strap provides a loop strap on each end and 30 feet of nylon in between that can handle over 6,600 pounds of work strength. A red stress thread is sewn into the nylon that will become visible should outer layers become frayed and compromised.
Should you need to mate a loop tie with a traditional s-shaped hook, CargoBuckle offers the 14-inch Soft Loop Hook Converter. Designed for 400 pounds of work load, it literally builds a bridge by securing onto a loop from one strap, then to a hook from another strap.
The Nite Ize Camjam Tie Down Strap is designed to create a loop using the camjam metal buckle assembly. It includes a "lockout" configuration which allows the device to be anchored without engagement of the Camjam mechanism. It prevents unintended loosening of the strap assembly during the process of securing your load, and multiplies tension by its design. For example, applying force of 100 pounds on the strap can yield up to 300 pounds of tension after being tightened in the camjam. This strap is available in 6-, 12-, and 18-foot lengths - all of which are rated for 700 pounds of work load strength.
If you're tired of bruising your ankles and shins on metal tow hooks, Cipher Auto's 2" Tow Strap is a sturdy loop strap on one end with a metal eyelet fitting (15mm diameter bolt hole) on the other. Bolt it directly to a chassis rail, or anywhere for up to 5,000 pounds of work load strength. The 9 1/2 inch-long strap is available in black as well as green, blue, purple, or red.
Should you prefer a bolt-on strap designed for S-hooks, the S-Hook Adapter Strap by CargoBuckle comes with a built-in keeper for a more secure attachment. It's 9 1/2 inches long and features 833 pounds of work strength. Vinyl coating on the hook prevents damage to anything it comes in contact with.
Which tie-down is best for you? The answer is, "it all depends". No, we're not trying to be wise guys. It does depend on what's on your trailer. Only you know how much it (bike, boat) weighs. Only you know what your trailer offers in the way of attachment points. Do you need loops, J-hooks, or S-hooks? Ultimately, please pay the most attention to the safe working load. As we said at the top, you do not want to skimp here! We want you AND your cargo to arrive safely and securely at your destination.