The Basics of Tie-Down Straps

When you’re transporting cargo – whether you’re using a trailer, the bed of a pickup truck, or a hitch-mounted carrier – tie-down straps are the safest and most dependable harnesses you can use to secure your cargo during transportation. Tie-down straps come in many different varieties, and if you’re new to tie-downs it can be difficult to understand which type is the best choice for your specific job. The purpose of this page is to help you to understand tie-down straps so you can make an informed purchase.

What are Tie-Down Straps?

Tie-down straps are safety harnesses that are specifically designed to safely secure cargo for transportation. They are available in lengths ranging from around 6' for small loads to 40' for commercial trucking applications, and typically range from 1" to 4" wide. Tie-down straps come with two ratings to indicate overall strength; break strength describes the maximum comfortable weight before the strap fails, and working load describes the maximum weight that a tie-down can support with regular day-to-day use without becoming damaged. Working load is generally calculated as 1/3 of the break strength.

What about Bungee Cords?

Bungee cords, also known as shock cords, are neither safe nor reliable for securing cargo of any type for transportation. Bungee cords are designed to absorb shock, not to secure cargo. They are apt to quickly wear down and snap if stretched to their limits, causing you to lose your cargo on the road, creating a hazard for others and a headache for you. Furthermore, bungee cords do not typically display any information regarding their strength or weight limit on them, whereas tie-down straps do.

Types of Tie-Down Straps

  • Lashing Straps Lashing straps feature an easy-to-use gator clip, and are generally the lightest-duty tie-down strap with a maximum of 100-lb working load and 220-lb break strength. They are designed for use on cargo carriers, game carts, and other small loads.
  • Cam Buckle Straps Cam buckle straps are generally lighter-duty than ratchet straps but heavier-duty than lashing straps. They are designed for use with medium-sized loads such as dirt bikes and ATVs, and can have up to a 500-lb working load and 1,500-lb breaking strength. They are easy and quicker to tighten and release than a ratchet strap, but cannot safely secure as much weight.
  • Ratchet Straps Ratchet Straps are named for their method of locking and securing the strap via an easy-to-use ratcheting system. Ratchet straps can have a working load limit up to 5,000 lbs with a 15,000-lb break strength rating, and can create a tighter and more secure restraint – ideal for solid, heavy loads. If you’re not sure how to use a ratchet strap, please read our article on how to assemble and use ratchet straps or watch the video below.

Types of Hook Ends

  • S-Hook The most standard type of hook end, S-hooks fit just about any hole to remain secure when a simple strap would not.
  • Snap Hook Snap hooks are similar to an S-hook, but feature a latch that snaps closed around the tie-down point to provide a more secure grip than an S-hook.
  • J-Hook J-hooks, also known as wire hooks, are typically used on one end of a ratchet strap to tightly grip onto an anchor point.
  • Flat Hook Flat hooks feature a low-profile, versatile design to go over the rub rail of a trailer, and can use other tie-down straps as anchor points.
If you have any more questions on tie-down straps, please contact us and we’ll be glad to help!