Tie-Down Strap Basics

tie-down strap basics

There are an estimated 250 million vehicles on the road in America today. Pickup trucks account for roughly 20% of those vehicles.  And a great many of those trucks are hard at work transporting cargo, as only a pickup truck can. Every day they tirelessly tote our tools, toys and other cargo across the highways. But whether you’re hauling gear for work or for play it’s important to employ and properly operate tie-down straps to secure your haul. So we put together this quick rundown of tie-down strap basics to help bring you up to speed on safe and secure cargo.

Tie-down straps are a critical part of a safe cargo securement system. Tie-downs are the only safe and reliable type of harness and should be used every time you transport heavy or large bulky items. Tie-down straps are made in a variety of different styles. To the new user, it may be hard to determine which type of tie-down works best for their particular situation. Hopefully, after reading this post you’ll be a little better informed in order to make a confident tie-down strap purchase.

What are tie down straps? What are they used for?

When it comes to securely fastening cargo in your truck or trailer, it’s important to keep in mind some pretty extreme force will be applied to your cargo during transportation. Tie-down straps are safety tools specifically designed to secure cargo for transport. Available in a variety of lengths from 6-40 ft. and widths from 1-4 in, there is a right size strap for every job. Shorter narrower straps are perfect for securing bikes, lumber, or furniture while larger wider versions serve more heavy duty purposes like securing automobiles or large equipment.

Tie-downs Plus: Rated for Strength

Tiedowns have two ratings which help you understand their overall strength, break strength and working load. These ratings should be clearly printed on a tag attached to the straps webbing. If no tag is present on the straps you are considering purchasing you can almost guarantee that they can’t be relied on to hold your cargo.

What does the break strength mean on tie-downs? According to the Web Sling and Tie Down Association (WSTDA), breaking strength is the load in pounds or kilograms at which any load-bearing part of the synthetic web tie down fails.

The working load limit (WLL) is the maximum allowable load assigned to each tie down by the manufacturer.  This rating generally corresponds to 1/3 the overall break strength. This means a strap with a break strength of 12,000 lbs. would have a WLL of 4,000 lbs.

Tie-Down Strap Basics: Types of straps

There are three main types of tie down strap buckles. Lashing, cam buckle, and Ratchet Straps.  Lashing straps have an easy-to-use gator clip with a 100-lb working load. Intended for light duty use, they are perfect for restraining coolers, cargo boxes, lighter items, and other small loads.

The next step up in security is cam buckle straps. A cam buckle strap uses a fitting with a thumb release clip which, tightens when not depressed to hold the strap in place. They are perfect for medium-sized loads such as dirt bikes and other recreational vehicles. Thier Break strengths are generally in the 400-500 lb range. Cam buckles are quick to tighten and release, but cannot safely secure as much weight as the strongest of the category, ratchet straps.

Ratchet Straps employ an easy-to-use ratcheting system to tighten down extra webbing when strapping down cargo.  Ratchet straps are the heaviest-duty of tie down straps and often come with break strengths upward of 5,00 lbs. They tighten down securely to provide ideal tension for large bulky loads. If you aren’t familiar with how to properly use a ratchet strap stick around for next weeks blog where we’ll cover everything you need to know to be a ratchet strap pro.

Tie-Down Strap Basics: Types of Strap Fastenings

  • S hooks are the most common type of fitting.
  • Flat Hooks are a low-profile design. They go over the rub rail of a trailer. They are one of the overall strongest types of tie down fastener
  • Carabiner fittings have a spring loaded ring enclosure which prevents the fitting from coming unhooked from its anchor point. They offer the most reliable possible attachment point.

We here at bullring hope these tie-down strap basics help when it comes time to purchase your tie-down straps. We suggest you start by taking a look at the new ratchet strap products available in our online store. And while you’re there be sure to check out our variety of dependable truck bed anchors.  Thanks again for your time and safe travels out there on the road from everyone here at Bullring USA.

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