Heavy Haulers Daily Blog

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What Are Ratchet Straps & Tie Downs

You need a strong attachment system when hauling cargo on a trailer. Ratchet straps and tie-downs are among the most common options for securing your goods for transport. The two terms are often used interchangeably, and it can be hard to differentiate between them.

However, the two straps have specific vital differences. If you choose the wrong one, you could damage your load or cause it to fall off. This blog outlines the characteristics of the two straps and which works best for different types of cargo, equipment shipping, or super load hauling.

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What Are Ratchet Straps and When To Use Them

A ratchet strap is a polyester or nylon strap that feeds through a ratcheting mechanism. This mechanism allows you to tie down your cargo much tighter than you would otherwise. Ratchet straps are heavy-duty and can hold a weight of up to 5,000 pounds and more.

You can tie down furniture, heavy equipment, lawnmowers, and vehicles and use them for super load hauling and trailer transport. The mechanism makes it easy to adjust the tension without untying the strap.

Ratchet straps feature a hook or clip on one end that you can attach to the rail or rings on your trailer. Retractable straps work like a tape measure, where you can unwind the exact amount of strap you need. This prevents straps from flying around and causing safety issues.

What Are Tie Downs and When To Use Them

Tie-downs, like ratchet straps, are made from nylon or polyester webbing. They usually don’t have any hooks, and you manually tie them around your load. This prevents over-tightening fragile loads. Tie-downs, like kayaks, canoes, dirt bikes, and delicate loads, are often used for light equipment shipping. These straps have a weight capacity of around 100 to 1,000 pounds and can be utilized on trailers and vehicles.

While tie-downs do not have a ratcheting mechanism, they may have a cam buckle. This buckle bites down on the strap, preventing it from slipping. And while this does provide a secure grip, the clip releases easily. Tie-downs may also have end fittings like s-hooks, e-track ends, and snaps.

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The Main Differences Between Ratchet Straps and Tie Downs

The significant difference between the two straps is the securing system. The ratcheting mechanism on ratchet straps ensures heavy loads stay secure. However, the increased tension can dent fragile loads like kayaks.

Ratchet straps are also more expensive than tie-downs because of this mechanism. But they are generally easier to use and last longer as they have a higher load limit. Tie-downs, on the other hand, are better for lightweight cargo, where overtightening could cause damage.

Ratchets always have some end fitting, whether an s-hook, j-hook, flat hook, or chain anchor. Tie-downs do not always have an end fitting. Instead, you tie them to the rails. Because of this, it may take more time to secure your luggage with tie-downs than with ratchet straps.

Whether you choose ratchet straps or tie-downs, ensure your equipment does not exceed the load limit. Using lower-rated straps with heavy loads will damage them and cause them to fail sooner or break. Generally, use tie-downs for luggage, bicycles, coolers, and lightweight cargo and ratchet straps for heavy equipment, cars, and trailer transport.

When choosing the best strap for equipment transport, always opt for higher quality to ensure the safety of your cargo. You can also choose between different lengths and widths depending on what you need to transport.

Heavy Haulers Final Thoughts

Finding the best strap for your cargo can take time and effort. Ratchet straps and tie-downs are viable options, yet using the wrong one for equipment shipping can prove disastrous. When buying any tie-down or ratchet strap, ensure it has a rating. Otherwise, you risk getting a poor-quality strap.

If you want to learn more about attachment systems, super load hauling, and trailer transport, contact Heavy Haulers. We have many years of experience transporting large and heavy equipment. Our fleet includes flatbeds, step decks, landoll, RGN, and multiple axle trailers. Talk to one of our specialists to get started.