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Ratchet Straps

What to look for when buying ratchet straps

Finding a trustworthy way of securing your precious cargo can be quite the hassle. Ratchet straps (also known as tie-down straps) have become an indispensable part of a mover’s arsenal. You may not always need them, but when you do, nothing else will compare. After all, they are with you during life’s various chapters, whether it’s moving your firstborn into their college dorm, bringing home a new piece of furniture, or simply just a day-to-day work haul. Note: Unfortunately, not all loads are meant for ratchet straps. Cargo such as kayaks and canoes should be secured with cam straps because they’re harder to overtighten, which will limit the wear and tear on your investment. With that being said, let’s explore the most notable features that make ratchet straps a key component of your haul. Grab a notepad and pen - you’ll want to remember these things! Explore Common Features:

Capacity: How Much Should Your Strap Hold?

Working Load Limit (WLL) and break strength are crucial measurements within the cargo control industry. WLL is the max weight a single strap can handle while still performing its job and adapting to unforeseen road conditions. Equally as important, break strength is how much weight the strap will hold right before it breaks. WLL is about 1/3 the max break strength. The Federal Department of Transportation requires manufacturers to place a label on the product or its packaging with the safe WLL. WLL will depend on a strap’s size and end fittings. For instance, a set of 1” straps may have a WLL of 500 - 1,000 lbs, while a 4” strap might have a max of 3,000 - 3,500 lbs. Moving from the college dorm to various apartments, I found myself using 2” straps the most. Not only do these have a wider range WLL (anywhere from 500 - 3,000 lbs depending on the end fitting) but they are also the most common. So, next time you’re at trivia and they ask what is the most common size of a ratchet strap, you’ll know it’s 2”. Make sure to tell your teammates that you won because of etrailer. When it comes to transporting cargo, your straps’ combined WLL should always surpass the total load weight. For example, if you have a 200-lb fridge plus a 160-lb oven, your strap WLL must be greater than 360 lbs. In this scenario, you might consider 1 or 2” straps with a WLL of at least 250 lbs (per strap). Let's say you and the boys are heading out to the green for some quality time together, but you want to bring your own golf cart. You may still consider 2” or maybe 3” straps, but this time with a higher WLL and more straps for that glistening pearl white golf cart. It is never a bad idea to use multiple straps, especially with larger loads. We recommend always using straps in pairs.

Length: How Long of a Strap Do I Need?

Well, it depends. Straps need to be long enough to connect to a tie-down point in your truck or trailer. But this doesn't mean you should necessarily buy the biggest bunch in the barrel. Remember, any additional slack must be contained when using your straps. If you fail to contain excess slack, it can become caught in tires, fly in the wind, or even increase your chance of having an accident. You can easily tie off your strap with a knot, but you can keep your setup tidier with a retractable strap or a keeper. A keeper is a Velcro loop that allows you to fold up and store extra straps, whereas retractable straps pull out any slack so you don't have to worry about it flying around the back of your truck. Retractable straps are ideal if you are hauling loads of varying size and weight.

Material: Polyester or Nylon?

I can’t think of one person who enjoys wasting their hard-earned money on a tool or accessory that doesn’t last. If you want to ensure you are investing in something that will last, consider what the strap is made of. Most ratchet straps are made of either polyester or nylon. Polyester webbing is ideal for heavy duty projects and longevity. No wonder our seatbelts are made from that stuff! This low-stretch material is ideal for keeping your cargo secure. Additionally, polyester is famous for its durability in the elements such as water, sunlight, and high winds. Speaking of water, the low absorption rate of polyester contributes to limiting mildew and mold on your straps. If you’re looking for the most durable straps on the market, team polyester is the way to go. On the other hand, nylon will stretch even more when wet. Nylon material can stretch up to 25 to 30% under its heaviest hauls, while polyester doesn’t surpass a stretch of 15%. Nylon straps have a higher probability of becoming looser after a few uses, making them less durable long-term. However, depending on your cargo, a nylon strap might be the best fit for you. Nylon straps are ideal for securing motorcycles, dirt bikes, and cruisers. Their stretchier material applies less pressure than polyester straps, which can cause damage if excessively tightened.
Ratchet Straps
Polyester straps may fade over time if exposed to sunlight but they will not lose their durability.
Ratchet Straps
Nylon straps provide more stretch to avoid overtightening your fragile pieces of cargo.

End Fitting: Which Hook is Right for You?

The awesome thing about ratchet straps is that there are so many different end styles, We’ll mention a few of our favorites here and why. It's noteworthy that the working load limit may differ with various end fittings. To give an example, a 1" tie-down strap with s-hooks might have a 500-lb WLL while a 1" tie-down strap with double j-hooks might have a 1,000-lb WLL. Now, the moment you've been waiting for: let's look at some end fittings! We hope this will help you latch on to the right fit for your anchor points and cargo.
Flat Hooks
Flat hooks
  • Folded steel makes this end extremely durable
  • High Working Load Limit
  • Often used in flatbed trailers with stake pockets
  • Ideal for heavy-duty cargo such as a pile of lumber
Snap Hooks
Double J hook
  • Additional security with a snap connection
  • Eliminates twisting and tangling while hauling cargo
  • Best used in large flatbed trailers with D rings
  • Ideal for transporting vehicles
S hooks
  • Connects with anchor points or vehicle bumpers at many different angles
  • Can be used in either a truck bed or trailer
  • Most common hook for tarp tie-downs like bungees
  • Ideal for everyday use like trips to the hardware store or helping a friend move
Double J-Hooks
Snap Hooks
  • Also called "wired hooks"
  • Lies at a 90-degree angle which is ideal for more narrow spaces
  • More versatile and can be used in either a truck bed or trailer
  • Ideal for transporting cargo such as: ATVs, UTVs, toolboxes, or generators.
E-Track & X-Track Ends
E Track
  • Connectors specifically for securing cargo inside a truck or trailer
  • Will only attach to an E-track (stronger) or X-track (more versatile) fitting
  • Commonly used in enclosed or open utility trailers
  • Ideal for moving kitchen appliances or an UTV/ATV
Now that you are pondering end fittings, you might be thinking about how to prevent hooks from touching your precious cargo. To avoid scratching your vehicle or cargo, sleeves and pads will be your best friend. Either can help protect sensitive cargo from scuffs and scratches and also increase the longevity of your straps. With materials like rubber and faux sheepskin to choose from, there is an option for any piece of cargo. View all protectants and accessories for your straps here.In conclusion, ratchet straps can really ease and protect your load. Feel free to refer back to this criteria next time you, or a friend, are in the market. After all, ratchet straps are an indispensable part of a mover’s arsenal.
Rachel S photo
About Rachel S. One of our core values at etrailer is to be skilled. This means taking the time to research and learn about each product or concept inside and out. I am always eager to expand my expertise. Whether it’s attending product demonstration meetings to learn about the best ratchet strap features, absorbing customer feedback through reviews, or spending the day at a campground shooting help videos for first-time RV owners, I can always count on receiving an important takeaway. It is my privilege to listen to your concerns, help you understand crucial concepts, recommend the right products, and continue to be a resource throughout your journey. As a visual learner myself, I strive to paint concepts in a manner that is easy to grasp, and I greet each learning opportunity with a smile. My job is to answer all the questions you didn’t even know you had!
Related Articles Related ProductsWritten by: Rachel S
Last Updated: 10/25/2022

Slip C.


Good article. Are any straps made in the USA?

Etrailer Expert

Mike L.


@SlipC Can you tell me what exactly you're needing the straps for? The ShockStrap products we offer and designed and assembled in the US using parts sourced from China, Taiwan and the US. This is the closest thing we offer to a US made strap.



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