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Ratcheting Tie Downs

Updated on January 27, 2011

If you are looking for the ultimate in securing precious cargo during transport, ratcheting tie downs are the way to go. These handy straps, also called ratchet tie down straps, can securely fasten loads without going through the hassles of using knots, going through long excesses of ropes, etc.

The use of these tie down straps started with big industrial cargo but now they are crawling their selves in just about any application—big or small. Nowadays you can buy these in virtually any handyman store or from trailer supplies. If you have an intended application, make sure you buy the right grade or strength rating. These fasteners are heavy-duty to begin with but with the advent of lighter-use straps, you can very well get something that is underrated for your application.

Tips on buying ratchet tie down straps

As previously mentioned, the first thing you have to take into consideration is your intended application. Most tie down straps sold in tool shops are used in simple cargo fastening, boat and trailer hauling, and general do-it-yourself, light applications. If you need to tie down huge cargos, do not buy consumer-grade stuff. Look for specialist manufacturers who make tie downs for special purposes.

Going back to consumer tie downs, most being sold today usually come in packs. It is common to see tie downs sold in fours. Normal lengths we have seen seem to be 15 feet with an inch diameter for the belt.

I assume you already know what these are and how they work, but just in case—especially if you haven’t held one yourself—let me briefly describe what to expect. A tie down has a hook at either end. This is what literally ties down the assembly. Hooks can be open-ended, or with a locking mechanism such as those seen in karabiners. Getting one with a locking end just makes more sense, both for safety and ease of fastening.

Aside from the heavy-duty nylon (or the like) strap, the only assembly left is the ratcheting mechanism and/or the strap reel. Most modern tie downs have automatic strap reels that neatly roll the excess strap with the push of a button. This is a very handy and useful feature. Next is the ratchet mechanism which is the heart and soul of the tie down. The ratcheting action makes it easy to tighten the tie down on anything, without having to pull anything by hand. Witch each “tick” the straps becomes permanently tighter in one direction, as the ratchet gears make it impossible (without the release switch) to go backwards.

Best ratcheting tie downs

Now that you know more about these handy items, you can choose from some of the more popular consumer products available in the market today. Click on each to learn more or read user reviews.

Bonus demonstration videos on how to use ratchet tie downs


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