Best Lashing Straps

Updated December 2021
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Buying guide for best lashing straps

When it comes to transporting stuff on the roof of your car, in your pickup, or on a trailer, lashing straps are invaluable. These immensely strong straps are better than rope, chains, or bungee cords, and they’re relatively cheap and very easy to use.

Our top picks are good examples of the quality and value available when it comes to lashing straps, and we’ve included a few more in this article. In the following guide, we look at the technical aspects you’ll want to consider before you buy and how to get the best from your lashing straps. We also answer some questions about their safe use and any legal issues related to carrying loads on your vehicle.

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Be careful not to overtighten lashing straps. When the load is secure and the strap is taught, applying more pressure just risks damaging the mechanism. If the load isn’t secure, use more straps!

Key considerations

Lashing straps, also known as ratchet straps or tie-downs, all work on a similar principle. A strong, polyester webbing strap feeds through a mechanism that holds it securely. To undo the strap, it’s just a question of releasing the mechanism so the webbing strap can be pulled free. So, what separates one lashing strap from another? There are a few key differences, including the mechanism, weight limit, and length.


Cam buckle: The simplest (and cheapest) mechanism is a cam buckle. You pull the strap tight, close the lid, and a cam tightens onto the belt to hold it. The disadvantage of the cam buckle is that all the tightening is down to you.

Ratchet: A ratchet looks quite similar, but instead of just closing, the handle acts as a lever. Each time you operate it, a mechanism pulls a bit more of the strap through, thus tightening it mechanically. It’s not always necessary to have your lashing straps particularly tight, but when you really need to secure a load, the ratchet is the

Weight limit

The weight limit, or weight-loading limit, is the maximum recommended weight you should carry with the straps. This varies from 200 pounds on budget straps to as much as 5,000 pounds on heavy-duty models used in commercial trucking. All lashing straps should indicate the weight limit, often marked as WL or WLL. While the breaking strain is often quoted as the headline figure – it’s not difficult to find lashing straps rated for 10,000 pounds – the weight limit is what you should focus on.


Width: All lashing straps are woven polyester, which is very durable and resistant to stretching. The width of the strap is generally related to the weight limit and is usually one or two inches, though some are wider. The width means that lashing straps are less likely to dig into your load than rope and less likely to scratch like chain. Some straps have toughened or sewn edges to reduce fraying.

Length: It’s important to consider the length when ordering lashing straps. The shortest strap we found is 6 feet, the longest is 25 feet. Think about the length you’ll need to use most of the time. It’s pointless to order a strap that’s too short, but it can also be frustrating if you have yards left over that you have to keep tucking out of the way.


All closures follow a similar principle, but manufacturing materials vary. Actual moving parts are generally steel, which can be resin coated (like a nylon skin) or electroplated to help prevent corrosion. Handles are sometimes aluminum, which is light and doesn’t rust. Alternatively, they might have plastic grips, which are more comfortable on your hands.

Loops and hooks

On a basic lashing strap, the webbing feeds through the clamp or ratchet to form one big loop. There are a few variations on this that add greater flexibility.

Loop: The strap may end in a loop, which can be hooked over bars or other items. This is often found on lashing straps for transporting motorcycles.

Hook: A hook is often provided. Rather than needing to loop the strap around an object, the hook can be attached in a variety of places and the strap tightened as normal. Some hooks have a carabiner-type spring or lever, so there’s virtually no chance of them coming off accidentally once clipped on. Some lashing strap sets come with both loops and hooks, maximizing the way you secure your load.


The design of both the cam buckle and ratchets means it’s extremely unlikely to come open without deliberate effort on your part. However, if you’re looking for further security, there are a few that offer combination locks on the hook end. This may prevent the casual thief from undoing them, but bear in mind that a sharp knife will cut through the strap, so the effectiveness of a lock will be limited.

"Just because it’s in the bed of a pickup doesn’t mean it can’t fly out. Lash it down anyway."

Lashing strap prices

Standard lashing straps without hooks or loops are very inexpensive. You can find a pack of six with a load limit of 200 pounds for less than $15. Even 600-pound straps only cost around $5 each. They’re available in packs of two, four, six, eight, or ten, so it’s easy to buy the right quantity. Extra-long lashing straps or those with high load limits cost a bit more, but the longest and strongest we found are still under $20 each.

Lashing strap maintenance

A lashing strap is a fairly uncomplicated device, but there are a number of steps you can take to prolong its working life.

Keep the straps out of the sun. The sun’s ultraviolet light attacks polyester. It’s a slow process, but over time it can weaken your straps. When not in use, keep the straps in a bag or box. Some are supplied with one, but just about anything will do.

Let wet straps air-dry. Most straps will get wet at some point. Leave them to dry naturally, not near a heat source. If you wind them up wet, you’ll likely get mildew.

Oil the mechanism lightly with silicone-type spray. Be careful not to get it on the webbing.

Check for signs of wear like fraying or tearing. Do this before each use. Never use a damaged lashing strap. You don’t know when it will let go, and the consequences could be very dangerous.

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Did you know?
Plain lashing straps are easy to use but need to go all the way around your load and roof rack. Those with hooks and loops give greater flexibility and can often reach farther.


  • Use a roof rack. It’s almost always safer and more secure to carry cargo on a roof rack than it is to strap it directly to the top of your vehicle.
  • Spread the load evenly across your cargo platform. If there are few items, keep them in the center. Putting light items on first and then heavier ones on top might sound the wrong way around, but it reduces the chances of anything flying off.
  • Never load items so they overhang the windshield. The airstream over the front of your car provides strong lift that could rip the items free.
  • Never hook straps onto plastic. That includes bumpers, mirror stems, door pillars, or door edges.
  • Check for snags. Check carefully that no part of the lashing strap is snagged on anything that prevents them tightening properly. If it works loose later, you could lose your load.
  • Get help loading your vehicle. Whenever possible, have another person to help load. It usually makes life easier, and they might spot a potential danger that you’ve overlooked.
  • Err on the side of caution. You can never use too many lashing straps. If you’re concerned whether the load is secure or not, add another!
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Weight limit (or weight-load limit) is more important than breaking strain even though the second number is the more impressive figure. Buy your straps based on the former, not the latter.


Q. What is the law regarding carrying stuff on my car’s roof?
It depends on where you live and where you’re going. There are currently 15 states in the US that have laws relating to unsafe loads on a vehicle, but all of them can fine you (or worse) if things fall off. Fines vary from $10 to $5,000, but in some places the offense can carry a jail sentence of up to 12 months. If you’re traveling cross-country, you ought to check the traffic laws for each state you’re passing through.

Q. How do I know the maximum weight I can carry on my vehicle?
Your owner’s manual should tell you. If you have an aftermarket roof rack, that should also specify a maximum. It’s unlikely to be more than about 150 to 170 pounds. Common sense should also tell you. When loaded, you still need sufficient movement in the suspension to absorb bumps and for your car to handle and brake properly. If the vehicle looks hunkered down and you can hardly get a hand between the wheel arches and the top of the tires, you’ve overdone it!

Q. Rope and bungee cords are cheaper than lashing straps. Can’t I use them instead?
Nylon or polyester rope is a very versatile product, and if you know truckers’ or sailors’ knots, it can be just as secure as lashing straps. However, if you don’t have the skill, it’s better to go for the simple security offered by mechanical tie-downs. We wouldn’t recommend any organic-fiber rope because it’s not as durable and it stretches when wet. Bungee cords are great for light-duty work like holding a tarp over your barbecue or strapping a small package to your bicycle rack, but their stretch means they aren’t suitable as the sole means of securing a heavy load to your vehicle.

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