Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best ratchet tie-down straps

One fear that many motorists share is transporting a heavy load. At any time, due to an unexpected traffic situation or road conditions, you might need to hit the brakes or swerve, which could send your cargo bouncing hazardously across the highway. However, if you’ve properly used a quality set of ratchet tie-down straps to secure your load, the chances of that happening are greatly reduced.

Any ratchet tie-down straps you choose need to have a working load limit that is strong enough to secure your cargo. You also want durable, weather-resistant straps that are easy to operate, have ergonomic handles, and include a locking feature on the ratchet mechanism for added safety.

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When hauling cargo, remember that all loads shift due to regular travel or unexpected conditions. It’s essential to secure your load with properly rated ratchet tie-down straps.

Key considerations

A ratchet tie-down strap has three critical components that allow it to do its job: webbing, ratchet, and end fittings. The following is a quick rundown of these different parts, as well as the key features and options to look for in each.


This is the strap itself, usually a rigid polyester that is manufactured to resist stretching and damage that may occur from exposure to UV rays and weather. You must always keep an eye on this part and inspect it thoroughly. It gets the most wear and tear, making it the component that is most prone to failure. Look for these features:

Load limit: The webbing must have a breaking strength and working load limit that is suitable for securing the weight of the cargo you’re hauling.

Length: It needs to be the right length so it can reach from tie-down point to tie-down point but not so long that you have an abundance of strap flapping in the breeze (which will damage the strap).

Durability: The material needs to be stretch resistant as well as weather resistant.

Color: The webbing should be brightly colored to reduce tripping hazards.


This is the part of your tie-down strap that does all the work. When you move the handle up and down, you’ll hear a clicking sound as it secures your cargo by pulling the webbing tight. The best ratchet mechanisms have a large, ergonomic handle that operates smoothly. Since a high-quality ratchet is easy to operate, you must be careful not to damage your cargo by overtightening the strap. Look for these features:

Rust resistance: You want a rust-resistant model that won't freeze up on you.

Durability: A durable ratchet mechanism feels solid in your hand, giving you confidence that it’s heavy-duty enough to easily perform its job.

Handle: You will appreciate a soft-grip handle in the long run.

Lock: You want a ratchet that features a locking mechanism so there’s absolutely no chance that it can pop open and loosen while you’re driving.

Quick-release switch: A quick-release switch that doesn't get hung up is a necessity when it comes time to unload your cargo.

End fittings

These are the pieces of hardware that are attached (either permanently or temporarily) to the ends of your straps, allowing them to be anchored before tightening. They come in a number of shapes, each with its inherent pros and cons.

S-hooks: An S-hook is a versatile hook that quickly and easily attaches to a wide variety of surfaces. The S-hook is the weakest type of hook, and it can easily come undone if the S is not deep enough or closed enough to stay attached. An S-hook with a little lever at the end will allow it to lock, but that feature may also hamper its ability to attach to areas such as car bumpers and trailers.

Double J-hooks: These hooks are very similar to S-hooks, but they sit at a 90° angle to the plane of the strap (unlike S-hooks, which connect on the same plane). These hooks have the same pros and cons as S-hooks, for the most part, but they allow you to connect to certain surfaces without needing to twist the strap.

Flat hooks: Flat hooks are very strong versions of J-hooks, only instead of a hook, the hardware is a folded piece of flat metal that can quickly attach to a bumper or an angle iron. These are most often used on flatbed trailers.

Carabiners: These provide a secure connection that cannot come undone even if the cargo shifts and a little slack develops in the webbing. These fittings can be tricky to use, however, because you need an anchor point that will allow you to clip a carabiner to it.

E-track system: This specialized hardware allows you to create a customized system to secure your cargo inside a truck or trailer — picture the rails inside of a rental truck. These types of connectors will only connect to an E-track fitting.

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Did you know?
A ratchet tie-down strap is only as strong as its weakest component. If the webbing is rated for 3,000 pounds, but the end fitting is only rated for 2,000 pounds, the strap has a breaking strength of 2,000 pounds.

Ratchet tie-down strap prices

Inexpensive: Lower-priced ratchet tie-down straps can be purchased for as little as $10 to $20. You must be careful in this price range, however, because many of these products are not widely used. It could be very hit or miss locating a quality ratchet tie-down strap in this price range.

Mid-range: In the $25 to $50 range, you can find ratchet tie-down straps that have a proven track record and are used by a great many consumers. If you look at items that feature the length you need and more than sufficient breaking strength, you should be able to find satisfaction in this price range.

Expensive: For longer, wider, and stronger ratchet tie-down straps — something that goes a little beyond everyday use — you will likely need to consider models that cost over $50.

Expert Tip


  • Inspect your ratchet tie-down straps before every use.
  • Use wide enough straps. When using ratchet tie-down straps to secure a load to your vehicle's roof, because of the increased wind hazard, it's best to use straps that are at least 2 inches wide.
  • Never knot your ratchet tie-down straps. This can reduce their breaking strength by at least 15% to 20%.
  • Lubricate the ratchet. If your ratchet mechanism is sticking (but not damaged in any way), using a silicone spray or WD-40 may help keep the unit functioning smoothly.
  • Don’t overtighten the strap. The ratchet tie-down strap should be tight but not too tight. Overtightening a strap is easy to do, and it could damage your cargo.
  • Close and lock handles. Always make sure the ratchet handle is completely closed and locked before transport. Failure to do this could result in the strap coming undone.
  • Use enough straps. Don't be stingy with your ratchet tie-down straps. Use more than you need so you’re covered in case one strap breaks or a ratchet fails.

Other products we considered

In case you’re looking for something a little bit different than the straps we've spotlighted elsewhere in this article, the following are a few more high-quality items that may be a better fit for your needs. The Sunferno Ratchet Straps have a 2,500-pound breaking strength, feature a closed S-hook and ergonomic rubber handle, and come with a travel bag, yet they’re one of the most affordable offerings on the market. The Gossip Ratchet Tie-Down Straps are 15 feet long, have a 2,059-pound breaking strength, and feature a closed S-hook with a clip for added safety. If you’re looking for something with a little more footage, the Bison Gear Ratchet Tie-Down Straps are 20 feet long. These four high-visibility straps have coated, deep S-hooks and are manufactured in neon green to help reduce trip hazards.

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It’s best to trust your gut when using ratchet tie-down straps. If you have that unsettling feeling that something isn’t right, do not risk it. Spend the few extra dollars to purchase a new ratchet tie-down strap.


Q. What is the best way to store my ratchet tie-down straps?
A. Ratchet tie-down straps are only weather resistant, which means they’re still affected by UV rays and water. Over time, these elements can drastically compromise the integrity of the polyester webbing. Always store your ratchet tie-down straps in a cool, dry location away from the elements to help fend off gradual deterioration. Keeping them in a duffle bag, for instance, is an option that many owners use.

Q. How long will my ratchet tie-down straps last?
That can vary depending on the quality of the product as well as usage and storage conditions. Somewhere between two and five years is a good estimate, but that is only with regular inspections before each use to make sure your straps are still in prime condition. A damaged strap could give at any moment if signs of strap distress are ignored or dismissed as "okay." The result could be catastrophic, including physical injury or loss of life, so inspections should never be taken lightly.

Q. What should I be looking for when I inspect my ratchet tie-down straps?
In short, anything and everything. You need to carefully inspect the webbing on your straps for any signs of wear or damage, including but not limited to tears, holes, snags, broken stitches, knots, burns, abrasions, melting, wear, UV degradation, fraying, discoloration, distorting, stains, mold, mildew, dampness, splinters, and damage to the hardware.

Q. What’s the difference between breaking strength and working load limit?
Breaking strength is the pounds of pressure it takes to break a ratchet tie-down strap. The working load limit is only a third of that. Therefore, if a strap has a breaking strength of 6,000 pounds, the working load limit is 2,000 pounds.

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