What is a Ratchet Strap?
A Ratchet Strap is basically a modern day equivalent of rope for tying down loads. Rope is still used, but more and more people are using a Ratchet Strap to replace it as it can be secured quicker, with a greater strength and with little knot tying skills. These straps come with a hook on either end, and you just feed one part of the strap into the ratchet, and pull it through. From there, you can move the ratchet up and down and it will rap the strap around a small spindle. You can tighten these up very easily, meaning they are brilliant for holding the backs of boats down, for truck drivers to secure loads and for many other purposes.
I have a few Ratchet Straps which I use to secure things down in the back of my Ute. It is against the law to drive around without your load secured, meaning that a few of these straps can be very handy to have. You can get a whole variety of lengths and weight ratings, meaning you have a strap for almost any purpose required. These can be used over and over again, and assuming you look after them they will last you for many years. For most people, the cheap ones from Bunning’s work fine, however, you can get much stronger industrial ones designed for truck drives to secure heavy loads.
Ratchet Strap weight ratings
Every Ratchet Strap that you can purchase comes with a weight rating. Some of the small ones are only rated for 200kg or so, but then you can get the Truck Ratchet Straps that are rated for several tonne. It’s important to match the weight rating with what you are going to use the strap for! At the same time, don’t go overboard unless you need to. To secure the rear of an average boat down you don’t need a several tone Ratchet Strap!
Types of Ratchet Straps
The industrial Ratchet Straps function a little differently in terms of how they are hooked on and then tightened up, but they all work on the same principles. By winding the strap up you can tighten them considerably, and keep whatever you are tying down in position with very little effort. You can get straps which have different hooks on the end as well as pull straps, which I will go into below.
Pull Straps are handy for some things, but I much prefer the Ratchet Strap because you know they are secure. A pull strap is similar to a ratchet strap in that you feed the strap through the other part of the strap. However, instead of having a ratchet to tighten up, you just pull the strap through as tight as you can and because of the angle the strap it sits on it can’t pull back. These are good for keeping loads down, but if you are four wheel driving or you have heavy loads you are better off with the Ratchet ones – they only cost a few dollars more but give you that extra peace of mind.
How do you use a Ratchet Strap?
There are two parts to a Ratchet Strap. One is the strap with a hook on the end (which is the long part). The second part is a short strap which also has a hook, but it has the ratchet on the end. To use a Ratchet Strap, simply put the hook on something secure (from the long piece) and throw it over to where you want to tighten it.
Turn the ratchet around until the strap can be fed from the underneath of the strap, and then feed the long piece through. Hook the other hook on. Pull the long piece of strap through so it is tight, and then start lifting the ratchet up and down. This will grab the strap and tighten it right up. When you are comfortable with how tight the strap is, tie any excess strap out of the way. To undo the strap, you simply pull a lever (or two on some), and reverse the ratchet. This will slowly loosen the strap and then you can remove it easily.
There are a few things you want to bear in mind; don’t start ratcheting until the strap is tight or you won’t have enough room on the spindle to take the slack. Also, ensure that the strap is not twisted, or it will get stuck as you try to ratchet it up. I have put a video below this to show how to use them; have a look.
Where can you get Ratchet Straps from?
Most hardware stores will sell these, but you can get them online for a lot cheaper as long as freight isn’t too expensive.
Caring for your Ratchet Straps
Ratchet Straps need to be kept clean and out of the sun when not in use. When you use them, try not to use them over any sharp edges, or it will knick the strap and make it weaker. If you have to use them over something that is sharp, throw a rag over the sharp edge and put the strap on top of this. Check the straps before you use them, as well as the hooks to ensure they are not going to break. You can wrap these up carefully when finished so you don’t have to sort through a tangle next time you want to use them.
Ratchet Straps have virtually replaced the rope for tying loads down, and they have become very popular over the last few years. I know that they are very handy for many things, so get out there and get yourself a few!