Roadside cart topped with a bundle of junk
Whoever loaded this cart should invest in some ratchet straps. Niko Lienata/Unsplash

You’ve seen that guy—tooling down the road with straps flying in the wind when they’re supposed to be anchoring his load. Or worse, the guy air-launching kayaks at 70 mph on the Interstate. You don’t want to be that guy! You need tie-downs that work and the know-how to anchor them properly. Here are three things to look for when choosing a ratchet tie-down system for your needs.

Breaking Strength/Working Load Limit

These straps have a guaranteed break strength of 1823 pounds, with a working load limit of about 550 pounds. Rhino USA

Each ratchet-based tie-down strap should have a breaking strength rating, and the working load limit is about 1/3 of breaking strength. A strap that breaks at 1000 pounds is able to safely hold a 300 pound load. Match your load security needs with the strap rating, and use the working load limit as your guideline.

Grip Design/Ease of Use

Rubberized handles make use of ratchet-based systems more comfortable. Sunferno

Some ratchet-style tie-downs have tough grips to use, and frustrating ratchet release mechanisms. Handles that are well-designed and comfortable have a leg up over those that don’t. Choose a design that releases and grips easily.

Length and Width of Strap

This product features a strap width of 1.6 inches, an 8 foot length and a breaking strength of 5208 pounds. Rhino USA

Strap size is related to strength, but is also a factor related to the size of the load. A 12 foot strap won’t secure a 14 foot load. A one-inch wide strap might offer plenty of security but could be rough on a more delicate load, wearing a groove or otherwise compressing where you regret it. Make sure the size of your strap meets your needs.