How to Use Ratchet Straps [Complete Guide for Beginner]

Have you ever come across using ratchet straps? Maybe you have seen them used in construction sites and wonder how one truly works.

There are many reasons people tend to opt to use a ratchet strap. This article will talk about its mechanics, uses, and how they’re used.

Just like screwdrivers, wrenches, and any other tool, ratchet straps are one of those everyday items that you encounter that may be subtle but play a huge role when it comes to securing cargo and holding down a piece of equipment in its place while being transported.

So, what exactly is a ratchet strap? A standard ratchet strap (tie-down and lashing straps) is commonly used to transport equipment from one place to another and hold it in place while being transferred from one place to another.

This is incredibly useful because it significantly reduces the potential damage a piece of equipment can have while being transported. Ratchet straps are used to fasten and secure equipment and cargo during equipment transportation.

What Is a Ratchet Strap? And What Are They For?

When transporting an item from land, sea, or air, the ratchet straps are valuable tools whenever you plan on moving equipment from one place to another, no matter how big or small the equipment is. When shipped/transported to another location, this adds more security to your gear.

Ratchet straps are usually made from durable polyester, giving them low stretchability to ensure they keep cargo and equipment in their place, securing an object in one spot.

According to Lifting Equipment Store, ratchet straps can be used in various ways, which include vehicle recovery, vehicle transportation such as cars on the back of lorries, heavy equipment transportation, holding down cargo on a freight plane, ship, and train, and for personal use such as attaching a canoe to the top of a car.

How Can Ratchet Straps Be Used Description
Vehicle Transportation Ratchet straps are used for holding down large vehicles because they provide extra stability, safety, and security for the car being transported.
Transporting Heavy Equipment Ratchet straps can also be used when transporting heavy equipment like heavy equipment cars that typically need assistance when carried by truck.
Cargo Deliveries Through Plane, Ship, and Train Ratchet straps are also commonly found in cargo ships, planes, and trains. Since most of the cargo being shipped out are stacked in large boxes, they are held in place with ratchet straps on each end.
Personal Use There are many things you can do with ratchet straps. For example, they can be used in vehicle recovery. They can also be used in securing cargo on your vehicle for occasional trips like camping and/or holding down items on your cars like kayaks and canoes.
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Ratchet straps are mainly used for holding down equipment and objects while being transported from one place to another. They play a massive role in securing things, especially if they need great care to handle them.

Since they provide stability and security, you must know how to use a ratchet strap and properly release the ratchet strap to ensure that your cargo stays secure throughout the transportation process.

However, before you do this, we highly encourage you to inspect the integrity of your ratchet straps. Check the webbing and the handle assembly to see if they are in good shape before using them for securing cargo.

How Do Ratchet Straps Work?

How Do Ratchet Straps Work?

Do you need to use a ratchet strap? Maybe you want to transport oversized and heavy objects from one place to another. Then we’re here to help you! Securing your ratchet strap(s) is incredibly important as you can have safety hazards when not correctly installed.

If you don’t know how to use ratchet straps properly, then you have come to the right place! We’ll teach you how to use ratchet straps in a step-by-step manner so that once you purchase ratchet straps for yourself, you’ll eventually learn how to use them right away.

YouTube video

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can use ratchet straps, or you can watch DirtFarmerJay’s video on How to Use a Ratchet Strap – Tips and Tricks! So you can follow it while working with your ratchet straps:

  1. Make Sure the Ratchet Strap Has No Twists– First of all, you need to make sure that your ratchet straps have no twists so that they can wrap around the cargo very nicely. One tip that DirtFarmerJay introduced in the video is that he caresses through the entire strap so that there are no present twists that can mess up the safety features of a ratchet strap later on.
  2. Access the Axle Assemble and Feed the Strapping– Once you have the ratchet strap in place and ensure no twists within the strapping itself, you can start feeding the strapping in the axle assemble. According to the video, make sure that the axle is on the center part, closely aligned with the latch, so you have no difficulties feeding the ratchet strap.
  3. Attach All the Hooks– Once you have the strapping fed in the axle assembled, you can start to attach the hooks on each side of the cargo/package/equipment you’re trying to hold down. Make sure that you have a standard hook strength (measured in kN – kilonewtons), depending on what you’re trying to strap onto your vehicle.
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Edges on where you’re trying to hook your straps can be a problem. That’s why DirtFarmerJay used some cartons to be used whenever you’re going to use your ratchet straps at the back of your pickup truck or somewhere similar. Sometimes, the edges can be sharper than usual and might damage the strapping portion.

  1. Remove Any Slack– After feeding the strapping to the axle assemble and attaching the hooks, some slack may be left in the entire ratchet strap. You can opt to tie the excess slack with rubber bands or imitate DirtFarmerJay’s way of making sure that there’s no slack in the ratchet straps; roll it up and make sure that you make an inside loop so it stays in place and will not be undone unless somebody reverses the loop you initially created.

Making sure that there’s no slack is one of the priorities when using a ratchet strap. The cargo/equipment you’re transporting might be damaged whenever turbulence or any disturbance when delivering the objects.

  1. Tighten and Secure the Latch– You need to tighten and secure the latch after removing the existing slack in your ratchet strap. Make sure you check and assess the strapping and recheck any unattached hooks, extra slack on the strap, and no twists to ensure that your strap is safely installed.
  2. Close the Handle and Gather the Excess Strap– In the last step, you have to make sure that everything’s set before actually trying to close the handle right away. Once the latch is locked, ensure that you have checked everything beforehand. For the last step, make sure you secure the cargo in place by closing the handle and repeat the entire process if you’re going to attach another ratchet strap for extra stability.
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Different Types of Ratchet Straps

There are many different types of ratchet straps for various purposes. This will ensure that you can hold down your cargo/equipment in different vehicles to make sure it stays stable.

The different ratchet straps will help you determine which one to buy when scouting for one. While any ratchet strap with polyester strapping with a hook might seem helpful for any application, it’s essential to know the other types of straps that can help secure your cargo.

  • J-Hook – J-Hooks, also known as wire hooks, are compatible with D-rings, O-rings, and trailer sides. Because of the J-Hook’s mechanics, it’s compatible with most trailer vehicles capable of carrying cargo. J-Hooks can be reliable and keep your cargo stable and secure by bolting D-rings and O-rings as your anchor points.
  • Flat Hook Similar to J-Hooks, Flat Hooks are also commonly used since they’re compatible with flat anchor points like a rub rail, stake pockets, or the underside of a trailer where flat anchor points can be found. If you have an adapter, it can be compatible with L-Tracks. They are usually coated with black-powder coating or gold-chrome plating to avoid corrosion and are typically made out of steel.
  • Cam Buckle – Although this isn’t precisely like ratchet straps, we would like to include it anyway since it serves the same purpose as a ratchet strap. Cam Buckle straps are designed for heavier loads weighing up to 1,500lbs. They often have an additional fastening mechanism to better secure cargo and equipment.
  • Winch Straps Winch straps are entirely different from other straps. It only has one buckled end; the other end is permanently installed to an anchor point of a truck/trailer where it can be buckled to another part of the truck/trailer to secure equipment. These can be commonly found in provinces where the transport of fruits and vegetables can be widespread, hence, the need for winch straps to secure cargo.

Once you become well-versed with all the straps, the similarities and differences compared to other straps will be a significant factor in choosing which ratchet strap you need for the job.

Anchor points are also important when choosing a ratchet strap since the hook, and the anchor point must be compatible to hold cargo and equipment securely.

Narrowing Down Your Selection Of Tie-Down Straps

There are so many tie-down straps to choose from in the market, and as a beginner, you may have some difficulties choosing the strap you need. Are you going to use it daily?

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How heavy/big is the cargo or equipment I will be securing? How long should my tie-down strap be?

These are the questions we’re looking forward to answering in this article section. Make sure you add this to your checklist of things you need to look out for when choosing suitable tie-down straps for your needs.

  1. Breaking Strength

Breaking strength is the amount of tension or weight a tie-down strap can withhold before starting to fail. If the webbing’s actual breakpoint is 2,000lbs but is rated 1,500lbs, the strap’s strength is determined to be 1,500lbs.

  1. WLL (Working Load Limit)

The working load limit refers to the load your straps can hold down. It’s usually measured from 1/3 of the overall breaking strength. For example, if the overall breaking strength was 2,000lbs, its working load limit should be around 650lbs.

  1. Tightening Mechanism

There is numerous tightening mechanism, and it all comes down to how heavy your load is. The common tightening mechanism is from lashing and cam buckle straps where angled teeth or other locking mechanisms secure loads like ATVs, motorcycles, and any other medium-light cargo. However, ratcheting straps are better when securing packages of heavy load.

  1. Length

The length of the straps may be overlooked. However, we advise you to get a longer strap than the estimated length you need. This ensures we have extra clearance and having an additional meter on your straps may be helpful for future uses.

How To Easily Loosen (Release) a Ratchet Strap

Loosening or releasing your ratchet strap depends on your tightening mechanisms. Most ratcheting straps have an axle assembled that is turned simultaneously to ensure that the strap is well fed in the axle assembled. To release a ratchet strap, undo the strap fed into an axle assembly.

Other straps have a more accessible lock on the straps, from cam buckle straps to lashing straps. They are way easier since they are only capable of lighter weight/load. Release by unlocking the latch or unbuckling the locks found in the straps.

How To Thread a Ratchet Strap

Similar to releasing a ratchet strap, threading a ratchet strap is situational. It is mainly based on your tightening mechanism or how you feed the strap in your tightening mechanism.

However, common ratcheting straps would typically have a latch with an axle assembled where you can feed the open end of the strap.

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By making sure that the mouth of the axle is in a neutral position, or a position where you can conveniently put the strap into, this is when you would start tightening the axle found inside the latch of your ratchet strap.

Related Questions: How to Use Ratchet Straps

Can You Use Ratchet Straps for Vans and Truck Trailers?

Yes! They are commonly found in vans, truck trailers, and pickup trucks where D-ring and O-ring anchor points can secure cargo.

How Often Should You Replace Ratchet Straps?

Before trying to secure cargo and equipment, you need to make sure you do an integrity check on your ratchet strap. Since most straps are made from polyester, you need to look out for cuts or signs of wear with your ratchet straps.

Can ratchet straps be used for lifting?

It depends on how you use it. They can be used for doing mobility and flexibility exercises, like how gymnasts use resistance bands to train their mobility. However, you should not expect it to be effective as a resistance band as the strap itself is firm.

Can You Connect 2 Ratchet Straps?

Yes. With the S-Hook, you can connect two ratchet straps, making one long ratchet strap for securing equipment. However, we recommend you to use the two ratchet straps for separate purposes, one for holding down the cargo/equipment and another for strapping it across and hooking it onto the anchor points.

How Do I Use Ratchet Straps for Kayaks?

The most common way people use ratchet straps for kayaks is when transported from land to water. They are usually used when a kayak is placed on top of a car or in the cargo section of a pickup truck.

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