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A ratchet strap, also known as a “tie-down strap,” is essentially a webbing that works as a fastener to “tie-down” cargo. These straps are usually made from polyester because the fabric is highly durable. The fabric also has a low stretch rate and is abrasion-resistant. Less frequently, straps are made from nylon which is more elastic, but less durable than polyester.

Ratchet straps are essential to transporting motorcycles, four-wheelers, boxes, and various other types of cargo. In fact, for whatever you’re moving, ratchet straps can be a big help. After safely loading your cargo by ramp, know how to tie it down to make sure it stays put the entire journey.

Threading a Ratchet Strap

The first step you’ll need to learn is how to thread the ratchet strap.

Threading a Ratchet Strap
Feeding the strap

Remember there are different types and sizes of ratchet straps. Though they all work similarly, it’s important to find the ratchet strap that best fits your needs. Different types support different weights. Likewise, different types support larger or smaller sized items.

Securing Your Cargo

After learning how to thread the ratchet strap, you’ll be ready to secure your cargo. Make sure you’ve loaded your cargo where you want it to stay on the trailer or truck bed. You may wish to use a ramp or other loading equipment to carry up motorcycles or four-wheelers. Use your hands to load boxes or smaller items.

Tightening a Ratchet Strap

After the strap hooks are in place, cargo is where you want it, and you’ve checked to see if the strap is flat, you can tighten the ratchet strap.

Cranking/Tightening Ratchet
Cranking/Tightening Ratchet

A general rule of thumb is that a finger or two should be able to slide under the strap. If you can’t fit a finger under the strap, you have tightened it too much and need to loosen the strap.

Loosening a Ratchet Strap

If you’ve overtightened your ratchet strap, you can always loosen it.

Releasing the strap by pushing down release tab
Releasing the strap by pushing down release tab

Locking a Ratchet Strap

Once the webbing is completely secure, it’s time to lock the ratchet strap.

Locking the strap
Strap is locked when you hear the "click"

Again, be careful not to overtighten the strap as this may cause irreversible damage. If you don’t hear a click or the strap comes loose, check to make sure you’ve followed each of the previous steps precisely. If the ratchet still doesn’t lock in place, it is possible you have a faulty ratchet strap.

Releasing a Ratchet Strap

Once you’ve arrived at your destination, it’s time to release the ratchet strap. Just like you did to loosen the strap, pull up the lever to set the strap free. By opening the ratchet, you release the pressure, thereby freeing the strap.

General tips on using a ratchet strap:

Did we miss anything? If you have other tips and tricks that would help out a beginner, let us know below!