Do you know what equipment to use when securing loads on your vehicle? A ratchet strap? Bungee Cord? Would you be willing to bet someone's safety on it?
Imagine you have the car trip of a lifetime planned but you’re wondering how you will manage to take your canoe, tent, accessories, and hunting gear with you. This doesn’t even include your clothes, food and camping equipment. Ratchet strap tie downs, often referred to simply as tie-down straps, are considered much sturdier than bungee cords and are an excellent way to transport large amounts of cargo securely.
Why Bungee Cords Are Inferior
Bungee cords do have a use, but they are not intended for tying down an object to a vehicle.
- The elasticity of bungee cords allows loads to shift and possibly fall out
- Bungee cords stretch out and then break
- They’re more useful in securing coverings like tarps over heavier loads
Ratchet straps are available fairly inexpensively in packs of four as “motorcycle hold-downs,” or as “ratchet straps” when they have hooks or “lashing straps” when they’re sold without hooks. Even the cheapest ones are stronger and more reliable than bungee cords.
The ideal set-up for tying a down a load onto a Jeep or other sport utility vehicle is that it has a roof-rack. Be mindful not to tighten the ratchets so much that you damage the roof-rack. If you don’t happen to have a roof-rack, then use the straps to tie the load down by opening the doors on either side of the vehicle, running the straps through the car, using the inside of the roof to fasten the load up top. The individual straps of the ratchet strap tie-downs will need to be hooked together in order to make it long enough to fasten the load using this method.
In order to secure the load from shifting front to back or from side-to-side, all four ratchet straps of the ratchet strap tie-down set need to be used, with two straps lengthwise and two straps covering the width of the kayak, canoe, or other load.
Items That Can Be Fastened to the Roof of a Vehicle
Obviously, you won’t want to carry your personal items in this manner. Here’s a list of items typically fastened with ratchet straps:
- Duffel bags
Larger items are ideal for ratchet straps, but if you have several smaller items, wrap them in a tarp first and then fasten them to the vehicle. Exercise extreme care when driving with a load of gear fastened to your vehicle. Even careful and seasoned drivers will need to occasionally hit the brakes without any warning. Before taking to road, test your straps by trying to move the items with your hands. If everything is secure, you shouldn’t be able to move anything, which means you’re good to go.