It used to be that securing something to the back of a trailer or truck meant pulling out a couple of lengths of rope, lashing the rope back and forth, and trying to tie a secure knot you could trust to keep everything in place. Bungie cords eventually made things easier, but they were never intended for heavy or large loads. Today things are even better, thanks to the tie-down strap.
Tie-down straps are webbing straps made specifically to secure cargo to trailers and trucks. A good tie-down strap keeps things secure with very little worries of slippage. The secret to their success is the strap buckle.
Two Kinds of Buckles
Every truck tie-down strap has a buckle. The buckle’s job is to hold the strap in place once everything is secured. Some buckles are made of plastic; most are made of stainless steel or another metal. Regardless, there are two types of buckles that dominate the tie-down market:
- Cam Buckles – Cam buckles secure straps in place with the combination of a cam and a pressure plate. You feed the strap through the buckle and pull it tight. Meanwhile, the pressure plate digs in and keeps the strap in place.
- Ratchet Buckles – A ratchet buckle is based on the same principle but, unlike a cam buckle, it is tightened with a ratchet mechanism. Ratchet buckles are designed for heavier loads.
Where ratchet straps (tie-down straps with ratchet buckles) are used to secure heavy, commercial loads, smaller cam straps are used by tow truck operators, weekend warriors hauling their toys in the backs of their pickup trucks, etc. For the record, Rollercam is one of the more popular brands of tie down straps.
Who Uses Truck Tie-Down Straps
Truck tie-down straps have pretty much replaced rope and bungie cords for commercial applications. But even your average guy on the street is more likely to use a tie-down strap these days. They are versatile enough to be useful to lots of people:
- Flatbed Truckers – Tie-down straps are invaluable to flatbed truckers who need a quick and effective way to secure cargo. Although some loads require heavy chains, tie-down straps do the job more often than not.
- Overlanders – Overlanders love tie-down straps for the same reason flatbed truckers love them. They are easy to use, quick to deploy, and durable enough to withstand a lot of punishment. You can keep a lot of things secure on an overlanding rig with tie-down straps.
- Outdoor Adventurers – Outdoor adventurers love to do things like whitewater rafting and rock climbing. Tie-down straps are ideal for hauling kayaks, canoes, bikes, and all sorts of gear that will not fit in the car.
- Home Contractors – Home contractors ranging from landscapers to roofers secure equipment to their trucks with tie-down straps. The straps are easier to use than rope and more secure than bungie cords.
It is possible to keep this list going endlessly. However, the point is well made. Truck tie-down straps are useful enough to keep truck drivers and average homeowners equally happy. They can do a lot of things that are just too difficult for rope and bungie cords. They can even do things that the other two options cannot.
If you had to invest in some sort of solution for tying down cargo, your best bet would probably be a tie-down strap with a cam buckle. You can find tie-down straps at virtually any big box department store. You can also find them at sporting goods, automotive, and hardware stores. You can even buy them online if you want to!