Best ratchet tie down straps

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By Gary Stretton

01 April 2019

Rachet_tie_down_straps_2018 : credit: © Gary Stretton

A secure load offers peace of mind and no breakages. Gary Stretton tests the options

Securing loads, no matter how large or small, is a task most Land Rover owners consider sooner or later. Whether you need to prevent an item rolling around and causing damage to the interior, or simply need to prevent the item being damaged in transit, choosing the best method for keeping the load and occupants safe is worth some consideration. If the load is being carried on a roof rack or strapped to the vehicle body then it must be secure to comply with road safety legislation.

There are several methods of tying down loads and one of the simplest and most secure is the use of ratchet straps. Unlike bungee cords, there is little or no flex in the material and unlike rope or cord, there is no need for knowing specialist knots. As with all types of tie-downs, loads should be periodically checked to ensure straps haven’t become loose or frayed in use.

Ratchet straps come in an array of sizes, strap lengths and load capacities, so matching the strap to your load is important. Before buying, take some time to understand how you intend to secure the straps to the vehicle. Loading eyes in the floor, for example, are ideal for attaching ratchet straps. Next, the overall length from mounting point to mounting point – and finally the weight of the load. Many straps are rated by their SWL or Safe Working Load, which is typically half their breaking strain. 

In addition to the traditional-style ratchet strap, an automatic rewind version is now available, too. Similar to the retracting mechanism found in inertia-reel seatbelts, these ratchet straps can be operated single-handedly and are self-storing. Having invested in good-quality ratchet straps, you’ll have a method for securing loads you can trust, and stored properly, they should last years.

What to look for

• The ratchet mechanism should operate smoothly and be easy to set up when securing a load

• Quality is more important than quantity, but ensure you have secured a load sufficiently

• Auto rewind ratchets make light work for regular use.

• Check the alignment and function of release catches carefully when choosing.

Sealey auto retractable

Price: £13.14 each 

Easy to use by simply pressing the red button to retract. The ratchet feels sturdy and secure in use. The auto rewind action is fast and a one-handed task, even while wearing gloves.

Key features
• Polyester webbing with stitched reinforcement around hooks
• Auto rewind
• Handles and release mechanism rubber coated for added comfort
• 25mm webbing width
• 3m webbing length
• 300kg working load
• 600kg minimum breaking strength

Search: Item ATD25301; sealey.co.uk

Draper ratchet tie down

Price: £8.75 each

Traditional style ratchet strap offering a large 750 kg load capacity. The mechanism is easy to set up and use with smooth operation. The metal handle offers good gripping even when wearing gloves.

Key features
• Polyester webbing with‘S’ hooks
• 4.5 m webbing length
• 750 kg working load
• 1500 kg breaking strength

Search: Item 60957; drapertools.com

Clarke heavy duty ratchet straps

Price: £20.39 pair

Easy to use mechanism makes securing of loads fuss-free and fast. Single-handed operation is possible for retracting the webbing. The mechanism works smoothly and securely, with solid S hooks.

Key features
Rapid retractable mechanism
• Heavy-duty webbing and hardware
• Polyester-coated S hooks 
• Heat-treated nylon webbing is waterproof and weatherproof
• 25mm webbing width 
• 3m webbing length
• 300kg working load
• 600kg minimum breaking strength

Search: Item 020121754; machinemart.co.uk

 

Halfords 3m retractable

Price: £30 pair

Good quality ratchet mechanism makes the strap easy to fit and remove. Operating the release button is a single hand task, and the rewind function is both rapid and reassuring. 

Key features
• Auto rewind feature makes fastening the straps easier
• High-quality webbing straps with plastic-coated steel ‘S’ hooks
• 25 mm webbing width
• 3 m webbing length
• 250 kg working load
• 500 kg minimum breaking strength

Search: Item 251574; halfords.com

Silverline rubber handled ratchet set

Price: £23.18 pack of four

Silverline’s traditional style ratchet set offers four ratchets with rubber-handled grip and release lever for additional comfort. The mechanism works well and the webbing is of good quality.

Key features
• Four ratchets in pack
• Polyester webbing with ‘S’ hooks
• Yellow-passivated hardware with rubber over-moulded grip and release lever
• 4 m webbing length
• 250 kg working load
• 735 kg breaking strength

Search: Item 648419; silverlinetools.co.uk

Hilka ratchet tie down set

Price: £21.00 pack of 4

Hilka’s pack of four orange webbed ratchets are hi-vis and very easy to use. The moulded handle is readily gripped and comfortable in use. The long webbing is ideal for roof rack tarpaulin use.

Key features
​​​​​​• Weather resistant nylon webbing
• Steel ratchet with quick-release mechanism
• Moulded plastic grip
• 4.5 m webbing length
• 225 kg working load
• 450 kg breaking strength

Search: Item 84135025; hilka.co.uk

 

Verdict

Look for a strong and smooth mechanism, such as the Halfords shown here

Keeping a set of ratchet straps on board can prove very useful for securing even the most mundane of loads. Quality is everything and the usual culprit is the strength and construction of the ratchet mechanism. Avoid any ratchet that allows the catches to move excessively. Our six on test don’t suffer these issues, so how to choose between them?

Splitting the contenders between auto rewind and traditional versions is only fair as they offer different propositions depending on the user. If you regularly secure loads in or to your vehicle, much time can be saved using the automatic ratchets. So, that said, there’s nothing to distinguish between the three auto versions, bar the yellow metal of the Clarke version and the slightly reduced capacity of the Halfords version. With those differences in mind, value is everything so I’m going for the Sealey ratchets, which can be bought individually and offer quality construction and easy use.

Of the more traditional type ratchets, my money is on the Draper version. It has the best load capacity on test and due to its user-friendly ratchet size, you need not feel as if you’re fumbling with the mechanism.