Is a Single Tie Down Strap Ever Enough?

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Close up, shallow depth of field , bug eye view image of four red and green colored full size kayaks loaded on top of an SUV car using a combination of tie down straps and roof mounted cross bars.

Tie down straps are valuable tools for keeping things secure. They can also be used to suspend things, to suspend things from, or even to hold containers closed. But when it comes to the main purpose – tying things down – is one strap ever really enough?

A single strap is enough only on rare occasions. But you need to be securing a very small object that doesn’t weigh much. Low weight and small volume may be manageable with a single strap. But for the majority of applications, you need at least two straps. Three or more would be even better.

Weight and Volume Matter

The makers of the Rollercam tie down straps says one of the first considerations is weight. An object’s weight affects how it is carried in the back of a truck, on a trailer, or even a car roof. Heavier objects tend to shift more easily when braking and accelerating.

Volume also matters in the sense that tying objects down requires creating friction. Increased friction holds an object more secure. The larger that object is, the more straps you need to create the necessary friction.

A general rule states that more straps are required as weight and volume increase. But strangely enough, even light loads can require multiple straps if their volume is large enough. A bed mattress is a good example.

Mattresses are fairly light compared to other types of cargo. So light that they can act as sails that gather the wind as the vehicle moves down the road. It is a wise idea to tie a mattress down with two straps along the width and a third strap along the length.

Load Limits Matter, Too

The Rollercam people say that you need to consider load limits, too. Tie-down straps are rated for particular loads. A load is calculated by combining weight and volume together. Your choice of tie downs needs to be rated according to the load you are carrying. And again, heavier loads need more straps.

Load limits are often printed on strap labels. They might also be etched into cam buckles and ratchets. One way or another, it is important to know what a strap’s limit is so that proper calculations can be made.

Better Safe Than Sorry

You don’t have to be an expert in calculating load limits to use tie down straps properly. You don’t have to fully understand the relationship between weight, volume, and speed to be safe with cargo. Just remember the simple rule that it is better to be safe than sorry.

If you are ever concerned about the number of straps required to secure something to your vehicle, opt for more than you think you need. If you think two are enough, go for three or four instead. You can never have too many tie down straps engaged.

Even if four or five straps is overkill, the only thing you will lose by using so many is the time it takes to deploy them. And for the record, it doesn’t take long. Modern cam buckle straps deploy quickly and easily. In less than a minute or so you can attach and tighten down a strap.

You Get What You Pay For

In closing, one last thing to remember about tie down straps is that you get what you pay for. Stick with a reputable brand with a history behind it. The last thing you need are cheap straps that start falling apart after just a few uses. And you certainly don’t want a cam buckle or ratchet that breaks apart during transport. That would be bad.