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The basics of tow straps

Old 12-13-2008, 12:01 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Northern Illinois
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Year: 90
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Default The basics of tow straps

There seems to be alot of questions about recovery straps and this simple guide hopes to clear up some of those questions.

Are there different kinds of straps?

Yes, there are several different kinds of straps. But only a few are acceptable for using to recover a stuck vehicle.

This picture shows a selection of different kinds of straps. From the top left: A 2 inch tie-down strap with metal hooks, A 1 inch tie down strap with metal hooks, A 2 inch '******' type recovery, A 2 inch recovery strap, A 2 inch commercial ties down strap.

The different kinds of straps and their uses

Our little friend the 1 inch tie down strap. This little fellow literally has a few hundred uses around a Jeep, from tieing down cargo to lashing broken parts back on to get you off the trail. But his lightweight construction is also his downfall. These usually have a breaking point of 1000lbs and are not designed for snatching loads.

Now this is a step up in strength, but not a step in the right direction. The is a 2 inch tie down strap with metal hooks. Now its breaking strength of 18,000 lbs. is high enough, BUT that is for static loads. This strap is not designed for moving loads like recovering a Jeep. Not to mention we NEVER want metal hooks on recovery gear. Keep these on the trailer where they belong.

This is a piece of 2 inch commercial tie down strap. The 30k lbs. breaking strength seems enormous, but this is also for non-moving loads not recovering Jeeps.

This is 2-inch recovery strap. It carries a 20,00lbs lbs load rating, and is twice as thick as the tie down straps. The ends are looped over and stitched to keep the loop. This is what we want for recovering our Jeeps.

This is a 2 inch ****** strap. It is intended for recovering Jeeps. It actually stretches out when you pull on it and will actually add some additional force to the force of the pull.

The proper care of our straps

After every run or time out with our straps we need to take them out and properly care for and store them. Not doing this will lead to shortening of a straps life and can lead to a dangerous situation with a strap breaking.

Inspecting the strap

We need to inspect them for trail damage, fraying, cuts, debris, or general wear. The easiest way to do this is simply roll them out, and visually go over them as you roll them back up to store them.

This picture shows a strap, that while doesn't have any damage yet, is starting to get some general wear and needs to be kept an eye on. See the red threads along the outside edges? If these are broken or frayed the strap needs to be replaced. They are stitched into these straps as warning markers. The areas where the yellow color is going out of this strap are the areas where general wear is occurring and we need to make sure safety doesn't get compromised.

This strap is damaged and needs to be replaced. Do not use this to recover a vehicle. When a strap looks like this discard it, or cut it into pieces for other uses.

Cleaning straps

Yes, Virgina you can and should clean your straps after every outing. It's a VERY simple process. First... Fill a bucket with clean water. Dunk the straps into it and wash off as much dirt, mud, gunk as you can. There is no need for soap, water will work just fine. Second... Take a hose and run it over all the spots of dirt and mud left. Use your fingers to work the dirt out of the straps fibers. Finally let the straps dry fully and roll them back up for the next use.

Connecting two straps

There are going to be times when simply one strap isn't long enough to get the job done. You will see alot of people simply turn to a shackle in this instance and that isn't the correct or safe way of doing it. A few years ago there was an instance of an off-roader being killed when a strap broke and the stored energy propelled the clevis being used to connect two straps through the back window of his truck and hit him in the head. Unfortunately, the link I had to story is now dead.

Attaching two straps requires some sort of object to place in between the two straps to keep them from embedded themselves into each other and making in seemingly impossible to get apart.

I carry a 1-1/2 hardwood dowel to do the job, but you can use any semi-smooth object of the correct size.

We start by looping the opposite ends of each strap together.

We simply pull the ends away from each other and the inner ends will pull together. When we reach the middle we slide in our object and pull snug.

When you go to separate the straps, simply twist the object a bit and the straps will loosen right up.

Hopefully that will help answer some of the questions about straps and safe recovery practices.
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