Warning about new tie-down straps

Many moons ago, somebody (I think it was JackL) posted a complaint about new tiedown straps that didn’t hold well.

It’s that time of year again. WASH YOUR NEW STRAPS BEFORE YOU USE THEM. I just bought four new ones and, like the last two I bought, they had a slippery feel to them so I washed them in plain water. I mean, I rinsed them TEN TIMES and there were still some suds at that point. They were incredibly sudsy for the few few rinses.

I don’t know why strap makers make soapy straps, but I suppose it’s better than providing dirty ones!

Good post…!
especially for newer paddlers.

Something I always do after tightening the strap is to put a finger behind the metal of the buckle and give a slight tug just to make sure the points bite into the strap.

Another thing to do as far as maintenance goes, is every so often give the metal buckles, springs and tiny moving parts a squirt of silicon lubricant or WD-40. This is even more important if they are used around salt water.



Something I do with spring loaded
cam buckles is to run the strap through the buckle and secure the excess strap ‘past’ the buckle (so the strap is forming an “S” shape through the buckle rather than a “U” shape.)

I’ve run the straps through the buckles in a ‘U’ shape and have been able to pull them loose. When I run them through in the ‘S’ fashion, they don’t budge.

Thanks, one thing I do is after I
pull them tight. I wrap the extra strap around my bars and tie them off so if the cam does loosen the straps are still held tight.

Extra safety is good
What I do is tighten the strap, then pass it under and over the underlying strap and tie an overhand knot. This keeps it from loosening up even if the buckle spring wants to let go. Then I wrap and tie the excess strap around the roof rack.

Also, there is a “good” way and a not-so-good way to orient the buckle. The tightening occurs from one direction, so it helps to take advantage of that.

Switched to straps with ratchets
Feel much more secure than with the variety of buckle and/or clamp type straps. If you make the switch, DO NOT buy the light duty version, the ratchet mechanisms aren’t as reliable as the medium or heavy duty. For a couple of bucks more, I got the heavy duty ones. Drove from WNY to north Georgia and they held tight the entire trip.

Happy Haulin’ (to your favorite paddlin’ spot)


When I load my boats at night for the
next day’s trip, I always tighten them in the morning. Dew apparently loosens them.

Hope you have strong boats
Heavy plastic ones that dent and pop back out!

Way too easy to do damage composite boats with ratchets. Too much power, and no way to feel it as when you pull by hand.

The straps do not need to be THAT tight. On a good rack, just snug is plenty.

My thoughts on rachets also.
Either my roof of my boats would be damaged.

Loose at Night
For the benefit of boats, straps, and racks, when loading the night before for an early start, it’s wise not to tighten the straps—or the bow and stern tiedowns, for that matter—until morning departure. That extra 8-10 hours of tension, especially in varying temps, can really strain a boat, particularly a plastic one.

My thoughts on rachets also.
That’s been my experience as well. Used them once and gave them away.

I have used different straps from
strapworks.com, and have never had a problem.

Sing the song of ropes…cheap and

But if you are knot challenged, NRS
straps are great!

Yup. The half hitch is a pretty advanced

– Last Updated: Apr-27-06 1:25 PM EST –

knot there String. ;^)

I received quite an education on tieing down small boats for transport back in Jan. Helped load one of those dedicated boar haulers. You know, the ones you see with the college crew boats, sells, canoes, and kayaks running up and down the east coast and even inland.

They only used soft woven white rope. I believe it was 5/16" or bigger polyester braided rope. Nylon stretches too much, is harsher on the hulls, and about 50% more expensive. The only knot I saw used was the half hitch. At least 3 or 4 half hitches one on top of the other.

As I was picking up some new boats on a trailer I tried half with straps and half with rope. Both did well, EXCEPT that the rope stayed a little tighter and there were more abrasion makes under the straps than the ropes at the end of the 1800 mile trip.

The ropes must be tight!!! I tightened the front, pushed the boat forward into the rope just installed, and then pulled down hard on the rear rope and tightened even further by pinching (to hold the first wrap tight), and then pulling the half hitches to further tighten the ropes. They only loosened a little. Had to retied the knots only twice in the 1800 miles.

The straps were retightened twice as well, but I also have self tightening bungies on them as we have discussed before.

The rub marks on the rope tied boats were smaller and not as deep as the strap tied boats. The straps also held more dirt and objects under them.

Do not use colored rope, especially the darker colors as it tends to bleed!!!

Just finished another long trip of 1500 miles with only ropes as tiedowns. They worked great!!! Better than straps as there are quicker, less marking, less bulky, easier to manage, easier to wash, cheaper, etc!

Going to try out the self tightening method I have been using on straps. If it works out as well as it did on straps I will really have a better system.



BTW: Just how can you use a name like String and then claim not to be able to tie knots? ;^) ;^) ;^)

legality of rope tiedowns
I’ve seen a post on this site in the past that said some states (nj?) require straps to tie down roof top loads and ropes are not legal.

My thought is that a strap spreads the tie down forces across a wider area than a rope and provides more friction to front and back movements.

> Another thing to do as far as maintenance goes,

is every so often give the metal buckles, springs

and tiny moving parts a squirt of silicon

lubricant or WD-40.

No W-40 around nylon. WD-40 is just perfumed kerosene, and that’ll age nylon. Silicone or teflon only.



New Jersey. Heard illegall there.
And yet the haulers I talked to go right through there with ropes.

Makes me wonder if there is a size of vehicle, or size and weight of load that the law applies to.

Someone know for sure?



A half-whut? I’m still working on my
shoelaces.Cowboys have the right idear.

If you overtighten ratchets, then you…
must not be paying attention to what you are doing!!! Been using them 3 years with aluminum, fiberglass & plastic and have never overtightened a strap or had any type of problem. In the 40+ years I’ve been haulin’ boats, I think I’ve used almost everything at one time or another. Various types of straps, ropes (polypro, nylon, hemp, even cotton clothesline) and during the really lean $$$ years, hemp bailer twine (it was free). My 1st trip to Algonquin we hauled 3 Grummans (300 miles) on top of a '60 Ford tied down with BT. I look back on that with awe and wonder. It totally amazes me that we didn’t lose a canoe. But when you’re 16 you don’t think about the consequences of your actions.