Thinking about moving something in the back of your pickup truck? Make sure you have a good selection of tiedown straps. Ditto for transporting materials or cargo on a utility trailer. Tiedown straps keep everything in place, thereby eliminating the risk of things falling off and into the road.

There is a lot to know about tiedown straps and how to use them. If you are new to the whole tiedown thing, this post is for you. It offers the most important things beginners need to know about the straps themselves.

Not Ropes or Bungee Cords

Tiedowns come in all sorts of options including straps, ropes, and bungee cords. The first thing to know is that each option is different. Another way to phrase it is to say that tiedown straps are NOT ropes or bungee cords. They are webbing straps with some sort of buckle attached to one end. The webbing material is usually made of nylon or polyester.

You’ll Need a 2-Strap System

Most applications require a 2-strap system to keep cargo in place. One strap will have a cam buckle or ratchet while the other has an open end. Both straps will have either a hook or loop on the opposite end.

To use a 2-strap system, you hook both straps to appropriate anchor points using the hooks or loops. Next, you lay the straps over the load and thread the open end of the one strap through the cam buckle or ratchet of the other strap. Then you either pull or ratchet the combined straps together until they are tight.

The main advantage of the cam strap, according to the tie down experts behind, is that less force is required to pull the strap tight. However, ratchet straps are designed to handle much heavier loads, which is why flatbed truckers prefer them.

You Can Pull Them Too Tightly

Tiedown straps are superior to both rope and bungee cords because they do a better job of holding things in place. But there is always the danger of pulling a tiedown strap too tightly. The risk of doing so is more pronounced when using a ratchet strap simply because ratchets limit the amount of control you have. Cam straps are easier to deploy without being pulled too tightly.

You’ll Need Edge Protection

As tough and durable as tiedown straps are, they are not indestructible. Their biggest enemy is the sharp edge. Therefore, it is wise to utilize some sort of edge protection where straps make contact with the cargo being carried. You can buy plastic edge protectors or use pieces of cardboard. Even moving blankets will do the trick.

Storage Is Pretty Straightforward

Tiedown straps can be stored pretty simply. First, you wind a strap into a tight coil then put a rubber band around it to hold it together. Coiling straps makes it possible to store several of them together without worries of tangling or knotting.

Webbing straps are not affected much by the weather or environmental conditions. They are tough enough to stand up to temperature extremes, moisture, and UV rays. Still, it is a good idea to store unused straps in some sort of protective container. There is no point to unnecessarily exposing cam buckles and ratchets to the elements.

That is about it for the basics. If you are new to the whole tiedown strap thing, take some time to learn the differences between ratchet and cam straps. Most consumer applications are served well enough with the cam option. Just do yourself a favor and go with a brand name product that gets good reviews.