jump to example.com

Sure, you can buy better quality ratchet straps. And if you’re tying down containers of nuclear waste before barreling full-tilt-boogie down a bumpy mountain road, I’d definitely suggest spending for the best. But let’s face it: Most of the time you’re tying down something stupid like a mattress you’re moving for a buddy, and it’s pretty likely he’ll “accidentally” end up with a couple of your straps after the experience anyway. That’s why there’s Harbor Freight.

HF is currently advertising the above four-piece strap set for $13. I’ve seen some cheaper, too, sometimes in the check-out line at Lowe’s. Regardless of where you look, though, when you stumble across a package on the cheap, grab a few. Having a bag of 10-12 straps can make the difference between an easy job and an oh-s#!$-I-hope-it-stays-on experience, and if anyone walks away with a few, who really cares?

[Harbor Freight]


29 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: Ratchet Straps

  1. Nik says:

    Everybody should own a set of these. I cringe every time I see people in the IKEA parking garage tying stuff to the roof of their car with the twine that IKEA helpfully provides. If you do that, you are basically risking other people’s lives. You cannot tie something down with ropes or (god forbid) twine. It’s only a matter of time until it comes loose.

    As far as I’m concerned, every car should come with a set of $13 Harbor Freight ratchet straps. Even a cheap set works well and lasts a long time.

  2. kdp says:

    Instead of a proper drive gate, my pasture has a length of fence material nailed to one gate post and held to the other by two ratchet straps that go to the far post of the H brace. Don’t knock it – it keeps the goats in.

    UV and weather break the strapping down after a while, but in the short run it’s cheaper to replace them with something like the above than to make/buy a proper gate (slated for spring).

  3. kyle says:

    got this for $10 with a coupon, and they have done the job and have held up well. for the price even at $13 its definately worth it.

  4. Nick says:

    i swear i got those for $5 w/ a coupon once.

  5. Bajajoaquin says:

    I have a bag of ratchet straps behind the front seat of my truck. I use them for everything, even guy lines on tents now (it’s easier to see the orange, and way easier to get even tension than ropes).

    I helped a friend with a condo conversion of an apartment building once. Part of my payment was as many refrigerators as I could carry to re-sell. I was shocked by how many people showed up with pickup trucks, but no way to tie anything down.

  6. techieman33 says:

    What’s so bad about using rope? if it’s properly tied it will work just as well as a ratchet strap in most cases.

  7. Duncan says:

    +1 on the use of rope

  8. almanen says:

    Rope takes more skill/knowledge. Strap with hooks on end and tensioning device is simple. Rope knots are not all that well known to the general public, nor is tightening it properly after the knots on.

  9. Bill says:

    So learn to use rope & knots correctly. They’re tools! Highways are littered with ratchet straps and bungee cords that were applied incorrectly.

  10. zoomzoomjeff says:

    MY real question is now that I have tons of these…….what’s the best way to organize them so you don’t have a rat’s nest everytime you want to use them?

    I keep the ratchets separate, and the straps separate, but they still end up getting tangled up. Any ideas on the cheap??

  11. Randy says:

    I roll mine up pretty tight and put a big rubber band from a bike inner tube or broccoli band or a zip tie around them. Toss a bunch into a sack and store behind my seat.

  12. Cameron Watt says:

    I roll the straps up an put a turn of electrical tape around the roll to keep it together. I find it makes for a quick tie-down when they’re organized this way.

    The way I see it is that I can sort out a tangle when my truck is loaded and I’m ready to go or I can spend time getting organized at the time of my choosing….having said that, mine are currently in a tangle on my passenger side floor.

  13. HeartlessMachine says:

    Go buy some new socks.

    Take each strap and fold it in half. Fold that in half. Fold it one more time if you need to, so you basically have a bundle of strap about a foot and a half long. Then tie the whole thing in a knot.

    Then stuff the knotted strap into an OLD sock. It won’t get tangled with the others, and you’ll also have extra emergency rags, just in case. And your feet will be happy to have the new socks.

  14. tmib_seattle says:

    That’s really funny. I was about to suggest old socks too, thinking it was an original idea. I save old socks for shop rags, and ended up grabbing a few a while back to store my ratchet straps.

  15. cheerIO says:

    @ zoomzoomjeff:

    I use this type of coil for keeping the long ends organized.


    I coil them all up and put them in an industrial zip top bag. When you undo them they will just fall apart.

    I also carry four 20 ft lengths and one 100 ft length of 550 lb paracord with me at all times. Using a couple lengths of that with a trucker’s hitch is very satisfying. I learned that knot from a past article on this site.

  16. Brau says:

    I bought a set of 4 from Walmart and they have proven invaluable. Last week I used two 1″ ratchet straps and a come-a-long to haul a 4-banger and trans out of a sports car, when the chain we had was too short. Hard to believe each one has a 300LB rating. I roll mine up and stuff a rag with them in a small container with a tight lid – keeps ’em from tangling up while they bounce around in my trunk.

  17. Gil says:

    You do need to be careful of the one magic thread with these ones. Though it does make a great cat toy.

  18. Dave G. says:

    I also use mine as tent tie downs, especially for my large 30×15 tent. Makes tensioning evenly a cinch.

    Aaannd…I also loop them over themselves and hold with a rubber band or twist tie.

    And last, that twine you get from most stores is strong as hell. Try to break that stuff some day. Even its shear strength is pretty good.

  19. Mac says:

    +1 on ratchet straps
    +1 on rope
    ++1 on learning a few knots, truckers hitch among them.

    Have both straps and rope, use either/both depending on situation.

    I coil my straps (folds/creases wear out and become a weak point) and rubber band them. They’re kept in a small old soft case.

  20. SharkyTM says:

    Yeah, god-forbid that anyone has to learn how to tie a knot, or properly use line to secure an item.

    Or how to make anything ourselves for that matter. I’m of the opinion that knowing knots is one of the most basic and important skills. It amazes me ho many people come out on our boats, and don’t know how to tie anything but half-hitches and granny knots. You only really need to know a few, the bowline, the clove hitch, the square knot, a slip knot, and any bend. 5 knots aren’t hard to learn.

  21. IronHerder says:

    Toolmonger has very wise and knowledgeable commenters who generously share with those of us with less experience, and I am very grateful to them. (What else could I say on Thanksgiving!)

    I keep ratchet straps (both cheap and professional grade), tarp straps and several lengths of rope in my pickup. I was fortunate enough to learn to tie a trucker’s hitch from my father. Currently, I keep my ratchet straps rolled up with a re-usable zip tie, but keeping track of them zip ties takes some extra effort (because of course my attention is on securing the load).

    I might switch to socks for strap storage, not only for ease of use and simplicity, but because possibly they could be used to keep the ratchet from scratching the paint when the hooks are attached at the outside bottom edge of the pickup bed. Usually I use cardboard for this, but the storage socks would have the virtue of always being handy.

    Again, thanks to all of the toolmonger commenters for another year of helpful hints and inspired entertainment (but don’t give up your day job).

    2010 was a good year for me, I actually shrank my iron herd by a net of two vehicles; my goals in 2011 are to get the herd under twenty, and to buy a vehicle made in this century.


  22. zoomzoomjeff says:

    SharkyTM–I totally agree with you on the knots. I wish I DID actually know how to tie them, but I was under the impression that a person had to know ALL knots in order to be useful. I wasn’t aware that if you have like 5 knots, you could do most things. Thanks for the names of the knots–I am always wanting to learn and now that I know those will help me with most things, I’ll try to study up.

    IronHerder—are you kidding me?!?!? 20+ vehicles? Let me see pictures of your fleet because that’s just awesome.

  23. steve says:

    I had a HF ratchet strap I got for like $3. Used it once on a dolly to move a bunch of cases of water to a 3rd floor. By the time I was done, the stupid thing was ripping. Can’t trust it anymore

  24. PutnamEco says:

    zoomzoomjeff Says:
    I am always wanting to learn and now that I know those will help me with most things, I’ll try to study up.
    animatedknots.com would be a good place to start, iwillknot.com is another

  25. Brett from Utah says:

    This knot talk reminds me of a story:
    I’m a former ( US Navy)sailor, and I was fishing with a pal who among other things has spend some time as a sailing instructor in his youth, and he asked me to tie up his boat when we stopped to camp for the night- I started to tie off the bowline with a couple of half hitches to the nearest tree and he immediately stops me and says to use a sheet bend to attach this line to the bowline and tie off to the bigger tree higher up the shore- and I told him I don’t remember how to tie a sheet bend( I have since rectified that by the way…)…He starts giving me ” The Lecture”-“you were a sailor for six years and don’t know knots?… and a fisherman ta boot?.. What the hells wrong with people!?…When he finished, I told him it was a nice rant -and I do in fact know plenty of knots, But the sheet bend had slipped my mind since its a knot used to tie lines to sailcloth to make jury-sails, and the US Navy hasn’t sailed under wind power since well before I was born, and I worked on computers when I was aboard ship anyway….he looked at me for a minute and said” Yeah, I guess a couple of half hitches would work too..”

  26. fred says:

    I’ve taught boy scouts knots for about 25 years now.
    Many of the scouts lern them for rank advancement – but forget them just as quickly. The scouts who stay with the program and are put in the position of need to teach their younger fellows – retain much more.

    BTW – the sheet bend is particularly good when the two lines are of different diameters

    For tent guy ropes – we taught the taut line hitch.

    For cinching up matarials with a rope – we anchor one end to a fixed point with 2 half hitches – then – we create a figure 8 loop at a convienient point along the length of the rope – loop the free end of the rope around the 2nd anchor point – bring the freed end through the figure 8 loop – cinch everything up tight and tie the free end off onto the taut rope with 2 half hitches

  27. MattR says:

    Never mind knot tying– I’ve seen more deer-in-headlights looks from supposed handy-people trying to operate these tie-downs, I thought everyone knew how they worked. Btw I saw a set of the Wal-mart ones recently (showing an engineer how they worked) and they are a step up from the old HF ones. Say that reminds me, I need to stop by HF and get another bag of bungees (where do they go?)

  28. Adam says:

    The best place to get ratchet straps is directly from a ratchet strap manufacturer. These things are very strong and really ready for the task at hand. Why not buy ratchet straps that will work for any experience. I have found that at ratchetstraps.com they have a great selection of strong straps at a very affordable price and they will be make them at any specification that you have. From my experience with them they are easy to deal with and sell very good product.

  29. miss frannie says:

    I have a pair of these I picked out of somes unfortunates trash. Sucker was throwing them out. Now i got em and use em alot.

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