Don’t Buy that Ratchet Strap!

You’ve just purchased a kayak or paddle board. Congratulations! Now you need a way to get it on your car to get it home. So you go to Home Depot and buy ratchet straps. It seems like a great idea – a strap with a built-in tightening system. Crank it until you can crank it no more, and your new boat should be secure.

But wait!

While ratchet straps are much better than using bungee cords or twine for securing a kayak or paddle board to the roof of your vehicle, we still cringe when we see them. They work great for big jobs securing rigid, solid items such as lumber or pallets or a vehicle to a flatbed. But kayaks and paddle boards require a more delicate touch.

With a ratchet strap you can easily over-tighten, causing your vessel to lose its shape. That’s because ratchet straps have a ratcheting lever that’s hard to control. You are limited by the travel of the ratchet, meaning that if you need it a little tighter you have to complete another ratchet pull which may be way too tight.

Most ratchet straps also have a hook at each end. Roof racks usually don’t have a suitable place to connect the hook. The other problem with the hook is that if you loose tension (this happens all the time on a hot day when the plastic softens in the heat) the hook may come out of whatever you’ve attached it to.
We always recommend buying paddlesport specific tie-down or buckle straps. They are infinitely adjustable allowing you to put the exact amount of desired tension on them. And while it’s still possible to over-tighten buckle straps causing damage to your vehicle and vessel, it is much less likely.

We’ve always used NRS tie-down straps – typically the NRS 12’ or 15′ straps that are 1” wide. This size works for just about everything we ever need. NRS has been making these straps since 1978. And now they even make straps with rubber coated buckles to protect you car and kayak.

Of course, these days there are many other options on the market. Just make sure that the load strength is over 1000 pounds and that the buckle is stainless steel. We’ve seen numerous imitations that break, don’t hold properly, or degrade in sunlight.

Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll show you how to properly use tie-down straps.

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