It is critical is to choose the right tie down straps for your application. Ratchet straps are a highly reliant form of load restraints are used by many industries to tie down cargo. They are also used on an everyday basis to hold down items via a ute, truck or trailer – in order to transport them safely on the road when hauled across distances. Here’s a guide to making the best selection.

Understanding the composition of a ratchet strap

In selecting the right ratchet strap for your task, it’s always important to ‘get a grip’ on exactly how these load restraints work and how they are composed. Most commonly, ratchet straps are made from a durable polyester webbing with very little stretch. They allow for the strength or tension applied to a load to be fully adjustable. Therefore, they are often the preferred choice for load restraints for load sizes across the board (no matter how large or heavy) as they allow for ‘more give’ than their bungee cord, rope or tarp counterparts.

HANDY TIP- It’s necessary to always put safety first in securing a load. Analyse the varying levels of quality and grades used in composition and materials of your tie down straps.

Assessing your cargo

Making a choice in regard to ratchet straps will depend on the specifications of your load. This takes into consideration the weight and dimensions of whatever it is you intend to secure. You will also need to consider the type of transportation that you will be using. Naturally, there are specific challenges associated with how you are going to get your cargo ‘from A to B’ – whether this is by truck or ute, by ship, air carrier or railway, etc.

HANDY TIP – There’s also the matter of the environmental conditions complicit in a given scenario. In assessing the best way to use ratchet tie down straps you will need to look at exposure to elements and temperature extremes, as well as the overall challenges that the physical parameters of your cargo might present.

Gauging load sizes

Make use of industry standards in categorising load sizes to take a lot of the guesswork out of selecting your tie down straps. A broad breakdown into ‘light’ ‘medium’ and ‘heavy’ loads is a great starting point. You will likely feel more comfortable securing light to medium loads – as it is easier to ensure your cargo is tight and that the risk of a catastrophic load release is dramatically reduced. However, what’s great about ratchet straps is that they can always handle those heavy loads if need be – so, you are covered on all bases.

Categorisations for load sizes will differ according to the industry and mode of transport. But there are some typical measurements for cargo that may come in handy. When it comes to trucks, Less Than Truckload (LTL) is a measure used to determine (as the name suggests) cargo that does not completely occupy an entire truck trailer. Similarly, you have Partial Truckload (Partial TL) and Full Truckload (FTL).

HANDY TIP – You should looks into industry standards (such as shipping containers and rail freight) to find relevant terminology across these other modes of transportation in ascertaining cargo size guidelines.

Checking Working Load Limit (WLL)

From here, we come to Working Load Limit (WLL). This figure refers to the maximum load capacity ascribed to a tie down strap. As there are many different sizes and configurations of ratchet tie down straps, so knowing the right WWL is imperative in selecting the safest and most secure equipment for your task. It translates to the active amount of stress that the load restraint can withstand without failing. The WLL of the ratchet strap assembly is determined in part by the width of the webbing – the wider the webbing, the stronger it will be.

Checking WWL is one of the most pivotal steps in attaining peace-of-mind for securing a load. The figure will be based on one-third of the strap’s breaking strength. You can use this calculation to determine the correct restraints for your cargo size. For example, a 10000 kg breaking strength of force before failure equals a 3333 kg working load limit. Always err on the side of caution, opting for ratchet tie down straps with a scope of WWL that will more than cover your expected load and projected conditions.

HANDY TIP – Search for the WWL rating stitched into the tie down webbing on the cargo straps you intend to hire or purchase – before you go ahead with the transaction.

Reviewing hardware, industry standards other specifications

It’s essential not to overlook the fact that ratchet straps are used in conjunction with hardware and are subject to industry standards and other specifications, ie. review the ‘bigger picture’ in making your selection. In terms of hardware, you have many different options. For example, D-rings, flat hook, wire hooks etc. In terms of industry standards and specifications, it always necessary to ‘do things by the book’.

HANDY TIP – Always consult OSHA guidelines for the most suitable hardware for your application and make sure you work in tandem with this load restraint guide at all steps in your process.


It’s incredibly important to secure cargo properly; otherwise, you will likely be liable for accidents, injuries and similar consequences that may arise as the result from a failure to do so. It is a mandatory requirement in transporting loads that you employ the safest and most secure methodology for the benefit of all involved. We hope the above guide will improve your ability to achieve this scenario.