How do I use a Recovery Strap?

The right recovery straps and how to use them can make the difference if you can pull your vehicle out safely or if you have to wait on a tow truck. A high-quality strap without hooks attached to it is the strap you want to use for getting a vehicle unstuck.

This is NOT a recovery strap:

The above is called a “tow” strap. The main reason not to use this for recovery is simple. If the recovery strap or your recovery hardware breaks, it’s not safe to have a metal hook flying off at speeds in excess of 100 mph.

Many people have been killed and seriously injured by using these straps incorrectly. These straps will not stretch because they are made for towing, not recovery.

Let me first clarify what we are talking about.
Here is a recovery strap:

How a Recovery Strap Works

The strap works like this. Say for example you are pulling out your friend, so you attach your recovery strap to the back of your vehicle and then to the front of his. As you drive away from him the recovery strap stretches just like a rubber band. The strap wants to go back to its normal size, so it has no other choice than to transfer the energy to the stuck vehicle, pulling it out.

Recovery straps are flat with sewn loops and no hooks. They are nylon, not polypropylene or Dacron or chain. Because the straps are made of Nylon, they stretch. They are safer than chains, easier to use, and not nearly as heavy.


I’ve seen recovery straps come in lengths of 20 to 40 feet and widths from 2 to 6 inches. A general rule of thumb, each inch of width will allow you to pull out about 10,000 lbs. So if I have a 3 inch wide strap, it would be rated to tug up to 30,000 lbs. Many will then ask, why not go all the way up to a 6″ wide recovery strap? The problem is that the strap becomes less elastic the wider it gets, which means it will not work properly. Typically a 2″ or 3″ wide recovery strap will suit all of your needs.

Tips for Recovery Strap Use

In addition to these recommendations, read the instructions your recovery strap comes with. To protect your strap, store it out of sunlight and away from heat and keep it clean.  Dirt, mud, and debris embedded in a tow strap actually damages the fibers over time and can decrease its strength.  After a muddy day of wheeling and recovery, always clean your straps by hosing them off and spray horizontally across the strap as not to push the debris into the strap fibers.  Happy Recovering!


Article written by Robert B., provided from
Gator4x4 Club in Gainesville, Florida

Visit them on the web at