Recovery Straps - Proper Usage
How recovery straps work and how to use them properly
By Robert B. of Gator4x4 Club
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
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
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
- Before ever using the strap, make sure it is in good condition (
no cuts, frays, or broken stitching.)
- Make sure the hardware being used is free of defects and rust. This
includes your tow hooks or front hitch and the hardware on the other
vehicle. If possible, the recovering vehicle should place the recovery
strap to its rear end, which would be the safest place if the strap
happens to break.
- You may be able to wrap the strap around a hitch, but I would not
put it IN the hitch. I have seen a few people who have
bent the pin, which then had to be cut out. Getting a tow hook or D-Ring
adaptor to go into the hitch is a better idea. Here is an example of a
D-Ring adaptor and how a recovery strap should be hooked up to one:
- Some older cars actually have tow hooks, but if not you must use
your own judgment. Never attach a recovery strap to a vehicles bumpers,
axles, suspension, steering rods, or a trailer hitch ball. The attach
points must be to a secure place on the vehicles frame. Do not place the
recovery strap on another vehicle in a way that it may be cut.
- Never, ever, attach a recovery strap to another vehicle with a knot.
You should pass one end of the strap through the loop at the other end
of the strap to secure it on.
- Incase the strap may break, lay a tarp or some jackets on top of the
recovery strap. When the strap breaks (lets hope for the best, but
prepare for the worst), the jackets or tarp will slow the recovery strap
down before it hits someone.
- To help protect the strap from tears, make sure all logs and large
rocks are removed from the recovery path. Everyone should stand clear of
the recovery strap when it is in use.
- When pulling the vehicle out, drive very slowly. Sudden tugs may
lead to damage to either of the vehicles or the strap.
- Once the vehicle is safely removed, inspect your recovery strap and
hardware and hit the road!
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.
|Article written by Robert B., provided from
Gator4x4 Club in Gainesville, Florida
Visit them on the web at