Ratchet and Cam Strap Engineering: The Secret to Their Strength

If you have ever relied on ratchet or cam straps to tie things down, you know they are pretty darned strong. Most of the ratchet and cam straps I have worked with are considerably stronger than rope. But have you ever wondered why that is? The secret is engineering. Also known as tie-down straps, ratchet and cam straps have been engineered for high tensile strength.

Tensile strength is the amount of force an object can withstand up to the point of catastrophic failure. When you are tying cargo to the back of a utility trailer or moving a dirt bike in your pickup truck, tensile strength is important. I know I don’t like to compromise with my tie-downs. As for ratchet and cam strap engineering, let us get into it in more detail.

Webbing Material Is Strong

Virtually every ratchet or cam strap I have ever seen is made from webbing material. Typically, the material is polyester or nylon. Both offer good tensile strength and abrasion resistance. But that’s not all. The webbing design itself adds additional strength.

Webbing material is woven in a very tight weave. Weaving takes threads over and under one another, providing plenty of surface contact to distribute loads across the entire material. By weaving polyester or nylon threads together to create a strap, manufacturers end up with a very sturdy but flexible fabric.

Reinforced Stitching Patterns

The weakest point in any ratchet or cam strap is the connection between strap and hardware. In order to overcome this inherent weakness, manufacturers rely on reinforced stitching patterns and techniques. The idea is to make sure that connections between straps and hardware do not fail under load.

I have seen products with poor stitching. The stitching barely seems reinforced, if it is reinforced at all. I wouldn’t trust that kind of strap for securing anything of importance.

Buckle Design

A ratchet or cam strap is only as strong as its buckle. A finely engineered buckle is made from a durable material like aluminum or a steel alloy. It is designed to withstand high tension forces without deformation. In addition, locking mechanisms are kept simple to avoid problems that could lead to failure.

For the record, a ratchet strap has a buckle with a built-in ratchet. You tighten the ratchet to tighten the strap. A cam strap utilizes a cam buckle. Rollercam brand straps are the perfect example. Rather than relying on a ratchet, you thread the open end of the strap through the buckle and over the cam. Then just pull it tight. A spring-loaded clamp plate digs in to hold the strap securely.

High Quality Hardware

Tying everything together is high quality hardware. Ratchet and cam straps are used in conjunction with hooks, D-rings, and other types of hardware. The hardware needs to be just as strong as the straps themselves. Therefore, hardware is engineered according to the same high standards.

Manufacturers tend to prefer forged steel and aluminum alloys for their hardware. They design hardware that resists corrosion and is more than capable of handling significant tension forces. When the hardware is as strong as the straps and buckles, you have a winning package.

Replace All of Your Other Tie-Downs

Do you have any practical experience with ratchet and cam straps? If not, buy one or two and try them. Here’s betting you will want to replace all your other tie-downs with new straps. Ratchet and cam straps are better than rope and bungee cords for most applications. They are not necessarily better than chains, so keep that in mind for exceptionally heavy or bulky loads.