Best Tow Straps: The Ultimate Choices for Towing Heavy Stuff
Never get stuck out on the trails with these great tow straps
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BY Bryan Long / LAST UPDATED ON September 8, 2020
Automobiles have become our most versatile tools. Today, we often see trucks used for towing vehicles, pulling out tree roots, or moving heavy industrial equipment. Tow straps are an amazing asset and can make these difficult jobs much quicker to complete. It's important to know which straps you need and how reliable they are before spending your money. These are our picks for the best towing and recovery straps.
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Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of a Tow Strap
- Carefree off-roading. Really your biggest concern when off-roading (other than maybe breaking something) is getting your truck stuck. Luckily, your fun doesn’t need to be spoiled if you have a reliable tow strap with you.
- Industrial use. Many companies use heavy-duty tow straps to move industrial equipment.
- Construction. Construction and any other field that requires cranes can use tow straps for lifting materials.
- Safe tow strap material. Recovery straps are made without any metal pieces, so they are much safer than straps with hooks on the end.
Types of Straps
Despite tow straps and recovery straps often being grouped together, there are key differences. Tow straps are made specifically for towing a free-moving vehicle. You'll notice that the best tow straps generally have hooks or shackles at the ends, which make it easier to latch onto whatever vehicle you’re towing. The straps themselves do not stretch, which is why recovery is not something they should be used for. Using them for recovery can be dangerous as they're more likely to break.
The materials used for recovery straps (sometimes referred to as snatch straps) give them the ability to stretch when pulling a heavy load. This elasticity is vital when pulling out a vehicle that is stuck. More noticeably, these straps don't come with any hooks or shackles, nor should they be used with any. The loops at either end should be attached to a frame or recovery points in order to pull a vehicle safely. The lack of metal pieces also makes the straps far safer in case they break or slip off.
Rhino is a family-owned business headquartered in California. All of its products come with a lifetime warranty, and a percentage of its proceeds are donated to charity. It has the top-rated Recovery Strap, and it produces great kits like the RHINO USA COMBO Shackle Hitch Receiver.
A manufacturer known for making some of the most popular recovery straps made in the USA, TGL brand straps are part of family-owned Ten Good Limited USA. They are located in Wyoming and produce an assortment of off-road accessories. Its popular Tree-saver Tow Strap has a great price, and its 30' Recovery Strap is a bestseller.
Another great brand of tow straps based in California, Keeper’s parent company, Hampton, has been a hardware manufacturer for over 30 years. The Keeper brand offers a wide array of stretch tow straps, with its Keeper 02942 30' x 4" Recovery Strap being one of the most popular.
In the 1950s, Smittybilt started as a small garage shop. Today, it’s one of the largest suppliers of off-road truck and SUV parts. The Smittybilt CC120 Snatch Strap is one of the best off-road tow straps on the market.
Tow Strap Pricing
- Under $20: These are basic tow straps with no extra accessories or tools. Most straps at this price point also have a much lower breaking point compared to more expensive straps.
- $20-$50: This is the most common price point for tow and recovery straps. Typically, these are straps with very high breaking points and offer handy additions like storage bags and longer warranties.
- Over $50: While a lot of these are the same straps mentioned before, the higher price tag generally comes with additional parts. These kits will include a premium tow strap and storage bag, D-ring shackles, and trailer hitch locking pins.
If you’re looking to buy a recovery strap, one of the most important qualities is elasticity. Vehicle recovery straps are made to stretch out before returning back to regular length while pulling out a stuck vehicle. The weight rating and overall length of the strap are important factors to be aware of before you actually tow anything.
Any tow strap you buy is going to have a maximum weight limit, and it’s usually one of the first pieces of information you can find. It’s important to know the difference between the max weight and vehicle weight ratings. The max weight rating is not the weight of something your strap should regularly be pulling, which is why a vehicle rating (how heavy the free moving vehicle is) should be used to gauge capacity.
As previously mentioned, whether you have a tow strap or a recovery strap will dictate what is fastened at either end. If you're using a tow strap, you will want to make sure that the hooks or D-rings are made from a reliable and robust material. If you have a recovery strap, then ensuring the loops are connected somewhere they won't slip off should be your focus.
- Space: If you have a compact amount of space in your vehicle, handy accessories like storage bags and cases are probably a good option.
- Workload: Somebody who’s expecting to only use their straps on lighter gear, like some smaller farm or industrial equipment, may not need to purchase the more premium straps with much higher weight capacities.
- Weatherproofing: A great feature that several straps have is being completely weatherproof. This depends on the materials used and could be a deal breaker for someone who expects a lot of use in the rain or storing the straps outside.
- Tree Saver: This term gets used frequently when discussing tow straps, and while being material-efficient is great, it isn’t right for every job. The “Tree Saver” term is generally used for shorter straps, so be aware of how much space you need to operate and how familiar you are with towing.
Best Tow Strap Reviews & Recommendations 2020
- Make sure you know where to attach your straps. Recovery straps should be looped around recovery points or frame pieces, while tow straps are most usually used with the vehicle tow hooks often found on pick-up trucks and SUVs.
- There is a difference between the breaking point weight and how heavy the object you’re pulling should really be. Most people say half the breaking point is safe operating weight, but always refer to user guides and company suggestions.
- When pulling another vehicle, always be sure it is in neutral so you don’t break the transmission.
- Always be careful stopping short when pulling another vehicle, as you don’t want them to hit the back of your truck.
- Be aware of local road laws—don’t get in trouble for towing with a strap if it is not allowed in your area.
Q: What is the working load limit?
A: A general rule of thumb is that the working limit is half of the breaking point.
Q: How do you attach D-rings?
A: You have to unscrew the bolt of the D-ring, and then run the bolt through the loop at the end of the strap.
Q: How wide are the loops on a typical strap?
A: The loops on most straps are all about 1¾ inches thick.
The RHINO USA Recovery Tow Strap is our pick for the best tow strap because it’s the most reliable strap and has impressive stats overall.
If you’re looking to spend less without compromising on value, we suggest the TGL Tow Strap.