Ratchet Straps Are the Best Tool to Take on Any Jeep Trip or Overlanding Adventure
Ratchet straps are one of the most important items to take on any Jeep trip or overlanding adventure. They are also one of the most universal items that crosses all types of activities, and one should never go off the beaten path without at least one or two. We've had our bacon saved in more than one instance with these handy tools, and that's why we say ratchet straps rule. In fact, each of our rigs have a couple of dedicated ratchets in a bag, not including what is actively used to hold stuff on the Jeep. Of course, I'm talking about the small size with 1-inch straps and a 500-1,500-pound load rating. It seems so obvious, yet we see it all the time when the need arrives—no one has a ratchet strap. It's as universal as duct tape or baling wire. Why would you not have that in your Jeep?
I started to count the different field fixes and uses for the handy device and quickly decided it should be a full story, not just an editorial, as the list kept growing. But for a starter, here are a few uses I've encountered. Most recently, my TJ grille center support rubber disappeared, causing the grille and radiator to bounce up and down on washboard roads. Two quick green ratchets later and I completed an expedition and can fix it right when it's back in the garage. A year ago, Tim Conaway from Las Vegas Rock Crawlers helped me by ratcheting my cracked-in-half transfer case back together and J-B welding the case—it lasted a year before I could replace it and only leaked a lot. When I had to change a flat tire on a long-travel suspension, I ratcheted the axle to the frame and then used a Hi-Lift jack on the bumper. That way the tire came up with the Jeep rather than the suspension drooping. How about using straps to hold a log or Hi-Lift on the outside of a tire when a C-clip axle breaks? That trail fix is pretty well known. The list is endless, but not all ratchets are created equal.
It would be easy to say that foreign-made ratchets are junk, but that's not always the case. We use cheap ratchets all the time for non-critical components, as long as we don't exceed the rated load limits. But remember that the webbing can be affected by the UV rays, and old ratchets should not be used in any area of critical concern. My favorites are from Mac's Custom Tie Downs, and not just for the big ratchets that hold the Jeep to the trailer, but for all the regular-size small styles as well. Also remember that a motorcycle tie-down is not a ratchet strap—a ratchet strap has to ratchet!