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What to Look For in a Recovery Strap

Choice of a recovery strap is both a convenience and safety decision which is why you have to ensure that all factors are included in the strap. The most important feature to observe is the strap capacity but these are also as important.

a. Stretch

This is a major concern when choosing a recovery strap. A tow strap is safest if it has no extension ability at all which is why pure polyester makes the best tow straps. However, you can still use a recovery strap as a tow strap if the resistance involved is not high enough to induce stretch meaning you need to choose a high capacity strap. Recovery straps, however, need to have enough stretch because it gives you the kinetic energy needed to recover the stuck vehicle. The extension varies from 7 to 20 percent depending on the material with nylon having the most extension. More extension is advisable for quick snatch recovery.

b. Strap Width

Basically, every extra inch in the width of the strap increases the strap`s breaking point by 10,000lbs if the fabric thickness is standard. An increase in strap width generally increases the cost of the strap which is why you have to remember your vehicle’s weight all the time and go for a strap capacity that is at least double its weight. 3×20,3×30 and 4×30 are the most common options for towing and recovering heavy vehicles although a double webbed 2×30 could still withstand standard vehicle extraction.

c. Thickness

Double webbing is the most common strap standard in the market which is good for both safety and durability. A single ply strap may not be able to withstand intense pressure especially if there is a cut or scratch at any level of the webbing. This guide is primarily made of double webbed straps with extra thick contact points that meet NATA capacity requirements.

d. Contact point design

Most recovery and tow straps break at the eye loops or joints to the metallic hooks because these are the points that bear all the initial pressure. It is very important to choose a strap whose contact points have extra layers of fabric and more stitching to bear the high initial weight. Eye loops are now favored above metallic hooks because hooks tear contact points easily and they also tend to fly and hurt people even if they have protective latches.

e. Number of joints

Recovery straps should have no joints except at contact points which should be heavily stitched and be at least covered by protective sleeves. Joints generally create the first breaking points when the strap is in use making every extra joint dangerous.

f. Material

Polyester/Dacron and nylon are the most common material for recovery and tow straps. Polyester makes the best tow straps due to its little extension that reduces shock when using a recovery vehicle. Nylon, on the other hand, has the extension with a more kinetic energy that makes recovery easier. Both of them are weather resistant although polyester attracts dirt and water making it less durable which is why hybrid options are becoming common as well.

Difference Between a Tow Rope and a Recovery Strap

These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably but a tow strap is very different from a recovery strap. Most manufacturers put all actions into consideration in their designs but not necessarily down to perfection. Some people use the wrong strap for the unintended purpose posing a danger for both the user and the vehicle which is why we put together these features that differentiate the two (

1. Material

Nylon has the highest elasticity and weather resistance of any fabric making it the best choice of material for a recovery strap. It also recovers quickly from a stretch preventing the fabric from chipping to live up to the cost of your strap. Dacron/Polyester is the least stretchable fabric in straps with similarly high resistance to water and dirt if webbed correctly which is why it is the primary material used on tow straps.

2. Elasticity

When attached to a tow truck/vehicle, a stretch creates bumps and also becomes very dangerous if the recovering vehicle decelerates. This means a stretching strap is very dangerous where two moving vehicles are concerned which is why tow straps are not designed to stretch at all. Recovery straps on the other hand stretch to their limit in regard to the weight of the stuck vehicle then use their kinetic energy to rescue the vehicle as the fabric retracts pulling the vehicle against a static point.

3. Attachment

Tow straps can be safely attached using metal hooks because there are fewer chances of snapping. When towing, once you have a D ring to hook onto, you are good to go because the recovered vehicle is not giving a lot of resistance. Recovery is a very intense process and the kinetic energy of the strap and resistance from the stuck vehicle can easily cause a snap on the strap if something breaks while extracting, metals may fly off and harm someone or cause damage on the vehicles. This is why modern recovery straps do not use metal hooks.

4. Safety Tips when Towing and recovering vehicles

. Always ensure that your strap`s capacity is at least twice the weight of the vehicle
. Ensure the strap has no knots or cuts before attaching it to the vehicle
. Do not use the same strap to perform a recovery immediately after one extraction.
. Attach weights such as clothes on the strap when intensive stretch is induced to prevent them from flying around if they snap.
. Always clean, dry and store your recovery strap to keep the fabric in good shape


Every car owner finds themselves in need of a recovery strap at one point or another and this requirement is more basic for offroaders. Recovery and tow straps, on the other hand, can be something that saves or ruins your offroad experience which is why you need a keen eye to choose. This is why we collected all the best picks analyzing them against thousands of customer reviews and the opinions of offroad enthusiasts to create this guide. It is the best starting point to making your recovery strap purchase with confidence.

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