What are the Dos and Don'ts when using ratchet straps on a roof rack?

cartop carrier strapped on car roof rack

Heading out for an adventure or gearing up for a family road trip involves more than just packing your bags. It requires ensuring that your gear is securely fastened to your vehicle. Ratchet straps are a traveler's essential tool for securing luggage on roof racks. When used properly, they prevent accidents and damage, ensuring a smooth journey. Let BuyRoofPax guide you in choosing and using the right ratchet straps, helping you secure your belongings safely every mile of the trip.

Tips for Choosing the Right Ratchet Straps for Your Roof Rack

Selecting the perfect ratchet straps for your roof rack is comparable to choosing the right shoes for a marathon—not just any will do. Here's how to pick the straps that won't let you down:

  • Check the Working Load Limit (WLL): Always choose straps whose WLL exceeds the combined weight of your cargo. This ensures they can handle the load without breaking a sweat.
  • Material Matters: Go for polyester straps. They are resilient against UV rays and abrasion, making them last longer even under constant exposure to sunlight and friction.
  • Width and Length: Ensure the straps are wide enough to secure the load without cutting into it and long enough to reach your largest piece of luggage or equipment.

Picking the right ratchet straps is your first step toward a worry-free journey.

Product Recommendation:

strong ratchet tie down for roof racks

Buy it here! Ratchet Straps


  • Size: 1.6 in. x 8 ft. Heavy-Duty Motorcycle Tie Downs
  • Material: Alloy Steel, 70% Polyester + 30% Silk
  • Color: Orange Black
  • Brand: RoofPax
  • Vehicle Service Type: ATV, Motorcycle, Adventure, Scooter, UTV, All of the above, Dirt Bike, Personal Watercraft
  • Load Capacity: 5208 Pounds
  • Fastener Material: Polyester Silk Blend Webbing
  • Fastener Type: J-Hook
  • Tensile Strength: 5208 PSI
  • Number of Pieces: 2
  • Product Dimensions: 96"L x 1.6" W
  • Manufacturer: RoofPax
  • Item Weight: 5.13 pounds

Customer Review: "Well-made straps and ratchet system, especially with the safety clip on the hooks! The Heavy Duty size is worth it for the extra strength and width." - Pastor C.

How to Safely Use Ratchet Straps on a Roof Rack

Using ratchet straps correctly isn't rocket science, but there is a technique to it that ensures your belongings stay put, no matter the road's challenges:

  1. Position the Strap: Lay the strap evenly over the load; ensure it lies flat against the items you're securing.
  2. Thread the Strap: Feed the strap end through the ratchet mechanism and pull it back on itself to remove slack.
  3. Tighten: Once the strap is in place and slack removed, ratchet the handle until the strap is snugly fitted around your cargo but not overly tight.
  4. Lock the Ratchet: Close the ratchet handle completely to lock the strap in place.

Remember, a well-secured load is a silent one; if you hear rattles, something's not tight enough.

ratchet straps for cargoi on roof racks

Common Mistakes and How to Prevent Damage with Ratchet Straps

Even the best tools can cause damage if used incorrectly. Here are common pitfalls to avoid when using ratchet straps:

  • Over-tightening: This is the most common error. It can warp your cargo and stress your roof rack. Tighten until secure, not until deformed.
  • Ignoring Wear and Tear: Regularly inspect your straps for signs of damage like fraying or cuts. A compromised strap is a failure waiting to happen.
  • Improper Attachment Points: Straps should be attached to the rack's strongest points. Avoid any part of your vehicle or cargo that seems fragile or unsuitable for stress.

By avoiding these errors, you safeguard your belongings and your trip.

Step-by-Step Guide to Securing Items with Ratchet Straps

Let’s break down the process into simple steps to ensure that even first-timers get it right:

  1. Place the Cargo: Load your items onto the rack, arranging heavier items at the bottom and lighter ones on top.
  2. Drape and Route the Straps: Lay the straps over the cargo in a cross pattern to distribute the pressure evenly.
  3. Thread and Tighten: Follow the threading instructions for your ratchet straps, pulling them snugly.
  4. Final Check: Give a gentle tug on your cargo. If it shifts, tighten the straps a bit more.

A secure load is the key to a smooth ride.

How to Attach and Transport Luggage, a Kayak, and More with Ratchet Straps on Your Car

Securing various types of cargo requires slight adjustments to ensure everything stays in place:

  • Luggage: Use softer padding under the straps to prevent damage to soft luggage.
  • Kayaks and Canoes: Position these longer items along the centerline of your vehicle. Use bow and stern ties in addition to ratchet straps for added security.
  • Odd-shaped Items: Utilize corner protectors to distribute the pressure of the straps and avoid damage to your items.

Every piece of cargo is different, but the goal is the same: secure transport.

strapping kayak on roof rack

Proper Storage and Maintenance of Ratchet Straps

Proper care extends the life of your ratchet straps. Here's how to keep them looking and working their best:

  • Clean After Use: Wipe down the straps with a damp cloth to remove dirt and grime.
  • Dry Before Storing: Never store your straps wet; moisture can lead to mildew and weaken the fabric.
  • Store Out of Direct Sunlight: UV rays can degrade the material over time. Keep your straps in a cool, dry spot.

Well-maintained gear is dependable gear.

Conclusion: Ensuring Safety and Efficiency with Ratchet Straps on Roof Racks

By mastering the art of using ratchet straps, you set the stage for smooth and safe travels. Whether you're transporting luggage or adventure gear, knowing these dos and don'ts ensures that your journey is as smooth as your planning. So next time you hit the road, remember that securing your load securely with RoofPax is your first step towards an unforgettable adventure.


How tight should ratchet straps be?

Tight enough to hold the cargo firmly without movement, but not so tight as to damage the items or vehicle.

Are there different types of ratchet straps for different vehicles?

Yes, straps vary by length, width, and load capacity. Choose according to your vehicle's specifications and cargo size.

How do I know if my ratchet straps are still safe to use?

Inspect for any visible wear, fraying, or damage. If in doubt, replace them—it's cheaper than losing your cargo.

What can I do if my ratchet strap jams?

Apply lubricant to the mechanism, ensure it's free of debris, and gently wiggle the handle to release the tension.