Run a quick Google search for recreational tie-downs and you’re likely to run across a new product that has just hit the marketplace: tie-down straps that are secured with velcro rather than a cam buckle or ratchet. It’s an intriguing product, to be sure. But how practical is it?
The big concern with tie-down straps is choosing the right product for the job. Forget velcro straps for one minute. Both ratchet and cam straps exist because they have different applications. A truck driver would never use cam straps to secure heavy equipment to a trailer. Likewise, using a ratchet strap to secure a cooler in the back of a pickup truck would be overkill.
Tie-down straps secured with velcro are not suitable for heavy loads. They are inappropriate for securing cargo to trucks, trailers, etc. But they still have plenty of useful applications. Let’s look at some of them. Before we do, however, let us also define recreational tie-downs.
Recreational tie-downs are tie-down straps used for recreational activities. Securing cargo is not recreational even though the cargo itself might be. Rather, recreational activities are things like backpacking, canoeing, and so forth. Recreational tie-downs are designed for such activities.
One of the first things that comes to mind is backpacking. I used to do a lot of it as a younger man. My preferred method for securing a tent and sleeping bag to my backpack was the cam strap. Although Rollercam straps weren’t available back then, they are my preferred brand today.
My personal experiences aside, I can see the usefulness of a velcro strap here. Neither a tent nor a sleeping bag represents an exceptionally heavy load that absolutely needs to be secured with a cam strap. I certainly wouldn’t use a ratchet strap. But provided a velcro strap could hold just as tightly, it would be easier to use in this particular case.
Campers who prefer trailers and RVs over strapping tents and sleeping bags to their backs and hiking out into the wilderness might find velcro straps useful for securing loose items in their rigs during transport. Once at the campground, the straps can double as tie-downs for awnings, tarps, and the like.
I’ve seen campers secure gas grill lids so that critters don’t get in during the night. Velcro straps would work fine for that kind of thing. Ditto for securing trash can lids, hanging makeshift laundry lines, and doing other things that might otherwise be handled with rope.
For many people who live in densely populated urban areas, commuting by bike combines both function and leisure. They ride their bikes to and from work for both enjoyment and exercise benefits. Velcro straps could be useful for carrying cargo on their backs or bikes.
Although commuting by scooter wouldn’t necessarily be considered a leisure activity, the same principle applies. Attaching light cargo with a couple of velcro straps is simple enough to do. It’s also fast and efficient. There is just one caveat: the straps aren’t appropriate for heavy loads. We’re talking light cargo only.
It goes without saying that velcro straps are not as strong as ratchet and cam straps. When utilized for recreational activities, you’re looking at light duty applications. Their big advantage is that they deploy easily and quickly. And with just a tug, they come off equally fast.
I am intrigued enough that I might pick up a few for myself. Then again, I already have enough cam straps. Maybe the additional investment isn’t worth it.