Winching – The Difference Between Tow and Recovery Straps!


There are a few techniques that all off-roaders should know before they hit the trails, since the day will inevitably come when those truck winch bumpers and recovery gear will come in handy. There is a critical difference between how tow straps and recovery straps should be used. Though they may seem the same to the novice, it is imperative that drivers understand the difference between the two and how to safely use them. Each strap has its place when used in combination with winch bumpers, d-rings, recovery points. and other safety equipment.

Tow and Recovery Straps Are Not the Same!

Tow and recovery straps look similar, but they have two significant differences in offroad usage.

  • The first difference is that tow straps have large metal hooks, which are designed to hook into towing points and D-ring shackles; recovery straps do not have these hooks.
  • The second difference is that recovery straps are made of nylon for a certain amount of elasticity; tow straps are typically made of Dacron or polypropylene that does not stretch.

Although the variations might seem insignificant, they make all the difference in terms of how these two accessories perform and how safe they are to use for their respective jobs.

When and How to Use Tow Straps

Tow straps are designed to be used for towing, not recovery. They latch onto the tow hooks on a truck, then onto the d-rings on truck bumpers, providing an easy place to grab when a little tug is needed. They are great for pulling things off the trail or for towing a truck with a dead battery to safety.  They are not safe for recovery.

The prime reason is because tow straps are attached to the vehicle only by the hooks, which make deadly flying projectiles if they come loose or are strained beyond their capacity. People are killed every year when trying to recover stuck trucks using tow straps that do not stretch at all; they only break or come undone, sending the hook flying.

When and How to Use Recovery Straps

On the other hand, recovery straps perform very differently than tow straps and are designed for recovery use. These straps are made with small loops at the ends, which are used to secure them to recovery points under the truck or on truck bumpers as part of the frame to serve as solid recovery points.

Recovery straps can also be safely used with truck winch bumpers. They work by initially stretching to their capacity, then pulling the vehicle along as they attempt to return back to their unstretched condition. This slight amount of "give and take" eliminates the shock and jarring that occurs when trying to recover a vehicle with chains or straps that have no give, which actually makes a recovery effort more productive. Since there are no hooks to come undone, there is no danger of someone or something being hit by a heavy metal hook.

Safe offroading involves being prepared for emergencies with both the right equipment and proper understanding of how to use them. Whether offroad trucks or jeeps are equipped with truck winch bumpers or other aftermarket truck bumpers, offroad enthusiasts should have both tow and recovery straps to use as needed. It is vital to know which to use under varying circumstances for a safe recovery. Keeping the important difference between these two in mind, you’ll have an easier recovery and a safer time with your prized offroad vehicle

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