Is there anything more annoying than trying to lug your car around, only for the tow strap to break? It’s dangerous and expensive, that’s before we get to the inconvenience. I’ve looked at four of the best tow straps available right now, and I’m going to tell you just why I think they’re the best.
But first, we should look at why you’d want to carry around a tow strap – after all, today’s generation of cars rarely fail, and even when they do, most of us have some sort of service like AAA. Right?
There is an element of truth in that, and not everyone wants to rely on other people, plus a tow strap is just one of those things that you can carry around in your trunk, for the ‘what if’ moment that may happen when you least expect it.
And of course, going anywhere off-road without a tow strap is just asking for trouble!
Best Heavy Duty Tow Straps
Max Pull Rating
If you were to ask your average driver about tow straps, they’d just say that they don’t use them … why would they need to? Their car is reliable, and unlikely to breakdown, so it’s not something they would even consider owning, but … there’s more to it.
Some motorists like being prepared for any eventuality, and some of those like being prepped for other people’s misfortunes … helping other people out when they’re in a jam. A heavy duty tow strap can be used to lug cars around, recover them after a failure or accident, when the weather turns icy or snowy, if someone is stuck in a bog, and even then, we still haven’t exhausted the uses … a very popular use for towing straps is the removal or movement of felled trees.
It’s kind of like the multitool for your trunk.
Look Out For
Most tow ropes are sold by width & length, closely followed by a rating for strain. The maximum load before breaking can give you an indication of whether a tow rope is heavy duty or not, but you should also consider the Working Load Limit (WLL).
A WLL is typically calculated from the breaking limit, and it’s around a factor of three – so a 30,000 lb max load, would give you a working load of roughly 10,000 lbs. Of course, there are exceptions, but if you work to that figure, you should be safe.
You also need to understand the difference between a snatch recovery or tow – a snatch recovery is used to force any stuck vehicle to break-free. It’s quite a violent process, both on the vehicles and the tow rope, sometimes it’s the only way to get moving. To pull-off a snatch recovery, you’ll need a tow rope with some elasticity ideally, so that’s worth looking for if you’re planning on doing it often.
Another point to consider is winching when you’re off-road – a wire cable on a winch used on a tree will more than likely damage the tree. You should use a towing strap to minimize the damage to any nature, and the wider the strap, the less damage it will cause – a 4” strap for instance will spread the towing load much better than a 2” strap.
RHINO USA Recovery Tow Strap
I’d just like to make one thing clear from the start – RhinoUSA tow straps are designed, tested and engineered in the USA, for a lifetime warranty. It’s a distinction that people should know.
With a maximum breaking strain of 31,518 lbs, the RhinoUSA strap is pretty heavy duty, and should have a 10,000 lb working load limit. It’s made from a mixture of polyester and silk, so it’s strong, flexible and pretty soft, which makes fitting a D shackle a breeze.
It’s luminous green in color (great for visuals when using it, or for safety at night), and has built-in protective sleeves to minimize damage. It’s weather-proof and water-resistant, and comes in a heavy duty drawstring bag for storage (which is big enough to store extra tools). My choice would be for something just that little bit longer, but 20’ is adequate enough.
Smittybilt CC330 Recovery Strap
30’ is just about right for most recovery jobs, although as you’ll see from the RhinoUSA strap, 20’ is the bare minimum needed for recovery. With a 30,000 lb rating (10,000 lb WLL), it’s close to the competition (only 2 tow ropes in this list beats it), and the double hoop design gives it plenty of strength, with an easy hitch.
It uses all double stitching throughout, and the bright yellow polyester material is soft and flexible, yet still remaining weather-proof.
Smittybilt have been supplying products to the off-road market for a long time, and thanks to their experience, they’re customer satisfaction is good.
Grip Heavy Duty Tow Strap
This tow strap is at the lower end of the market, both in terms of pricing and capacity. A 20,000 lb break capacity gives this strap a safe working level of 6,666 lbs – enough to try in an emergency, but perhaps lacking a bit for some serious use.
The polyester webbing is weather and rot-proof, providing it’s taken care of properly, and features reinforced loop ends on the bright yellow material. For what it’s worth, I’d look at using this tow strap more for winching when off-road, rather than full-on recovery of vehicles.
Definitely the number one choice for the budget conscious.
Sunferno Ultimate Tow Recovery Strap
Same as the RhinoUSA – the 20’ tow strap is just about the minimum viable length for this sort of equipment. The Sunferno is the hardest working tow strap here – 35,321 lb break capacity, with a load limit of around 17,500 lb. Personally, I’d stick with the divide by three rule.
The luminous green material has a 10% stretch, making it ideal for snatch recovery, and on the whole, it seems really well made, perhaps the best one here. Completely water-resistant and weatherproof, the tow rope is finished off with protective loops and excellent protective sleeves. Includes heavy duty storage bag.
One other thing worth mentioning is that the customer service from Sunferno is legendary – buy a tow rope from them, and at minimum you should expect a call from the boss to make sure you’re happy with your purchase, these guys rock.
It would be remiss of me not to mention safety – going over the capacity of the strap could result in serious injury, as could not ensuring that the strap is fitted correctly – if a strap does come loose or breaks while under strain, the consequences can be fatal.
A simple trick that I’ve picked up is to carry an old rug (or something equally as heavy and dense) which can be placed over the strap when towing – if the worst should happen, the rug dissipates quite a lot of the energy, resulting in less violent ‘flailing’ of the strap.