Securing ATVs on a trailer is serious business. I know because I have lost five machines off of trailers I have been pulling.

They were not lost on public highways where concern for public safety would have generated some healthy fines. However, they did actually come off the trailer due to broken straps and machines improperly secured. Fortunately, none of my machines were seriously damaged.

With the variety of tie-downs on the market, it is important to understand the best way to secure that expensive machine. The question is, “Why would you secure an expensive machine with cheap straps?” This question really applies to any load you are hauling.

The best characteristic to look for in reliable straps is in the material being used. Polypropylene, nylon and polyester are the three materials most used.

Polypropylene is a type of plastic with the flexibility to stretch as much as 50 percent after it has been set to secure a load. Nylon is a little better, but it will still stretch 20 to 30 percent. Polyester is the best choice, with only 5 to 15 percent stretch under a heavy load.

Stretch is one measure to look for; another is UV resistance — also known as sun rot. Polypropylene and nylon are much more susceptible to material breakdown.

Water resistance is a factor with nylon. When wet, nylon will stretch and become weak. Polypropylene and polyester are more water resistant.

When it comes to break strength, polyester takes the lead. With the ability to withstand up to 10,000 pounds before it will break, it is the clear choice in webbing. Nylon is good up to 7,000 pounds, but polypropylene can’t resist more than 700 pounds. While nylon can be made stronger, it will still stretch.

Polyester is also the most abrasion resistant out of the three choices. I know that I have had straps break due to rubbing against the frame of my trailer.

I was introduced to a strap several years ago when a company approached me with a pair of six-foot ShockStrap tie downs. The unique feature was a flexible bone that was incorporated into the strap. It allowed stretching without loosening the belt. I was sold after my first use.

I learned that the bone was not made of rubber, but urethane. Rubber will breakdown and become unreliable with exposure to the elements, while urethane is formulated to outlast rubber. It also has superior tolerance to grease, oils, oxygen and ozone, according to a statement by Mearthane Products Corporation.

The urethane bone is the reason this tie down is so effective in securing a load. It flexes with the bumps and vibrations that occur in transportation. I am used to having to stop and retighten loose straps on my machines. I don’t have to worry about that with this strap.

The third part of this tie down is the hook used at each end to attach to the trailer. These are metal, but incorporated into some models available is a “soft hook” that allows using points on the trailer where there is nothing to hook onto. These soft hooks are strapping that wraps around the rail or post to secure the load.

The original ShockStraps use a cam to allow attaching the hooks and then pulling on the strap to stretch the bone. The cam keeps the strap from slipping once you have set the stretch. Pushing the release loosens the tie down to remove it for unloading.

Newer ShockStraps incorporate a ratchet to stretch the bone. These new straps have proven even stronger.

These straps can break, however. Once, I forgot to take off the front strap I had used to secure my ATV. I couldn’t understand what was holding me back so I put my machine in four-wheel drive and gave it some gas. Suddenly, my machine broke free and I sat staring at a broken tie down. It took a lot of pressure, but it did break. The hook bent and the bone broke.

When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and don’t forget to take off the straps before unloading your machines. Go to for more information.

You can email Lynn Blamires at

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