The Complete Guide to Recovery Tow Straps, Snatch Straps & Kinetic Ropes
If you are new to off-roading or overlanding, chances are you’ve come across all sorts of different tow straps, snatch straps and kinetic recovery ropes. There seems to be an endless supply of different styles all at different price points. It can be hard to decide where to spend your money, what you actually need in your recovery kit and which brands you should trust. Our goal for this guide is to make your life a little easier by telling you more about each style of tow strap, how they are used, which brands we recommend, and how to choose the correct one for your vehicle.
Different recovery situations require different gear, you need to make sure you are using the correct gear to prevent damage to your vehicle or to yourself. We recommend carrying two styles of tow straps in your recovery kit, for two types of recoveries: Static & Dynamic.
Recovery of a vehicle that does not require a “running start”. A static recovery situation would be pulling a dead vehicle off a trail to safety, or when you want a slow consistent pull over rocks or other obstacles.
Recovery of a vehicle that requires a “running start”. A Dynamic recovery uses kinetic energy to assist pulling vehicles out of snow, mud or sand.
So what’s the difference between a tow strap and a snatch strap?
Simply put, a tow strap should not stretch much, making it ideal for static recoveries, and a snatch strap or kinetic rope does stretch, making them safe for dynamic recoveries.
Tow straps for off-road & overland use
A good tow strap is typically made of 100% polyester, because of the strength and lack of stretch that polyester webbing offers. Tow straps are a versatile tool that can be used for all static recoveries, towing vehicles on-road or off-road, and can be used as winch extensions.
Much like a winch line, a tow strap is not meant for use in dynamic recoveries, they do not stretch and absorb kinetic energy and can damage your vehicle or the people in or around your vehicle.
When setting up your recovery kit, you want to find a high quality tow strap, like our Big Brute Recovery Tow Strap. A good tow-strap should last you many years and we offer a lifetime warranty with ours because we know how well it is built.
Many companies will create proprietary names for 100% polyester in order to try to stand out from the crowd, but this is just a marketing ploy, there is no such thing as Poly-Silk or Poly-Stretch material. It’s 100% Polyester and if it isn’t it shouldn’t be purchased for static recovery.
In summary, we recommend that your recovery kit includes a tow strap to be used for static recovery, towing, winch line extensions, as an anchor strap and tree strap. This strap is typically 20’ or 30’ in length, we prefer the 30’ length for the versatility.
What is the best tow strap?
Our pick is our own Big Brute Recovery strap. It has a lab tested break strength of 24,200 lbs and includes a lightweight carry bag big enough to fit your shackles and other recovery gear. It also features the lifetime warranty that was mentioned above, and is triple reinforced where it needs it. We’re definitely biased on this one, but we truly believe that you can’t find a better strap for the price.
Snatch straps for off-roading & overlanding
Sometimes to get a vehicle un-stuck, you need a running start. That is where a snatch strap or kinetic rope comes in. You should never use a standard tow strap for dynamic recoveries. Snatch straps and kinetic ropes are designed to stretch, store the kinetic energy, and release it in a way that makes the recovery gentler on the vehicle and its passengers.
Snatch straps are made with Nylon because of its strong but stretchy properties. When used properly, these straps are a game changer, but they also require practice and extra safety precautions. When they are engaged, they are like a rubber band storing tens of thousands of pounds of energy that eventually needs to be released. Weak tow points, incorrectly used shackles, and even small vehicles can become projectiles when snatch straps are used incorrectly.
You shouldn’t use snatch straps or kinetic ropes for towing, they need time to rest and return to their normal structure after each pull, towing doesn’t allow them to have the rest time they need and can cause a failure.
What’s the difference between a snatch strap and a kinetic rope?
A snatch strap and kinetic rope are designed to serve the same purpose. They both stretch, store kinetic energy and release it assisting with a vehicle recovery. The difference is in the way they are built, typically a snatch strap is made with webbing material that looks a lot like a tow strap. A kinetic rope looks like a standard rope but it has loop ends that is usually reinforced for protection. Kinetic ropes typically have more stretch than a snatch strap and are a newer technology.
What is the best snatch strap?
Our pick for the best snatch strap is the ARB Recovery Snatch Strap. This particular model is 3-1/4 inches wide and 30 feet long. But there are a few other sizes available. It offers 20% of stretch capability and has a breaking strength of 24,000. You don’t want to cut corners with your recovery gear and spending a little extra money on a well-made snatch strap is well worth it. ARB has a proven track record of supplying high quality recovery gear and you can’t go wrong with an Arb Snatch Strap.
Our recommended kinetic rope is the Bubba Rope Renegade Kinetic Rope. It is available in 20 or 30 foot lengths and offers a stretch of 30% to 35%. It also has built in protection against UV rays, water, sand, and anything else you can throw at it. Bubba Rope is very well known in the off-road space for good reason, they make damn good products.
What does working load limit mean?
Working load limit (WLL) refers to the maximum weight that a strap should be hauling or pulling. In other words, if you have a 5000lb Jeep pulling a 5500 lb truck, you need a strap or rope that has a Working Load Limit of at least 5500 lbs. The working load limit is typically 1/3 of the max break strength.
What does max break strength mean?
The max break strength (MBS) is the point where the rope will fail. The number should come from the amount of pressure put on the rope just before it breaks. Break strength should be determined by the WEAKEST point of the strap. One constant problem we have noticed in the business is that many companies use the break point of the webbing portion of their straps as the MBS. The weakest point on the strap is actually the sewn loops of the straps, and it will have a much lower break strength then the webbing portion. Many companies list the higher number for marketing purposes.
At Dirt Renegade we list the actual break strength of our tow straps from the weakest portion of the strap, we think our competitors should too, your safety is on the line. If you see a strap that looks like ours but has a higher Max Break Strength than ours, they are most likely fudging their numbers. Seems like a bad idea to us.
What weight rating do I need for a tow strap?
You should purchase straps and ropes with break strength rated at least three times the weight of the vehicles you intend to use them on. If you have a 5,000 lb rig then you should be looking at break strengths above 15,000 lbs. If you have a 7,000 lb truck you should be looking for a break strength of at least 21,000 lbs.
Tow strap, snatch strap & kinetic rope tips.
- Don’t buy too heavy duty of a snatch strap or kinetic rope. If you purchase a rope for your Jeep that is made to pull semi-trucks, it’s not going to stretch much and will defeat the purpose.
- Only use hook your tow straps to points on the vehicle that are made for tow straps. Never hook around a hitch ball or any other point on your vehicle not made to be used with tow straps. The ball is more likely to break than the rope and it will become a projectile and cause serious injury.
- If you plan on doing Dynamic recoveries, practice. You don’t want to end up on a video like this. (Language warning)
- Do not link straps together using a shackle, if the shackle breaks, it will become a projectile.
- Use a dampener when in recovery situations. It is a great safety measure in case something goes wrong with the recovery.
Have any other tips we should add to this list? Please contact us and let us know!
In summary, straps and ropes are very necessary pieces for your off road and overland recovery kits. We recommend you get two separate straps, one tow strap for static recoveries and towing, and one snatch strap or kinetic rope for dynamic recoveries. Use our guides above to make sure you select one that is optimal for your vehicle and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, we are here to help!