Ratchet straps offer several advantages over bungee cords. Ratchets can be customised to fit almost any size of load without danger of overstretching, and they can provide a relatively static, inflexible hold on your precious goods instead of flexing with every bounce. The downside to ratchet straps is that they must be assembled. Clever users know that once you’ve assembled a ratchet strap, you can leave it put together for next time--just loosen the strap a bit and unhook its endpoints from the tie-down points. But you still have to be willing to take in any excess slack each time you use the strap.
Identify the two parts of the ratchet strap. There should be one long strand of webbing with a hook at the end, plus one ratchet connected to another hook by more webbing.
Insert the hook on each end of the ratchet strap into something solid that you know won’t give way when under continuous tension; purpose-made tie-down points, whether on a truck bed or pallet, are ideal. Check to make sure that the ratchet’s handle is oriented so that it faces toward you, giving you the free space you need to work the handle and tighten the strap once it’s threaded.
Open the handle on the ratchet. Depending on what sort of ratchet strap you’re using, you may need to open the handle all the way, like the cover of a book, or just open enough to pass the webbing strap through.
Feed the end of the webbing strap through the slot in the spool that forms the axis for the ratchet. The webbing should lead from underneath the spool, through the spool, then back out the same end of the ratchet it entered from.
Pull the webbing through the ratchet until you’ve taken out all the slack in the system. Check to make sure that the end hooks on the ratchet strap are still securely fastened and that the webbing strap lays flat along the entirety of the ratchet strap; if there are any twists in the strap, unthread it from the ratchet, rethread it through the ratchet correctly, then pull all the slack out.
Work the ratchet handle to tighten the strap. Excess webbing will accumulate around the ratchet spool. Continue working the handle until you’ve taken up at least two or three wraps around the spool to ensure a secure hold.