Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap Review

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap
PTR Review
  • Ease of Loading/Unloading 10.0
  • Durability 10.0
  • Strength 10.0
  • Stability Under Load 10.0
  • Value 8.0

There isn't a single complaint that I have with the design of this ratcheting strap. The only average score that it receives is for value. You're going to pay a few dollars more for these, but it is worth it for the time and frustration that it saves.

Overall Score 9.6 (out of 10)

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps are an innovative solution to a problem that’s been around, well, since ratcheting straps first hit the market. Anyone who has used them probably reacted the same way I did the first time – How in the world does this go together? Even though it gets better with regular use, it’s still a pain to load up on the take-up spool and adjust the length.

Like all ratcheting straps, Gear Armour’s still wind the webbing up using a ratcheting system. Ratcheting systems let you create much greater force in strapping down your load compared to simple tie-downs or cam straps.

A Brief Overview of Ratcheting Strap Use

Over the years, different things have been done to increase the amount of workload and tightening force that can be applied to these ratcheting straps. The webbing has increased in width and thickness to accommodate heavier loads. The buckles have increased in length to allow more leverage for tightening. Now, various sizes are on the market to do everything from holding your motorcycle or ATV in the back of your truck to securing the load of a flatbed trailer on a semi.

The way you typically load a ratcheting strap to start with the two ends separate from each other. Take the webbing and thread it through the take-up spool then wrap the webbing back around the way it came. Take up the slack and you’re ready to start ratcheting down to secure the load.

To remove the strap, you use your thumb to release the ratcheting mechanism until the buckle is completely open and the strap can freely unwind. You can either completely separate the two pieces or release the tension just enough to remove the hooks without damage to the point that they are attached. People who use ratcheting straps a lot are more likely to go ahead and separate the two ends since the load size changes frequently.

How are Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps Different?

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps started as a lot of great innovations do: someone who uses them knew the product could be improved. A New Zealand trucker named Barry Armour was frustrated by traditional designs. He sketched out something better on a napkin and the side-loading design was born. Fast forward a couple of years and his innovation is now at Home Depot.

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps have a side-loading feature. This simple idea changes the game significantly. Instead of threading the entire webbing through the take-up spool, you slide it into the buckle close to the length you need, lock it down, and start ratcheting the system tight.

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap

When it’s time to remove the load, put the buckle in the same release position that a typical ratcheting strap is in. Instead of pulling the entire unused end of the webbing back through, just slide it off and store it.

Gear Armour claims that their side loading straps are up to two times faster loading and unloading than traditional ratcheting straps. I decided to take a look and see just how easy and fast the Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps are.

Using Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps

When I got my hands on Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Straps, the very first thing that I noticed is the heavy-duty construction of the buckle and hooks. Often, “innovative” design changes to products that already work well are cheaply made. Not so with these straps. The break strength of a ratcheting system is based on how much force it takes for the weakest part of the system to fail. For these Side Loading Ratchet Straps, that force is 10,000 pounds (they also have a 5,000-pound strap). It’s not likely that the buckle is going to be the point of failure if you test that out.

The Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap strap is not a toy. You can crush whatever object you are tightening against with the leverage that you get from the length of the T-handle. I do not doubt that I could do some serious damage to my truck by just tightening the strap down as much as it would allow me to. You’ve got the option of a J-hook or flat hook when you purchase the Side Loading Ratchet Strap. As long as it will fit where you need it to, I’d go with the flat hook to help distribute the force from that tension over a greater area.

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap
You can easily load the take-up spool one-handed

Tightening Loads

Tightening down your load is a lot easier with this system. I was able to hook both ends up, unroll the webbing to the length I needed, slip the webbing in, toss the unused portion back, and ratchet it down. Releasing the tension was also simple. After I unlocked the side, I simply pulled the strap out and was ready to unload. Even if it didn’t save me any time, the design of side loading/unloading is worth it just for the lack of frustration that comes with other ratcheting straps.

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap
Unloading is as easy as sliding the entire mass off

The Bottom Line: Does the Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap Do What They Say?

In a word – yes.

From my experience with the Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap, it does load and unload about twice as fast. As I noted earlier, even if it didn’t, I’d still pay the extra few dollars over a traditional strap just for the convenience that side-loading offers. I’ve been using ratcheting straps pretty much since I started driving and this is the best I’ve ever used.

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap

I’ve been over and over this strap. I don’t have a single complaint about its design. Other designs exist to make the process easier, but it’s pretty clear to me that this is the Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap is the best ratcheting strap on the market. Obviously, someone who uses ratcheting straps designed it.

I’d offer just one suggestion to Gear Armour – start making the same design in smaller straps. I could easily see this becoming the standard that every other company has to shoot for. If I could get these in a 1-1/4″ size, I’d be replacing every ratcheting strap that I own.

Gear Armour Side Loading Ratchet Strap Specifications

  • Available Sizes: 2 inch x 27 feet J-hook (SL27001), 2 inch x 27 feet Flat hook (SL27003), 2 inch x 16 feet J-hook (SL16001)
  • Break Strength: 10,000 pounds (27′ sizes), 5,000 pounds (16′ size)
  • Working Load Limit: 3,333 pounds (27′ sizes), 1,667 pounds (16′ size)
  • Home Depot Pricing: SL27001: $19.97, SL27003: $21.97, SL16001: $16.97

Related articles