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 allows you to 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 hold 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 that 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 like 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 in to the buckle close to the length you need, lock it down, and start ratcheting the system tight.
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 really 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 take 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 definitely not a toy. You can absolutely crush whatever object you are tightening against with the leverage that you get from the length of the T-handle. I have no 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.
Tightening down your load really is a lot easier with this system. I was able to hook both ends up, unroll the webbing to 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.
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. Like 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.
I’ve been over and over this strap. I don’t have a single complaint about it’s 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 actually 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