Tie-downs that work to give rock steady containment
Let’s face it, we don’t give a lot of attention to the tie-downs we use to secure our sled, ATV or scooter to our trailer or in our pickup bed. That all changes when the securing device breaks and our precious “baby” tilts, bangs or gets severely dinged. And then there’s always that odd chance of mashing the throttle on our “hemi-powered” pickup, casually looking up at the rearview mirror and watching our minimally secured sled sliding toward the down tailgate and about to drop onto the pavement. Ever done that? Let’s just say that you wish then that you’d bought a quality tie-down with strong S-hooks or a military-type snap.
We’d be lying if we said that our education in tie-downs didn’t come from firsthand failures and an insistence on being overtly thrifty — to a fault! We’ve run the education process from beefy hemp ropes, to logging thick chains, to rubber bungees, to cheap cam buckle tie-downs and the like. We’ve nearly lost sleds, the occasional roof—mounted canoe and dinged up pickup carried bikes and scooters. We’re familiar with the nuances of a “trucker’s hitch” which works okay for paved roads but can work loose on frosty gravel roads. The logging chains and the fasteners can cause enough damage due to their weight and shape. And, rubber bungees, all manner of rubber bungees work on bumpy back roads to keep a sleds rear bumper connected to a trailer, but sometimes the rubber and steel S-hooks part ways, leaving gouges and damaged paint. No, we’ve been to Tie-down 101 class and now look to get the best, mot secure tie-downs we can afford. It’s cheaper in the long run.
Frankly, we’ve been pretty satisfied with our tie-down situation. Which isn’t to say we don’t revert to old ways and look for the occasional “bargain” in the cheap-o bin at the hardware store. You would think we’d learn?
Recently we received a collection of recreational vehicle tie-downs from Steadymate to try. Hey, a tie-down is a tie-down, right? Well, not so it appears. Prior to our “gift box” of goodies, we didn’t have any familiarity with Steadymate, one piece of the Kinedyne group which began in New Jersey and has been making synthetic web tie-downs as an alternative to chains for securing cargo to flatbed trailers since 1968.
As a graft and freebie-loving magazine type — for testing purposes only, of course — we get things on occasion. Sometimes it’s difficult to see how one “new” product is much better or different than another. That wasn’t the case here. Compared to our best tie-downs, the new Steadymate units stood out. For one thing it’s very easy to appreciate the 40-year pedigree in the Steadymate web material. You can feel and easily see a difference between the Steadymate Cinchtite tie-down materials versus average models. The S-hooks stand out as well. One end each of the Cinchtite 1 and Cinchtite 2 features a zinc-plated hook that resists corrosion. The opposite hook end is vinyl coated for scratch resistance. There is a heft and thickness to these hooks to reassure you that your “baby” will be secure in their grip.
The Cinchtite 1 is a cam buckle tie-down with a working load limit of 835 pounds. The Cinchtite 2 has a similar load limit but replaces the cam buckle with an easy-to-operate ratcheting tightener designed for one-hand release. This piece has to be a slightly detuned and downsized version of a trucking tie-down ratchet. It is substantial for recreational usage.
Our favorite of the three Cinchtite tie-downs sent to us is the Cinchtite 5, a very user-friendly device that is perfect if you have a “special” baby you need to protect, either in a covered or uncovered trailer. The Cinchtite 5 features a positive lock, military type snaplock such as you might see an Air Force loadmaster use to secure pallets to a plane’s cargo floor. This snaplock will set the hook in your covered trailer to hold a prized vintage sled from shifting around as you travel from event to event. Better still, the Cinchtite 5 also features a built-in soft loop that helps you secure the load without touching the chrome or paint with a hook. There’s a quick-release, ratchet buckle and the tie-downs measure an inch in width by six feet in length.
Steadymate also offers complementary accessories such as soft loops that are configured to work with the basic Cinchtite 1 or 2 tie-downs. A special Kwik Strap serves a similar purpose but I made like a round sling and designed to provide a little extra give when trailering over rougher terrain. Available in either a 12-in or 18-in length, Steadymate Cinchtite tie-down prices start around US$23.
As a part of the Kinedyne group, Steadymate offers “trucker” like products to make your recreational trailering easier. For example, there are various surface and recess mount securing kits as well as sliding tracks for a covered trailer.
For more information on Steadymate products, visit Steadymate.com.