tow straps vs recovery straps

tow straps vs recovery straps

Recovery straps and tow straps are both hugely useful when it comes to recovering a vehicle – but there are actually some major differences between these two pieces of equipment. Equipping your vehicle for off-roading and emergencies, therefore, will require you having an understanding of the distinctions between these two commonly confused items of gear.

What’s the Difference Between Tow Straps and Recovery Straps?

You might be forgiven for mistakenly assuming that a tow strap and a recovery strap are the same thing – but they’re actually designed for very different purposes, with very different properties.

A tow strap is designed to be used for towing and hauling heavy loads over a short distance. Tow straps are typically made from twisted synthetic rope and feature highly durable metal end fittings, making them suitable for use with a Vehicle Towing Kit.

On the other hand, a recovery strap is designed to be used as part of a 4x4 recovery kit. A recovery strap is usually made from a combination of elastic webbing and elastic cord, which gives it some ‘give’ and ensures that it won’t snap back under pressure like a tow strap might.

Tow straps tend to be fairly hard-wearing and resistant to the elements, but their stiff construction makes them unsuitable for use in recovery situations – especially when a high degree of ‘stretch’ is needed. This is why we recommend using only recovery straps as part of a 4x4 recovery kit.

How to Use a Tow Strap

Tow straps are most commonly used for towing vehicles between two points. To use a tow strap, begin by making sure both vehicles are in a safe position and are secured onto the tow strap.

Then, attach the tow strap to the tow-hook (or rear-mounted eye bolt) of each vehicle. This is usually visible on the back of the vehicle – but check your vehicle’s owner’s manual if you are unsure.

Once the tow strap is in place and the latch of each vehicle’s tow-hook is securely attached, it’s time to start towing. Take care to ensure that the tow strap is taut but not overly tight, and match the speed of the towing vehicle to the speed of the vehicle being towed.

It’s important to monitor the tow strap at all times during towing, and to replace it immediately if it appears to be weakened or damaged in any way.

How to Use a Recovery Strap

A recovery strap is an essential item in any 4x4 recovery kit. Recovery straps are designed to be very elastic, allowing them to absorb shock and store energy. This means that, unlike with tow straps, there is less likelihood of the strap being snapped or damaged following a sudden jerk.

To use a recovery strap correctly, begin by ensuring that the strap is attached correctly. One end of the strap should be securely attached to a sturdy anchor point (e.g. a vehicle towing point) while the other end should be looped around the object you’re attempting to recover (e.g. a stuck vehicle).

Next, start to pull on the recovery strap at a steady speed until the stuck object has been freed. Take care to maintain a steady speed throughout the recovery process, and be aware of any sharp jerks or sudden movements that could cause the strap to snap.

Finally, be sure to properly coiled the strap after the recovery has been completed. Not only will this ensure that the strap is ought back to the same condition it was in when you started the recovery, but it will also ensure that the strap is ready for use in a future recovery attempt.

Benefits of Using Tow Straps and Recovery Straps

When used correctly, tow straps and recovery straps can be hugely beneficial for both towing and recovering stuck vehicles.

The biggest benefit of using a tow strap is that it allows you to tow a vehicle over a short distance safely and quickly. Tow straps also tend to be quite affordable, meaning they usually represent good value for money when compared to more expensive towing options.

On the other hand, recovery straps provide a highly effective, safe and affordable way to recover stuck vehicles. The elasticity of the strap ensures that shocks, jerks and sudden movements are absorbed, reducing the likelihood of the strap being snapped or damaged during a recovery.


Both tow straps and recovery straps can be incredibly useful when it comes to towing and recovering a vehicle. However, prior to using either type of strap it’s important to understand the differences between them and to choose the right type of strap for the job.

Tow straps are typically used for towing and hauling loads over a short distance, while recovery straps are ideal for 4x4 recovery situations due to their stretch and absorption of shocks.

Whichever strap you decide to use, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and to keep a close eye on the condition of the strap at all times. With the correct use, tow straps and recovery straps can save time and make the recovery process much more successful.

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