Learning how to secure your load in the bed of your pickup can help you get the most out of your truck. It also prevents any damage to the items you are carrying, to the vehicle itself and to other cars on the road. Although it might seem as though some things are heavy enough to just drop in and forget, you never want to leave the stability of your cargo to chance — or to gravity.
Choose the Right Way to Hold It Down
Two of the most popular answers to the “how to secure your load” question are straps and bungee cords. Each operates on the same principle — using a length of nylon to attach your cargo to the truck itself — but they function in a different manner. Bungee cords rely on their elasticity to hold items tight, and use hooks to either loop over or attach to the tie-downs in your truck’s bed. This makes them a good solution for lighter items.
Straps use pulleys or ratchets to introduce the tension needed to hold your larger cargo in place. They are a more heavy-duty solution, and are perfect for hauling stuff like ATVs, motorcycles and furniture, as they can be tightened to the point where even large items won’t be able to pitch around your truck’s bed. (If you have a lot of weight to carry, consider a trailer hitch to make hauling easier.)
Attach to the Right Place
Your truck might not have arrived from the factory with tie-down cleat, but at the very least it has the holes required to mount them. If you don’t already have cleats, it’s always a good idea to install them either in the bed of your truck or along the bed wall to maximize hauling versatility.
When attaching straps or bungee cords to cargo, you should also take into account where you wrap the straps or hook the cords. You always need to make sure that the attachment point is capable of handling the stress associated with up-and-down and side-to-side movement while your items are being transported. The correct attachment point depends on what you’re transporting. If it’s an ATV, for example, attach straps to the frame or the wheels rather than to the bumper or front and rear racks, which won’t be able to handle the strain. If it’s a barbecue grill, you would ideally strap the unit standing up, with the base of the unit securely locked down and absorbing the impact of movement.
Tie Loose Items Together
What’s easier, attempting to strap down 10 individual planks of wood or a stack of 10 planks? If you can bundle together smaller items, or even oversized ones, securing your load will be much more simple. Once your items are bundled together, you can simply tie down the entire bundle using the straps or bungee cords. If you have many smaller items that seems impossible to tie together, such as a cord of wood, consider either covering the entire load with a large tarp that is tied down securely. Another option is using a system of containers to gather everything together, and then securing the containers.
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Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.