New tow truck drivers might not put a lot of thought into choosing between tow straps or chain bridles. As long as it secures your load, anything works right? Not quite.
Different loads require different security, and whether you choose a strap or chain can be the difference between having safe or damaged cargo!
Chains are the most common type of bridle used by towing companies. Sturdy and affordable, chains are abrasion resistant and are recommended for heavy-duty scenarios. However, these heavy-duty chains are also heavy to work with. Truckers risk damaging or scratching vehicles during towing and transportation when using chains, as well.
There are several different types of chain bridles for your cargo, separated by grade rating:
1. Grade 70 Chains
Grade 70 chains, or the “trucker’s chains,” are made with heat-treated carbon steel and have about 25% more strength than high test chains. As the name suggests, it’s used as tie downs on over-the-road trailers, but should never be used for overhead lifting. Grade 70 chains have an easily recognizable gold chromate finish.
2. Grade 80 Chains
Grade 80 chain is heat-treated alloy and has a high strength to weight ratio. Its strength makes it excellent as a recovery, safety, and towing chain. The Grade 80 chain is becoming more common in the flatbed trucking industry to secure heavy duty industrial loads, but they are more expensive than the Grade 70 chain.
Towing straps are typically made with polypropylene or Dacron, making them more elastic and gentler than chains. They can come with hooks designed to attach to specific towing locations on the vehicle, keeping it secure during transport.
Just as strong as their chain counterparts but easier to work with and softer, these towing straps have less risk of damaging or scratching your vehicles during towing and transportation!
However, straps are not abrasion or cut-resistant like their chain counterpart. Additionally, their working load limit isn’t as strong as our Grade 70 and 80 chains. It is recommended that truckers add more support when using strap bridles during long-distance travel.