The Roadside Hot Tub: A Compelling Case for Strong Tie-Downs

Strong Tie-Downs

Imagine driving down the interstate when something in the distance catches your eye. As you gradually approach, you figure out that you’re seeing a hot tub sitting on the shoulder. Believe it or not, that is exactly what countless drivers encountered on a Wisconsin interstate in late August 2023. 

According to local news, an officer with the Wisconsin State Patrol came across the rogue hot tub sitting on the side of the road on August 31. Though few details were given, the State Patrol went to their Facebook page to post a picture of the offending leisure apparatus and warn drivers to “double-check your tie downs are secure” to ensure that cargo doesn’t come loose and fall off. 

A Lousy Labor Day Weekend 

The Wisconsin State Patrol took advantage of the hot tub incident to remind drivers to be safe during the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Perhaps doing so was a stretch, but their point was valid, nonetheless. Losing an expensive hot tub because you didn’t use strong enough tie-down straps would make for a lousy weekend. 

The other thing to consider is that it’s not just about choosing strong tie-downs. It is also about using them correctly. The strongest tie-down in the world won’t help much if it’s not anchored properly or secured tightly. Tie-downs are especially vulnerable when you’re carrying heavier loads that can easily shift during transport. 

Straps Are Your Best Bet 

Although the Wisconsin State Patrol didn’t recommend any particular type of tie-down, it is my personal opinion that ratchet or cam straps are the best option. A ratchet strap is a webbing strap kept secured by a ratchet on one end. Truckers use them to secure cargo on flatbed trailers. 

A cam strap is similar except for the fact that it utilizes a cam buckle rather than a ratchet. The company behind the Rollercam brand says that cam straps are more appropriate for consumer needs because they are deployed easily and offer more control in terms of how tightly they are secured. 

Both types of straps are superior to rope because they can be secured more tightly and are less prone to slipping. As for comparing tie-down straps to bungee cords, the two aren’t even in the same league. Bungee cords aren’t good for anything other than securing tarps. They should never be utilized as the primary tie-down for anything else. 

Checking Loads Frequently 

Regardless of the type of tie-down a consumer might choose, it’s important to check the load frequently. Professional truck drivers are advised to check their loads before departure and then stop within the first 50 miles to check again. Thereafter, they are advised to check their loads every time they stop for fuel, food, rest, etc. 

Consumers would be wise to follow the same advice. Frequently checking that a load is secure maximizes safety. It minimizes the risk of something breaking loose and falling off. 

Getting back to the Wisconsin hot tub incident, it’s not clear whether the hot tub actually fell off of a truck or was purposely unloaded and left there. The picture I saw shows a mostly intact hot tub that appears to have some minor damage on one side. My guess is that it fell off a pickup truck or a utility trailer. Why it was left there is anyone’s guess. 

If you plan to carry cargo not contained inside your vehicle, be sure to choose strong tie-down straps. Deploy them properly and check them frequently. After all, you are required by law to make sure you don’t lose your cargo.



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