Tow Strap vs Recovery Strap: [Know The Real Differences Before Buy] In 2023

Tow strap VS recovery strap one of the most significant discussions you’ll ever come across.

Even though they are pretty similar and, in some cases, you could use one or the other, there are a few differences you should be aware of before towing a vehicle.

Towing a car should never be taken lightly. Don’t forget that you’ve got a lot of dangerous moving parts.

When towing a vehicle, a single mistake could lead to severe injuries, and you could also destroy your car in the process.

Don’t worry, though. We’re here to help you understand the main differences between these two straps.


What is a Tow Strap?

At any point in time, your vehicle could break down, and when that happens, you’ll need somebody to help you get the car towed.

A tow strap is nothing more than a tool that allows you to connect two vehicles.

Ever saw one of those vehicles on the road being pulled by a rope? Well, that’s the tow strap for you.

For example, if your vehicle breaks down or gets stuck in the mud, you could attach the strap to the working vehicle and then to your car to pull it out of the ditch.


  • Perfect for a simple recovery job
  • Minimum damage to the vehicle
  • Pretty easy to use
  • More affordable than recovery strap


  • Hooks can slip off the anchor point

What is a Recovery Strap?

A recovery strap is a rope that can be used to pull a vehicle out of the mud.

But unlike the tow strap, the recovery strap is way more durable, and it is less likely to fail as you’re pulling a vehicle out of a hole.

This rope is also noticeably known for being the most reliable option for running a recovery business.

Vehicle recovery is the most critical skill car drivers should master.

It’s always best to be prepared for the inability to get stuck somewhere. Especially when going out on the weekend with your friends.


  • Ideal for recovering
  • Super stretchy
  • Withstands a lot of weight
  • Easy to set up


  • Not affordable

Tow Strap vs Recovery Strap: Differences to Consider

Tow strap VS recovery strap the minefield most people seem to be confused about.

To fully understand the differences between these two straps, here are some of the most noticeable differences between them:

Better Value For Money

Before buying anything, we need to check whether it meets our income.

That said, one of the main differences between the tow strap and the recovery strap is that the former is more affordable.

You can find one for about $65, whereas the recovery strap can cost anywhere from $200-$250.

But here is the thing: the tow strap is nowhere near as durable as the recovery strap, making the recovery strap an excellent investment in the long run.

You could buy one of those cheap recovery straps, but we suggest staying away from them as they are extremely dangerous since they are not as durable as the expensive ones.

On top of that, if you run a recovery business, you can’t have your straps failing.

It would lead to costly repair costs. This is why professionals use the recovery strap.

Using a simple tow strap for a recovery job is a bad idea. It lacks enough strength, and it could break in the process.


You need to be aware that the tow strap is not meant to be used commercially. It does not hold a candle to the recovery straps when it comes to strength.

You could get yourself into a nasty situation if they were to fail when recovering a vehicle.

Instead, you should use a recovery strap for this kind of job.

However, if you’re trying to help your friend out after getting stuck, you should use the tow strap.

Tow straps don’t have what it takes for recovery. For example, they tend to lose their elasticity after nearly ten jobs, whereas the recovery strap can do hundreds and remain in great shape.

When both of these straps lose their elasticity, they should be used anymore.

They should be disposed of. A great way to keep them in great shape is to regularly clean them. It’ll extend their lifespan.

If they get dirty and you let it go by, they will lose their strength considerably overtime. So, watch out for that.


The difference between tow strap and recovery strap is that the tow straps are not as effective when they’re wet.

On the other hand, recovery straps are designed to be wet and be used wet.

That has something to do with the fact they first were made in the shipping industry.

They’re also designed to remain in great shape even after a long day of work.

Meaning, they can get dirty and still be in excellent condition. All these features are quite attractive to those who run a recovery business.

However, you should take them out of service at some point. They are more durable than tow straps, but you should still check up on them from time to time.

This makes a significant difference when towing your vehicle, as you’ve got a lot on the line.

You could hurt yourself in the process if your strap were to lose its strength.


Another significant difference between the tow strap and the recovery strap is that the latter does not store as pleasantly as the former.

Recovery straps are quite bulky, and they take up a lot of space in your vehicle.

This gets even worse when you have lots of recovery straps of different lengths lying around in your truck.

Furthermore, they quickly get full of mud, so you have to keep them clean before storing them.

The store tow strap is by far the easiest one to store. It barely takes any time to store. It is not as bulky and does not take up as much space as you might think.

Four Wheel Drive

Ever watched one of those videos where the driver didn’t know what he was doing, and then the rope broke as he was pulling the vehicle? Well, we certainly have.

Unfortunately, the tow strap is pretty much the go-to recovery equipment most drivers use.

While this is not as bad as it might sound, you shouldn’t use the tow strap for the four-wheel drive. Instead, use the recovery strap.

Underestimating four-wheel-drive recoveries can put your life at risk. This process involves a lot of strength, precision, and you don’t want to mess it up.


What is the difference between a tow strap and a recovery strap?

One of the most attractive differences between the tow strap and the recovery strap is the application.

As the name suggests, the tow strap is mainly used to pull by using a strap.

This suggests that a vehicle pulled by another should be able to easily ride on a leveled surface.

Usually, the tow strap is made of polyester and has hooks on the end of the strap.

However, this rope should not be used for a recovery operation as the hooks could damage both vehicles.

On the other hand, recovery refers to rescuing a vehicle that got stuck somewhere. And unlike the tow strap, this one is made of nylon.

Nylon is often used for the recovery strap because it is way more durable than polyester. It can also stretch even if lots of force is being applied.

After the recovery process has been completed, the rope will go back to its original length without any significant difference.

This is a game-changing feature as it does not compromise the rope’s overall strength.


If you’ve ever thought about getting a tow strap or a recovery strap, you’ve probably been advised to be careful as you could damage the vehicle.

Both straps can end up costing you a lot of money if they are poorly installed.

One of the most dangerous designs that could get you in trouble is the hooked-end tow strap.

These hooks can be deadly and could damage your vehicle’s anchor point. Instead, use the recovery strap equipped with a D shackle.

You could fold the strap to create a loop, and the risk of damaging the vehicle is significantly reduced.

Nonetheless, you still have to be careful. Some drivers can get carried away when using one of these ropes.

They might think that the faster they go, the easier it’ll be to pull the vehicle out.

But in fact, you could break the anchor points as you’re putting a ridiculous amount of pressure on them. Instead, drive out nice and slowly.

You should also tell anyone nearby to back off. As you’re stepping on the pedal, the strap could break, and the hook could hit somebody.

Watch this video as the strap goes through the vehicle’s rear window after the driver pulling the car applies too much strength:

Ease of Use

Now, both the tow strap recovery kit and the recovery strap are relatively easy to set up.

To attach the tow strap, you need to attach the rope to the tow bar. However, the tow ball should never be used to attach the rope.

You could rip it off as you’re pulling the vehicle, which can become a lethal weapon.

But in most cases, car owners keep a tow strap in their cars to help somebody whose engine just failed.

As we said before, setting it up is not hard. However, we’ve seen people mess up from time to time.

For example, some drivers might wrap the strap around the tailgate, which can rip it off.

You’d be surprised by how common it is to see a car getting destroyed by being towed the wrong way.

This is something some 4×4 owners tend to forget about when towing a vehicle that got stuck.

This is a dangerous procedure. The anchor points could break as well as the snatch straps.

On the other hand, recovery straps tend to be equipped with a D shackle, making it easier to set up.

But instead of attaching it to the tow point, you have to create a loop and then attach it.

But it’s not all flying colors. D shackles are also incredibly dangerous. They can easily go through spare tires and windscreens, which can hit somebody.

For all those reasons, the recovery strap is a little bit difficult to use since you’ve got a lot on the line when recovering a vehicle.

Tow Strap vs Recovery Strap: Which One to Go For?

When in doubt, ask yourself whether you’ll ever have to pull somebody out of the mud or if you need to tow a vehicle after its engine failed.

If you go with the first option, then consider getting a recovery strap.

However, if you want an affordable way to pull somebody after the engine died, we suggest getting a tow strap.

But keep in mind that this rope should not be used to recover a vehicle.

This is considered by many a minefield, but it does not have to be. As long as you’re aware of all these factors, you should be fine.


Tow strap VS recovery strap, which one is better?

As you know by now, despite the similarities they might share, they both work differently, and one might not be suitable for the kind of job you’re doing.

If you’re running a recovery business, the recovery strap is your best bet. Merely relying on the tow strap for this job should not even be considered.

You could damage your client’s vehicle and your reputation.

But if you’re not trying to start up your own company or rescue somebody stuck in a lake, then a tow strap is the best option for you. is a participant of the Amazon Affiliate program. We may earn a small commission if you purchase through our recommended links. More details.

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