Anyone who has every loaded a truck bed or trailer knows the fear of seeing things flying out or sliding out once you pick up speed on the road.
So what’s the quickest and simplest truck bed tie downs for securing your pickup truck and trailer cargo loads? Ratchet straps, cargo straps, tarp? They all work but what’s the best way to tie down and secure your cargo, so there’s no embarrassing—and dangerous—lost loads?
Anyone who’s had to use a tarp to cover a load of stuff in the back of their pickup or on a trailer will recognize this cover photo. Likely we’ve all seen them driving down the highway and quickly maneuvered away from some of them.
We learn pretty quickly that at any speed, the tarp becomes an airfoil and if the grommets tear, then you have a kite. On long trips, friction can wear through about any tarp, especially those blue plastic kind. We’ve all seen those vehicles going down the road with their tarps flapping like flags in a hurricane. What to do?
At any speed, the tarp becomes an airfoil and if the grommets tear, then you have a kite.
It took us 20 years working in construction and landscaping to discover this simple solution that has worked every time. Not just for securing tarps but keeping items from shifting around on those hard shell bed protectors or slick metal truck beds. We’ve never seen anyone else using these for this purpose, so it seemed a great hauling hack to share.
This trick has worked great for us, but because there’s always the possibility of somehow causing a road hazard, anyone who tries this does so at their own risk. Common sense needs to be applied here as well.
So what’s the quickest and easiest way to secure your cargo?
Our Truck Bed Tie Down Hauling Hack
The “tool” we use most doesn’t even require tie downs for smaller loads. For larger ones we add ratchet straps or home-boy ratchet knots with rope.
The product we’ve re-purposed for truck bed tie downs that has worked the best, is heavy rubber anti-fatigue restaurant safety mats. It should be available at the big home improvement stores or online from Amazon. The 36 square inch size works fine; these are rather heavy mats of recycled rubber.
There are several varieties and thicknesses to choose from with a price range from $18 to $30 per mat. You might be able to find a better deal at some restaurant supplier where they are used primarily as wet area safety and anti-fatigue mats. But it’s really not so bad when you consider how much time it’s going to save you. We’ve fitted the mat shown here with handles made out of old hose and secured with rope, however, that’s not necessary and we’ve found it’s just as easy without any modifications.
How we use these mats to pin down and secure a tarp.
Advantages to Rubber Mats as Truck Bed Tie Downs
- Flex and mold to the object(s) being secured
- Are non-skid and handy to place over existing beds and bed liners.
- Can be folded and rolled to block and support
- Have big holes for drainage and which allows airflow so the mat stays in place
- You can thread rope through the big holes
- Save time being so easy to lay on and take off
- Can be layered over and under lumber to keep it from shifting
- Are relatively inexpensive and last a while
- Can be placed under the wheels for traction
- Make great bumper cushions to go between metal surfaces
- Can protect the roof of a vehicle from loads placed on top
- Make great cushy mats especially for wet areas in restaurants (LOL) 😉
And here are a few examples of how we use them to secure other items.
Rubber Mats for Securing Cargo
From working in construction, gardening and landscaping, we’ve tried a number of different methods for hauling loads in truck beds and trailers, and this rubber mat method is by far our favorite. Even if you use tie downs like a bungee net, plastic tarp, heavy duty canvas tarps and all manner of straps for extra security, these “rubber restaurant mats” or “food service/safety mats” are indispensable in helping you secure cargo on your flatbed or in back of your pickup.
Feel free to join the conversation on the Gardens All Facebook Page, and let us know what hauling hacks you favor for trailer and truck bed tie downs.
G. Coleman Alderson is an entrepreneur, land manager, investor, gardener, and author of the novel, Mountain Whispers: Days Without Sun. Coleman holds an MS from Penn State where his thesis centered on horticulture, park planning, design, and maintenance. He’s a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society and a licensed building contractor for 27 years. “But nothing surpasses my 40 years of lessons from the field and garden. And in the garden, as in life, it’s always interesting because those lessons never end!” Coleman Alderson