Tow Chain vs Tow Strap – What’s Best For Your Vehicle?

Whether you are a professional tow company or an avid outdoorsman who enjoys off-roading and playing in the mud, it is important to know the differences between your choices in tow lines.

There are a few variants of tow lines for recovering, towing, and winching a vehicle, so understanding what is best for every situation could be very important. Understanding what every situation entails could be the difference between a successful tow and a damaged vehicle.

tow chain vs tow strap

Tow Chains vs Tow Straps

In the past, people would have to call on a tow company if they ever found themselves stuck in a situation with their vehicles that they couldn’t get out of. Luckily, today, there are many options that everyone can access that help you rescue your vehicle yourself and save money from not having to call a tow service.

There are four main types of tow lines out there that you can choose from when deciding which way is best to recover your vehicle.

  • Tow Chain
  • Tow Strap
  • Tow Rope
  • Tow Cables

In this article, we will be discussing the two more popular options tow chain and tow straps. We will review the advantages and disadvantages of both and the situations in which they will work the best.

Remember, these are just some facts that we have compiled based on performance. Ultimately, the decision on which product is best for your situation is up to you.

Tow Chain

Professional tow companies and businesses have used tow chains for many years. They have always been reliable and easy to use when recovering or towing a vehicle.

Tow chains are cheap and strong and can pull a lot of weight with ease. Most chains are made from alloy or steel links and come in various sizes and lengths. The heavier the load, the larger the chain size you need. The largest chain being able to pull more than 280,000 lbs.

For the majority of towing purposes, a 20-foot chain is the most popular go-to choice. However, they can be shorter or a bit longer, depending on the situation.

What Should You Use Tow Chains For?

Tow chains are versatile and can be used for many jobs requiring towing, recovery, or lifting heavy vehicles or items. Most tow companies have a chain rather than a rope or strap attached to the back of their tow trucks to rescue and tow-in broken or stuck vehicles.

tow chain close up isolated on floor

An advantage of using tow chains is that you can pull them through the toughest terrains or allow them to drag against the concrete pavement. They will never fray or tear, which other materials can do, causing the line to snap.

If you are looking to tow vehicles or lift large items (like extracting tree trunks from the ground), a tow chain is probably your best bet.

Strong- Chains are strong and durableSize- Bulky and heavy
Versatile- come in different sizes and lengthsDangerous- If just one link breaks the chain will snap
Cheap- Cheaper than good strapsAges- Chains can weather and rust
Resilient- Can hold up through a lot of wear and tear

Tow Strap

Like a chain, a tow strap comes in many different sizes and pull load capacities. They can pull ATVs weighing 800 pounds out of a mud pit as well as a 35,000-pound semi-truck off the side of the road.

Most tow straps are about 20 feet long, but they can vary depending on the job at hand. Tow straps have become very popular in recent years as they are lightweight and easy to use. They are compact, too, making them easy to stick inside a vehicle without worrying about the bulkiness of a giant chain.

Using a tow strap in any situation will help retrieve a vehicle that has rendered itself useless without needing to call in a tow truck. Simply attach the straps into position, and the device will work itself.

What Can You Use a Tow Strap On?

You can use tow straps for almost any type of recovery pull. The limited stretch from these lines makes them fantastic for freeing an offroad vehicle from whatever nature may bestow upon them or a car that hit a patch of ice and slid into a ditch.

A tow strap is also ideal for self-towing as they can easily be wrapped around a tree or another vehicle quickly allowing a driver to free themselves.

Lightweight- Easy to use and maneuverWears- Can tear or fray then rip
Compact- Can be easily stored and hidden out of sightFlimsy- When towing they can make controlling the vehicle difficult due to swaying.
Weatherproof- won’t rust or damage from water or UV rays
Flexible- Has stretch to help pull and recover vehicles without damaging them

Product Options

Trying to find the right product online can be so frustrating at times. There are many people out there creating these products in many ways, so the options are endless. We compiled a list just for our readers of three tow chains and three tow straps that you should consider when you are ready to buy.

3 Tow Chain Options

1. VCT Heavy Towing Chain

This tow chain is perfect for pulling up tree trunks or towing in heavy-duty UTV’s or trucks. It has a 20mm steel tow chain that is durable and tough. It is smaller in length, making it perfect for a simple recovery or a hard heavy tree pull.

VCT 1/4" X 12' Heavy Duty Tow Chain
  • 1/4" X 12' Heavy Duty Chain
  • Material: 20Mn2, Hooks on Both Ends
  • Break Pulling: 3310KGS(7300PSI)
  • Work Capacity: 1180KGS(2600PSI)
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2. BestEquip Heavy Duty Chain

BestEquip has designed a heavy-duty high quality, grade 70 zinc chain. It is versatile, with a hook at each end, making it perfect for practically any job. They used a firm welding technique in the construction of this chain, making it stronger and longer-lasting than ever before.

BestEquip Grade 70 Chain Heavy Duty 3/8" x 20' Length Towing Chain
  • Heavy Duty zinc plated chain is designed for long service time and prevented from corrosion, rust and deformation
  • Grade 70 chains provide a higher safe working load of 6600 lbs
  • High performance grab hooks on each end for firm buckle and the advanced welding technique which ensures that the chain is not easy to break
  • Diameter of chain is 10mm (3/8’’) and an overall length of 6.3m (21ft)
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3. Vulcan Heavy Duty Tow Chain

This Vulcan Tow chain is a Grade 80-3/8 Inch x 20 Foot chain with a safe working load capacity of 7,100 pounds. This chain is highly rated and can recover just about any vehicle you use it on. It has outstanding strength and durability and is DOT and OSHA-approved.

VULCAN Grade 80 3/8 Inch x 20 FootTow Chain
  • Grade 80 chains provide a higher safe working load than Grade 70 chains, but weigh the same.
  • Forged alloy grab hooks feature a heat treated load pin with a retaining cotter pin so they stay attached to the ends of your chain, but can also be removed if needed. The throats of the grab hooks are universally sized to engage easily with 3/8
  • Heavy duty chain has a 7,100 lbs. Safe Working Load and is intended for use with a load binder that has at least the same load rating. The rating is based on a 4:1 safety factor. 4:1 is the correct safety factor, recommended by the NACM,
  • Meets or exceeds all CVSA, DOT and OSHA specifications, and comply with NACM recommendations.
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3 Tow Strap Options

1. RHINO Recovery And Tow Strap

With a lab-tested 31,000lb tow strength, this tow strap is ideal for pulling or towing even the biggest hauls. It is a heavy-duty 20-inch strap made from a webbed polyester silk blend. The strap is lightweight and versatile, making it an ideal tow strap for any occasion.

Top Pick
Rhino USA Recovery Tow Strap 3" x 30ft
  • Lab Tested and Certified 31,518lbs Break Strength
  • Carry Bag Strong Enough to Hold 10+ lbs for All Vehicle Accessories!
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

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2. Sunferno Tow Strap

This Sunferno recovery tow strap is very durable, versatile, and strong. It has a 35,000-pound break strength making it perfect for recovering any vehicle or pulling or removing tree stump and brush. It’s water-resistant and has high visibility keeping you safe while you work.

Sunferno 35000 lb Recovery Tow Strap
  • 7% Max stretch and reinforced eye loops for strong shackle grip, single-ply strap for heavy duty and protective sleeve for injury protection.
  • The 35321 lb break strength strap you'll be able to remove fallen trees, bush, debris in case of emergency.
  • High visibility and easy to cleann water resistant strap
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3. Rocket Strap Tow Strap

The Rocket Strap tow strap has a 30,000 pound rated capacity pull. The durable and protected loop ends make recovery easy and safe, too. These straps are rock solid and dependable made from 100% polyester materials. They are UV and weather resistant and very flexible.

Rocket Straps 3" x 30' Heavy Duty Tow Strap
  • Extra long 30’ strap provides you with the length needed for any situation that can arise
  • Made with the highest grade 100% Polyester material. UV and weather resistant. It’s flexible, with heavy duty reinforced looped ends to take the strain off of anchor points
  • Manufactured with the highest quality material in the cargo industry
  • Lifetime Warranty
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All of the products listed above are great options for any vehicle tows, recovers, or other heavy lifting and pulling jobs. However, they are not the only ones out there that will work hard and provide you with great aid in any task. Do your homework and find the best tow chain or tow strap for your vehicle and intentions.

Things to Consider

What should you be considering when choosing the best tow strap or chain? Here are a few things to ask yourself:

  • How heavy of a load do you plan to pull?
  • Is it mainly going to be for towing trucks and vehicles or pulling stuck ATVs out of the mud?
  • How long of a rope are you going to need?
  • Is the chain primarily for towing or will it be used for other tasks?
  • Do you plan on connecting it to a winch?
  • What is the size of the vehicle you are going to be towing with?

All of these questions will play a big part in which towing device you should consider using.

If you’re looking for more information, this is a great video that can help in your decision.


Tow chain, tow strap, tow rope, or cord. All of these towing options are wonderful products that are perfect for specific situations. They all have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages and are useful for towing, recovering, and pulling all sorts of heavy objects.

Choosing a tow chain will offer you a reliable, strong, heavy-duty, line that will pull with force and can tough just about any terrain and conditions you pull it through without any damage or snags.

Choosing a tow strap will provide you with a lightweight, durable, and flexible line that can yank a stuck vehicle out of any sticky situation swiftly and with ease.

As long as you are purchasing a quality product made by a reputable company that knows how to make a long-lasting well-crafted product it doesn’t matter which direction you go.

James with daughter on the trails

About James...

Hi, I’m James. If I’m not working on this site, you can often find me outdoors roaming the trails. I’m an avid hiker, mountain biker, and overlander. I’m excited to share my passion for the outdoors with you.