Although it sometimes seems like those tough, blue, nylon straps we use to secure loads will last forever. Other than fading in the sun and perhaps having the buckle tighten up, they seem indestructible – until that suddenness of a snapped shoelace, it breaks as you give it that one last hard yank to cinch it tight.
Unless the break is near the tongue end of the strap or the buckle can be cut free and be re-applied – and depending upon the usable length still remaining – it’s pretty much history.
Or is it?
There is a simple way to extend the life of this trusted fastener. Sew it back together! It’s critical to note that while this can make for a very solid and secure mend, you should never use this strap against for any major load-bearing resistance. It’ll still work well as a supplemental tie-down to secure a tarp over gear, or to put the grips on brush piled in your trailer load to the dump. Even around camp it can perform myriad tasks – just don’t plan to use it as major security when holding your canoe to the top of your car. In fact, I always take a marker and mark both ends: “NO LOAD”, as a reminder that this is a weakened strap.
I’ve made several repairs of nylon strapping by sewing, using basically industry-stretch threads – such as most that would be used for upholstery work/repair. Likewise, a bigger, stronger-than-average needle (straight or curved) works best for drawing the thread through the thick, tight weave of the strap. Aiding in that initial needle jab, a needle-nose pliers can also be used to pull the needle on through.
I always use a simple whip stitch that pulls the two edges of the strap tightly together as it spirals down the outside length of the opposing and even strap edges. Stitching across the width of the strap, perpendicular to the edges near the ends, as well as a diagonal or X stitch from opposite corners gives the sewn repair extra gripping power as well.
I usually wait to trim the frayed edges clean until the sewing is complete. A quick lick of flame to melt and seal the frayed end finishes the repair and the strap is ready to go again (Remember! NO load bearing jobs!).
If the repair is made too close to the end of the strap, there could be issues with the double strap thickness of the repair passing through the buckle.
Maybe I’m just a tight wad, but getting some extended life out of a strap seems better than just tossing it.