Whitewater Rafters Really Love Cam Straps – Here’s Why

Researching cam straps led me to a whole host of articles discussing how they are used in whitewater rafting. Who knew? I suppose the rafting community has known about cam straps for a long time. But I never suspected that they use the straps as frequently as they do.

They are so well known to rafters that Rafting magazine talks about them a lot. An in-depth article from the October 2022 edition tells you all you need to know about cam straps and navigating your favorite whitewater river.

Cam Strap Basics

The place to start is with a basic understanding of the cam strap itself. Most cam straps are nylon webbing straps with buckles on one end and some sort of anchor on the other. They can be made from other materials, but nylon webbing seems to be the most popular choice.

They are so named because the securing mechanism on a cam strap is a cam buckle. This is a metal buckle through which the open end of the strap is fed. A spring-loaded clamping mechanism applies downward pressure on the strap, keeping it tightly in place.

The Rollercam brand of cam straps utilizes a patented rolling, or rotating cam in its buckle. Having the cam rotate significantly reduces friction between strap and buckle so that the strap can be pulled tight with very little force required.

Things Rafters Use Them For

Getting back to the rafting community, they have a lot of uses for cam straps. At the top of the list is securing gear to their vehicles. We are talking rafts, oars, safety equipment, camping gear, and so forth. Cam straps can do the job whether a rafter is carrying cargo on the top of a truck or secured to a trailer being towed behind.

Here are some other uses for cam straps in the rafting community:

  • Securing gear inside the boat.
  • Drying wet gear at the end of the day.
  • Stringing a hammock for nighttime sleeping.

Some rafters have been known to use cam straps as both perimeter and flip lines. Others do not think that this is such a good idea.

A perimeter line is a line that runs around the outside of a raft. It is there to give rafters something to hold onto in rough water. A flip line is a line secured to an overturned raft using a carabiner. The other end is fastened to a rafter. When secured, a rafter can pull simply by leaning back. The goal is to right the overturned raft.

It is not clear to me why cam straps don’t make good flip or perimeter lines. But that’s what the good folks at Rafting magazine say.

A Lot to Offer Rafters

Beyond their versatility, what is it about cam straps that make them so well loved among rafters? Simply put, they have a lot to offer. At the top of the list is strength. Cam straps are very strong thanks to both the nylon itself and their woven construction. Most nylon webbing straps have excellent tensile strength.

The straps are not bothered by temperature extremes, UV rays, and other natural influences. They also don’t absorb water. That is important. Cam straps do not get any heavier when they get wet. And because they are water resistant, they are less likely to invite mold and mildew.

The rafting community appreciates cam straps as a versatile tiedown and utility for light loads. I suppose some rafters still appreciate ropes and bungee cords, but neither option can really hold a candle to the cam strap. It is cam straps or nothing for a lot of rafters.

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