4 Features To Consider When Buying Bungee Cords

Bungee cords can be put to use in many ways. But what features should you look for when shopping for bungee cords? Here are four questions to keep in mind.

by J. Keeler Johnson
PHOTO: J. Keeler Johnson

I’m a fan of bungee cords. But then again, who isn’t? These simple stretchy cables can be put to use in many different ways, so it’s no surprise I have dozens around my farm.

If you haven’t had the good fortune to use bungee cords in the past, let’s take a moment to define what they are. A typical all-purpose bungee cord is an elastic cable or strap with a metal J hook or S hook installed on each end, though there’s another key variation we’ll address in a moment. Basically, you can think of a bungee cord as a broken rubber band with hooks on either end.

The elastic nature of a bungee cord is its greatest strength. You can stretch a bungee cord to a longer length (perhaps 25, 50 or even 75 percent more than its original length), and the bungee cord’s desire to return to its standard length creates tension you can use to tie down loads, secure objects together and more.

Hay bales, corral panels, loads of brush, potted trees.… I’ve transported all these and more using bungee cords to hold everything in place.

You’re probably convinced by now you need to invest in some bungee cords. But what features should you look for when shopping? Here are a few questions to keep in mind.

  1. How long is the bungee cord?

The length of a bungee cord is arguably the most important consideration. They can only stretch so far, so an 8-inch bungee cord isn’t going to stretch across a 4-foot-wide trailer.

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Aim to use a bungee cord that’s somewhat (but not dramatically) shorter than the length you wish to span, so the bungee cord can stretch and provide suitable tension.

Unless you’re going to use bungeesfor one specific task only, you might want to have a variety of lengths on hand to cover all your possible projects and needs.

Read more: Baling hay? Is a square or round baler the right choice for your farm?

  1. How far can the bungee cord stretch?

Closely related to the length of a bungee cord is how far it can stretch. As we mentioned earlier, bungee cords can stretch significant distances, sometimes even doubling in length. When shopping for cords, see if the manufacturer lists how far they can safely stretch.

Of course, just because a 20-inch bungee cord can double in length doesn’t mean you should always stretch it to its limit. The tension in such cases will be high. If you need a bungee cord to span a 24-inch gap, an 18-inch or 20-inch bungee cord will be easier (and safer) to install and remove than a 14-inch bungee cord stretched practically to its breaking point.

  1. Is the bungee cord UV resistant?

Will your bungee cords spend a lot of time out in the sun? Maybe you’re tying down tarps and need to leave the cords in place for extended periods of time.

If you’re concerned about UV rays damaging the bungees, invest in cords that are UV resistant.

  1. Do you need ball bungee cords?

Ball bungee cords are a key variation you may want to consider. Ball bungee cords feature an elastic loop with the ends attached to a ball, making them perfect for tying down tarps, canopies, etc. The idea is to insert the loop of elastic through a grommet, wrap the elastic around part of the item you’re covering, and then loop the end over the ball.

Tie down enough grommets with ball bungees, and the tarp or canopy won’t easily leave its place.

Read more: Consider these 6 features when choosing safety glasses.

No matter which type of bungee cord you choose, safety should always be paramount. When a bungee cord is stretched and placed under tension, there’s always a chance it could break loose and cause injury. Be sure to wear safety glasses when using bungees, and don’t try to stretch them beyond their means.

Lastly, have fun! Because let’s face it, bungee cords are fun to use.

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