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Basics of Tie-Down Anchors

AnchorTrax anchor and track in use

If you haul any kind of cargo, you will have to secure it with some kind of tie-downs - either straps, nets, tarps, or chains. And you will have to attach your tie-downs to anchor points on your truck or trailer. If you have no anchor points or lack convenient places to attach tie-downs, you can add anchor points. Various kinds are available, and they can be installed easily on your trailer or truck. Some mount permanently, others clamp on and can be removed when not needed. E-track and AnchorTrax systems allow you to build your own custom tie-down setup and offer an incredibly versatile way to secure cargo.

Types of Anchors and Anchor Systems

  • Single point anchors
    • Moveable anchors clamp to pickup truck or trailer rails and can be positioned anywhere along the rail.
    • Stake pocket anchors mount in pickup truck stake pockets to create an easy-to-access tie-down point.
    • Cleats attach to a flat surface and provide a tie-down point for rope. They usually have a ring for attaching the free end of a rope, or they have an open hook over which you can attach a rope that has a loop at the end.
    • Surface-mount anchors and recessed anchors attach to the surface of a truck bed or trailer and have D-rings that fold or retract out of the way when not needed.
  • Track systems
    • E-Track systems are available as strips of track or single anchor points and can be mounted on flat surfaces of trucks or trailers, even inside enclosed trailers - anywhere you need anchors. Each track consists of a row of slots that receive special, snap-in connectors. You can attach the connector of your tie-down to any convenient slot in the E-track. Many types of tie-downs work with E-track connectors.
    • O-Track Systems are similar to E-track, in that they consist of strips of track that can be mounted on any flat surface, creating a row of anchor points for the tie-downs. Special connectors attach quickly and securely to the track. You can slide them along the track to the most convenient location. Each connector provides a metal loop that can accommodate many styles of tie-down hooks.

Single Point Anchors

Several kinds of anchors are made to mount to flat surfaces or in truck stake bed pockets. Installation of anchors may require that you attach hardware, which can include a backing plate, on the backside of the mounting surface. If you want to use anchors that require this kind of hardware for installation, make sure you can access the backside of the area where you want to mount them.

Moveable Anchors

Extang moveable tie-down anchor mounted on a rail

These anchors typically clamp to the side rails of a pickup truck bed or trailer. You can install them in seconds anywhere on your side rail and remove them just as easily.

Stake Pocket Anchors

Truck stake pocket anchor

These anchors fit in truck-bed stake pockets and usually install easily. Some snap up and down so that they are out of the way and provide a sleek look to your truck when they're not in use. Others don't retract, but they usually have an attractive finish.


Rope cleats

These tie-downs provide anchor points for ropes. Cleats are usually either a closed ring or a post that is open at the end. To use a ring, you put the open end of a rope through it then tie a knot in the rope. To use a post-type cleat, you put the loop of a rope over the open end of the post.

Surface Mount Anchors

Surface-mount anchor point

These kinds of anchors mount on any flat surface of a truck or trailer, or on the rails. They lie low on the surface on which they are mounted, keeping them out of your way when not in use, yet handy when you need them. Typically, they have a D-ring that folds down. They are available in bolt on and weld on versions.

Snap-Loc anchor point

A good alternative to surface mount anchor points is Snap-Loc anchors. These anchors give you an easy-to-access anchor point when you need it, and they are one of the least obtrusive anchor points when you don't. Straps with special clips that fit into the Snap-Loc anchors are available. Or, you can get adapters that clip into a Snap-Loc anchor and provide a D-ring to which you can attach almost any other tie-down straps.

Recessed Anchors

Recessed-mount anchor point

These kinds of anchors are designed to ride below the surface on which they are mounted. This way no part of the anchor is in your way when you don't need to use it. Usually, these anchors have a D-ring that folds down when not in use.

Backing Plates for Surface Mount and Recessed Anchors

Backing plate for anchor point

Single-point tie-down anchors sometimes require that a backing plate be installed on the backside of the mounting surface. A backing plate adds suppoprt and helps to ensure that the anchor will work up to its intended capacity. If you need to use a backing plate, make sure that you can access the backside of the surface where you want to install them. Many tie-down anchors come with backing plates.

Weld-on D-ring

Weld-on D-ring anchor point

A weld-on D-ring is also available. It eliminates the need to access the backside of the mounting surface for installation. However, you can mount this anchor only to a surface that can be welded. These anchors are heavy duty and easy to access. They're a great choice for work trucks and trailers.

Track Systems

E-track and O-track tie-down anchors in use side by side

If you haul a lot of items at once, different kinds of items, or simply want to create your own custom tie-down setup, nothing beats a track system. Because track systems are so versatile, they work especially well for toy haulers and moving vans. You can choose from two types: E-track and O-track.

E-track and O-track tie-down anchor strips side by side

Both E-track and O-track consist of strips of track that install on flat surfaces and provide a row of attachment points to which you can connect tie-down straps. Because the tracks can be installed on just about any flat surface, they let you custom design a tie-down system to best suit your application. You can mount the tracks on the floor, the walls, or even the ceiling of a trailer - anywhere that will provide convenient tie-down points. O-track is often installed on pickup truck and UTV rails and floors.

E-track is Versatile

Horizontal and vertical E-tracks, and Snap-Loc connector

E-track is highly versatile, giving you a lot of options when it comes to building your own custom tie-down system. E-track consists of strips of track that have a row of slots that are made to receive spring-loaded connectors. The strips of track come in a variety of lengths. And the track is available with the slots arranged at 90 degrees to the track (horizontal) or parallel with the length of the track (vertical). You can supplement the tracks with Snap-Loc connectors, which provide a single anchor point. One of these single connectors can fit in a tight space or on a narrow edge.

E-track Connectors Are Easy to Attach and Remove

Closeup of E-track connector being inserted into Snap-Loc anchor

E-track connectors are very secure, and they're easy to attach and remove. You just pull back a spring-loaded lever and snap the E-track clip into the E-track slot and it's connected. To release the clip, you pull the lever, which releases the locking mechanism, and then you can pop the clip right out.

E-track is Low Profile

Wheel secured by wheel net attached to E-track strip

The tracks ride low to their mounting surface, so they take up very little space. If you want to mount them on the floor where you may have to drive over them, don't worry - they can take it. This makes them especially useful for securing wheeled vehicles.

Basic E-track Connectors

Basic types of E-track connector - strap with E-track connectors and fittings with O-rings

To tie down your cargo, you can get straps that fit E-track, or you can get adapters that have an E-track clip at one end and a more universal fitting, like an O-ring, on the other. These adapters let you use most kinds of tie-down straps, including those that you may already own.

Specialty E-track Connectors

Samples of types of specialty connectors for E-track

Specialized E-track connectors expand the range of uses for E-track systems. You can get E-track connectors that let you attach a wood beam to your E-track. This is a great way to build shelving in a trailer. And because of the on-and-off capability of E-track connectors, shelving installed this way is easy to put up and remove. A spare tire carrier is also available. And you can get wheel tie-down straps that attach to E-track, giving you a convenient way to securely strap down wheeled machines to your vehicle or trailer. To help you put a finishing touch on E-track, you can get end caps that help prevent feet, cargo, or equipment from snagging on the end of the track.

E-track Capacity

Bottom view of E-track tie-down anchor strip with backing plate

Working load limit of E-track varies from 3,000 pounds for the single Snap-Loc anchors and up to 6,000 pounds for E-track tracks. Backing plates are available if you need to add extra support to your mounting surfaces.

E-Track Installation Methods and Dimensions

Sections of E-track with the dimensions labelled

E-track can be mounted in a variety of ways - bolted, screwed, riveted, or welded (E-track strips are usually made of steel). You will need a flat surface (a corrugated pickup truck bed will work fine) on which to mount E-track. Horizontal strips (the slots are aligned 90 degrees to the length of the E-track strip) are usually 4" to 5" wide and vertical strips (the slots are parallel with the length of the E-track strip) are 3" to 4" wide. The illustration at right shows the dimensions of typical E-track.

O-track Lets You Easily Build a Light Duty Custom Tie-Down System

Buyers Products O-track kit

O-track systems provide an easy way to build your own custom tie-down system. The strips of track are made of aluminum and can be mounted on any flat surface to provide a continuous row of connection points for O-track cargo tie-down anchors. The anchors attach anywhere along the length of the strip where you need to secure a tie-down. Several brands of O-track are available, and they vary in maximum capacity and length of track.

O-Track Tie-Downs

Tie down for Super Track O-track tie-down system Tie down for Tow-Rax O-Track low profile tie-down system

O-track anchors fit in a groove that runs down the center of each O-track strip. The anchors attach easily - all you have to do is pull or push a spring-loaded pin to attach or remove the anchor. Each anchor has a metal loop, which provides an attachment point for tie-down straps.

O-Track Capacity

Working load limit for most O-track is under 1,000 pounds, though the capacity can vary quite a bit among the different components of each manufacturer.

O-Track Installation and Dimensions

O-track strips vary in length, width, and height depending on the manufacturer but all of them are narrow and have a low profile to fit on the top or inside of pickup truck rails or on narrow surfaces of utility vehicles and be out of the way when you are not using them. The tracks have mounting holes running down their lengths for attaching them to a flat surface.

Updated by: Raymond P.

Last updated: 7/24/18



Im getting ready buy a new 20ft by 7ft car hauler. It will be steel deck 10k GVW. I plan haul cars, diesel trucks and 2 side by sides. Well with side by sides not being as wide as car/truck, will i be safe put track in middle 2 different widths an still safely? As in if side by side 65inches wide and truck is 82in wide can I put E track at like 72in and be safe. That way I can use tire E track straps on truck or side by side? Thank u for ur advise.

Etrailer Expert

Jon G.


The beauty of E-Track systems is that they are truly universal - I see no reason why you couldn't have a few different E-Tracks for your application that sit at different measurements. Just note that you'll want to have them in-line with the direction of travel when you install them.



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