Cargo Net, Bungee Cords, Tarps – Everything You Need to Know

For most truck owners who often transport smaller to medium load of cargo, they need cargo net, bungee cords and tarps to tie down and secure their items on the truck bed. There are other products such as ratchet straps and ropes which are best for larger and heavier items such as lumber and piping. But, most of the times, you would be carrying boxes and bags, where straps and ropes many not provide a comprehensive protection and security. In this article, we will specifically talk on cargo nets, bungee cords, tarps, and other cargo securing items.

Cargo Net

Cargo nets help you secure and restrain items that are oddly shaped or loose material. The cargo net with tie downs is a great way to secure cargo on the truck bed. A cargo net is made out of cords that are made into a net. It comes in various sizes to fit multiple loose loads and restrain them in a fixed place. Cargo net also prevents cargo from jumping or flying around when you are driving at high speed.

Most cargo nets are made from stretchable material. If you have a pile of stuff on your truck bed, a cargo net could be a great option to restrain other than separately tying down each item with a rope. Simply lay or cover your luggage or cargo with a net and tie it down to your truck bed using hooks that come attached with most cargo nets. These are great to secure luggage, boxes, camping gear etc and are available for hitch-mounted carriers, ATVs, truck beds and others.

Pros of Cargo Nets

  • Cargo nets are easy to use. It clips down and disengages quickly and easily
  • They are available in various sizes to meet your luggage needs
  • Secure all loose items at once without the need of separate tie downs for each item.
  • They let you see what’s underneath. When you are on a long trip and need to take a look at your cargo and how they are holding up, a cargo net would allow you to give a quick glance in your rearview mirror. If something goes wrongs or a box has come loose, it immediately shows through the net.
  • They are flexible and stretchable, which lets you cover all cargo on your truck bed even if they are spread out unevenly.
  • The cargo net is UV protected so they don’t get damaged from sun and is not affected by wind.
  • They come load-rated, so these safety nets can be used to its full potential without worrying about its reliability as you know what you are getting.

Cons of Cargo Nets

  • They have limited to carrying cargo on the truck bed with no further application
  • It is only designed for light-duty use
  • The net will not let your cargo fly out but cannot prevent it from shifting and sliding
  • It will not protect your cargo from weather hazards such as snow, rain, and dust

How to Choose a Cargo Net?

The only thing that matters in choosing a cargo net is its size. Typically the dimension will be a tad smaller than the carrier. Moreover, it depends on the amount of cargo you will be carrying. If you pile up your cargo to the edge of the rails, you know you need a larger cargo net. Also, you have to purchase one that’s designed for pickups only. They are typically designed to fit a specific purpose such as ATV racks, roof-mounted baskets, utility trailers etc. Commonly smaller cargo nets are made from a stretchable material and the ones that can’t be stretched are larger which will easily cover the whole pickup truck bed.

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Almost all cargo nets come with net hooks. They help you fasten the net to tie-down points. You will find hooks are either made from plastic or metal. While purchasing a cargo net take care of the type of hooks used depending on the type of tie down points your truck bed has.

Truck bed Tarps

Tarps are basically a sheet of flexible and waterproof material that is commonly used to cover as well as restrain loose materials on a pickup truck bed. They are typically made from canvas or nylon which are woven and bonded together. They come with grommets on the edges to help you secure or tie down to the bed.

Tarps are best used to cover and transport loose material such as gravel, sand, leaves, mulch, soil etc. Unlike other fastening products such as ratchets, ropes, and nets, cargo tarps provide weather protection. They protect cargo from wind, rain, snow, dust, flying debris and moisture. Taps will prevent your loose cargo from flying out or washing out and keeps them secured to its place.

Pros of Tarps

  • Protects cargo from wind, rain, snow, dust, debris, and moisture.
  • Makes it easier to contain loose items.
  • It’s easy to use. Simply throw the tarp on top of the cargo and fasten the sides to tie-down points
  • Large size tarps can be used for other purposes as an awning, for storage and other recreation activities.

Cons of Tarps

  • It is directly affected by the drag and may flap around when you drive. With heavy wind, the tarp may snap off.
  • It is only used to cover cargo or contain loose items but can’t tie down heavy loads.
  • Dark colored tarp tends to heat up when exposed to the sun.
  • Occasional pooling of water when it rains
  • Inflexible design means you can’t use one product for all your cargo needs.

How to Choose a Tarp?

Much like cargo net, tarps come in various sizes to meet your needs. They can be as large as 60 sq feet. However, if you are using for your truck bed, you will need a larger tarp. They are also available in various weights. The heavier ones resist abrasion and prevent cargo damage better than lighter tarps. The heavier ones are also less likely to flap in the wind. However, lighter tarps are easy to use and handle.

As you will use these tarps outdoors you should choose the ones with a polyethylene coating. It makes the tarp water resistant, mildew resistant and doesn’t fade with UV exposure. If you want to prevent your tarp from flapping in the wind, you can by mesh tarps. They are designed to allow air through at the same time keeping your cargo intact. But, they are not waterproof and will flood your cargo in heavy rain.

To prevent your tarp from heating up you could purchase tarps with reflective color such as silver. However, they are distracting to other road users in the daytime.

Bungee Cords

Bungee cords are much like cargo nets. Also known as shock cords, are typically used along with cargo nets and tarps as a tie down. Bungee cords are designed to absorb shock and pin down your cargo. Its elastic nature makes it perfect for tying down tarps, making it less affected by strong winds. It keeps your items secure in a moving truck as well as gives a little room for your cargo to flex. On the other hand, it’s not ideal for containing heavy loads such as lumber and piping.

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Bungee cords should not be stretched twice its size, which otherwise may snap or get damaged over the months due to exposure to sun, rain and extreme temperatures. With bungee cords, truck owners should consider the fact that if it comes loose it will turn into a projectile, thereby hitting other drivers. You should also consider that a bungee cord can only be used with a stretched condition; it’s not very useful when slack. So, they are not a good option when you have little cargo to transport. These elastic cords with S-types anchors in the ends make it easy to keep cargo net or tarp in place. To tie-down cargo net or a tarp, a bungee cord is a better option than a rope. Plus, it’s faster to unfasten and access your cargo.

Making Your Own Cargo Net

Cargo nets have become popular among pickup owners who frequently carry small cargo. Be it camping gear, luggage or groceries, a cargo net does its job in keeping them secure in their place. You can purchase cargo nets from your auto supply store or you can make one for yourself. Making your own cargo net gives you the flexibility to customize the net to your specific needs.

  1. Find the right cargo netting for your needs. They are available in various sizes and are made from a variety of material to suit specific needs. You will find netting made from nylon, plastic or even rope. Choose the one that best suits your cargo needs.
  2. Measure the size of your truck bed and keep 2 feet of extra length on all sides as it would go over a pile of cargo.
  3. Cut the cargo net to the measured size and keep it away from the knot, which otherwise will come undone.
  4. Use ropes or bungee cords as a tether to tie-down your cargo in the bed. You can also attach plastic or metal clips around the edges to give it an OEM appearance.

There you go; now you have a cargo net that will neither be too much or too little for the cargo you will be transporting.

Top Popular Cargo Tarps in the Industry

1. Rightline Gear Truck Bed Tarp with Integrated Cargo Net

This weatherproof tarp comes with a built-in cargo net which will help keep your gear and cargo in place. Plus, the tarp keeps your loose cargo dry. If features bungee-style edges that stretches to fit your truck bed. The tarp includes 12 hooks which help in securing the net to the bed cleats.


  • Secures gear in place as well as keep cargo dry with built-in net
  • Has a universal fit, which accommodates most truck bed sizes
  • Made from weatherproof material to keep cargo dry from rain and snow
  • Seams are tape-sealed which prevents water leakage
  • Made from lightweight polyester material which is UV resistant as well as stands against abrasion, cuts, rips and fading
  • All elastic bungee style net comes with 12 removable nylon hooks
  • Included drawstring sack to store tarp when not in use
  • Weighs only 4.5 lbs
  • Comes with 1-Year limited warranty

2. Erickson Mesh Tarp

This is a heavy-duty tarp and is perfect for loads that don’t need protection from rain. The mesh allows air to flow through, thereby preventing the tarp from snapping off or flap in the strong wind. You can also use it around your home and yard.


  • Contains cargo that doesn’t need to be dry
  • Mesh material reduced flapping and drag. Plus the mesh is high-tensile with heavy-duty weave
  • Covers most dump truck, pickup bed, and trailer
  • You can install on your patio to work as a sunshade
  • Can be used to protect anything from getting direct sunlight
  • Fitted with rust-resistant brass grommets, which are placed every 36 inches
  • Features convenient tie-down points
  • The tarp is reinforced with strong webbing and stitched hems
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3. Gladiator Mesh Tarp

This is one of the best tarps in the market. It’s available for truck beds of all sizes from 5 feet to 14 feet long. This mesh tarp provides features unparalleled to any other products in the market.


  • Contains and secure loose cargo and loads such as sand, gravel, soil etc.
  • The tarp is made from an extremely durable ripstop mesh fabric
  • The fabric is rated at 278 pounds per inch
  • Around the periphery is a heavy-duty 1.5 inches webbing which is rated at 2200 pounds per inch
  • All edges are triple-layered
  • Mesh doesn’t tear even if punctured
  • Convenient grommet around the edges
  • Doesn’t stretch under tension
  • Available in various sizes to fit your specific truck bed
  • 4 hardware straps included
  • Comes with a 1-year limited warranty

4. Northwest Mesh Tarp

This mesh tarp comes at a cost-effective price and does its job pretty well. The mesh design prevents it from flapping in strong winds.


  • Made from a vinyl mesh material
  • Extremely weather resistant
  • Heavy-duty mesh doesn’t rip and hold cargo in place
  • Edges are reinforced for added durability
  • Industrial grade grommets help tie down cargo securely
  • Available in various sizes to fit your truck bed
  • Can be used outdoors as a shade

5. TarpsDirect Heavy Duty Tarp

This is a heavy-duty tarp and weighs around 8 Oz. It can be used on truck beds as well as keep outdoor items protected from weather hazards.


  • Made from lightweight and durable fabric
  • Constructed from high-density polyethylene
  • Woven fabric is laminated on both sides
  • Edges are hemmed with poly twine inserts
  • Seams and hems are heat-sealed
  • UV treated surface prevent fading
  • Reinforced corner grommet
  • It is waterproof, mildew proof, and tear resistant

Here are Some Popular Cargo Nets for Your Truck Bed

1. LT Sport Cargo Net

  • Made from durable trunk net with hook design
  • Effectively keeps cargo in place
  • Made from an elastic nylon
  • Thick bands in the net keep gear in place
  • Hooks easy in place and is easy to use

2. Grit Performance Cargo Net

  • Close knit design measuring 4″ x 4″
  • Keeps even smaller items securely in place
  • Made with tough webbing which gives maximum elasticity
  • Great when you have taller items
  • Contains 12 D-clip carabiners to keep the net secure to truck bed

3. US Cargo Control Cargo Net

  • Made from 2″ thick industrial grade polyester webbing
  • Ability to hold heavier cargo and is highly durable
  • 6″ x 6″ mesh holds even smaller items in place
  • Comes with S-hooks, cam buckles and D-rings for versatile tying options
  • High-quality clips hold on under pressure

4. Reese Cargo Net

  • Great for everyday use and comes at a cost-effective price
  • Flexible netting holds well with taller items
  • Net dimension is 60″ x 78″
  • Fits most pickup truck models
  • UV resistant net doesn’t brittle in the sun

5. Rage Powersports Cargo Net

  • Striking yellow color make it stand out
  • Made from durable material that holds up heavy cargo
  • Elastic bungee cord type material accommodate cargo or odd shapes
  • Fits most pickup truck model.
  • Hooks are heavy-duty plastic which doesn’t flex under pressure
  • Comes with a convenient carrying case


Every time you secure your load, imagine the worst case scenario and prepare accordingly. Losing your load on the road will cost you money, cause hazards on the road and may even be lethal for other drivers. For added safety using a couple of more tie-downs even if one will do the job. Moreover, check the weight ratings on the anchor points to know if they can handle the weight of your cargo. Invest in good quality products to avoid unnecessary hazards. And don’t forget to stop from time to time and check if your cargo is still holding up, especially if it’s a long trip or the weather is bad.

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