picture of NRS straps with caption
(Illustration: Brendan Leonard)

An Ode to the NRS Strap, the Versatile Champion of Gear

These humble blue straps may have been designed for rafting, but their utility is (almost) as limitless as your imagination

picture of NRS straps with caption
Brendan Leonard

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Standing in our garage the other day, holding onto our 10-foot ladder, I thought: This thing is huge. How did I get it home from the store when I bought it?
(All illustrations: Brendan Leonard)
Oh yeah, I know. I’m 99% sure I flopped it onto the rooftop rack on our Subaru Forester, wrapped a couple of NRS straps around the rack and the ladder, cinched them down, and semi-confidently drove the three miles home on surface streets. I know this because this is how I move most large things more than a few blocks.
I use these things for everything, except their intended purpose, which is rigging gear on whitewater rafts. I don’t own a boat, but I own 14 NRS straps.
NRS straps never end up on anyone's "Gear of the Year" lists, because they are not new or newly innovative—they've been around since 1978. They do one thing, well. They are not a new, fancy cordless drill/driver with lots of features. They are a hammer.
Humans have come up with all sorts of inventions that enable us to attach things to other things. Few, I believe, are as versatile, easy-to-use, and reusable as the NRS strap. According to online reviews, they have been successfully used to: -hang a hammock -secure beehives -tie down snowmobiles on a trailer -hang a 100-pound punching bag -hold a kids' swing set together for 5 years -suspend a computer below a desktop
I get this. I have used them for: If I broke my femur in the backcountry and you said, "Everything's going to be OK—I'll build a splint using NRS straps," I would believe you.
Obviously there are things NRS straps cannot do: -Support more than 1,500 pounds -be used to connect a camping trailer to a motor vehicle -decide what you should eat for dinner -teach your dog to read -fend off a shark attack (probably) -Prepare a veggie lasagna from scratch -or even warm up a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti
But unrealistic expectations aside, they’re a plus for humanity. May we all strive to be as reliable, and occasionally as useful, as an NRS strap. OK, maybe that last line was a little over the top. Anyway, if you like things that can enable you to attach things to other things, give 'em a try sometime.
Lead Illustration: Brendan Leonard

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