Soft Shackle Vs D Ring: Which Should You Use for Offroading?

D Ring vs Soft Shackle

If you are driving off the road, and you get stuck, you need to have the proper equipment for speedy and safe recovery. If you get stuck all alone in the middle of nowhere with your 4×4 jeep without the proper tools, you can be stranded for a very long time.

A shackle is a tool that is used in this situation. Shackles are used to connect a recovery strap to the bumper of your jeep or car. D-rings are metal links that are used for the same purpose.

So both of these tools are used for recovering 4×4 jeeps that are stuck. But which one is the better option? Today, we will discuss soft shackle vs D-ring so that you can make the right decision based on your car type and needs.

What Is Soft Shackle?

What Is Soft Shackle?

Soft shackles were originated in the marine community. A soft shackle is a strong but lightweight tool that you use to retrieve cars that are stuck in mud, sand, or in between rocks.

Soft shackles are made out of synthetic winch lines. They are made with the same high modulus polyethylene material.

The material is so lightweight and easy to carry that it can float on water. Most of the soft shackles that are available in the market weigh less than a pound!

You can carry or store a soft shackle on a steering column very easily. Because the material of the tool is not too hard, it won’t make a rattling noise if it shakes when you’re driving.

The product has been crafted with careful engineering and sturdy material. Therefore it is naturally more expensive. But the ease of carrying and the amount of load capacity that it can take makes it worth every penny.

Advantages Of Using Soft Shackle

Soft shackles are a newer tool in the world of vehicle recovery. So what qualities does this product have that the public loved so much? Let’s find out.

1. Reflective Quality

A synthetic soft shackle is basically high modulus polyethylene material woven together. Most of the soft shackles have a reflective material woven throughout the unit.

This makes the tool highly visible even in the dark. Because you will be using this tool when you are stuck somewhere, having this high visibility feature can be very helpful.

2. Lightweight

One of the main reasons why people gravitate towards soft shackles is because they are very lightweight. The total unit usually weighs less than a pound.

3. Easy To Carry

A 4×4 jeep is often driven very roughly. This means that all the products that you have stored inside the car, move, or shake a lot when you’re driving.

Because a soft shackle is made out of synthetic material and does not have any hard parts, it won’t make any noise when it’s inside your car.

So you can store it in the glove compartment, or a separate box inside your car without having to worry about that annoying rattling noise.

4. Easy To Use

Using a soft shackle is very easy. All you have to do is untie the knot from the loop and connect the rigging. Create a starting shackle by reinserting the knot through the loop.

You won’t be needing any extra tools when using a soft shackle. Also, the nature of the loop in the shackle, means that there is no possibility of under or over-tying the system.

5. Strength

Soft shackles do not store too much potential energy like metal ones. They have a breaking strength of about 29,700 lb. to 36,000 lb. This sort of strength is more than enough for any kind of recovery process.

Disadvantages Of Using Soft Shackle

After reading the advantages of a soft shackle, we’re sure you are in love with the product. But before you buy a soft shackle, there are a few disadvantages that you should be aware of as well.

1. It Can Tear

The main disadvantage that the product has is its material. Because a soft shackle is made out of synthetic material, it is very prone to get cut.

It holds and reacts to pulling forces quite well, but the material can be cut using as simple of a tool as scissors. Any sort of task that might expose the shackle to abrasions, needs to be avoided when using a soft shackle.

Also because the material cuts so easily, it’s better if you don’t use a soft shackle on rigging points that might have sharp edges.

2. Sometimes Not Strong Enough

Yes, you get a lot of strength from soft shackles for your recovery processes. But sometimes using a soft shackle alone, for an entire recovery process might cause damage to your vehicle’s bumper.

The minimum breaking strength of the material is high, but not high enough for cars stuck in… let’s say quicksand. In a scenario where you need to make a recovery from quicksand, you need to add another shackle, preferably made out of metal, to reduce damage. A soft shackle alone will not be enough.

What Is D-Ring?

What Is D-Ring?

D-rings, also known as bull shackles, are metal links that can come in handy when your 4×4 jeep gets stuck off of the road.

Because the unit is made out of metal, there’s no doubt that it’s sturdy. That is why drivers all around the world trust this small tool when it comes to connecting a vehicle to recovery strap.

A lot of modern cars have a special integrated mount on their bumper that accepts three or four-inch d-rings.

There’s a pin on the D-ring that you can tighten for a better fit onto the bumper. This prevents the tool from rattling when you’re on the road.

You can get different kinds of d-rings with different load capacities. For example, a 7/8 inch D-ring will be perfect for ½ tons, and a ¾ inch d-rings are great for 4 ¾ tons.

As you can see, the strength of a D-ring is inversely proportional to its size. Also, another thing that you have to keep in mind is that the weight capacity mentioned on these d-rings does not mean the weight of the vehicle. It labels the capacity of the pulling weight that the tool can take when a vehicle is stuck in snow, mud, or sand.

Advantages Of Using D-Ring 

Metal d-rings are also a very common tool for vehicle recovery. Why should you invest in a D-ring? What are the benefits of using this tool? Find out below.

1. Durability

D-rings are made out of metal. So there is no doubt that this attachment tool is very durable.

Even in extremely rough conditions, a metal D-ring will never lose its sturdiness or form. Anything starting from water, abrasion, or even heat, does little to no damage to the material.

A D-ring can be used multiple times and does not need frequent replacements or maintenance.

2. Easy To Carry

Because a D-ring is so durable, you can store it on the outside of the vehicle as well. Most of the time a D-ring is hung from the bumper of a jeep or car.

You won’t have to clear out any storage space inside the car for storing this attachment tool.

3. Strong

Metal d-rings have a very high minimum breaking strength. You will often see them being used along with another type of shackle for successful vehicle recovery. However, D-rings are more than enough on their own for recovery processes.

Disadvantages Of Using D-Ring

D-rings have a few disadvantages too. Let’s see what they are.

1. Weight

D-rings are quite heavy. Because they are made out of metal, there’s no way that you can make them lightweight. Carrying them in recovery bags is a hassle for sure.

When a D-ring is hung on the outside of a vehicle, it might shake and collide with the bumper. If you drive very rough, these collisions can sometimes put scratches or marks on your bumper.

There is also a possibility of the D ring coming off of the bumper and falling from the vehicle.

Also, if you store the D-ring inside your vehicle, it will make a lot of rattling noise when you drive. This can be very distracting and annoying for the driver.

2. Potential Energy

A point to be noted about D-rings is that it stores a lot of potential energy. This feature is not beneficial for recovery processes.

Comparison: D-Ring Vs Soft Shackle

Soft Shackle vs D-Ring Shackle

Now that you know about the advantages and disadvantages of soft shackle and D ring, it’s time you make a decision.

But which one should you choose? Here is a side-by-side comparison of both of the products so that you can take an informed decision.


Both D-rings and soft shackles are used for the same purpose; recovering vehicles. But they are used in different scenarios.

While you can use a D-ring for all kinds of situations, a soft shackle might not be an ideal one-stop solution for all kinds of recovering needs.

Meaning, D-rings are a lot stronger and can be used to recover cars from sand, mud, and even quicksand. On the other hand, a soft shackle is better used for situations where you won’t be needing that much pull force. Soft shackles are better used for recovering cars from sand or light runny mud.


When it comes to strength, both soft shackles and D-rings have a very high minimum breaking point.

But when compared with each other, metal D-rings perform better. You can choose a metal D-ring according to the force that you need. These tools offer different size options that cater to different types of required pull force. Therefore, the tool is also much more flexible.

A soft shackle sometimes needs to be used along with a metal D-ring. It cannot always perform and rescue a vehicle on its own. Therefore when it comes to strength, you should choose a D-ring over a soft shackle.

Ease Of Carrying

Metal is a heavier material. So carrying it will be tougher. D-rings can be hung on the bumper of your car, reducing the need for storage space inside.

But when hung, D-rings will make a lot of clinking noise during driving. Even if you store the D-ring inside the car, it will collide with the walls of the glove compartment and make an annoying noise.

When it comes to ease of storage, soft shackles are easier to carry. They are lightweight and don’t make noise because they are soft.

Ease Of Use

Soft shackles are a one-part tool, there are no extra attachments. You just loop the tool in and you’re done.

But with d-rings, the tool needs to be pinned in place. This can be a bit of a hassle when you’re in a hurry. You could also sometimes lose the pin. This would make the tool unusable.

For ease of use, we would suggest going for soft shackles. It can be placed in a position much faster.


Soft shackles have a synthetic build. So they can be cut with scissors. Also if they come in contact with a sharp edge or are exposed to too much abrasion, soft shackles will get ruined completely.

But metal D-rings are much more durable than soft shackles. There is not much that can damage these D-rings. So for durability and product longevity, a D-ring is much better compared to soft shackles.

Final Verdict: Which One Should You Choose?

The choice between a soft shackle and a metal d ring is tough. Both of the tools are great at vehicle recovery. So which one should you go for?

If you ask us we would say that you should go for D-rings. At the end of the day, safety is all that matters. D-rings are much more durable and sturdy. They don’t break easily. The tool is capable of getting your vehicle out of very tough situations, such as quicksand, or mud.

A soft shackle might not be able to get your vehicle out of these extreme situations. Also, abrasions or sharp edges will cut the soft shackle and make it unusable. So if you want to stay on the safer side, you should invest in a D-ring.

Yes, carrying the D-ring is a bit of a hassle. It will make some noise and is a bit heavier as well. But when it comes to soft shackle vs D-ring, a D-ring will be the more prudent choice.

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