By Mark Deming
During the high-water year of 1974, a wave of Idaho rafting accidents gave NRS founder Bill Parks an idea. Rather than tie equipment down with rope or webbing, which made the gear difficult to detach after a flip (not to mention attach in the first place) why not adapt cam straps from the freight industry? Bill sourced a heavy-duty buckle from Germany and high-strength, UV-resistant webbing from Spain. When he brought the two together, the NRS strap was born, and the boating world has never looked back.
Not only have NRS straps changed the way we rig rafts, but they’ve also changed how we tie down boats on cars and trailers, how we crack open brews at camp, how we hold up our pants when we forgot a belt, and numerous other essential boating hacks. You know, if you can’t strap it, scrap it.
Here are some of our favorite alternative applications for NRS Straps, some practical, others practically useless.
1. Drying Gear: Fighting the funk is a losing battle, and yet there is valor in the attempt. Airing out your kit, whether in camp or on the porch, shows you care, even if you still stink. Plus, wiggling into a clammy wetsuit is never fun. Take a 15- or 20-foot strap, loop it around two trees or posts, and you have a clothesline that would make Grandma proud. If you don’t have a long strap, just daisy chain a few shorter lengths.
2. Fetching Wood: When you get to the beach, the sun is setting and that fire ain’t building itself, grab a six-footer and get to work. When you stroll into camp with your tidy bundle of driftwood in one hand and a frosty beverage in the other, you will earn the esteem of your peers—and another frosty beverage.
3. Griswalding. That’s right, you heard it here first—it’s a verb. Defined as lashing down awkward objects to the roof of a station wagon. May include: Christmas trees, inner tubes, Ikea furniture or Aunt Edna. While Griswalding purists insist that any method other than twine and granny knots lacks authenticity, we maintain that the highway is no place for slapstick. Please, Griswald responsibly and use a strap.
4. Decking the Halls: Tree decoration goes hand in hand with Griswalding. Stringing together popcorn and cranberries is tedious at best, and typically necessitates running to the store to buy dental floss (because you’re running low, because you floss everyday, right?). Put on a sweater, cue the Bing Crosby and give ye olde tanenbaum some style.
5. Jury Rigging: From replacing blown-out Chaco webbing to splinting a broken trailer tongue to re-attaching a rusted muffler, we’ve seen hundreds of ad-hoc fixes made with NRS straps. Carry a quantity of straps proportional to the jankiness of your gear or rig and you can feel reasonably assured of managing those unexpected malfunctions. Of course, it never hurts to carry a roll of duct tape too.
6. Towing Dirtbags: Whether speeding up the foot shuttle or getting your thrills when the only whitewater to be had is snow, a strap comes in handy for outside-the-box transportation efforts. Hitch a strap to a bike, dog or other approved towing vehicle and hang on (until it becomes clear you should let go).
7. Layover Day Distractions: Okay, so it works like this. I start here and I’m trying to get over there. You start there, and you’re trying to get over here. Cans move forward or backward two squares. Bottles move diagonally three squares. Hot sauce can move in any direction, but only one square. Ketchup covers hot sauce, soda crushes ketchup, and hot sauce cuts soda. Jim? Jim? Fine, let’s play Frisbee.
8. Lifestyling: Simpler times call for simple solutions. Whether hanging hammocks, rigging rain flies or lassoing out-of-reach fruits, the NRS strap is basically the boater’s version of Indiana Jones’ bullwhip. It may not save you from Nazi tomb raiders, but it could save you from a bad night’s sleep, an empty stomach or a rainy-day bummer.
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