Both chains and cable can be effective materials that you can use to tie down other items and keep them safe. The difference usually lies in what you want to secure, and where you’re getting that done. 

Keep in mind also, that not all of the chains or cables that you’ll find will be equal in quality. Having said that, here are 5 different scenarios that I want to go over. To help you make the right call on what type of material to use. 

Why You Should Use Cable When Tying Things Down To Car?

If you’re going to tie things down to ensure that they’ll remain stable on the back of a truck or roof of a car cable is the way to go. For one, you’re going to be able to apply more pressure as you’re tying things down with the right type of cables. 

You can use chains for this type of need, but you’d have to more or less disregard the overall well-being of your flatbed.

Chains are typically going to take a bigger toll on the surrounding elements by just naturally crashing against them with the movement of the car.

You may want to use smaller tighter knit chains if you do go that route, to ensure you’re able to apply enough pressure.    

Chain vs Cable: What Works Better For Tires In Snow?

For generations, chains had been used in tires to give cars better traction when driving through snowy roads. Chains remain the more durable option to apply to cars in these types of conditions.

Yet, they have been labeled harder to install, and that has derailed their popularity. 

Cables meant to be added to vehicle tires in snowy conditions should be made from steel, and properly encased just like regular cables are. They don’t tend to be as durable as chains, but they do allow you to go a bit faster in rough conditions. The choice in this scenario may come down to how often you need to use the vehicle. 

The Best Option To Prevent Bike Theft  

As is the case with many of these scenarios both options can be serviceable. It may come down to the quality of the chain or cable that you ultimately chose. Still, there are pros and cons to each option. 

Pros of A Chain To Secure A Bike

  • Chains are typically harder to cut
  • You could potentially use any lock and chain to get the job done
  • Overall it’s a more durable option

Pros of Using A Cable To Secure A Bike   

  • Typically, it’s easier to tie the bike down with a cable
  • You can get a tight grip to make sure the bike doesn’t fall over
  • Allows user to tie the back down to different surfaces

What Are The Cons of Each Option? 

When it comes to using a chain if you have a very wide chain it can be hard to find that perfect spot to tie the bike down. At the same time, this can make it harder to keep the bike in place. As was the case with the car, if the chain rubs up against the bike you can get more signs of wear and tear from a chain on the bike itself. 

Cables, on the other hand, maybe easier to cut, although that depends on the type of cable that you picked out. The durability aspect can also come into play here. Particularly when you take into account that certain chains may be able to be around forever and a day.

For this debate it could be said, chains are easier to come by, but cables may be the better-rounded option. 

Chain Hoist or Cable Hoist?  

This is potentially another debate where we could find a clear winner.  

Chain hoists are typically touted as the option that’s going to offer a higher load capacity. That’s why you are typically going to see chain hoists in auto repair shops or construction sites. The bad part about these chain hoists is that they tend to be dirty and show more signs of wear and tear.           

Cable hoist options are going to offer a lower hoisting or pulling capacity. They can be the more versatile and easy-to-use option of the two. 

When it’s all set and done if you want to be able to hoist or pull heavier items a chain hoist is going to be your best bet. For lighter options, it’s just much easier to use a cable hoist. 

Overall Which Of The Two Is Stronger?

Since I just mentioned that chain hoist options tend to be able to pull or lift heavier objects, chains must be stronger right? Not quite, technically cables have the potential to be much stronger than chains.

If you take a wire cable, and chain that are the same size, you have the potential to wind the wire up in such a way that it will effectively be stronger than a chain. 

Why is it then, that certain things like boat anchors, and the aforementioned chain hoists seemed to be stronger than their cable counterparts?

With boat anchors, it’s actually more about the weight of the anchor itself, and how it can remain embedded in the seafloor. In the other scenario, it just comes down to how and why each different type of cable is made. 

In fact, this difference in traditional capacities between chain and cable products is the main reason why I’ve crafted the article this way. To show that the differences in the chain vs cable debate aren’t as cut and dry.    

Final Thoughts

There are other elements that come into play in this debate, particularly the cost of buying each type of cable or chain. As I mentioned for example, in the car tire section both traditional chains, and cable options are available. Each option brings its own benefits, and issues to the table.  

This makes providing the “right answer” in each scenario virtually impossible. If you are faced with making a decision between these two knowing the pros and cons of each is a good place to start.  

References

Tire Chains or Cables

Bike Security

Chain Hoist or Cable Hoist

Strength Test