They may look the same in the tool box, but they’re not.
Recovery, or snatch straps and ropes as they are commonly called, and tow ropes or straps are entirely different animals. Using one for the other is a recipe for problems.
Tow straps are designed not to stretch under load so the force on one end is distributed evenly to the load on the other end while the length between the two remains constant. Tree-trunk protectors for winching and cargo straps have the same characteristics.
Use a tow strap for snatching and it’ll break instead of stretch, and if the strap doesn’t break, the instant shock of the force being applied tends to break whatever it’s attached to.
Snatch straps and recovery ropes on the other hand are engineered so they multiply the pulling force much like a rubber band. The special materials they are made of stretch a lot under load, and then rebound, generating additional force.
That stretching under initial load is much easier on whatever the ends are attached to, lessening the chances of tearing something apart.
However, use a snatch strap or recovery rope to tow something and that rubber-band effect can create more problems then it solves.
The best solution is to have one of each in your pickup’s tool box. That way you maximize both safety and effectiveness when it comes time to lend a helping hand bit it snatch or tow. – Bruce W. Smith