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In the late spring of 2016, my family and I packed everything we owned into an 18-wheeler and moved clear across the country, leaving Los Angeles and settling outside New York City. And if not for about a dozen bungee cords, that drive would have been a mess.

At the core of a bungee cord is multiple strands of an extruded elastic material that's coated for heat resistance and then wrapped in a highly flexible sheath, usually made from polypropylene. They most likely get their name from an English slang term for rubber used in Colonial India, though the origins are unclear.

What is clear, though, are the many ways bungee cords can be of use every day. Beyond the obvious applications of strapping cargo to the top of a car or keeping a heavy bin secured to a shelf, bungee cords are helpful for both short- and long-term solutions to common issues.

I got a jar of assorted bungees from Cartman years ago, and save for a few cords that have been lost in the shuffle of life or loaned out but never returned (I still remember, Kevin!) I still use several of them every day of the week.

We have a couple of the 18-inch cords keeping extension cords looped and hanging on the wall, while one of the 32-inch cables keeps a bin filled with tools secured to a garage shelf. I use one of the 24-inch cords to secure a trash can lid outside (sorry, raccoon) and I keep several of these bungees in each car at all times because who knows what will come up?

With mini cables as short as 10 inches, a pair of 40-inch bungees, and multiple lengths in between, there is a bungee cord in here suitable for just about every project until you get into the range of securing commercial-grade loads.

I've trusted these cords to tie-down a heavy rotomolded plastic canoe, to secure stacked logs, and with many other decidedly trying tasks, and they have performed well and held up well over the years, too. Well, all but the minis, which are so small and meek I've never really found a good use, but so it goes.

So you have a motorcycle or ATV to strap down in the bed of your trunk? Or maybe a few suitcases you need to transport on top of your car? Or perhaps you just cut down a 10-foot Christmas tree and now you have a hundred-mile drive home? Good thing you also have a set of Ram-Pro Heavy-Duty Bungee Cords on hand, because heavy, large loads like these are precisely why the company makes such long, rugged cords.

Each 72-inch Ram-Pro Heavy-Duty Bungee Cord can stretch to more than 11 feet long, spanning the widest truck or trailer beds and big enough to wrap over large cargo. As you get six of these cables per order, when you use multiple bungees together, even that larger cargo will be reliably secured.

The hooks on a Ram-Pro bungee are made from stainless steel and coated in PVC, so they won't cause scratches. The polyester weave jacket won't cause abrasions on a car's paint job, either. However according to a number of customers, those jackets won't hold up well to UV damage, so once each hauling session is over, move these cords inside out of the sun.

Overall, people are fans of the Ram-Pro Heavy-Duty Bungee Cords, though: They have a 4.2-star rating on Amazon with more than 100 reviews written.

Google around a bit and you'll find many creative ways to use bungee cords beyond the basics of securing cargo to roof racks or trailers.

You can use a small bungee cord as a makeshift holder for a roll of paper towels or toilet paper or to keep rolls of wrapping paper together. You can use a bungee cord to make an impromptu mobile for a baby or a hanging car toy for a toddler. Bungee cords can make dividers on a shelf, keeping different garments separated and stacked, or they can help keep jars or cans of food from falling off pantry shelves.

For all these and other everyday applications, you really don't need some big, heavy-duty cables. What you need is an eight-pack of 10-inch HDX Mini Bungee Cords that costs less than three bucks.

With enough stretch to create decent tension and hooks more than strong enough for all the aforementioned uses and then some, these bungees will quickly become must-have hardware in your kitchen, garage, laundry room, and beyond.

If you need a longer cord, just hook a couple together and secure groceries in the car or strap a tarp down over the woodpile.

Just note that those metal hooks are not capped and will scratch delicate surfaces, so consider putting a bit of duct tape over the tips to protect wood, paint, or other such materials.

The best bungee cord in the world won't do you much good if it's lying on the road a hundred miles back, having popped off the rails of your roof rack when you hit that pothole on the onramp. Oh, bad news … your suitcase and skis are back there, too.

With a Keeper Carabiner Bungee Cord, that's not going to happen, because the hooks of a traditional bungee have been replaced with spring-loaded carabiners that only open with deliberately applied pressure.

The cords are 48-inches long, a perfect length for strapping down sizeable cargo in a truck bed or atop a roof, and the durable rubber core and UV-resistant jacket make these bungees suitable for regular use. The aluminum carabiners have a strong spring mechanism and a large plastic base that makes them easy to hold, a major plus as you strain to secure a bungee pulled taut over a large load.

You'll pay more for this specialized bungee cord than you would for most products of similar length, but each still costs less than five dollars. I a Keep Carabiner Bungee Cord helps prevent the loss of your stuff, that's money well spent indeed.

Interestingly the best thing about a Reese Secure Adjustable Flat Strap Bungee isn't the fact that you can shorten the length of the cord to create more tension for a more secure tie-down, but that you can lengthen the cord to reduce tension when less pressure is needed.

Because while you want maximum pressure when you're strapping down a pallet of roofing shingles or an ATV, you might not want to apply dozens of pounds of pressure to that antique end table you're moving across town for Great Aunt Hildegard.

The Reese Secure Adjustable Flat Strap Bungee solves the most common issue bungees present, which is actually a two-part problem: They always seem to be a bit too long or a bit too short. Sure, you can just loop the bungee around your roof rack or bike tube a few times before hooking it in place, but when you can change the length of the cord itself, you create the perfect amount of custom tension.

These bungees can be shortened to as little as 10 inches in length all the way out to a full 48 inches. That makes them useful in the garage, with cars, trucks, and SUVs, and suitable for keeping tarps tied down over wood piles.

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Most customers love the flexibility the Reese Secure Adjustable Flat Bungee creates, and the cords have a stellar 4.7-star overall rating on Amazon, but one buyer did speak for a number of others when she said the "'adjusting' is way too complicated to be practical." Another customer spoke for most of the rest when he called the "light duty hooks" strong and reliable and called the bungees a "good value," saying he regularly uses them in a "truck to hold down bikes and other random stuff."

The bungee cords on this list quite literally come in all shapes and sizes and are suitable for all sorts of different jobs, but they're hardly the only options out there.

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