Covering loads with truck tarps is a normal part of the flatbed trucker’s daily routine. Tarps are used to protect loads against the weather, road debris, insects, and animals. Yet a truck tarp is only as effective as its installation. Failing to secure a tarp tightly makes it pretty much useless on a long journey.
There are several different methods for securing truck tarps. Regardless of the method, the trucker has to choose the right tool for the job. The four most common tools, according to Mytee Products, are:
- bungee straps
- shock cord
- rubber rope
- nylon, hemp, or poly rope.
1. Bungee Straps
Bungee straps are small, elastic straps with hooks on either end. The ones used in the trucking industry are made of thick rubber. They are heavy-duty straps as opposed to the nylon elastic straps campers and hikers use on their backpacks. A lot of truckers prefer bungee straps because they are easy to deploy.
Securing a tarp with bungee straps is pretty simple. Just hook a strap into every grommet, pull it tight, and hook it to something else. Bungees come off as easily as they go on. In terms of downsides, the biggest worry is that of a strap coming loose and striking the driver. Bungee straps have been known to cause pretty significant injuries.
2. Shock Cord
Shock cord is similar to a light-duty bungee strap. It generally has a rubber or nylon core and a woven outer casing. Truckers who prefer shock cord tend to like it because it applies uniform force across the entire tarp. You can use a single piece of rope all the way around the perimeter rather than individual straps with hooks. The rope easily slides through grommets or D-rings without issue.
3. Rubber Rope
Next up is rubber rope, a product similar to shock cord except that the core is solid rubber and a lot stronger. Rubber rope works extremely well for tying down tarps because, once in place, it stays in place. It is used the same way shock cord is. The trucker runs the rope through grommets or D-rings, going all the way around the perimeter of the tarp. The two ends of the rope are tied off or anchored to the deck of the trailer with hooks.
Rubber rope has an advantage over shock cord in terms of overall strength. However, shock cord is more flexible and tends to handle extreme temperatures better.
4. Nylon, Hemp, or Poly Rope
The fourth choice is a more traditional rope made from hemp, nylon, or a poly material. Truckers who swear by traditional rope appreciate the fact that it is not likely to cause significant injury should it break loose. These kinds of ropes are also easier to tie down tightly on uniform loads. They are not so good for non-uniform loads.
The biggest disadvantage to nylon, hemp, or poly rope is that it takes so much time to deploy. There’s just no quick and dirty way to tie down a tarp with this kind of rope. On the other hand, weather extremes do not bother traditional ropes – especially hemp rope. A good hemp rope will provide years of reliable service no matter how hot or cold it gets.
The good news for truckers is that they have plenty of choices to work with. There is no right or wrong choice, either. Whatever works best for the individual trucker is fine. Just as long as that trucker can secure his/her tarps well enough to protect the load, that’s all that matters.