Exclusive Content
Original Shows, Motorsports and Live Events
Due to the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation, our website is currently unavailable to visitors from most European countries. We apologize for this inconvenience and encourage you to visit www.motortrend.com for the latest on new cars, car reviews and news, concept cars and auto show coverage, awards and much more.MOTORTREND.COM

Detonation: Cargo Hold


John Lehenbauer
Oct 4, 2019

Those of us who regularly use a truck's bed or a trailer to haul cargo are familiar with what it takes to properly strap things down and the different ways loads can be secured.

One method is using a ratchet strap, which is available in what seems like 100 different sizes and styles, from a little 1-inch-wide strap with a cheap, stamped ratcheting mechanism to the 4-inch-wide, heavy-duty industrial belts used to lash down commercial freight. There is also the "motorcycle tie down," which features a strap that is pulled through a buckle to grip and secure cargo. Heavy chains and binders are used to properly secure such loads as tractors and construction equipment to trucks and trailers. Of course, there is also a huge array of bungee cords to choose from to keep lighter cargo and tarps in place. And, let's not forget the use of rope and a trucker's hitch for properly tying things down.

Along with securing cargo, protecting it from the elements is also a concern. It is easy to throw a tarp over something in the back of a truck, but keeping that cover in place at highway speeds—so it doesn't flap like crazy or blow off—can be a big undertaking. You have to learn how to be creative with rope, straps, and bungee cords to properly secure a tarp, especially when there are not a lot of good anchor points.

Photo 2/3   |   The Spider Waterproof Smart Tarp made it easy to cover the load in my truck's bed. I just had to put the tarp over the cargo, adjust the Spider-Lock hooks, attach them to the tie-down points in the bed, and then I was ready to roll.

I've been driving pickup trucks and towing trailers for as long as I've had a driver's license and hauled everything from tractors to furniture through the years. What I'm saying is, I have used just about every type of tie-down device and method imaginable. Experience has shown me that some methods of tying stuff down are definitely better than others (we learn from our mistakes), and knowing the right equipment to use is very important.

The biggest lesson I have learned from having loads come loose and tarps almost fly off is it's important to do it right the first time. If you use cheap straps (that break or loosen), not enough straps, the wrong length bungee cord, or barely secure a tarp, there can be serious consequences. Your package or cover could end up on the road—or worse: It can land in front of the vehicle behind you and cause a much larger situation.

Recently, I got a chance to try out some Spider-Cords and a Spider Waterproof Smart Tarp from Spider Smart Cover Solutions. The Spider-Cord is an adjustable-length bungee cord that uses Spider-Lock hooks at each end to make securing things a lot easier than a traditional bungee. The hooks allow the cord to be securely locked at any desired length, making proper fitment a breeze. The tie downs eliminate a need to carry a bundle of different-length bungees (and still not have the right one for what you're doing). I just need a couple of them in the truck, and all my bungee-cord needs are handled.

Photo 3/3   |   This is a close-up look at Spider Smart Cover Solutions' hook and bungee cord that is used to quickly secure the Smart Tarp. The bungee cord's reinforced mounting point is visible on the tarp in the background.

Spider even makes a version that has a carabiner on one end instead of a hook. No more trying to stretch a cord over a good anchor point only to have the other hook come off, shooting the cord toward your face at 100 mph (yes, I've been there). The carabiner keeps the end securely in place.

After using the Smart Tarp, I have to say it is the easiest way to cover cargo in the bed of a truck I have ever used. The waterproof tarp for my shortbed truck has four Spider-Cords attached at reinforced points for quick securing. All I had to do was toss the tarp over the stuff in the bed, adjust the cord lengths, and hook them to the anchor points in the corners of the bed. There's no fighting with the wrong-size plastic tarp then trying to find a bungee that fits, or trying to string rope through the tarp's eyelets to try to keep it in place on the road.

It is great to see companies like Spider come up with innovations that make things safer and easier to use.

- OF