Tarps are something a lot of people use to protect things from weather, but most tarp installations look floppy and second-rate. The tying down part is where the trouble and mess usually come in, and this is where something called Grabbits come in. I first used these about 20 years ago, and they’re still around and still working well. You can see a Grabbit in action below.
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Grabbits (877-981-5262) are interlocking pieces of hard plastic. They slide together to provide a solid anchor point for a rope anywhere you want on a tarp. This is the unique selling proposition of Grabbits. Unlike grommets that are only located around the edges of the tarp (and easily pop loose), Grabbits let you fasten tie-down ropes in optimal locations anywhere along the edges or middle of a tarp. They also offer a more secure anchor point than grommets or jaw-style clips ever could because they grip the tarp over a large area in a way that you’ve got to experience to believe.
The Grabbits I’ve tried come in three different lengths — 75mm, 150mm and 500mm — and all operate on the same principle: wrap a short section of tarp fabric over the inner half of the Grabbit (the manufacturer calls this part the “dog bone”), then slide the outer sleeve over top. This pinches the fabric between the two parts, holding the material in something like the way you’d grip it with your hand. A loop of cord that comes out of the dog bone lets you tie the tarp down to anything that’s solid and convenient nearby. It’s a locked, loaded and ready-to-anchor Grabbit that you see below.
The fit between inner and outer sleeves is calibrated to create friction. This holds the two parts together when the tarp fabric is held in between. The grip is so strong you could swing from the thing if you wanted to, all without fear of tearing the tarp.
I’ve found that the best way to tarp up an object using Grabbits begins in the same way you’d tackle the wrapping of a gift. Lay the tarp over top, then fold the edges using mitered corners. Lock a Grabbit on to these folds, then connect them with cords and pull tight. If any slack remains, clamp a couple more Grabbits at each end of the loose area, then pull it tight with more cord. Like most of life’s effective ideas, this one’s about as simple as it gets.
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