Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Post: EasyKlips Make DIY Tarps Much Easier, by Brian Green

This guest post is by a fellow blogger, Brian Green, the writer of Brian’s Backpacking Blog. I saw that he published it earlier last week, and luckily, he allowed me to re-post it here, as I think this is a very interesting product, and Brian did a great job reviewing it. For all of us who use DIY tarps or simply want to be able to continue using a tarp after it is damaged, this may be a good idea.


Like many of you I love sleeping under a tarp when I go backpacking. The benefits of being able to travel light are obvious plus there's added bonus feeling of getting closer to my surroundings - being exposed at both ends like I am.

Sure, pitching a tarp requires some practice (Rule #4) in order to get good at it, but most of the high-end ultralight tarps available today have superb fittings, cord tensioners, and tie out loops that make adjusting the tarp tension incredibly easy (see photo of my Gossamer Gear Spinn Twinn below).


Of course that's all well and good if you have a custom-made lightweight tarp, or if you're proficient enough to sew in your own mini cord tensioners (I have a post on those coming soon).

What if you want to make your own tarp or use a piece of left over material for a make-shift tarp or shelter? You could sew in some loops, punch some holes for grommets, or use some of those clunky old tarp crocodile clips that are sold at just about every big box hardware store these days.

Plastic Tarp Clips
You can find those cheap crocodile tarp clips (see the blue clip in the photo below) almost everywhere now, but they're a lousy solution in my opinion and here's why: They're heavy (28g) and they don't grip! Sorry, was that too technical? Seriously though, not only are they heavy and way too big for what most of us would need, they are fundamentally designed wrong.


You have to exert a lot of force to 'lock' the clip in place on the tarp material and if you can't get it tight enough it will either come loose or chew away at your tarp from all of the friction/movement - trust me I've seen my friends ruin their truck tarps/covers using these things.

The overall concept of a detachable plastic tarp clip is not a bad one, if you can make them light enough and design them in such a way as they actually work. Well, that's exactly what Hunter Cochrane, the inventor of the EasyKlip, has managed to do.


Using Physics
The biggest difference between the EasyKlip and all the other plastic tarp clips that I've seen is how they work. Unlike the clunky crocodile clips that you have to manually tighten, the EasyKlip uses the tension of the line to automatically tighten itself onto the material it is attached to. The harder you pull the tighter it gets.

It does this by cleverly using the force of the tension and a wedge design to draw back the upper gripping plate, forcing it between a restrictor that in turn applies pressure on the two flat gripping plates causing them to tighten against one another as the tension is applied. As long as there is tension on the EasyKlip it will remain firmly attached. Remove the tension and the plates of the EasyKlip disengage and it comes off.


The EasyKlip comes in two different sizes, regular (23g) and mini (12g). While these may not be anywhere near as lightweight as using cord tensioners or sewing in loops, think of how convenient these are for all manner of backpacking uses. They fasten and detach quickly with no need for any holes and work equally well on corners or at mid points.

I now carry a pair of the mini EasyKlips in my first aid kit for wshtf scenarios or if I have an equipment rips or failure. The larger version is perfect to have in my truck and to use with a heavier gauge tarp cover, but the minis are perfect for adhoc use on the trail.


Would you ever use a detachable tarp clip like the EasyKlip for any outdoor activities? If you have ideas on how they could be used I'd love to hear.

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