Do I need to Cover My Trailer Load?

According to the National Transport Commission and the Load Restraint Guide for Light Vehicles, 2018 edition, all loads that are hauled by truck, ute, or trailer must be adequately restrained. In all cases but the lightest loads, a tarp is normally not enough of a restraint to be relied upon by itself. 

However, in conjunction with other lashings, a strong trailer cover fastened with appropriate attachment cords is a great way to help not only keep the load secure and constrained but also to protect it from wind and inclement weather.

Some light loads might include garden waste, such as grass clippings, small branches, garden and household rubbish, or similar, that you are taking to the tip. The sides of your ute or trailer are typically enough to constrain the waste as long as it’s covered by a tarp. Another light load might be light building materials, which could include:

  • drywall
  • plasterboard
  • plastic pipes
  • other items that could be dislodged by the wind

A heavy-duty tarp will usually be enough to hold these materials in place. The same holds true for recreational items like camping gear, climbing gear, or equipment for the beach.

Remember, a tarp by itself will normally only suffice if the load is below the sides of the trailer. For items that protrude above the sides, additional lashings will be necessary, like Spider-Cords. Heavy and bulky items, such as refrigerators, desks and beds may need to be restrained by load-rated straps and lashings. 

How to Cover a Trailer with a Tarp

When tarping a trailer for transporting goods or camping, the first decision is to decide whether you want to use a fitted tarp or a flat tarp. Of course, fitted tarps must be chosen to match your utility trailer whereas a regular flat tarp needs to be must be adjusted to fit.

For a fitted tarp, you will need to determine the normal loading configuration of the trailer as the tarp is typically fastened to the trailer with multiple short fixed-length cords.  If your load is going to extend beyond the trailer side walls, then you need to account for that extra space when choosing a tarp of the correct size.

Flat tarps provide a flexible way to cover a large variety of loads.  They must be folded to fit the trailer, but they will work just as well as long as you’re careful about selecting an appropriate-sized tarp and its folding. 

Having a tarp that is the wrong size or that is incorrectly folded and secured could create dangerous results.  The tarp could foul in the wheels of the trailer if it’s too big, or part of the load could be dislodged from the trailer if it’s too small resulting in penalties under the Load Restraint Guide for Light Vehicles. When folding the tarp, it’s important to ensure that the folds face towards the rear of the trailer so that the wind flows smoothly over the tarp rather than catching in the fold and potentially causing billowing. 

Adjustable trailer covers with tightening straps and cords like Spider Tarp’s range can help in ensuring your load is safely secure with minimal effort and reliable results.

Grommets, D-ings and eyelets


When it comes to how to cover a trailer, the tying technique you will use depends on whether or not your tarp has dedicated connections like D-Ringsor eyelets. With these connections, it’s a simple matter of threading rope or using some other connection to secure the tarp to the trailer tie bars or securing points.

Most of the time, you will find heavy-duty tarp clips to be a workable alternative when you’re trying to figure out how to put a tarp on a trailer without these connections. But, it’s better to only use this method for lighter loads because the temporary option, no matter how strong, won’t be as secure as eyelets or D-Rings on a purpose-built trailer cover

In an emergency, such as when a tarp tears, it’s possible to place something nonabrasive and round into the folds of the tarp and close the tarp around it with rope or bungee cord. Such jury-rigging is unreliable and should only be used when there is no other alternative. If you’re transporting goods in a trailer and your cover has become damaged, your safest course of action is to pull over, assess the damage and readjust and secure the cover where possible.

Correct Loading Procedure When Covering a Trailer

The question of, “How to Cover a Trailer With a Tarp”, is only part of the equation. How you load the trailer is equally as important. Always put the heavy items on the bottom and the lighter items on top.

Be sure to spread the load evenly across the flat surface of the trailer. Load the heaviest of items over the wheels and axles and balance the load evenly across the flat space. Fasten the heaviest items with a separate set of straps or cords before attaching the tarp.

Finally, avoid overloading your trailer or allowing too much to overhang any side of the vehicle. If something doesn’t fit, then you’re going to need a bigger vehicle. If you have to, make multiple trips rather than trying to cram the load together for one trip. Your safety and the safety of those you share the road with are paramount in all cases.

Miscellaneous considerations when transporting in trailers

Don’t transport loose tools. Put them in toolboxes, and fasten them properly. When it comes to bigger tools like rakes and shovels, which won’t fit into a toolbox, you can use a heavy-duty tarp or cargo net instead. It’s often easier to transport garden refuse if you bag it than if you simply toss it into the trailer.

Spider Tarp Covers

To transport goods safely, securely, and reliably, consider using an Australian-designed and purpose-built trailer cover solution from Spider Tarp. 

Manufactured using either waterproof 230gsm PE or Spider-Mesh™ 350gsm PVC fabrics, you can choose between two high-quality materials to tailor the product to your exact needs. Available in various shapes and sizes to suit open and caged box trailers from 6’ x 4’ up to 8’ x 5’, these trailer covers are designed to fit without any unnecessary overhang. 

The patented Spider Tarp attachment system makes securing the cover easier than ever with eight adjustable attachment cords and Spider-Lock™ hooks that are permanently fitted on each corner and midway along each edge. On our larger trailer cover, there are an additional eight brass eyelets positioned midway between the attachment cords – giving users extra flexibility when it comes to security. To add even more stability if necessary, your trailer covers can be further secured with 120cm Spider-Cord™ with Carabiner

Spider Cord With Hook And Carabiner – 120cm
120cm Spider-Cord with Carabiner
Spider Cord With Hook And Carabiner – 60cm
60cm Spider-Cord with Carabiner

attachment cords available separately. 

This product has been designed with convenience, strength and dependability in mind – making the Spider Tarp Trailer Cover the perfect accompaniment for outdoor activities or transporting goods during all types of weather conditions.

Learn more about Spider Covers, or shop online for specials and your trailer cover today.