When buying a truck tarp, the size you want depends on how big your cargo is — that's obvious. If you carry only one kind of freight and nothing else, congratulations. You know exactly which size tarp you need, so you order that one from D.S. Sewing and use it every single day of the year. As you probably know, however, not every hauler has it so easy. What if your cargo varies from trip to trip, and you're hauling loads of all different sizes? One day you've got lumber stacked 8 feet high, then you drop that off and pick up skids full of roof shingles. After that you might be hauling a short load of steel beams. To protect all those different cargos, you'd have to buy an array of tarps and keep them with you at all times, right? Wrong. That could cost thousands of dollars and take up valuable room on your trailer. But the proper fit is important — a tarp that's too small won't protect your cargo from rain, road salt, or thieves. One that's too big will billow out like a parachute when you get on the highway. "The correct size makes a good fitting tarp, and a good fitting tarp lasts longer than a tarp blowing around," says Dave Steinhardt, D.S. Sewing owner.

Dave has a simple method for saving money and space by ordering just a couple different tarps for all your various types of freight. All it takes is a notebook, pen, and a tape measure. For the next few weeks, keep them somewhere in your cab — on the floor, in the glove compartment, on the passenger seat. As you pick up different types of freight, take a moment to walk around the trailer with your tape measure. Jot down the height, length, and width of the cargo. Also note the way it is stacked on your trailer. Looking over your notebook entries after a few weeks, figure out a couple average tarp sizes that would suit a variety of needs. For example, a lumber tarp of a certain size could also be used to cover machinery or sheetrock. The people at D.S. Sewing can help you figure out how to get the most for your money. Then you can haul as much cargo as your flatbed can hold — instead of a bunch of tarps.