“Why didn’t they think of this sooner?” That’s the headline on a press release talking about the Ladder Grabber from Handsaver Handles, LLC, a Michigan based company. Bill Bachorski, inventor of the Ladder Grabber, contacted me about his product. I was initially a little skeptical, but the idea had a lot of merit. When the Ladder Grabber AFF (A Frame Fiberglass) and Ladder Grabber EXT (Extension) showed up, what they actually grabbed was my attention.
What I thought could possibly be a gimmick tool destined for late night infomercials turned out to be an accessory that actually looked pretty well built. Its simple, yet durable stainless steel construction gave me reason to dig deeper. What did I find? Read on, my friends.
Ladder Grabber Build Quality
The Ladder Grabber EXT and its AFF cousin are similar in construction. Two pieces of what appear to be stamped stainless steel are held together by a hinge and form four hooks to grab the ladder. The AFF model is a single piece of steel with no hinge. A pair of screws in the base secure two metal springs and hold the plastic handle on the top. The whole construction seems solid and well built for the application.
Although they are not shown in the above photograph, the Ladder Grabber has a red plastic piece that goes on each spring. They’re being replaced with more substantial black ones soon. These serve to help protect the fiberglass from being scratched by the high tension springs.
Ladder Grabber Installation
Installing either Ladder Grabber model is a snap… literally. Hook one end in on the frame of your ladder and then simply apply downward force to snap it into place. The Ladder Grabber EXT will require an extra hand to work the hinged side. I don’t see this as a problem though. I definitely preferred the hinge of the EXT over the single piece construction of the AFF model. This is because is made removing the Ladder Grabber easier.
It’s perfectly reasonable to leave the Ladder Grabber on a ladder rather than removing it when you’re done. If you need to switch the handles between ladders, you’ll need to take it off. Simple. Again apply downward force and swing the hinge out away from the frame to release it. Pull the unit back and down to release the opposite side and you’re good to go. It would be no problem to remove and re-install the Ladder Grabber in well under a minute.
When the Ladder Grabber is installed, the springs work with the hooks to hold it in place. These springs are pretty high tension and do a good job of keeping the unit secure. One note on that though: if you swing the ladder up into position using the Ladder Grabber, it can slide slightly. This happened just once during testing. While it’s in no danger of coming off, it may scratch the frame.
There were a couple of issues that we ran into with installation during our testing. The ladder we used is more ruggedly built that most. Because of that, the side rails were thicker than most so the EXT was the only model of the two that fit. Also, the spreader attachment hardware is more substantial so we couldn’t install the Ladder Grabber directly on the balance point.
It wasn’t that big of a deal since we were still within an inch of the balance point, but I could tell that the balance was slightly off when carrying it. This is a very minor issue that can be resolved by simply making the tool an inch longer. Even though it’s possible to have an issue like that, if you’ve got three solid points that the Ladder Grabber is locked into, it will hold it securely.
Ladder Grabber Use
Okay, so installation and removal is easy, but is the Ladder Grabber actually useful? When you take hold of a ladder to pick it up, you typically will wrap your fingers around the frame where the weight will begin to dig into them. Some users carry them on their shoulders to avoid the discomfort on their hands. Using the Ladder Grabber provides a much more comfortable and secure grip on the ladder. Considering that the Ladder Grabber is rated for 100 pounds, that weight distributed around the handle is much less painful than traditional carry methods.
It’s clearly noted that the Ladder Grabber is only intended for use on fiberglass ladders. That’s because aluminum ladders don’t have the same width on the side rails that fiberglass ladders do. Also, an aluminum extension ladder would not be able to extend with the Ladder Grabber installed on it. So it’s not a weight or material issue, it’s simply a matter of secure installation.
One improvement that I’d like to see in future models is on the plastic handle. A rubber overmold could provide some cushion and make the grip even more secure.
How do you choose between the Ladder Grabber AFF and Ladder Grabber EXT? The non-hinged AFF fits most A frame ladders under 10 feet. The one I used is more ruggedly built and actually has a wider side rail, so the EXT was the only one of the two that fit. I also like the ease of which I can remove the Ladder Grabber with the hinge built in. So for my money, I’m going with the EXT model knowing that it will fit all of my ladders and can be switched around easier.
The Ladder Grabber is a well built, Made in the USA accessory for fiberglass A frame and extension ladders up to 100 pounds that will benefit every ladder owner from DIYer to professional contractor. The only hang up for some will be the price. The EXT model lists for about $25 and is currently priced at about $20 on the website. Value aside, the Ladder Grabber is an outstanding accessory and I heartily give it my full recommendation for any user.
Check out the Ladder Grabber’s Kickstarter Campaign!