If you've ever watched late-night TV, chances are you've seen infomercials for the Little Giant Ladder system. To be honest, whenever I see a "As Seen on TV" logo on a product, I automatically feel less confident about the product's quality. So, I felt I should give the Little Giant Ladder a fair shake and review it. What I found out surprised me in many ways.
What is the Little Giant Ladder?
Your typical ladder is called an A-frame ladder. The two sides hinge outward to form an "A" shape, and two jackknife-like metal brackets prevent the ladder from opening any further. The Little Giant Ladder dispenses with those brackets and uses a super-strong hinge at the top to form the shape of the ladder. This hinge is the real secret to the Little Giant, because it allows the ladder to be formed into many different shapes. In addition to the "A frame" shape, it can become:
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- A 90-degree angle shape (so that one side of the ladder is parallel to a wall, allowing you to get closer to that wall).
- A staircase ladder (one side higher or lower that the other side, so that it can rest on stairs).
- An extension ladder.
- Scaffolding (the single ladder pulls apart into two smaller A-frame ladders, or trestles, so that you can put a plank across the two ladders and form a scaffold).
How Much Does the Little Giant Ladder Cost?
There are many different models, ranging from the low $200s to about $500.
Why Would I Want a Little Giant Ladder?
If you have limited storage or transporting space, the Little Giant Ladder fits the bill because it fits into a regular closet or even in the back of a car. Also, if you are doing a whole house renovation, you'll need different types of ladders to do things like install gutters, paint crown molding, paint staircase walls and ceilings, install windows, etc.
What Are the Pros of a Little Giant Ladder?
- The Little Giant Ladder really does work the way they claim. I found it easy to reconfigure into many different shapes.
- The Little Giant Ladder--whether aluminum or fiberglass--is a sturdy, solid piece of equipment.
- Their "Tip & Glide" wheels on the popular Model Type 1A makes it easy to move the ladder.
- Safety on uneven surfaces. You can configure the Little Giant Ladder to conform to inclined surfaces.
- The scaffolding function is pretty neat. I've never been able to jerry-rig a scaffolding function and make it solid and safe. The Little Giant Ladder's trestles provide you with a ready-made surface for your scaffolding plank.
- Storage. Ladders--especially extension ladders--suck up lots of storage space. The Little Giant really does shrink down to a managable size.
What Are the Cons of a Little Giant Ladder?
- Weight. It's really heavy. We're talking 35-55 pounds. That's the reason for that "Tip & Glide" function.
- It might be more ladder than you need. Ask yourself if you really need all those different configurations. You may not.
- A lot of the cool things you see on the infomercials are accessories that cost extra. Want the leg leveler? The work platform? The wing span? They're all extra (though Little Giant often throws in one accessory free of charge).
- Lousy customer service. Though I have not personally experienced it, I have read searing reports of terrible and nonexistent customer service.
- The extension function isn't great. It's real wobbly and not as good as a real extension ladder.
In conclusion, the Little Giant Ladder probably isn't suited for the casual remodeler. You can easily get by with the inexpensive aluminum A-frame ladder from your local hardware store. However, if you're a serious renovator, you might consider buying a Little Giant Ladder.