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Review Summary

Wing Enterprises
Model 17' Type IA (10102)
Little Giant Ladder System
Priced under $360
Reviewed by Leon A. Frechette
11/26/04 Updated 08/02/06

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Little Giant - Adjustable ladder system

If you've watched the infomercial for the Little Giant Ladder System, you've seen me test and evaluate it on camera. It is my experience that the Little Giant Ladder System performs exactly as seen on TV.

This versatile ladder is unlike any other ladder on the market; copycat ladders lack the Little Giant's quality and some of its features.

I especially like how the Little Giant compactly stores in a 4' 7 1/2" high by 2' wide by 8" deep space. Manufactured in the US from heavy-gauge aluminum, it weighs 36 pounds. I recommend that you wear gloves when handing this (or any other) aluminum ladder as the constant rubbing of the aluminum leaves a black film on your hands.

The owner's manual describes the ladder and its many positions. With the ladder standing only 4' 7 1/2" tall, push in both palm buttons until the hinges unlock to convert it to a 4-foot stepladder. Next, locate the two sets of lock tab assemblies at the top rung on both sides of the ladder. Then pull straight out on two of the lock tabs (one side at a time) and allow the tabs to rest on the side of the outer ladder rail to extend one side of the ladder. Do the same on the other side and raise the stepladder to 5, 6, or 7 feet.

Alternatively, close the ladder to the storage position; while holding the inner ladder assembly, pull on all four lock tabs and raise the inner ladder to the desired height. In both cases, it is important that the lock tabs be reinserted into the rung holes to lock the height in place.

Be sure to pull straight out on the tab by grabbing the center end of the U-shaped design. If you grab the underside of the U-shape, you could pinch your finger (I speak from personal experience).

You can safely use this ladder in stairwells (on steps) with one side of the ladder longer than the other. This configuration allows you to position the ladder against a wall to get closer to your work.

The ladder is designed so an inner section slides up and down in an outer (base) section. This allows you to completely pull out the inner section to create an independent stepladder. Create a second stepladder by turning an outer base 180 degrees and inserting the lock tabs of the other base into the adjacent holes of the opposite outer base. Finally, lock an accessory scaffolding trestle between the bases across the third rungs down.

Use these two stepladders as trestles (scaffolding supports) by positioning a scaffolding plank on a pair of rungs at the desired height. The scaffolding trestle locks the two outer bases together to form a sturdy A-frame stepladder so you can use the unit as a standing or working platform in either an extension ladder or stepladder position. Be sure to carefully read the owner's manual on this suggestion. I found their scaffolding plank to be sturdy in its full expanded width; however, the two blank latches or hooks at both ends are too short to be as effective as they should be in grabbing the backsides of the rungs.

Photo 2 - Little Giant Work PlatformPhoto 1 - Little Giant Work Platform The Little Giant Work Platform mounts on an extension ladder or stepladder. You can feel comfortable and safe standing on this sturdy scaffolding trestle accessory when you use it as a standing platform. It easily lifts out of the way with your toe so you can dismount. It would be nice if the manufacturer offered an accessory tray to bolt or clip to the surface of the platform with sides and holes to hold tools.

The Little Giant Ladder easily turns into a 9- to 15-foot extension ladder. Again, push in on the palm buttons and allow the ladder to lay flat on the ground; you'll hear the hinges lock into place. Then pick up the ladder and lean it against the house. To raise the inner section, pull out on a pair of lock tabs; be sure to secure the lock tabs back into the rung holes once you reach the desired height. The inner section can be raised from the top section and lowered from the bottom section of the ladder to a maximum height of 15 feet.

Little Giant patented hinge

With its patented hinge, palm button/hinge lock pins, and lock tab assemblies, this ladder easily converts into multiple positions. Now that I have used the ladder for a year, I noticed that it is sometimes difficult to push in on the palm button depending on how the ladder is positioned on the ground. Moving one side of the ladder in or out will take pressure off the assembly so the palm buttons can work smoothly. In 2006 they introduced their patented Tri-Lock hinge to add more strength to this section of the ladder; quite possibly this latest improvement eliminates the problem I’ve experienced.

Little Giant Tip & WheelsThey also added the Tip & Glide Wheels, two wheels on the bottom of the ladder to make it easier to transport. Instead of carrying this ladder around, you can now roll it with ease. This simple improvement makes the Little Giant more versatile than ever. In fact, while in the stepladder position (with the wheels toward you) simply grab the palm buttons with both hands and pull the top of the ladder toward you until the entire weight of the unit is resting on the wheels. Now you can either push or pull the ladder to its next resting spot provided you are on a solid surface. These improvements apply to models 17, 22, and 26 only.

I tested the 17-foot Little Giant Ladder (Model 17') to determine how many actual working positions there are, how many different ladders it would take to meet these positions, and the overall cost of those ladders.

I concluded it would take roughly 12 stepladders, extension ladders, and multi-position ladders at an approximate cost of $1,525 to do what one 17-foot Little Giant Ladder can do. If you count the two 4-foot stepladders and the multi-position ladders only once, then it is safe to say that it would take 9 ladders at a cost of $1,189.

At $360, this is a remarkable value considering that this one multi-position ladder does the job of 9 ladders for a third of the cost! I strongly believe it is the best multi-position ladder on the market as of this writing.

The Little Giant Ladder System is built tough, made in the US, has a safe construction design, and carries a lifetime warranty. It is classed as a Type IA with a 300 lb. rating. While it won't replace all ladders, you do get at least seven ladders in one for the cost. Consider also how little storage space the Little Giant requires.

The market is flooded with copycat ladder systems. The Little Giant Ladder System itself can be found in retail stores, but retailers generally do not carry the full product line. This limits your choice, making it difficult to purchase the ladder system that best fits you and your needs. Authorized Dealers are the real thing. They ship the Little Giant Ladder System to you directly from the manufacturer, and these ladders carry a lifetime warranty.

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Copyright © 11/26/04, 12/01/05, & 08/02/06 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.

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