Sunday, August 14, 2011

I'm Sorry, That Scraping Sound? The Bottom Of The Barrel: The Wonderful 1-1/2" Mailing Tube!

The Good: It does exactly what it says it will do.
The Bad: It's a tube, how much may one honestly write about it?! Should be taped.
The Basics: With caps that are easy to get off when the time comes, but generally stay in otherwise, this mailing tube is ideal for document shipping worldwide.

Today, the item that came to hand to review was a mailing tube. For those unfamiliar with what a mailing tube is, this product is a reinforced cardboard cylinder that is designed to protect rolled documents in transit.

This particular item is a white Kraft (it's a reinforced paper that has a great deal of strength) mailing tube with plastic caps to seal the ends. Before I go into the function and performance, some technical details: these particular tubes are a hair under 16" long from outside end to outside end and a touch over an inch in diameter (outside to outside diameter is close to 1 1/8"). The inside diameter is precisely one inch (i.d.) and the inside length is a hair over 15" long. Why the different measurements? The plastic caps take up some of the volume and the thickness of the cardboard makes it a very tight fit for anything that is exactly 1" in diameter. So, these measurements may be quite convenient to know.

While I write about these tubes in the singular, they are purchased by the carton of 25 (Staples has them singularly for $1.48 - $1.58 in stores) for approximately $35.00 online. The carton is convenient for keeping the mailing tubes together (as opposed to rolling off a shelf or simply falling over when on a shelf).

The recessed plugs come already in the tubes and I've found the fewer times they are removed, the more effective they are. That is, they have a great tension in the tube, which holds them firmly in place. Using these, I've never had a cap pop out of the tube when the tube was new. Indeed, it was only after popping a cap in and out about seven times before one became loose and problematic. Ideally, these mailing tubes rely on the tension between the plastic and the cardboard to remain sealed. I use these mailing tubes most commonly for mailing promotional posters to customers for upcoming films. Most of these posters range from 11 - 15" in width and anywhere from 16 - 24" in length.

My experience with these tubes has been that they fit 15" posters without damaging them so long as one cap is already in. Leaving one cap in place and standing the tube so the open end is facing the ceiling makes it very easy to carefully place rolled documents - like posters - in the mailing tube without damaging them. For documents that are smaller than 15" wide, this mailing tube works fine so long as when the poster or document is placed in the mailing tube it is not rolled so tight that it will not unroll to the full interior diameter. In order for documents to not be jostled around in this type of mailing tube, the document or poster must be allowed to unroll some when placed in the tube. This gives it the most surface area (it essentially covers the entire inside surface as it attempts to unroll itself), greatest friction and least amount of chance to move up and down or around in the mailing tube.

To remove a document from this type tube, all the recipient needs to do is look inside the tube, find the end of the document and with one finger begin to carefully roll it back up (the document essentially acts as a spring), which will allow it to loosen up enough to move and slide out of the tube carefully.

This may seem like a lot of thought and effort to put into such a simple device, but for those whose businesses depend on shipping documents in mint condition, this is the ideal way. Moreover, when one has placed posters (for example) inside this type tube in this fashion multiple times and has removed them similarly, it begins to come as second nature.

I have managed to fit up to six standard thickness promotional posters that were 15" X 24" and never has one been damaged. That's quality. However, in order to insure this actually works, I always tape the ends whenever mailing these tubes. Covering the recessed end plugs with packaging tape and then going once around the outside of each end (essentially taping down the ends of the tape in the most useful way, against the lines of force) makes this a virtually indestructible mailing tube.

For those concerned with the obvious question of "If your poster is all along the inside of the tube, what happens if the tube gets crushed or punctured?" my answer is "It's not going to happen. Ahh . . .the physics of the reinforced cylinder. The shape and material make it virtually indestructible so long as the caps are on. Without taping the ends, I have set seventy-five pounds worth of packages on one of these mailing tubes and it has not buckled (when I, a one hundred seventy-five pound person, leapt on an empty tube, it did crush under one foot, but not the other). Perhaps a far more useful measure of the quality of these tubes is this: I have mailed one hundred such tubes holding over two hundred total posters and never has one been damaged. This is quite a feat considering that many of them have been shipped to Australia and the UK from upstate New York.

As far as puncturing, I suppose it can be done. This is not easy to do. I spent a few minutes trying to stab my already damaged (the jump test, it didn't come damaged!) tube with a pen and the tube was impervious. After about twenty stabs, the mailer dented, but was not punctured. I was able to puncture the tube using the point of my sword. I kid you not, in the interest of seeing what it took, a nail being too obvious, I attempted to impale one of these puppies on my sword. Interestingly (the sword is quite sharp), the sword naturally punctured the tube, but most of the damage to the tube actually came from the collapse of the tube when the blade pierced it (i.e. a crushing indentation around the puncture that was more significant than the puncture itself).

My hope here is to assure the reader that after quite a bit of testing in real world (hundreds of mailings) and extreme (stabbing, leaping on) circumstances, this product is durable and easy to use. This is a great product for mailing 8X10s (so long as they may be rolled), negatives, posters or other rolled items that will fit within the tube.

I lobby for this particular product with the recessed plastic caps because I've found they hold up better than the "crushed end" mailing tubes. This is everything one could ask for the protection of smaller documents and artifacts. A great product!

(My title, by the way, refers less to this product, which is truly the best of its kind, and more to my writing about it as part of my quest to alternate non-media reviews with my standard media explorations!)

For other business-related products, please visit my reviews of:
AIE-200 Impulse Heat Sealer
SONY ICD-BX700 Digital Voice Recorder
Dirt Devil Kwik Vacuum


For other reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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