Mar
27

Choosing the right climbing gear is essential for any arborist because it ensures safety, efficiency, and comfort during tree work. That is why today we’ll explore the essentials of arboricultural climbing gear and provide tips for choosing the best equipment. 

Join us as we navigate the crucial aspects of choosing reliable and effective climbing equipment for your arboriculture tasks.

 

Climbing harnesses 

 

For an arborist, a climbing harness is an indispensable piece of equipment. Unlike standard harnesses, tree climbing harnesses are tailored to allow for extended periods of hanging and movement at heights.

A good climbing harness will distribute weight evenly, reducing fatigue and strain on the arborist’s body. It also serves as an anchor point for various tools and equipment, ensuring everything an arborist needs is within easy reach. 

Here are some tips for choosing the best tree climbing harness:  

  • Fit and comfort: Ensure the harness fits snugly but allows for freedom of movement. It should not pinch or chafe. Additionally, look for padded waist belts and leg loops for additional comfort during prolonged use. Lastly, adjustable leg loops and waist belts are also important for a customised fit.
  • Safety and durability: Examine the stitching and material quality. It should be robust and able to withstand wear and tear. Also ensure that buckles and attachment points are made of high-quality, durable materials like steel or aluminium. Finally, check for certifications and compliance with safety standards.
  • Weight capacity: The harness must be able to support your weight along with any gear you carry. Check the maximum weight capacity of the harness before buying it.
  • Gear loops and attachment points: A good harness should have multiple gear loops and attachment points for tools and equipment. Also ensure the positioning of these loops and points is convenient and doesn’t hinder movement.
  • Ease of use: Look for features that make the harness easy to put on and take off. Quick-release buckles can be a significant advantage in emergencies.

Climbing harnesses options 

  1. Basic sit harness: Ideal for short-duration work and typically lighter and more affordable but with fewer features and less padding.
  2. Work positioning harness: Designed for prolonged use with better back support and padding and often has additional loops and attachment points for tools.
  3. Saddle harness: Commonly used in arboriculture because it provides good support around the waist and thighs. It often comes with accessory loops and is designed for comfort during long hours.
  4. Full-body harness: Offers the highest level of safety by supporting the whole body and is recommended for high-risk tasks, especially where fall risk is significant. However, it’s bulkier and can be more restrictive in movement.

 

Tree climbing ropes 

 

Tree climbing ropes are the veins of arboriculture work and are vital for the movement and stability of an arborist. They are designed to be both strong and flexible, capable of bearing heavy loads while providing enough elasticity to cushion against sudden movements or falls. 

These ropes are used not just for climbing but also for rigging, lowering limbs, and even for rescue operations. The choice of rope – its diameter, length, and material – can greatly influence the safety and efficiency of a climb.

Diameter 

The diameter of a rope affects its strength, grip, and weight. Typically, arborist ropes range from 8mm to 16mm in diameter.

Thinner ropes (around 8-10mm) are lighter and easier to throw, ideal for use as throwlines or for climbers who prefer a lighter rope for ascent. However, they may not be as durable as thicker ropes and might require more skill to grip securely.

Thicker ropes (12mm-16mm) are more durable and offer a better grip, which can be particularly advantageous for beginners or those working for long hours, as they reduce hand fatigue. However, they are heavier and may be less suitable for intricate climbing techniques.

Length 

The length of the rope needed depends on the height of the trees being climbed and the specific climbing or rigging technique being used.

For most standard tree climbing activities, ropes are typically between 45 and 70 metres in length. This range offers enough length for climbing most trees while providing some extra for knot tying and manoeuvrability.

In certain situations, like in urban environments with smaller trees, shorter ropes may be sufficient. Conversely, in forestry or large-scale tree care operations, longer ropes might be necessary.

Material 

The most common materials used in arborist ropes are nylon, polyester, and polypropylene, each offering distinct characteristics.

Nylon is known for its strength and elasticity, which can be beneficial in absorbing shock loads. However, it can stretch under load, which might not be ideal for certain rigging operations.

Polyester ropes have less stretch than nylon, making them suitable for rigging and lowering operations where minimal elongation is desired. They are also resistant to UV degradation and chemicals, offering durability in various environments.

Lastly, polypropylene is often used for throwlines due to its lightweight and floatability. However, it’s generally not as durable as nylon or polyester and is less commonly used for main climbing ropes.

 

Throwlines 

 

Throwlines are an essential tool for arborists, particularly in the initial phase of climbing. These lightweight lines are used to establish a connection between the ground and higher points in the tree, usually serving as a guide for positioning heavier climbing ropes.

Here are some tips for selecting the best throwlines:

  • Material and durability: Look for throwlines made from strong, lightweight materials like Dyneema or Spectra. They should be abrasion-resistant to withstand contact with tree bark.
  • Thickness and length: The line should be thin enough for precision throws but thick enough for durability. Lengths vary, but 45-60 metres is typically adequate for most tree heights.
  • Visibility: Brightly coloured throwlines are easier to see against the tree canopy, aiding in accurate placement and retrieval.
  • Handling and storage: Consider how the line feels in hand and how easily it can be stored without tangling. Some lines come with specialised storage bags or spools.

 

Carabiners 

 

Carabiners are indispensable tools in arboriculture, serving as the critical link between various pieces of climbing equipment. They provide the means for arborists to securely attach themselves and their equipment to the trees they are working on. The right carabiner can enhance safety, efficiency, and ease of movement. 

Here are some tips for choosing the best carabiners: 

  • Strength and rating: Ensure carabiners are rated for climbing and meet industry safety standards. Look for ones with a high kN (kilonewton) rating for strength.
  • Locking mechanism: Choose carabiners with reliable locking mechanisms (screw-lock, auto-lock, etc.) to prevent accidental opening.
  • Size and shape: The size should accommodate rope and gear easily. Shapes (D-shape, oval, etc.) offer different benefits in terms of strength and weight distribution.
  • Material: Aluminium carabiners are lighter, while steel ones are more durable. Consider your needs and the type of work you do.

 

Weights 

 

Weights, often used in conjunction with throwlines, play a vital role in tree climbing operations. These weights, typically in the form of throw bags, are attached to the end of a throwline to provide the necessary momentum and accuracy when tossing the line over a tree limb. 

Here are some tips for selecting the best weights: 

  • Weight options: Throw weights typically range from 250-500 grams. Heavier weights can throw farther and with more accuracy, but may be harder to use in dense foliage.
  • Shape and design: Aerodynamic designs reduce snagging and improve accuracy. Some weights are slim and elongated, while others are more compact.
  • Attachment points: Ensure the attachment point is secure and won’t wear through the throwline. Reinforced loops or rings are common.
  • Visibility and durability: Bright colours enhance visibility. Durable materials like canvas or leather resist tearing and wear.

 

Helmets 

 

Working with trees often involves risks from falling branches, debris, and the use of power tools at height. A helmet protects the arborist’s head from impacts and falling objects, significantly reducing the risk of head injuries. 

Here are some tips for choosing the best helmet: 

  • Safety standards: Helmets must meet safety standards. Check for certifications to ensure protection against impact and penetration.
  • Fit and comfort: Adjustable straps and padding are important for a secure and comfortable fit. Helmets should not slide or wobble during movement.
  • Ventilation: For work in warm climates, look for helmets with ventilation holes to keep your head cool.
  • Accessory compatibility: If you use visors, ear protection, or headlamps, ensure the helmet has compatible mounting points.
  • Durability and lifespan: Check the material and construction quality. Helmets have a lifespan and should be replaced after significant impacts or as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.

 

Find your arborist equipment at Vermeer WA & NT

 

At Vermeer WA & NT, we understand the unique challenges faced by arborists and are committed to providing top-of-the-line equipment to meet all your arboricultural needs.

We’re proud to supply a comprehensive range of arbor equipment from Sherrilltree, a trusted name in the industry known for its quality and durability. Whether you’re climbing, rigging, or ensuring your safety, our selection from Sherrilltree has got you covered.

Additionally, we offer Vermeer wood chippers, perfect for handling clean-up operations with ease. Our wood chippers are designed to streamline your workflow, making post-job cleanups faster and more efficient.

Contact us today for expert advice and equip yourself with the best tools in the industry.

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