Best Value Pro Tree Climber Buyers Guide
My 2019 picks to equip a new climber with the best value equipment for a complete professional tree climbing kit
The following is a list of what I have found to be some of the best value gear choices on the market today. I have 5 years of climbing experienced and have gone through lots of different options in my experimenting. These are not the bottom-dollar cheapest options, but I believe to go cheaper one would end up buying twice. This is a fully functional kit, and can be taken straight away to most any tree and enable a climber to make money! (assuming they have the knowledge of how to use it.)
Weaver Cougar Saddle $268
Minimal compromise, great value
Minimal compromise, similar ergonomics to very high-end saddles, floating bridge, easy on/off tough. Not the best all-around but half the price of saddles with any clear advantage. A close second choice would be the Notch Sentinal with similar quality and slightly more feature-rich. .
CT x-Arbor Helmet $80
Everything you need, nothing extra
This helmet is light, simple, functional, and has brackets to add earmuffs (or comm systems) best value!
Gaffs: Notch Gecko Steel $279
High dollar comfort, for cheap!
The Notch Gecho climbers have similar ergonomics and comfort as the most high-end Carbon Gecko’s. Having used both, I have found the comfort difference to be minimal. The biggest differences are the weight, and the nice rubber grip pad on the bottom of the carbons (which could be added to the Steel Gecko’s) The only more comfortable gaffs on the market are the Edelrid Talons, and I’ve had durability issues with those, and they cost nearly twice as much and weigh about the same.
Climb System: Dmm Hitch Climber Pulley $59 or Petzl Zigzag $290
Hitches or hardware...
Simple and versatile, The DMM hitch-climber pulley is the cornerstone of any hitch based climbing system. You’ll want one. If you have a couple more bucks, buy the eccentric newer version for its slightly improved design. You can’t go wrong with either. If you have some extra cash, A worthy mechanical alternative to the hitch climber system is the Petzl Zigzag. This functions very similarly, but is more ergonomic and can still run smoothly on a rope with some sap or pitch which would disable a hitch cord setup. The Zigzag is still my go-to climb system today.
Hitch Cord - Epicord, Beeline, Ocean $25 each
Buy 3 and experiment
Buy three different cords of different materials, they all cost similarly ~ 25$ each. One you will use all the time, and you will want at least one spare because tree sap or pitch can quickly but temporarily ruin a cord.
Epicord, Beeline, and Ocean are all popular cords.
Start with 28” 8mm and experiment from there.
Positioning Lanyard: TriTech Or Wire Core Flipline system ~ $110
Wire core or Rope...
If you are working with a utility company you will not be allowed to use a wire core lanyard due to its conductivity, but if you are not, the added security of having a lanyard which will resist contact with a hand saw or even light contact with smaller chainsaws is worth the extra weight. Eventually, you will want both, as the rope lanyards perform especially well in dense canopy pruning work while the security of steel is welcome on spar work even as you become safer and more proficient. Here are two great value options. Start with a roughly 12’ length and you’ll be set for most circumstances. The rope option is just a shortened length of approved climb line, but if you have a few extra dollars I would highly recommend a lanyard set up with TriTech. TriTech will resist burning if a rigging line incidentally ends up running over your Lanyard (which is a common accident). It will also resist being cut easily with all but the newest and sharpest handsaws. So it is a step up in safety from the usual lanyards. I have listed two separate components to build the rope system with TriTech.
Carabiners: ISC, Notch, HMS triple locking ~ $60
Lots of options buy 1 steel and 3 aluminum all triple-action
Of the two aluminum triple locking carabiners one is for attaching the climbing system to the saddle's bridge, and the spare should be a pear-shaped carabiner for best Munter hitch application (trust me you’ll use it)
The Steel triple locking carabiner has extra weight which is great for advancing your rope to a higher TIP while climbing MRS
*PS there are lots of similar options, the ones I’ve selected are some of the least expensive but from reputable companies. There are only small differences between these and offerings from other companies at similar price points. I wouldn’t trust anything that is much cheaper or sold by a supplier other than a dedicated arborist supply company.
Throw-line: Yale Long Shot $30
Don't Skimp on throw-line
Yale Long Shot is simple, effective, but slightly more expensive than other throw lines which are combinations of cheaper fibers. It is worth it to spend the extra $ on a purely Dyneema or UHMPE (Spectra) fiber; the performance difference is SIGNIFICANT. A similar alternative if you desire a thinner diameter would be Samson Zing-it. It is also critical to have some sort of rope storage. A simple 5-gallon bucket would suffice on a budget, but NEVER COIL your throw line!!
Always have two!
Throw weights are a simple device, but Notch has a very well designed version. I find that their tight construction to be very durable compared to others I've used. They are bright and easy to find, and all-around excellent. I keep one on my harness at all times for helping lob my climb line above me when accessing a canopy, and at least one in my throw-line bag.
Friction Saver: Dan House Rope Sleeve $22
A simple friction solution
While not always necessary it is helpful to have one on hand for pruning operation on thin-barked or otherwise delicate trees. There are a couple of excellent options. The Dan House Rope sleeve is, however, one of the easiest and most intuitive to set from the ground. It also retrieves reliably, and is a great value! Another good option is an adjustable ring and ring friction saver, and the one made by Sterling is da great value at $66 The ring and ring saver offers more versatility in use and can be employed as an SRT canopy anchor as well.
Hand Saw: Silky Zubat Pro 330 $80
The Best Selling Handsaw for a Reason
The Zubat is an excellent all-around no compromise handsaw. For a tool that will be used day in and day out it is not worthwhile to compromise for small cost savings. The Silky Zubat is a tried and true proven handsaw and has been one of my favorites for years even after trying numerous other hand saws. The energy and frustration savings of having a good handsaw would be hard to overstate. There are two options with the only difference being different tooth sizes. the bigger tooth size cuts faster in soft woods.
Climb Rope: Samson Voyager 11.8 200’ Tight Eye Splice $235
extra strong, and nice in hand
This is an excellent rope for the price. It has a MBS much higher than other similarly priced 24 strand climbing ropes, consequently, it can be used in an SRT configuration with less stretch than other non-static ropes. It is soft, and comfortable in hand, easy to knot, and develops a nice texture over time with use. It does tend to milk dramatically at first, but it is a worthy compromise. Pay for the tight eye (NOT sewn eye) splice, you will be glad you did. An excellent static rope option for SRT would be Xstatic by Tuefelburger.
SRT Add ons
Make your kit more versatile!
The next few pieces of gear are more SRT specific, and can be added to the list above to create a fully SRT capable climb system. The essential bits are a singing tree rope wrench, a foot and knee ascender, and a neck or chest tether. The TCIA resource is a good primer for learning the new techniques. Remember always practice low and slow!
Ascender: Minimum of One CT Foot Ascender $75 but the HASS is also a worthy addition $150
Ascenders so you can use your legs to access the canopy.
One foot ascender is enough to make an SRT system work, however, it is very advantageous to also have a HAAS knee ascender for the other foot so both legs can be used in ascending a rope. The CT foot ascender is functional, tough, and a great value.
Neck Tether (for advancing climb system) $18 or $25
For advancing your climb system
This is a necessary piece to avoid much frustration. There are several options for chest attachment points. The magnetic break-away tether is a good safe option because of the breakaway magnet, but the weaver SRT chest harness is a little cheaper and a great value.