Tree Climbing Gear

Tree climbing gear is the equipment used to ascend and maintain position on a tree while pruning or harvesting. In forestry, climbers have been classified depending upon the basic principle of their action as: rope and pole, pole only, and free standing. The free standing type being a metal device that grips into the tree bark without a climbing line. However they are almost never used by professional climbers due to their lack of safety, use and economic factors.

Tree Climbing

The first soft-soled climbing boots were invented in the early 1900s by Louis J. Pellissier, an arborist from Saugerties, New York. They were designed for tree trimmers who used limbs as slides rather than ropes to descend from tree canopies. The boots accomplished this feat by fitting tightly against the limb and having a thick rubber sole with cleats (later known as “climbers”). Climbimg boots are now also standard equipment for other applications involving dangerous work at height such as window cleaners, sign flashers, window washers and construction workers on steel structures that require an open side.


In 1938, a Scotsman living in Australia named Douglas Mawson developed a steel-soled climbing shoe with a rounded front and cleated sole, which is recognized as the first of its kind. These shoes evolved into the double-soled boot known today, which have been designed to adhere to various forms of terrain. Climbing equipment manufacturers such as Petzl and Black Diamond Equipment produce climbers that come equipped with an ergonomic handle on each foot (known as “spurs”) that greatly enhances grip while ascending trees.

Teeth used in climbers are called “cleats” or “claws”. Climbing line is attached to the climber by means of carabiners or ascenders: one end attaches to the line while the other end attaches to the climber’s harness.

Tree climbing harnesses

Tree climbing harnesses are made of polyester webbing and are designed to fit snugly so as not to become tangled in the tree. The harness also will have adjustable leg loops for comfort, and a belt around the waist that is used to attach safety gear such as carabiners or ascenders.

Pole climbers ascend trees using devices such as a trucker’s hitch tied off with climbing line. A pole climber climbs by wedging an aluminum or carbon fiber poll into a crevice in the tree trunk, wrapping the climbing line around it several times, then locking in each wrap with another part of the climbing line. This process is repeated until they are high enough in the tree that other tools are needed for further ascent.

Aluminum alloy poles vary in size and strength depending on the weight of the climber and level of safety needed. Most standard poles are made from aluminum alloy 6082 tubing, which is an extruded material that is heat treated for increased strength and corrosion resistance. Poles range in length from nine to thirty feet (3-10 meters) long, with a diameter that ranges from one to three inches (25-75 mm).

Carbon fiber pole climbers use high-strength hybrid carbon fibers instead of aluminum alloy, which makes them lighter than their steel or aluminum counterparts even though they tend to be stronger overall. Carbon Fiber poles also do not conduct electricity like steel does, making them useful for arborists who work around power lines. The main downside to carbon fiber poles is their cost.

Tree climbing spikes

Tree climbing spikes are worn over work boots during the spiking process. Spikes allow the climber to gain traction on relatively smooth bark by forcing their own weight deeper into small crevices. Climbing spikes may also be used for scaling bark to reach foliage or fruits at higher elevations, or if they need to ascend to an area where the trunk is not large enough for a full-body harness to fit around it.

Climbing spikes come in several different shapes to accommodate different types of trees or terrain that must be covered. Some examples include: flat claw, trowel claw, hooked claw, and rope-gripping sawtooth pattern claws. There are even small spiked plates known as “yard dogs” that have been attached to the climber’s boots with zip ties, which are intended for use when ascending much smaller trees or branches.

Spikes must be worn over work boots in order to prevent damage to both surfaces; if a climber starts spiking without work boots on, the spikes could leave permanent holes and also defeat their purpose by transferring weight away from crevices and onto smooth bark. Climbing spikes should only be worn during the spiking process and removed immediately after, since leaving them on can cause injury due to slipping while ascending or descending the tree.

Tree climbing ropes

Climbing ropes are made of either nylon or Dyneema. Nylon is cheaper, but it does not stretch when placed under tension, whereas Dyneema has the ability to “creep” slightly when put under tension, which reduces the potential for serious injuries if a climber were to fall while ascending or descending the tree. Climbing ropes will have either a classified number or an alphanumeric classification system printed on them in order to indicate their breaking strength; pure nylon climbing ropes usually have a classification of nine while Dyneema can go up to eleven depending on how they are rated by the manufacturer.

Tree climbing saws

Tree climbing saws are used to remove branches and small trees, or to cut down large trees. This is done either by cutting through the trunk in a way that minimizes damage to the tree’s foliage, or by cutting through the entire tree without regard for appearance.

Climbing saws come in different blade sizes, with larger blades being able to remove thicker tree limbs than smaller blades. Larger climbing saws also have folding drop handles for safety reasons because it can be difficult to safely hang onto them while ascending or descending the tree.

Different types of pruning include: thinning limbs on a mature canopy tree to establish new shoots, removing broken branches from a major limb, crown reduction on younger trees that don’t require structural trunk pruning, and crown reduction on older trees that require structural trunk pruning.

What should be worn when climbing a tree?

What should an arborist wear when climbing a tree? Tree climbers and arborists wear the below:

·        Climbing gear: basket, belt, rope, pully system

·        Clothes that are comfortable and can take a beating. Light colors to reflect heat is best. We recommend no 100% cotton clothing as it will hold water if you get wet from rain or morning dew. Polyester or synthetics are what we would recommend for your daily wardrobe. Any cotton blends have to have at least 50% polyester so it won’t shrink so much after washing/drying and holds up better against abrasion.

  • Gloves – lots of them, different styles and no cotton.
  • Helmet – recommended but not required
  • Hard hat – needed for any work around power lines
  • Sun hat or hat with a brim – to keep the sun off your face and neck.
  • Water (5L minimum) & snacks; 5-hour energy drinks are allowed on most jobsites. Those with heart conditions should bring their normal medication.
  • When climbing: leather boots that lace up high, not steel toe shoes or sneakers, they will slip if you kick into a branch and crack your ankle. Climbing spikes can also damage bark; wear them over work boots when climbing and only wear them during spiking.
  • Rain gear – if the forecast calls for wet weather, be prepared! Essential for tree care professionals just like a toilet paper roll and a bottle of water.

Are climbing spikes bad for trees?

Climbing spikes are not bad for trees if used properly; they allow the climber to transfer weight away from crevices and onto smooth bark.

How do you climb a tree to cut limbs?

You must first work out how you are going to get up the tree.

  • Inspect for deadwood or decay which could cause limb failure
  • Make sure the tree is strong enough to support your weight
  • The base must be clear of obstruction, including other trees too close by
  • Make sure you have appropriate pruning gear with you.
  • When climbing, always use a safety belt—do not tie off to a branch!
  • Work from a bucket truck if one is available
  • If there are multiple limbs that you want to remove at the same height, start from the top down as close as possible to each limb.
  • When working from a bucket truck, use a pole saw or hand saw to remove limbs close to the truck before climbing the tree.
  • If you are not tied off, choose your footing carefully so you don’t slip or kick the bark with your foot.

Tree climbing spikes are most helpful for removing branches that are higher than you can safely reach with a pole saw.

  • Climb each section of the tree limb by limb to ensure that you do not get into too high of a position and put yourself in danger.
  • When sawing with a pole saw, start at the top of the limb and work down towards you; starting at the bottom will cause you to work against gravity.
  • If your saw is difficult to pull through, you are not holding it parallel with the limb. You are pulling it back against the limb or sliding down too far to start.
  • Beware of using chainsaws on trees, they are not as safe as pole saws.

How do you climb a large tree without branches?

If you cannot use a bucket truck, you can climb using the trunk as a way of gaining access.

It is important that you wear the appropriate gear for tree climbing.

This can be done by using a pruning spurs, work gloves, and safety belt that are attached to carabiners.

How do you stop a tree from growing taller?

Pruning and fertilization can help a tree grow stronger and prevent it from becoming too tall.

You should only start this process if you are experienced in tree climbing.

If the tree is too large for you to climb, contact a professional arborist.

How do you fast climb a tree?

You must first inspect the tree for deadwood or decay.

Make sure you have the appropriate equipment with you before climbing the tree; this includes a safety belt, climbing spikes, hard hat, work gloves, and pruning gear.

Never climb a tree without being tied off to it!

What is the aim of climbing a tree if you want to do it yourself?

You can use the tree to access hard-to-reach areas like tall buildings or rooflines.

Make sure that you are trained in tree care before attempting to climb a tree.

Remember to always use safety gear when climbing, including appropriate clothing and a safety belt that is attached to at least one carabiner.

How much do climbing arborists make?

It varies depending on location, equipment used, types of trees being climbed, and weather.

Arborists who are paid by the tree tend to make less money than those who are paid hourly or by the job.

It is possible to climb trees for recreation; check with your local recreational tree climbing association.

How do you become a tree climber?

Most organizations work on an apprentice basis; you start by climbing with an experienced climber and then gain experience climbing on your own.

If you are interested in climbing with equipment, you can take a training course so that you are certified to use the equipment.

What do tree climbers get paid?

This depends on the level of training, your location, and your certification.

Certification is available in recreational climbing, technical climbing, arborist climbing, and aerial rescue.

Scroll to Top