An Arborist needs all the tools to not only stay safe but to also make their work as easy as possible.
Here at Pantano Outdoor Supply in Manalapan, NJ we sell the everyday gear you need to safely climb trees. These include helmets, line setting gear, climbing gear, positioning gear, and expert sales advice.
As an arborist, head and eye are key. The Kask Super Plasma Helmet has been designed for both professional ground and work-at-height applications. It is lightweight, comfortable and features 10 air intakes that provide efficient cooling and ventilation. The aluminum grilled air vents on the outer shell prevent entry of debris into the helmet. The Kask Super Plasma outer shell is made of High-Density ABS Plastic and designed to withstand significant impact from the top or side. As far as safety glasses go, we really like the replaceable cheap safety glasses that can get scratched and thrown away. Those work really well and are affordable and convenient.
As far as ear protection goes, I’m a big fan of both earplugs and earmuffs. Everyone should have Snap-On earmuffs on their helmet if they’re out working around heavy machinery. They should probably also have earplugs for times when they have a different helmet or are working with a really big chipper and need double protection.
Boots and gloves are important to have in your tree climbing kit as well. The Clip N Step from Arbpro was designed for tree climbing. It is a slim, flexible, and lightweight product that gives tree climbers an exceptional grip in the tree. They are designed to be strong and light and more flexible than the EVO. It includes a revolutionary attachment point on top of the foot to connect a knee ascender. The attachment point is not PPE and it cannot be used for life support. The top loop is now easily replaceable, and the sole is lighter and self-cleaning!
Someone at Arbortec decided to think outside the box when designing chainsaw boots and came up with the Kayo! A chainsaw boot unlike any other, the Kayo has a low-cut style not seen in Class 2 rated chainsaw protection, and a chainsaw protective gaiter that keeps you protected well above the ankle. This means that you get the protection of a full-size chainsaw boot with the weight and flexibility of a hiking shoe. That’s not the only feature of the Kayo – you also get a premium leather upper, signature Breathe Dry waterproof system, a unique lacing system and inner sock for a secure fit, and a rubber rand for durability.
We generally prefer cheaper throwaway gloves, but you absolutely don’t have to have them, but a nice pair of latex textured gloves or the vinyl dipped ones are nice to have, especially if it’s cold or wet, or you’re doing a lot of roping.
The Stretchflex Fine Grip gloves from Pfanner have an oil-resistant nitrile foam coating. This knitted nylon glove has Stretch-Flex technology which makes the glove highly flexible and accurately fitting. Raised points on the palm and fingers offers maximum grip and control.
The Showa 317 Atlas is designed to provide protection in low light with advanced grip technology for both wet and dry environments. The rubber palm coating provides flexible protection and mimics the natural curvature of your hand to reduce fatigue.
Tree Climbing Harnesses
As an essential piece of fall protection equipment, I consider a tree climbing harness basic PPE required for tree work.
This Petzl Sequoia is my saddle of choice. It’s very high quality and is at the higher end of the price range. An option like the Teufelberger TreeMotion harness is also going to be top-of-the-line—about as good as you can get, with adjustable buckles, four attachment points, extra padding for comfort—I think it comes down to preference at the high end between these two models.
If you’re looking for a more value-oriented option, or something more economical, the Notch Sentinel is by far the best bang for your buck or pound-for-pound fighter. It’s really comfortable. It’s super adjustable. And it’s under $400*, whereas this and TreeMotion are in that $500 plus range.
Throw Line & Throw Balls
In order to get a rope up into the tree, you’re going to need a throw line. We use the Notch throw line. This is a pretty ubiquitous model—it is essentially the same thing as Samson Zing-It. It’s a thin Dyneema hollow braid that comes in 1.8 millimeter and 2.1 millimeter.
The top choice, however, is the Dynaglide by Teufelberger. It’s over two millimeters and has a silky smoothness. Some of these thinner lines can hurt your fingers. Dynaglide breaks at 1000 pounds, which can be an upside or downside. If you get your throw ball stuck, you may not get it back because you can’t break the throw line.
Once you’ve picked a throw line, you’ll want to go ahead and pick a throw ball. Throw balls are a pretty commoditized item. It’s a lead bag or a nylon bag full lead shot. They’re made out of various materials. All of the patterns have gravitated towards one pattern and all the manufacturers are essentially using the same one now. The Notch throw balls are as good as any. They’re made out of 1000 denier nylon, they have the best patterns, they’re color-coded by size, and they have a lifetime warranty that none of the other bags have.
A 16-strand rope or a 12-strand solid braid, such as True Blue. The rope you want to use is going to hinge on which ascent style you’re going to use—are you going to SRT or are you going to DRT?
DRT Climbing System
When you climb double rope technique, you can do it with a lot of different equipment, or you can do it with relatively little equipment. You’ll see I can tie in with two half hitches to this carabiner, and then make a little bridge and just tie Blake’s hitch with the end of the rope. You don’t really need anything else other than this. So, if you’re going to climb double rope this way, I would recommend a 16-strand rope or a 12-strand solid braid, such as True Blue. If you want to stay within the DRT range, but you want to do something that’s a little bit nicer or works a little bit better, you can go to a much more modern closed system.
The Hitch Climber Pulley, 10-millimeter prusik is going to use an anchor bend, but you could also use a splice line here with another eye on it. And now we’ve tied in with a much nicer, more modern DRT system. If there is a downside to climbing with this type of system versus something more basic, that would be one. Overall, this is going to be much smoother, especially when you’re limb walking or just shuffling slack versus having to manually advance, or even have a pulley tend a Blake’s hitch, even on a split tail, which would be another step back. One of the things that we especially like about this DRT system is that if you decide that you want to climb SRT, you can do that with relatively the same set of gear.
When you try to weigh and descend on a prusik with a single line, it will get too hot and get jammed up and it just won’t work. To solve this, you can take the same equipment and throw in a rope wrench. Potentially the same knot, the same carabiner that you were using, and now just a little bit of stuff here for an oval carabiner, you get those two legs from the two-legged prusik on there, the two-legged stiff tether. We recommend starting with a 28-inch prusik so that if you do decide to switch to SRT, even with the normal length tethers, you won’t run into a jamb-up. If you’re going to be climbing DRT, and you’re not going to be using a friction saver, I highly recommend checking out a 16-strand rope. There are a ton of options from Samson, Teufelberger, and Yale.
One of the big benefits of climbing SRT over DRT is that when you do climb the rope and you go ahead and put your rope into a foot ascender and you stand up, you’re going to go up the full amount that you put in, versus on DRT you’re pulling two times the distance through versus one. If we were going to be climbing SRT, the type of mechanical rope I would be looking at would be something like this Notch Dragon along with a mechanical. Or if we were going to be doing it with a prusik and a rope wrench, we would look at something like Notch Banshee, Teufelberger Tachyon, or the 11.8-millimeter Yale lines. Tachyon would be our choice for an all-around climbing line. You can use it for both DRT and SRT.
If you are going to be climbing SRT, you are going to need a little bit more equipment. At the extremely basic level, you are going to need a foot ascender. We wear the Notch Jet Step. This is a foot ascender that we helped design. It works great, it is my favorite, but we are a little bit partial. But the CT Quick Step is by far the best seller and features an outbound cam to lock it which is a favorite.
Once you have a foot ascender that is all you have to have in terms of the assent for SRT, but a knee ascender like a HAAS can also be helpful. You cannot use a knee ascender alone without a foot ascender, so definitely go for the foot ascender first and know that you do not have to have a knee ascender to do SRT effectively. You also do not need to have a hand ascender. With the right technique, you should be doing the work with either one or both of your feet, depending on if you got the knee ascender.
For basic SRT, you will need some kind of hold-up method for basic and you will need to be able to pull the climbing system up with you. That can be as simple as taking your lanyard over your shoulder and clipping it in, then tightening it up down here. Or it can be as complicated as a chest harness and there are a ton of different options. When it comes down to it, all you really need is for something to be pulling the rope up with you when you stand up, tending it higher than your belay loop would by nature.
Spurs or Spikes
If you are going to be spur climbing, you will need tree climbing spikes or spurs. We think the Gecko spurs are, far and above, the best options available. I do not think there is a better carbon fiber spur available, especially not for the price. In the aluminum range with the Euro style, the Gecko Aluminum spurs represent the apex of quality and form. They are really cool, they are super light, they have the best cuffs, comfortable leg straps, quality gaffs—really nothing else compares to those. The new steel ones, the Notch Gecko Steels are better than anything out there for a full set at that price point. When you compare them to the older brands out there that are just a single straight piece of steel with a leather T-pad, it is hard to imagine why anyone would pay more for that. If you are going to be spur climbing, Notch Gecko Steels are the best bang for the buck, the Gecko Aluminums or something similar would be a desirable choice.
If you are going to be climbing DRT, or for many of SRT applications, a friction saver is going to be super handy. It is hard to beat a rope sewn friction saver with a big ring and a little ring and a prusik on it with another little ring. You can use that as an adjustable friction saver or you can use it without the prusik on it, they are very robust. They are a good bang for the buck. But you can also get really complicated stuff that are very luxe, really specialized premium tools such as uSAVERS or the Teufelberger products like the Pulley Saver and the Thimble Saver.
This is Silky Sugoi. This is the original handsaw that I was rocking out in the field. I chose it because it was really big and long and had a hook on the end that I could use to pull things to me, which I thought was really handy. I really like these Notch Talons because they keep the saw away from me so that when I bend my leg it does not hit me or catch me underneath the thigh. But I like this handsaw because it is long and has really aggressive teeth. Silky is by far the best.
I think that this Tsurugi is the best choice. It is a little slimmer, it is lighter in the hand, and has an aluminum scabbard. This is the coolest looking one. It has the most rollers inside of it, comes in a nice slim package, and is just the highest tech thing that you could ever imagine slipping a really sharp blade and saw into. It just exudes quality. Hand saws are safer, Chain Saws take experience.
Bags and Storage
Arborists will tend to lean towards a big bucket-style bag. Look at Metolius Haul bags, or any of the Notch bags are immensely popular. We have the new Notch Access Pro, which you can open up and put all of your stuff into and use as a bucket bag—that would be our favorite bag. We also have a ton of Metolius Bags, and those are really great for just storing big heaps of rigging slings and stuff like that.
Come and visit us today to purchase arborist climbing gear!