Though this may be old hat for some of you, it’s actually quite difficult for new climbers to figure out exactly what a production climber should have in their gear bag. This also varies greatly depending on what type of production work a climber performs. What if they are a contract climber, removals climber, crane removals climber, or a fine pruning climber? All of these factors can come into account when deciding on what gear should go in the bag. Hopefully, we can cover them all. We talked to several different climbers to gather together what they do depending on the situation so that we could share with you what every production climber should have in their bag to make a safe and successful climb.
Top Harness and Blades
When it comes to fine pruning, dead wooding, and general climbing, our panel of production climbers had nothing but positive things to say about the Treemotion Harness from Teufelberger. The Treemotion harness is actually going to be a re-occuring theme in this post because of how many people told us they love and value it. One of the great features of this harness is the great cutout shape of the back pad that easily rides on your hips without causing discomfort. The other thing that really makes this harness a production climber favorite are the D rings on the side. One round ring sits almost perpendicular to another ring. This dissipates any creasing or pinching that occurs in other harnesses. The rope bridge makes moving from side to side and around in the tree easy and fun. All-in-all, our panel had only good things to say about this harness.
The next thing that our production climber panel brought up was a handsaw that was capable of being sharp and staying sharp. The Silky Zubat and the Silky Tsurugi both received top marks because of the grip on their handles, their super sharp (almost surgical) blades, and their ability to hold an edge longer than others saws that were mentioned. This is an important thing to keep in mind when buying handsaws and handsaw blades: make sure the blade is going to last!
The Sawpod leg scabbard is also hugely popular amongst fine pruning climbers. They really enjoy being able to keep their handsaw attached to their leg because it never flips upside down and never gets turned around like a handsaw on your hip. When limb walking, the Sawpod keeps the handsaw in a very easily accessible spot instead of being in your blind spot on the backside of your hips.
When it came to climbers who are up in the tree for long periods of time doing big removals, they all agreed that the Treemotion was a great harness for comfort and for hanging a big saw on the side. The back pad kept the saw from digging into their hips while working all day, even when using a large saw. This is a welcome advancement over the chafed and bruised hips of years gone by!
Another thing that the removal experts really liked was the Shembiner. This little accessory carabiner makes attaching your chainsaw a quick and easy job for one hand. The carabiner is pretty much a hook that attaches to the belting of your harness. The ring on your long saw lanyard just drops onto the hook and stays there until you need it. When you want to unhook your saw, all you need to do is lift it off the hook! This little bit of time you save is multiplied every single time you use your saw!
Lastly, our production climber panel really like the Omni Block Sling because it’s easy to put on the tree, as well as midline attachable. The Omni Block Sling works great for a rigging redirect because of how fast it can be attached to your rigging line. The swivel action works well for loads that are swing back and forth or for lining those redirects up just right. This little block is strong and fast!
Transporting Your Gear
Contract climbers are the hired guns of the tree industry. They may work for a different company every day, or at least every couple days, and this can be a mega-headache for choosing gear. When you contract climb, you need gear that is going to last and gear that is going to do more than one thing.
Our panel mentioned multiple times how much they like the 50 liter Teufelberger Rope Bucket for moving all their gear from one job to the next. The Teufelberger Rope Bucket is made from the same material as the Treemotion Harness, so you know it’s strong. It also has holes covering the outside for attaching gear to keep it organized and out in the open. This is very helpful when it comes to packing up at the end of the day! The drawstring closure also keeps sawdust and light rain out of the bag and off your gear. Unfortunately, a heavy rain will definitely get your gear wet.
Secondly, contract climbers that are really looking to up their game recommended picking up a GRCS or Good Rigging Control System for lifting and lowering limbs and logs. The GRCS is pretty much a capstan winch that mounts to the side of the tree to allow the ground workers to lift with incredible force. The winch can move in two directions, generating a 12:1 mechanical advantage – or when spun the other way, a 44:1 mechanical advantage. This makes pre-tensioning lines and lifting flat line limbs super easy. Pre-tensioning lines takes the stretch out of the rope and also helps reduce shock load. This device works great for contract climbers that are working with companies that have experience using a GRCS, keeping the training to a minimum and the roping to a maximum!
This is just a quick rundown of what our production climber panel told us about their “go to” gear for each type of work. If you have other comments or gear that you think is a must-have, let us know in the comments below or through our Facebook account!