Climbing saddles have made large improvements in the past ten years making the everyday arborist much more comfortable. By minimizing weight along with using more technical fabrics and materials, the climbing saddles are far more advanced than their predecessors. Engineering and ergonomics have played a large part in the design of newer tree climbing saddles as well making for more streamlined designs.
Overall design of climbing saddles in the past was mainly focused on holding the climber and getting the job done. Older sling saddles put large amounts of pressure on the hips and thighs making dynamic movement through the tree much more difficult. Batten seats made of cloth or canvas held in moisture and became saturated with heavy use. Basic movements while aloft such as stepping between limbs was difficult because of the limited mobility and constriction points. Hip problems in older climbers more than likely is a direct result stemming from the pressure these saddles caused.
With a bit of ingenuity climbers began experimenting with leg saddles or rope saddles. With each leg being held independently, the climber could easily move around in the tree and spread their legs out to step between limbs in the canopy. This also reduced the pressure on the hips making for a much more comfortable day of climbing. These saddles were still made of conventional materials which made them heavy and cumbersome.
With the advancement in technology and with the help of ergonomic studies, our saddles have made many improvements for the beginning climber and for the most advanced climber. Technical fabrics help with breathability in the back pad of modern saddles. During strenuous work in warmer temperatures, these climbing saddles help with air flow to the climbers back and legs making the climber more comfortable and safer. Lighter materials also help in reducing the amount of fatigue the climber would generally feel after climbing all day.
Modern tree climbing saddles are also highly modular in the fact that most parts of the saddle are easily interchangeable and moveable. Most saddles with a rope bridge can be used with a ring for a center attachment point or if the climbers wants more options a swivel could be added as well. Some climbers like to climb with a pulley on the bridge of their which works very well with a rope bridge opposed to a wider style webbing bridge.
The amount of time and effort put into each new tree climbing saddle from the manufacturer reflects directly on the amount of comfort and mobility that each saddle offers. In the past, climbers were expected to go home sore and retire with physical disabilities because that's just the way it is with tree work. Fortunately for modern climbers, comfort and efficiency are paramount in our everyday work practices. With the new modern climbing saddle, climbers can work in comfort and after work, relax in comfort as well.