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Key Items You Need for Tree Climbing

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If you’re looking for a fun, exhilarating activity to do outdoors, look no further than tree climbing. Tree climbing is a great way to develop your physical strength. One of the best parts? It’s scenic. There’s nothing more satisfying than looking over an entire forest from the upper branches of a tree you’ve painstakingly climbed. But if you’re climbing bigger trees, you won’t want to do it without the proper safety equipment. You never know what could go wrong. A tree limb could snap, or you could lose your grip. For your own physical safety, it’s best to be prepared. Let’s take a look at some of the key items you need for tree climbing.

Climbing Rope

You’ll need a rope to climb, but any plain old rope you have laying around simply won’t do. Any ropes you use should be specifically designed for tree climbing. Your rope is your lifeline, so make sure it’s tough, durable, and high-quality. When you’re looking for ropes, it’s important to get the right type. When it comes to length, it’s best to have a rope that’s double the length of the tree you’re climbing. Some common lengths include 35m, 45m, 50m, or 60m, but you can choose whatever size is best suited to your specific purpose.


Along with your rope, you’ll need a harness. If you have a recreation, rock climbing, or fall arrest harness, think twice before using it for tree climbing. Any harnesses you use should be designed specifically for tree work. Tree climbing harnesses have a low central main attachment point, usually referred to as a “bridge.” They also have rings on the sides, which are used for attaching fliplines or lanyards.

Flipline or Lanyard

The flipline, lanyard, or polestrap attaches to one side of your harness’s rings. It’s used to keep yourself secure. You wrap it around the tree, then clip the other end to a ring on the other side. The flipline is required to hold you in position and offers a secondary form of attachment while you’re making a cut. You’ll want to stock up on adjusters, too. Adjusters let you lengthen or shorten your flipline as necessary.

Carabiners and Clips

Some other key items you need for tree climbing are carabiners or clips. Carabiners or clips are used to create secure connections between the climbing rope, prusik, and lanyard to your harness. You’ll need at least two, but as a precaution, it’s better to carry four or more. Carabiners come in either alloy or steel. For climbing, alloy tends to be better.


The prusik is a friction hitch. It’s used to adjust your position on the climbing rope, so you can safely ascend or descend the tree. At the bare minimum, you can tie it out of one end of your climbing rope. More commonly, the prusik is a separate, short length of specialist cord that has a high heat resistance. The friction that builds up when you’re descending creates a lot of heat, which can melt through normal types of cord.

Written by Kevin O'Neill

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