I don’t know about you but one of my favorite things about climbing is finding the climb. I have noticed that some of the most unique climbs are the hardest ones to access. So in theory a smaller and lighter backpack will lead to a more extreme vertical adventure! Arborist gear is bombproof, comfortable, and great for working as an arborist but these attributes make them heavy and thus terrible for backpacking.
Now don’t get me wrong, if I had an extra $500 I would own a treeMOTION harness. I was fortunate enough to borrow one for an entire day at a tree climbing convention and DAMN was it awesome! I could spin, twist, and hang-dog in my harness all day without any discomfort. But the features that make all of this possible like a thick/wide/stiff waist belt and leg loops make it freaking impossible to efficiently stuff in a pack.
Arborist harnesses are heavy. A quick browse on Wesspur.com shows a range from 3 pounds to over 6 pounds. My favorite climbing harness (petzl sama) weighs a whopping 13 ounces. Again, if I was stuck working in a harness 10 hours a day, 5 times a week then five pounds would be quite insignificant relative to the comfort gained. I personally don’t need that much comfort while setting up camp in the trees and I especially don’t need it when freeclimbing. So which one you would rather haul around in your pack while hiking mile after mile?
Ropes are another example of over-kill in arborism. I will not go into great detail about ropes because it greatly depends on the type of climbing and area. I will say that for Minnesota I am perfectly happy with 100 feet of static rope. My rope length has never been the limiting factor to reaching a tree summit. Thicker ropes are more durable but if you haven’t gathered by now, I much prefer a better weight to durability ratio than a burly 13mm static rope. My next static line will be 10mm and I use a 9mm dynamic line for free climbing.
If you are a rock or ice climber converting to the green side of climbing I recommend you try out the harness that you already have before you go out and drop a bunch of money on a new sexy arborist harness.
DISCLAIMER: This article was written for entertainment purposes only. You climb at your own risk. I am not responsible for any injuries or death that occur from following this article.
Tags: backpacking , backpacking light , backpack climbing , climbing ultra light