Arborist Gear Is Heavy


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 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


4 thoughts on “Arborist Gear Is Heavy

  1. Howdy Treefool ! Awesome vids and articles ! Regarding your Climbing Harness MOD with the side rings ; great idea, however, I have to wonder if using just one layer / length of the tubular webbing might be real sketchy. Since the stuff starts at 4000 lb test, the amount of knots being put into it would probably reduce the strength quite low. I may try that idea, using doubled tubular….especially since I still weigh in between 270 and 300. I working on figuring out a setup to use a small petzl paw rigging plate.

    On another note ; I believe I’ve seen you climb with 8 mil rope… that correct ? I currently have a 10 or 11 mil static rope. I also have a length of 8 mil static that I’m thinking about climbing with, but the low starting strength point of 3000 has me realllllly thinking twice. I know ascending shouldn’t have much risk of high forces, but it’d be interesting to hear from someone who’s been out there much more than myself.

    Oh, by the way !! I currently only have a rock harness, also…..I’ve have added some mods. My harness is a petzl corex, which is already a bit more padded than some. I’ve cut some closed cell foam camping mattress into wide strips, then strapped it loosely onto the harness, waist and legs, with zip ties. Works great so far, and doesn’t seem much heavier…..a little more difficult to stuff in the pack though.

    1. If you have pictures of your modified harness I would love to see them. Or better yet, you should join VerticalCamping and post the pictures in this thread: . I know that there is a LOT of guys who would like to see your modification.

      As for the 8mm rope: No, I have not tree climbed on an 8mm rope. There are not many types of ascension techniques that work on such a small diameter rope. I recommend you use nothing smaller than 10mm. If you choose to ignore this suggestion make sure you keep it low and slow while rappelling and then tell me how your 8mm rope worked! Haha.

      Be safe!

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