Use a saddle designed for tree climbing. Never use a rock climber's harness, which has tight narrow leg straps. These saddles are not designed for prolonged periods of suspension in mid air. If you hang too long in one, it can become very painful; it can also create serious health risks by restricting blood circulation in the legs.
Saddles come in two types: leg-strap and butt-strap.
Leg-strap saddles feature wide straps that are often padded. This type of tree climbing saddle allows the climber to hang comfortably for long periods of time.
Butt-strap saddles have a strap that goes across the climber's bottom, like one of those flexible swing-set seats. Some models have a stiffened seat. The design that does not use a stiffened seat squeezes tightly against the hips, producing more than average climber pain. Butt-strap saddles are much heavier than leg-strap saddles, and are usually used by professional tree workers.
Both saddle types have a strap that goes across the climber’s back. For comfort, some straps are wider and more thickly padded than others. If you choose to wear a butt strap saddle, make sure to use one that has two smaller straps that pass through the crotch and connect to the front of the saddle. These straps prevent you from slipping out of the saddle while hanging upside down or having it slide up to your armpits.
The most important consideration with children's saddles is that they must be sized correctly. Putting them into an adult harness is dangerous, because if it's too big, a child can slip out of it or get into an awkward position. Tree climbing saddles made for children have been on the market for years. Small children are most comfortable using a padded leg-strap saddle. Don’t buy one with narrow leg straps because they are very uncomfortable. Never use a rock-climbing harness with children.
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