Branch savers (also known as cambium savers, rope savers, rope sleeves, and friction savers) protect a tree from damage by climbers. Tree protection is a fundamental rule for TCI — our standards require the use of branch savers by every climber in all activities we host. The use of branch protection also tells the public that tree climbers care about trees and that we take steps not to harm trees in any way.
Branch savers come in two basic forms:
Rope Sleeve: These are the easiest to place and most commonly used. They have two functions: they protect the tree from rope abrasion; and they decrease friction on the rope, which increases rope life while making it easier to climb.
There are two types of rope sleeves:
Leather branch saver
- The "House Sleeve," from tree climber Dan House, is made of flexible black vinyl conduit. It comes in diameters to take a 13mm or 11mm arborist rope, and is available in varied lengths for wrapping around different branch sizes. Use the larger size sleeve if your rope has a tight-eye spliced (not sewn) end. This sleeve will quickly slide down the rope if it comes off the branch. Keep your hands off the rope when you pull out the sleeve or you will risk getting a painful surprise when the sleeve slams against your fingertips.
- The leather branch saver is a sewn pre-formed leather tube. The slick leather surface on the inside of the sleeve allows the rope to run through it easily. Its shape and coarse surface on the outside helps keep the sleeve in position, makes it easy to place it over a tree branch, and prevents the sleeve from sliding down the rope if it slips off the branch. The leather sleeve will take a rope 11mm to 13mm in diameter, and comes in one size only. Use a short piece of throw line to pull spliced rope ends through it.
The Ring and Ring Friction Saver (patented by Buckingham) is a thick strap with a ring of different sizes sewn at each end. The rope runs through the two rings. This type of friction saver is used more commonly by professional tree workers. It takes a little more skill to place it into the tree and de-rig it, but allows climbers to install a retrievable anchor point that can be wrapped around a trunk. Know that if you pull the rope through the wrong end, the line will get stuck in the tree. Very frustrating!