Use a saddle designed for tree climbing. Never use a rock climber's saddle, which has tight narrow leg straps and is not designed for prolonged periods of suspension in midair. If you hang in a rock-climbing saddle for too long, 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. Both of these saddle types have a strap that goes across the climber’s back. For comfort, some straps are wider and more thickly padded than others. A wide back pad is a good choice for a professional climber who specializes in tree removals.

  • Leg-strap saddle

    New Tribe "Tengu"
    leg-strap saddle

  • Butt-strap saddle

    Weaver 4-D
    butt-strap saddle

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. The wider the leg pad, the more comfortable it is.

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 stiff seat. The design that does not use a stiff seat squeezes the wearer's hips tightly and produces more than average climber pain. Butt-strap saddles are usually used by professional tree workers and are often much heavier than leg-strap saddles. The standard width of a buttstrap is three inches, but this narrow width is quite painful on prolonged hangs. Consider a wider strap if your climbs involve prolonged suspension time. 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 the saddle slide up to your armpits.

  • Leg-strap saddle

    New Tribe "Twist"
    children's saddle

Tree climbing saddles made for children have been on the market for years. The most important consideration with kids' saddles is that they must be sized correctly. Putting children 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. Small children are most comfortable using a padded leg-strap saddle. Don’t buy one with narrow leg straps, which is very uncomfortable. Again, never put children in a rock-climbing saddle because these saddles are not designed for prolonged periods of suspension.

Additional information for professional climbers

Rope bridge (strap) saddles are popular now among professional climbers. This saddle provides a floating ring that climbers who walk out on branches find useful. The anchor ring slides on the bridge, allowing the saddle to remain in position more securely than a conventional saddle. The bridge is replaceable in most models.

  • New Tribe Onyx Saddle

    "Onyx" rope bridge saddle

Tragedy can happen if one of the bridge ends comes untied, resulting in a certain fall. Most rope bridges/straps are sewn at the ends, which makes them safer but limits adjustments in bridge length. Other rope bridges make use of only a piece of arborist rope with knots tied on both ends. These knots (stopper knots) must be carefully inspected before every climbing day. Two or three inches of tail need to be showing on either side of each stopper knot.

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