How to use a climbing belt to install a tree stand safely
If you hunt from any tree stand, at some point that tree stand needs to be installed into a tree. Installing your tree stand generally leads to you climbing a tree and using your arms and legs in every way imaginable to hold on to that tree. Pretty quickly you decide that there has to be tools out there that can help you climb a tree. Creating a new and safer way to install a tree stand is what started Heaven’s Trail. Let me explain.
The generally accepted "Rule of Thumb" when installing a tree stand is to maintain 3 points of contact with the tree. Each foot on your climbing sticks represents a point of contact and a lineman’s strap around the tree represents the third point of contact. And that economy system is better than nothing!
A lot of hunters typically look to their hunting safety harness for support while installing a tree stand. The harness you use while sitting in a tree stand for hunting, or maybe an older harness that’s been replaced for hunting purposes. Some people use the soft loops on each hip with an economy lineman’s strap or rope to toss around the tree.
The problem with these systems is that now you’re using a Fall Protection Harness as a Work Positioning System. That’s 2 completely separate applications. One is to prevent you from vertically falling from an elevated position, like sitting in a tree stand, and the other is to put you in a secure hands-free horizontal position for working, like installing a tree stand.
Using the wrong tool for the wrong job can put you in a compromised situation. For example, what happens when you get to a limb on the way up a tree? Do you saw it off? Or do you remove your lineman’s strap, so you’re no longer attached to the tree, and toss the strap above the limb? Maybe carry a second lineman’s strap?
We wanted a tool to help us get the job done with increased safety and support, while staying connected to the tree at all times.
We wanted a tool to help us get the job done with increased safety and support, while staying connected to the tree at all times. No compromises. We met with the arborist experts at Buckingham Manufacturing to find an application specific tool for our needs.
Fortunately they understood our application since many of them are tree stand hunters too! The Belt is the result of our collaboration. Buckingham manufacturers it exclusively for Heaven’s Trail.
The Belt is a kit of 3 components; 1) a Work Positioning Belt, 2) a 2N1 Positioning Lanyard and 3) an adjustable Lanyard for holding your cordless drill. Together, these components, along with your cordless drill, put you in a position to be more successful working on tree stands.
Getting Started With Your Climbing Belt
Fit is important to comfort. In order to obtain an optimum fit, the work positioning D-rings should be positioned slightly forward of the hip bones. Be sure to allow for wear over heavy clothing. Our Belt is offered in Medium, Large and X-Large sizes.
Gear Up Before You Go Up
Once you have the Belt snug around your waist, find your cordless drill. Some cordless drills can fit inside the looped end of the lanyard, while most drills will be girth hitched. That means you’ll wrap the lanyard around the handle of your drill and pull the bronze snap hook through the looped end to fit tight around the handle of your drill. The circle ring on the lanyard is then hooked to the bronze snap on the right hip of your Belt. Leaving the snap hook end of the lanyard to be attached to a circle ring on the right hip of your belt.
It’s an important detail in safety and comfort to have your drill attached at these 2 locations on your hip. It prevents the drill from dangling at your feet as you ascend the tree, and it prevents you from dropping your drill to the ground floor once you begin using it at tree stand heights.
Now that you have the cordless drill attached to your right tool rings, let’s get your Winch and tree strap attached to tool rings on your left hip. Use the carabiner on the Winch to attach it to the bronze snap on your left hip. Then take your tree strap, bring both ends together to effectively make the strap half as long. Insert the tree strap into the first circle ring and tie it in place.
Next is the 2N1 Positioning Lanyard which is 12 feet long. It has self locking aluminum snap hooks at each end and a floating prusik with a triple action carabiner between the aluminum snaps. The way this is intended to be used is to attach the carabiner on your right d-ring, wrap one loose end of the lanyard around the tree, and attach that aluminum snap to the d-ring on your left hip.
At that point you have 1 section of rope around the tree secured by a self locking aluminum snap on your left d-ring and the carabiner on the prusik on your right d-ring. You can slide the rope through the prusik to adjust your distance from the tree. In testing, that horizontal distance is 24 inches.
Climbing the Tree and Maintaining Contact
As you ascend the tree, the diameter of the tree will decrease. Meaning the tree gets skinnier as you get higher. To keep that 24 inch distance from the tree, always adjust your distance using the prusik knot. Slide rope through in either direction to allow for more distance or less distance. The idea is to always leave the carabiner attached to your right hip.
For some trees, those without limbs in your way from the ground floor to tree stand height, that’s about as simple as the procedure gets. However, most trees will have limbs you encounter on your way up the tree. That’s where the second aluminum snap comes into play. On your way up the tree, once you can’t go any higher without removing your lanyard from around the tree, take the excess section of rope with the second aluminum snap and wrap it around the tree above the limb. Then transfer your weight to that section of rope by adjusting the length with the prusik.
At this point, you now have 2 ropes wrapped around the tree. The first rope is below the limb you encountered and the second is above the limb. You will need to adjust the section of rope above the limb to get that 24 inch distance from the tree. To go higher up in the tree, you can now safely disconnect the section of rope with the aluminum snap below the limb. And you have been connected to the tree the entire time! Brilliant!
Tips for climbing a tree like an arborist
A few tips on using this system. First, try to keep the lanyard around the tree as horizontal as possible. If the lanyard wraps around the tree below your waist height, it begins to feel awkward and wants to pull you into the tree as you try going higher. With the lanyard below waist height, it’s also more challenging to raise the lanyard higher so you can climb higher.
A best practice is to get a firm footing on the climbing sticks with both feet. Then grab the lanyard with one hand on each side of the tree, slightly lean towards the tree and use your hands to flip the lanyard up or down, depending on your intended direction. The rungs on the climbing sticks are 17 inches apart, so there’s no reason to flip the lanyard any more than that.
Another tip is to maintain that 24 inch distance from the tree. If you adjust the lanyard and get too close, you get crowded and don’t have enough room to get much accomplished. If you adjust the lanyard and become too far away from the tree, it requires more strength to pull yourself back to that 24 inch working distance.
Another tip is for skinnier trees. With 12 feet of lanyard, you can wrap the lanyard around some really wonderfully sized trees. It will take practice to toss the aluminum snap around a tree and catch it with your left hand on your first toss. Especially on trees with lots of twigs and smaller limbs in your way. But on those skinnier trees, sometimes it helps take up some of your lanyard slack by wrapping one section of rope around the tree twice.
We don’t include a hand saw with this system. The preference is to not cut any limbs, but sometimes you just have to, and we understand. So a final tip is to study your ascent from the ground floor. If it looks like a limb or two will block the path of your sticks, take a hand saw with you on a tool ring of the Belt. Just always be mindful of where your lanyard is when sawing!
Most importantly, like all of our gear, the Belt has passed an independent third party test for all applicable standards. Always remember to inspect your gear before using it though.
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