Which Is The Safest Device To Use While Climbing A Tree Or In A Tree Stand

March 1, 2022
by Dan Skewes

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When you’re up a tree, you know that your safety has to be your primary consideration. There are numerous reasons why climbing a tree or working from a tree stand is necessary, both in professional and recreational settings, and you really, really don’t want to ruin your day by falling out!

What do you do? You need to be up that tree, but you also need to be safe. We’re going to break down what you need to know about tree and tree stand safety so that you can climb with confidence. Continue reading and find out which is the safest device to use while climbing a tree or in a tree stand.

Break Your Fall

The best device to use to keep you safe when you’re climbing a tree or using a tree stand is a safety harness, otherwise known as a fall arrest system. The purpose of a safety harness is not to prevent you from falling, because it is designed to maintain your ability to move once you’re in your position on the tree.

Instead, as its alternative name suggests, the harness is there to stop your fall. 

A fall arrest system consists of a harness and a safety line. The safety line is attached to the tree, giving you a failsafe anchor point. The harness serves to attach you to the safety line, and also to spread the force if (or when) you fall. A properly fitted safety harness spreads the force of deceleration over the strongest parts of your body, directing it to your shoulders, hips, and buttocks.

This prevents injury to your extremities, protecting your limbs, head, and neck from the stopping force.

When setting up your harness system on your tree, and as you are climbing, you need to make sure that you never have more than a 10-to-12-inch drop from your safety strap. As you climb the tree, you must move your safety strap up in increments to preserve this drop distance; a bigger gap opens you up to the possibility of injury or a non-arrested fall. 

Fit And Function

When selecting your safety harness, you need to make sure that it fits you well, providing good support around your legs, waist, and shoulders without being overly restrictive. You also need to be able to operate every aspect of the system with confidence, so take the time to familiarize yourself with every part of the harness and the safety strap.

Given that you’re going to need to be able to move the strap and also secure it solidly every time you reposition, you must be very confident in its use.

Proper knowledge of your safety system could be the difference between a successful climb and serious injury or even death. It is your responsibility to ensure that all of the straps, buckles, and D-rings that comprise your harness are in good condition and safe working order before you put it on. 

When you do suit up in your fall arrest harness, you have to be careful to make sure that the rear D-ring that attaches to the safety line is properly aligned between your shoulder blades.

This is essential to ensure that the safety line functions properly, spreading the force of your fall and keeping you in an upright position on the line.

When You Fall

which is the safest device to use while climbing a tree or in a tree stand

It’s best to wear a harness on the assumption that you are going to need it. When that moment comes, the reasoning behind the design of your harness quickly becomes obvious. Firstly, being able to trust in a harness rather than having to grab onto something means that when you’ve stopped falling, you still have the use of your limbs.

Your properly fitted harness keeping you upright means that you are in a safe position to recover yourself.

Don’t forget, stopping falling is just the start of the process. Once you are hanging on your safety line, it is imperative that you regain your position on the tree or tree stand as quickly as possible.

This is why a fall arrest system is so important. Not only does it stop you falling, but it puts you in the best, safest position to recover yourself to safety.

Related: How To Draw A Bow In 10 Easy Steps

What Else Should You Carry?

While a fall arrest system is the most critical piece of equipment that you can have in terms of preventing serious injury from a fall, there are a few other things that are also essential and can make a big difference in an emergency situation.

  • Helmet: a good helmet is essential any time you ascend a tree. It will protect you from any knocks you may receive while climbing. In the event that you fall, your helmet will save you from bumping your head during the fall arrest procedure. The last thing you want is to be hanging from a safety wire unconscious.
  • Whistle: it is good practice to carry a whistle when you’re in the woods. You can use it to alert people if you are in distress. You’re best off selecting a whistle that hangs on a lanyard for easy access in tricky situations. When you’re hanging from a fall arrest harness, pocket access can be very difficult so make sure your safety alert gear is readily accessible.
  • Torch: as with the whistle, a torch can be used to alert people to your position in low-light environments. A torch is also invaluable if you are out during dawn, dusk, or night hours for a whole variety of tasks. One great solution is to get yourself a head torch so that your hands are free, and you can use the torch to illuminate your hands while you rig your set-up.


Next time you are planning an activity that requires climbing a tree or using a tree stand, make sure that you have a fall arrest system ready to go. You need to be familiar with how your fall arrest system works, and take care to check that it’s all in good working order. You can’t always be sure that you won’t fall out of a tree, but you can make it so your fall isn’t so damaging. Take care out there and check your harness!

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