No.32 2019 Winter Gear Review
Fitwell Big Wall Rock ‘Winter’ - Fitwell boots have been a staple of mine since K san introduced me to them several years ago. I have tried the Big Wall, Big Wall Grip, Big Wall Rock and am starting my second winter season with the Big Wall Rock ‘Winter’. Fitwell are hand made in Italy, use high quality materials and construction and fit very well for tree climbing. If you use spur techniques for tree removals the Big Wall ‘Rock’ and ‘Winter’ will suit very well. They are firm yet lightweight and use leather with an Event waterproof liner. The ‘Winter’ model has an added layer of insulation along with a slightly thicker sole. I use both styles, one for spring, summer and autumn and the other for the chilly Nagano winter
Marlow ‘VEGA’ - Marlow are an English rope company that were founded in 1957. Their Gecko and Aeris Arborist ropes have been popular for a long time, are very high quality and are known for the interesting construction methods. VEGA was developed as a non stretchy (but certified for climbing to EN1891 type B) SRT and DdRT line and runs very well with mechanical and rope climbing systems. It has an unusual splice method but is easily achieved. The rope is lightweight and holds its shape well even under load. The handling is a little softer than other SRT ropes so it ties and holds knots well.
Treemotion EVO- The original harness was released aroun 2008 from the Treemagineers crew in co-operation with DMM hardware and Teufelberger rope. It quickly became apparent that the free size and custom settings for racking gear gave appeal from the most technical climber through to the most bare-bones basic climber too. It was simply too comfy and gave such a massive range of motion that few could ignore it, even at its top of the range price point. The intelligent configuration of rope and webbing to hardware means that the three major wear points, hip webbing, leg webbing and rope bridge, can be bought as spares. The leg and back pad has seemingly endless racking options and is designed for the climber to rack what gear they want in just the right place to make it the easiest and most functional “work bench” to climb in. After a decade of the same great design the Treemotion has been redesigned at the the front to give even more options to configure the harness to suit individuals and company health and safety policies.
The ‘EVO’ has new Lower D Rings that can configure three bridge types. The first knots two bridges together with customizable lengths achievable, the second has two stitched eye bridges and the third gives an option to install a webbing bridge.
There is a new bridge tool coming soon called the ‘Transformer’ that gives even more comfort to the Treemotion and Treemotion EVO and seems perfectly suited to the two bridge option.
4SRT bird flap
A simple option to make fans of the Rope Runner have less sore fingers.
DMM Eccentric hitch climber pulley
Tree climbing is undeniably three dimensional and this results in a lot of rope management to ensure a smooth passage IN and OUT of the climbing device. As a climber moves down and diagonal with rope draped over a branch to the side or above any resistance through friction between the rope and device results in stuttering movement. Climbers should flow through the tree structure and up to this point the best tool for that job has been the hitch climber pulley.
The original pulley had a slightly smaller sheave than the current model, this was updated around five years ago to give a very smooth profile between the sheave and hot forged side plate. The symmetry of the pulley meant that it could be installed either up or down but not so with the Eccentric. A dramatically enlarged bottom side means that rope can move and enter the device from an almost 360 degree motion and the flattened top edge pushes the hitch sooner and so also aids in vertical efficiency. The spindle at the centre of the sheave sits above centre to allow even more ‘flow’ to the rope and climber. Can you name a device better at allowing a climber freedom of movement?!
DMM Revolver RIG and Petzl Roll Clip Z
This tool can be used in a variety of ways but I will introduce it for one technique that is used to aid work positioning between two anchor points. In
DdRT setting it is called the ‘V Rig’ and in SRT the ‘Peaceful World’. The beauty of this technique is its simplicity and safety. What the Revolver Rig
offers over similar pulleys is the option to install equipment to the top side of it, in the case of this technique, a hitch. The Roll Clip Z functions in the same way and is a lighter weight alternative than the Revolver RIG.
Bennett Hook -
Morgan Thompson redefined rope climbing with the Unicender and has now redefined traverse climbing with the Bennett Hook. The hook gives climbers the option to install on branches up to 30cm in diameter with or without a crotch and once set can be
loaded from left and right directions as its cinching design means that it will not slip. It has a novel setting method and needs free space below the branch, any small branches will get in the way and make installation difficult; in my opinion it was made for
mature Zelkova trees! As well as traverse climbing I use it as a third line anchor for difficult work positions and as this is set by hand or at most close by it works on any species and pairs up in SRT mode with the Unicender. It is heavier than a normal hook so can easily retrieve from below.
The original hybrid SRT device, designed and made in 2005 by Morgan Thompson and made by Rock Exotica since 2010. It works for SRT and DdRT climbing, is aluminium so very rope friendly and can be re-built for a small fee. I bought my first Unicender from Morgan in 2007 and finally, last November, met him in person at the TCIA exposition. He is a wonderfully nice human being so I think that everybody should own a Unicender!
8mori chainsaw trousers
As I write this I am still waiting for the first production run to be completed, which should be by the spring. Actually, I can't wait because the latest sample that we tried was amazing and I am sick of putting my old ********* trousers on. Maruichi have given design ideas to 8Mori for a pair of climber inspired summer weight chainsaw protective trousers. We stripped away pockets that add
layers and thus heat, slimmed the lower leg so as not to be a hindrance for foot ascenders and went with a very simple colour way, black and grey so as not to look retarded. They have been tested to a European standard and will be available in M, S, L and XL as well as a slightly longer version for the American and European market.
Weaver crane bag
The only decent product that Stein ever made was a crane bag, and they stopped making it !
Now you can get one from the Amish craftsmen at Weaver. The bag functions to keep slings from draping over branches as it is lowered to the climber, a simple but very effective idea.
Weaver Graphic bags
Michael Frankhauser, the designer of the HAAS has made a beautiful rope bag. It has attention to detail and great function. The lower section can fold in half for storage, the mid section is a lightweight stretchy material that can be custom designed and has rigid webbing to hold the bag upright, the upper section has a leather band that keeps the bag open. This is all topped off with strong skirting, rivets, pull-cord and tough and comfortable handles. I think that ODSK should get some printed with Okaasan's face on them !!
Hip Star Lanyard - 11.5mm (green) and 12.7mm (orange) updated version of the 10.5mm CE Lanyard. The updated size simply makes gripping the lanyard easier and will ease pressure on tendons and ligaments in the hand, wrist and forearm.