Climbers; the 2 types of, uses, buying advice, safety.

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UPDATED ON 09/27/2016 


There's a whole lot more to using Climbers than just putting them on and climbing Trees and Utility Poles!


My guide contains some of the information you will need to know before buying and using "Climbers" to climb both Trees and Utility Poles.

The names of climbing tools and the parts of the tool.

The Two (2) different types of Climbers.

What to look for when buying Climbers.

How to safely use Climbers.

And some information on the different types of rope.

Maintenance Tips.

Why I prefer Klein's over all other brands.



The manufactures of Tree and Utility Pole Climbers call them, what else but, "Climbers".  Electrical Lineman; and retired Arborists, a.k.a. Lumberjacks like me who used them all day long call them either "Tree Spurs" or "Pole Spurs".  While amteurs call them foot spikes, tree spikes, pole spikes, leg irons, leg spikes, leg hooks, tree stirrups, tree gaffs, and the list goes on and on.

The names of the parts of Climbers are, from top to bottom.
Calf Pads with Straps or Velcro Wraps.  The height adjustment Sleeve, the Leg Iron, (the part of the Leg Iron that the climber's foot rests on while climbing is called the stirrup) the Ankle Strap with Split Ring, the Gaffs (Spikes) with their connecting bolts (and or pins).  And lastly the hardware bolts and barrel type nuts that secures the Adjustment Sleeve onto the Leg Iron for adjusting the climber to the height of the individual user, that is if the Climber is the adjustable type.  Some Climbers are fixed and not adjustable for an individual and safe fit.



There are only two (2) types of Climbers (Spurs)!

This is a photograph of a set of Climbers with "Utility Pole" Gaffs.  See pic # 2.

This is a photograph of a Climber with a "Tree Gaff".
See pic # 1.

Tree and Utility Pole climbers are NOT INTERCHANGABLE!

Although "Tree" and "Utility Pole" Climbers are not interchangeable and it is very, very unsafe to use one for the other, they are very easily distinguished from one another.

Utility Pole Climbers have shorter, straight Gaff's (Spikes) on them while Tree Climbers have much longer, curved Gaffs.  Some models are adjustable for use by people of different heights.  Keeping in mind that a proper fitting Climber is absolutely essential for safe use.  The Sleeve adjustment holes in Klein brand climbers will have one of two different types of size adjustment hardware.  Older model Klein's will have threaded adjustment holes in the Leg Irons while newer ones will have threaded; barrel type nuts that fit into unthreaded holes in the Leg Irons.  I have used both types for years with excellent results.

Climbers that were manufactured for climbing "Utility Poles" generally have either a 1 and 1/2 inch straight Gaff (Spike) or 1 and 9/16ths inch straight Gaff(s) on them (and sometimes slightly longer # 2).
Climbers that were manufactured for climbing "Trees" generally have a curved, 2 and 3/4 inch (or sometimes longer) Gaffs on them.  See pic # 1.

Climbers with 2 and 3/4 inch Tree Gaffs are made for climbing tree species with bark thicknesses as found on Mulberry and Maple to Cottonwood tree species.  While Climbers with the 3 inch Gaff or longer (not pictured) are made for climbing Tree species with a much thicker bark on them like the Giant Red Wood Tree species in California, among others.

To correctly measure the Gaffs on a set of Climbers measure the distance from the outside of the tip of the Gaff (Spike) inward and all of the way to the outside of the leg Irons Stirrup (footrest), not the length of the Gaff.  See pic # 1.



New and never used is always nice, but seldom if ever found on eBay.  However, if you want to save some money by buying used and still get a safe pair of climbers to use, look for answers to the following questions in a seller's listing.

If the seller has their Climbers listed as both "Tree and Pole" or "Tree/Pole" or something that is smilar and does not specify exactly which one of the Two Types of Gaffs they have on them, either "Tree" or "Utility Pole" Gaffs...

Do you really want to do business and buy a tool from some one who either does not know or does not care if a tool's improper use could kill you?


PICTURES  Does the listing have bright, in focus pictures and enough of them showing all of the details and the condition of the climbers?  Are any parts of the climbers covered, block, or not shown or out of focus in the pictures?  Are the climbers shown at weird angles or jumbled together that make it difficult to see the physical details, compare or guess the actual type and size of Gaffs the climbers have on them?  If they are I suggest that you go to the next seller's listing because if they can't realize that they are selling on a visual medium and do it right, what else are they not doing right?


DESCRIPTION  Does the listing have sufficient wording that accurately describes all of the Climber's features and materials?  For instance, are they adjustable for use by people of different heights or are they the lesser safe, one-size-fits-all types?  Keeping in mind that properly fitting Spurs are absolutely essential for safe use.  If they are the adjustable type what are the minimum and maximum Sleeve height adjustments?  Are any of the Sleeve adjustment bolts, nuts or holes striped or re-threaded?  Do they have Leather Pads with Straps or Velcro Wraps?  Do the leather or other parts have any rips, cuts, tears, cracks from dry rot, or mold on them?  If they have Velcro Wraps, is the Velcro worn out?  Do they have interchangeable Gaffs?  Are any of the Gaff bolts, pins, or other parts re-threaded, striped, frozen with rust, cracked, or worn out?  Have the Gaffs been improperly sharpened making them to short and thin for safe use?  Are any parts missing?  In short, are they "complete and fully functional as new"?

REMEMBER  When something is sold "as is" or otherwise, and if they do not specify, and you do not ask for clarification, you get, or worse, you DO NOT get, what you pay for!!

I go to the next seller's listing whenever a listing leaves me guessing for more information I NEED to make an informed purchase, like weather or not the Gaff bolts are frozen with rust (or any other important information that is pertinent to what they are selling).

If you were selling something on eBay would you want to spend your time responding to question after question about your product for information and good photographs that you should have put in your listing in the first place; or would you rather sit back and watch the money roll in because you added all the information that a buyer would ever need to know about your product before biding & buying?

It makes one wonder, did the seller carelessly omit information because they're a "casual seller" or did they intentionally omit necessary functionality, descriptive, photographic, safety and other information all the while hoping that you will just assume that everything is ok and as it should be and not ask them any questions?

Do you really want to transact business with that type of seller?
I know I don't!


First, use a little common sense and think before climbing!
Always have a least one (1) person with and "on the ground" watching you at all times in case of accidents, injuries or other emergencies.  If you climb alone, and fall, and you are uncounsious or you get injured and can not get your self down, who is going to help you?  And make sure your "watcher" is not under you when climbing, you don't want to fall on the only person who could help you if you do fall!

When deciding what type of apparel to ware think about where you are going after you put your Climber's on, what you intend to do when you get there, and what may happen on the way there.  For example; when Climbing Spurs suddenly fail; people will instinctively try to warp their arms around the Tree or Utility Pole to keep themselves from falling (even when they are safely roped to keep from falling from a tree or utility pole).  Therefore it is always a good idea to ware a think, long sleeved shirt and long pants when climbing no matter what the season or temperature.  Additionally if climbing a tree to take it down you will also need safety glasses, a Hard Hat, gloves when using a Bow Saw and hearing protection when using a Chainsaw, etc,.
Again, use a little common sense in what you are doing.
And know when to stop climbing!

Second, one must ware the proper footwear for climbing safety.  A climber must ware work type boots that have a minimum 5/8ths inch tall heals on them.  Work boot with heals on them prevent the climber's feet from slipping forward and off of the Stirrups (footrest) thus keeping you from falling backwards to the ground.  Flat-bottomed footwear without heals, like athletic or street shoes can not be used safely with Climbers.

Properly fitting Climbers are equally important.  To insure that you achieve a properly fitting Climber (if they are the adjustable types) measure the distance from the ground to one (1) inch below the bottom of your knee.  The top of the Climbers should not be higher than one (1) inch below the bottom of your knees.



When climbing a tree look for; dead or loose bark that will give way under stress, knots, and metal that will damage your Gaffs like nails, staples, etc., that will prevent your gaffs from making proper Xylem cell penetration.  Remember, it is the Xylem cells or pulp of the tree that holds the climber's weight and keeps the climber from falling; NOT the Bark of the tree!  When climbing a Tree, make sure that your Gaffs penetrate all of the way through the bark of the tree and sufficiently deep enough into the Xylem cells (pulp) to properly support your weight!  The shorter Gaffs on Utility Pole climbers can not penetrate sufficiently deep enough through all of the bark on a tree and reach deep enough into the Xylem cells to give you proper support, your gaffs will "cut out of the bark", and you will fall.  It is for this reason one should never, ever, use Utility Pole Climbers to climb Trees!



When climbing a Utility Pole look for dry rotted and loose wood that may give way under stress and metal that will damage your Gaffs like nails, staples, etc.  Also, never ever use Tree Gaffs to climb a Utility Pole.  The excessive stress placed on the Gaff tips that is caused by using them in a way that they were not manufactured and intended to be used can cause the tip of the Tree Gaff to break off inside the Pole and you can suddenly start to fall.

It is always a good idea when climbing either Trees or Utility Poles to use additional safety equipment like a fall arrest harness or when climbing a Utility Pole with at a minimum a Lineman's climbing belt or saddle belt in addition to a fall arrest harness.

If you have a set of climbers that have interchangeable Gaffs on them you can use the Climber for climbing either Trees # 1 OR Utility Poles # 2 so long as you have the proper Gaffs on them for what you are going to climb, either a Tree OR Utility Pole, NOT both!
Remember that Climbers with Tree Gaffs (long & curved looking) are designed and manufactured for climbing "Trees".
Climbers with Utility Pole Gaffs (short & straight) are designed and manufactured for climbing "Utility Poles".

It is very, very, unsafe to use one type of Gaff or Climber for anything other than it's intended use.



This is an example of a Climber with a "Tree Gaff".  See pic # 1.



This is an example of a set of Climbers with "Utility Pole" Gaffs.
Note that the "Utility Pole" Gaff is shorter & straighter and the "Tree Gaff" is longer & curved looking.  See pic # 2.

This is an example of a set of Climbers that have interchangeable Utility Pole Gaffs, note the six sided holes in the Gaff Bolts for an "Allen" or "T" wrench.  See pic # 3.


This is an example of the inside of a set of Climbers that have fixed Gaffs that are not interchangeable.  When the Gaffs are sharpened to the point when they are too short for safe use, they should be cut in half to prevent others from using them, and the metal should be recycled.  See pic # 4.


This is an example of "Utility Pole" Climbers without the Calf Pads to show the adjustable Sleeves and this pair has interchangeable Gaffs.  See pic # 5.


This is an example of a set of "Tree" Climbers with interchangeable Gaffs, and adjustable sleeves.  Again, note the two, six sided - hex holes in the Gaff bolts for changing the Gaffs.  See pic # 6.


This is an example of "Utility Pole" Climbers with adjustable Sleeves and interchangeable Gaffs.  Note how short the Gaffs are on this set of pole climbers.  See pic # 7.


This is an example of Climbes with "Tree Gaffs", interchangeable Gaffs, and they are adjusted to the minimum and maximum height adjustment settings.  These Klein's will accomidate climbers of most any height for a custome and safe fit.  See pic # 8.

This is an example of what a set of old "Utility Pole" Climbers without their calf pads looks like, and with intechangeable Gaffs, adjustable Sleeves, and adjusted to the minimum and maximum height adjustment settings.  See pic # 9.

This is an example of a set of "Tree" Climbers wth adjustable Sleeves, interchangeable Gaffs, and set to the minimum and and maximum sleve height adjustment settings.  The left calf pad is too high, the right calf pad is too low.  The proper sleve height adjustment should put the top of the calf pad about one inch below the knee.  This pic also shows proper foot attire for safe use with climbers.    See pic # 10.


This a photo showing the correct calf pad height adjustment for me being six feet tall, and waring the proper foot attire for safe climbing.  Again the proper calf pad height adjustment shoud be approximately one inch below the knee.  See pic # 11.

Some information on the different types of rope.

Usually, a rope will have some distinctive color threads in it to tell you about it's tensil strength; meaning the weight it will hold before it will snap.  I can not recall all of that information however a Internet/Web search of the word "cordage" and contacting rope manufactures should yeild all of the information that you will need to know about all of the particulars you should know before buying and safely using a particular type of rope for your particular needs.



Tips to prevent stripping hardware on adjustable Climbers and when changing between Tree and Utility Pole Gaffs on climber models that allow for interchangeable Gaffs.

When removing  the Climber's Sleeve Adjustment Bolts.  Always use a nut driver to turn the bolt, not a screwdriver.

When removing the TORX (brand) hex bolts to change Gaffs.  Always use a T wrench, not an Allen wrench when changing Gaffs, and make sure that your wrench is seated all of the way in, and, to the bottom of of the hole by wiggling the wrench back and forth while pushing down at the same time if need be, before trying to turn the wrench.  If the wrench is not seated all of the way in and to the bottom of the hole when turned, the hole can be easily stripped.

To achieve and maintain adequate safety, always use:

The proper tool(s) for the job and additional tools when required; like a proper fitting "fall arrest harness".

Tools that fit you properly.

Tools that are fully functional and in safe working condition.

Never use a dull, damaged, worn out tool or a tool that needs maintenance or repair.

Always take good care of  your climbing tools when storing them by keeping them away from excessive heat or physical damage to them that can be caused by your other tools.

ALWAYS personally inspect your tools and do a test climb with your climbers each and every time before using them to climb further up your Tree or Utility Pole!

Replace damaged or worn out parts immediately.

Always use your climbing tools as if your and others peoples life and safety depends on it, because it does!

The information in this Guide all be it helpful, it is not to be considered all inclusive of all the safety information that one should know in order to safely climb Trees and Utility Poles.  Therefore, it is always an excellent idea to seek the advice and guidance of an experienced Tree and Utility Pole Climber in addition to the information in this guide BEFORE making your FIRST climb!

For example; not all tree species have the same hardness.  An experienced Tree Climber will know which Tree species (versus another species) of Tree will allow the Climber to climb further up the tree or out on a limb before it breaks, and you fall.



I have used every make of Tree and Utility Pole climbers out there from Bashlin, Bell System, Buckingham, Klein, Lanco, and Wolf's.

In my humble opinion, Klein's are the best and safest because they use the best quality materials, workmanship, and safety design engineering.  Klein's have the easiest maintenance and replacement of worn out parts, and Klein's are manufactured to be "adjustable for use by people of different heights", and they are manufactured in the good old U.S.A.!  Remember, a proper fit is essential for safe use!

Even if you over tighten the Sleeve Adjustment Bolts and strip them.  It is infinitely easier to replace the bolts and barrel type nuts found on newer Klein Climbers than it is to drill all of the Sleeve Adjustment Holes and drill and tap all of the adjustment holes in the Leg Irons, and replace with matching bolts as found on other brand climbers.  And even when the Gaff bolts become frozen with rust, Klein's are the easiest to fix (if you know how to do it without damaging the Gaffs, Gaff Bolts or Leg Irons).

If you have any questions at all about my Climbers Guide, or desire more detailed photographs, please feel free to write to me via eBay's E-mail and I be glad to respond to your query as soon as I can.

If you found my guide helpful and I sincerely hope my guide is helpful to you, please vote on it.

And I wish you happy and safe climbing!



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