What Kind of Rope Do Arborists Use?

As an Arborist, choosing the right rope is essential. The question of ‘what type of rope do Arborists use?’ is not always straightforward. But this guide will help you understand the kinds of rope you will be needing as an Arborist.

Arborists use static rope for climbing, and dynamic rope for rigging and pulling trees. Static rope has less stretch, which makes climbing easier. Dynamic rope has more stretch and is less likely to snap under pressure.

Your arborist rope must be able to keep you safe and help you work efficiently. It is vital that you know how to choose the correct rope for the job. This post will explore the differences between climbing and rigging ropes, and the concepts of “static” and “dynamic”.

What Type of Rope Do Arborists Use?

Arborist ropes are specifically designed for arbory and have different properties than other types of rope. If you are thinking of reusing your rock-climbing ropes or general-purpose ropes for arbory, or thinking about buying them, think again! A “dynamic” rock-climbing rope is very different in stretch to a “dynamic” arborist rope, and making this mistake can be dangerous. The ease and low cost of a multi-purpose rope is not worth the risk of injury. Rock climbers have to anticipate big drops, so they use ropes with a lot more elasticity. Whilst the tensile strength and weave constructions may be the same, Arborist specific ropes have a certain necessary staticity and durability that will keep you safe while climbing trees. Arborist ropes also have a thicker sheath that provides protection from weather damage and abrasion. The correct rope will ensure safety and efficiency in your climbing and rigging.

So, there are two main ropes that arborists use for two different purposes. Arborists use static ropes as climbing ropes. These ropes can help arborists secure themselves in a tree. One characteristic of these ropes is that they have a little bit of stretch to them. This feature is helpful for absorbing kinetic energy that occurs when a climber might slip. It helps prevent extra strain or potential injury if an arborist is to have a slight fall. These ropes are EN1891 certified and can be utilized as throw lines as well.

The second main kind of rope arborists use is dynamic ropes for rigging and lowering. These are used to lower and move sections of wood or tree limbs. They generally aren’t suitable for climbing. They do have minimum breaking strain (MB) and safe working load (SWL) markings. These points are marked on the rope to help arborists use the rope correctly.

Why Do Arborists Use Rope?

Why arborists use rope

Arborists use ropes to secure themselves to the tree, and to safely climb up and down. Safety is key in arbory since you can be working high up for long and tiring periods of time, so using the correct ropes is a smart move to ensure your safety. Arborists also use ropes to help pull down trees at different times.

As arborists prune down damaged tree branches, they may require the assistance of ropes to lower the tree limbs. Sometimes, trees are in places where they just can’t be cut down due to close proximity to property or people. To prevent the risk of damage to people or property nearby, an arborist may be called in to carefully prune and cut down these tree sections safely. A safe way is to cut down these sections and lower them down using ropes.

When you’re just starting out in your career as an Arborist, you’ll find that most of your time is spent on the ground chopping up large tree limbs and pruning. You may find yourself using ropes to lug trees around and to help pull trees from the ground. As you get more experienced you’ll also start to use ropes for climbing and rigging.

Do Arborists use Static or Dynamic Rope?

Arborists use both static and dynamic ropes, depending on the task at hand. The difference between static and dynamic ropes is in their stretch. Climbing ropes are static, while rigging ropes are dynamic. The purpose of using a static rope is to make climbing and lowering injured climbers steadier and less tiring – dynamic rope would allow the object or climber to bounce around! Rigging ropes – also known as bull ropes – need to be more dynamic due to the force that is exerted on them by falling tree limbs. Static ropes also allow knots to be held more securely.

Dynamic ropes have more stretch and flexibility to them. This allows these ropes to better hold falling tree limbs. The weight of trees is easier held by the elasticity of a dynamic rope. A static rope would be more likely to break when lifting and lowering trees.

Both static and dynamic ropes used by arborists need an extra outer layer to them. Arborist work creates a lot of friction on the ropes which can cause them to fuse or melt. The end result of this is a stiff and crusty outer layer that won’t hold knots well. When this happens, your arborist ropes become more likely to break, risking injury. So, ropes used by arborists require a special outer layer that is designed to be heat and friction-resistant.

What is the Difference between Climbing Rope and Rigging Rope?

A climbing rope is designed to deal with an ascending and descending static load (you, the climber), while a bull or rigging rope is designed to deal with a potentially dynamic load (a falling tree limb). Bull or rigging ropes are the best for pulling trees as they have greater tensile strength and can withstand repetitive stretch. Rigging ropes will be put under more tension due to the heavier loads they carry, but you don’t want to be ducking your head from a swinging tree limb that hasn’t been secured in place by a dynamic rope!

One of the major differences between a climbing rope and a rigging rope is that the climbing rope is EN1891 certified while the rigging rope is not. An arborist will typically use the climbing rope to both ascend and descend a tree and use it as a view line. For this reason, climbing ropes typically have a bit of stretch in them.

What is A Bull Rope Used For?

A bull rope is used for moving tree limbs and branches. So, when you’re cutting off a tree limb, you can use a bull or rigging rope to lower down the branch rather than just dropping it. And, once it’s on the ground, you can use your ropes to drag it to your truck.

A bull rope is made up of solid synthetic fibres or wires and nylon, which makes it exceedingly durable. Most of a bull rope will usually be made of nylon with the inner cord taking up the bigger share compared to the middle and outer rope cords. Usually, the outer layer of a bull rope has a lot of polyester for flexibility, allowing it to have the stretch and strength to rig and move tree parts.

What Type of Rope is Best for Pulling Trees?

The best arborist rope for pulling trees will be dynamic bull ropes that are certified for arborist use. These ropes are designed to have greater tensile strength and can withstand repetitive stretch. There are many ropes to choose from, but for the best results, you shouldn’t be grabbing any old tree-pulling rope. Our top rope for pulling trees that we recommend is a braided polyester arborist rigging rope. The other top two are a 24-strand arborist bull rope and a 12-strand arborist climbing rope.

What is Arborist Rope Made Of?

Arborist ropes are made of Nylon or Polyester materials, or some mix of the two. Ropes used by arborists are specifically manufactured for arbor work.

What Materials Are Arborist Ropes Made From?

You want strong durable materials that are resistant to wear and tear. Nylon is more durable than Polyester but is also heavier. The material of your rope is completely up to your preference, as is the colour and size of your rope, which we will cover later on.

What Weave Is Best For Arborist Ropes?

The weave structure of your rope is important for strength and durability. As an Arborist you should be looking for either a braided or kernmantle weave construction. You do not want to use a rope with a twist construction, or you will find yourself twirling and getting dizzy the second your feet leave the ground. Your rope should make your climb easier, not harder.

What Strand Count Should I Use for Arborist Rope?

You want to look for ropes with a 12-16 strand construction, 3-strand constructions can be durable and useful in some situations, but it is better to go with a 12 -16 strand rope. It is also important that your Arborist rope is soft and flexible so that it can effectively hold knots.

How Can I Protect My Arborist Rope?

You may also want to look for ropes that have a sheath. A sheath will protect your rope from friction damage, as well as weather and UV damage, meaning your rope will continue keeping you safe for longer!

What Size Rope Do Arborists Use?

A good tip is to use a rope that is twice the length of the tree you are climbing and 10 -13 mm in diameter. As a beginner, thicker ropes (13mm (about 0.51 in)) do allow for easier grip and control, but make for a slower climb, so you’ll just need to be patient getting up or down the tree!

What Colour Should I Use For My Arborist Rope?

This is totally your choice. Many arborists choose brightly coloured ropes so that they can easily see their rope whilst climbing and working – it also means you can be more visible to the Arborists working below you. You should choose different colours for your climbing and rigging ropes, to ensure they don’t get mixed up.

climbing rope vs rigging rope

Do Arborists Use Spliced Rope Ends or Knots?

When it comes to securing your rope, the most popular method is to use spliced end ropes, as knot tying (another common method) reduces the strength of the rope by up to 40%.

Can You Use A Bull/Rigging Rope for Climbing?

DO NOT mix up or use the same rope for climbing and rigging. Your climbing rope should be used for climbing only, and your bull/rigging ropes should be used for rigging and pulling trees only. Each rope type is designed specifically for its own purposes and should not be used for other things. Your rigging rope is going to go through a lot of wear-and-tear and is therefore not going to be a safe form of life support for you as a climber. You want your climbing rope to be the safest, most static and most well-preserved rope in your collection as it is what is keeping you safe from a dangerous plummet into the dirt below!

When Should I Retire My Arborist Rope?

For Nylon ropes, manufacturers suggest that the rope is retired after 10 years, and this is true even if the rope has never been used. The fibres over time weaken, regardless of use. However, for an Arborist who is using their rope most days, you should be replacing your rope every year, at a minimum. Abrasion and friction on the rope cause it to have a fuzzy appearance – this is normal after use but if it is excessively fuzzy, it is time for a replacement. You don’t want to be seeing the middle of your rope – EVER. Try to keep your rope clean, ground dirt and sawdust can cause more abrasion to your rope. Check its ability to tie knots. But most importantly – if you’re not sure if your rope is safe, don’t take the risk.

Remember, your rope is your lifeline, so take care in selecting the right rope for you.

Did you know that here at Canberra Mower Centre, we sell a great range of arbory gear such as chainsaws, chains, and PPE. Check out our chainsaw shop here.

If you enjoyed this article, take a moment to read our blog covering topics such as What Chainsaw Do Professional Loggers Use? or Why Won’t My Chain Fit On My Chainsaw?

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