How to Safely Use Climbing Spurs

by Edwin Thomas
Climbing a tree safely demands more than just spurs.

Climbing a tree safely demands more than just spurs.

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In many old forests where tall, thick trees thrive, the adventurous climb trees for sport. The pastime requires significantly more effort than climbing the old oak tree in your parent's backyard. Enthusiasts reach the forest canopy with the help of tree-climbing spikes or spurs. Before you begin to scale a tree, arm yourself with a complete set of tree-climbing equipment and practice the climbing techniques that will help you reach the top.

Items you will need

  • Climbing spikes or spurs
  • Safety harness
  • 4 carabiners
  • 2 safety straps
  • Handsaw
  • Hatchet
  • Utility bag
  • Safety helmet
  • Work gloves
Step 1

Strap the climbing spurs onto the outside of your boots. Put on the safety harness. Clip the safety strap to the D-ring on the left side of your harness with a carabiner. Loop the strap around the trunk of the tree. Clip the strap to the strap side with another carabiner.

Step 2

Lean back on the safety strap, using your weight to anchor the strap to the tree trunk. Raise one leg, positioning the knee about 6 to 8 inches from the trunk. Push the spur down and into the tree, digging the spur into the trunk.

Step 3

Step up by raising your other leg higher than the first. Repeat the procedure from Step 2. Keep climbing by stepping up and digging the spurs in, raising and adjusting the safety strap as you go.

Step 4

Work around obstructing branches either by cutting them off with a handsaw or a hatchet or by setting up a second safety strap. To add a safety strap, loop a second strap above the obstructing branches. Clip it onto the D-rings on your harness. Unclip the original strap. Tuck the original strap away in a utility bag for later use.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are climbing an extraordinarily tall tree, such as a redwood, you may wish to employ safety ropes as a fail-safe.
  • Examine all your equipment to ensure it is in good condition before climbing the tree.
  • Wear a safety helmet when climbing trees with spurs. Your efforts may dislodge loose branches and other debris from higher up in the tree.
  • Wearing work gloves protects your hands from blisters and rough bark if you slip while in the tree.
  • Always drive in the spurs with your knees positioned about 6 to 8 inches from the tree trunk. This placement ensures that the spurs dig into the tree at an angle that will support your weight. A shallower angle may cause the spurs to come loose, which can yield potentially hazardous results.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images