How to Climb a Tree with Spikes: 5 Easy Steps

So you want to learn how to climb a tree with spikes?

You’re probably wondering how to climb a tree with spikes. You’ll find lots of ways, but if you want the fastest and most secure way then search for climbing spurs or “spiking” as it’s sometimes called.

how to climb trees with spikes

It’s probably the safest and most effective way of climbing trees, whether for recreation or tree pruning.

Spikes are a popular way of climbing trees as it makes a climb more enjoyable, easier and – most importantly – safer.

What are climbing spikes (or spurs)

Spikes, also called spurs, climbers, hooks, and gaffs, are an important piece of equipment for any tree climber.

They strap onto your foot so you can use them as spikes to penetrate cracks or seams on tree surfaces, which both act to make tree climbing that much easier and effective while also protecting against slips or falls.

How to climb a tree with spikes

First, find a tree that is close to the ground and has a branch that is sturdy enough to support your weight. Next, poke the spikes firmly into the ground around the base of the tree. Then use them as footholds as you climb. Make sure to keep your balance and be careful not to slip!

But of course, that’s not all there is to climb a tree with spikes. Here are 5 steps you need to take in order to climb a tree with spikes effectively and safely:

1. Prepare before starting your climb

First, you should select a suitable climbing spot and tree. Visit the place and take note of a few things like its environment, adjacent trees, dead branches, and so on. Never forget to check if there are any elements of danger around the tree you plan to climb.

Check (and check again) all the gears you’ll need for a climb including the flipline, spikes, pads, guff guards, and others. If you find any issues with your gear, change or repair it immediately.

During the day of your climb, make sure to pack light. But I’d definitely advise you to bring a bottle of water. Keeping yourself properly hydrated will make a big difference in your climb.

2. Plan your climbing path

Not only should you keep a checklist of your climbing gear, but you should also plan your climbing path.

Get to know the tree as well as you can and visualize your climb early on. That way you won’t randomly climb while trying to figure out the best path to the spot you’re trying to reach.

There’s nothing wrong with that approach but it makes for a far less efficient climb. Instead, if you have a better idea of your climbing route, it’ll make the journey upwards a lot more pleasant.

3. Get to know your angles

How well you climb a tree with spikes depends a lot on the angle of your spikes while you’re climbing.

Learning about angles will reduce the probability of slipping or falling, either due to a slippery surface or lack of grip between your spikes and the tree.

That’s why a lot of arborists advise maintaining an ideal angle while climbing. Based on my personal experience (and advice from other professional arborists), a 30-degree angle of the spike by the tree is very suitable for ascending.

But the angle can be more or less depending on the situation and your comfort level. This is an estimated figure so you can try to place the spikes more or less around this angle.

Just make sure to place the spikes in a better form to make your climb comfortable and relaxing while ascending as well as descending.

4. Get your spikes and other essential gears ready

Best Tree Climbing Harness or Saddle

Climbing a tree with spikes usually includes a few other essential gears as well. They are used to aid your climb and also for safety.

Aside from spikes, your climbing gear should include:

These gear are essential, but you don’t necessarily need every single one of them. But I’d highly recommend that you prepare and use them all. You can also set aside pants and shirts that might be more suitable for outdoor activities.

Pro Tip: Don’t skimp on your climbing gear. Buying good gear, even if it costs an arm and a leg, will make a huge difference. Not only will they be of better quality and longer-lasting, but they’ll also be more comfortable and likely safer than the cheaper options.

You can check out our 11 essential tree climbing gear to make your climbing journey more pleasant and safer.

5. Start climbing with the right footstep

If you’ve sorted out steps 1 to 4, you are now all set to go! The first step is the most important (and actually, easiest) step.

Place your first spike on the tree, using your dominant leg (or whichever that you prefer or might be stronger). At the same time, place the flipline around the tree around the height of your waistline.

Once one spike is placed, don’t hold it there and wait! Rather, get up the other spike and continue spiking upwards. Loosen the flipline and flip it upwards simultaneously. This way both your spikes and flipline will grip the tree well enough to support your weight while carrying your momentum upwards.

Keep your leg straight and keep your spiking angles consistent. Make sure to rotate the flipline according to your needs.

You shouldn’t multitask but instead, focus entirely on your climb. When completed ascending, take a bit of rest and stay adequately hydrated. Complete the work and start descending.

Never make your leg round take it straight and continue going down. Make sure spikes are well set before the next footsteps.

Safety tips

Stay calm and confident climbing to the top. Don’t rush your climb and always be aware of your surroundings, including the weather, wind conditions, dead branches, and your energy levels.

Does climbing a tree with spikes hurt the tree?

Yes, unfortunately, climbing a tree with spikes does hurt the tree to a certain extent.

That’s why no one should do this on purpose unless it’s to prune the tree or other related reasons, like removing branches that could cause damage during storms. Just make sure to bring the necessary tools for your climb.

Wrapping up

I hope this guide has been helpful enough for you to get started climbing tree with spikes!

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