I am looking for a Makita climbing harness for tree work. I saw one once in a review in Horticulture Week. Can you trace the article, which may give me some more information on the harness in question?helpline

Question from Iain Munn, Antler Arboricultural, St Austell.

A: We looked at the Makita climbing harness back in 2003 and the report appeared in the 25 September issue of HW. At the time we reckoned the company had done a good job in terms of design. The manufacture of the item was deemed "excellent".

The test panel, made up of Jason Anderson, then a climber with Glendale Countryside, and Myerscough College senior instructor Marcus Geyer-Grois, noted the strong and sturdy construction and particularly good stitching.

This lightweight harness had aluminium to support the seat, which we said could have done with being a little longer to give more freedom to the pelvis, but it was comfortable to sit on.

The load-bearing shoulder straps were removable, although with straps attached the harness did look complicated. There was a bit of head scratching when the testers first tried to climb into it, but we loved the quick-release buckles - spring-loaded for safety - and the fact that the company had provided the option for installing a D ring or using a fixed anchor.

This was Makita's first attempt at designing a harness and the company had it made by a seat belt manufacturer. Sadly, this was the only version made and the harness is no longer available.

In the review we also looked at the Weaver, a Willans, the Petzl Navhao Boss and Stizgart Duo. All these were work positioning harnesses with seats. We also looked at the Petzl Navaho Vario - a leg-loop style. Look in an arboricultural kit supplier's catalogue today and you are likely to see far more leg-loop harnesses than the seat type.

Climbers looking for a harness with a seat or sit-board rather than just leg loops could take a look at the Willans harnesses. However, these have "soft" seats and the D rings are provided at waist level for the carriage of tools.

Another option might be the Komet Dragonfly. This one is based on the popular Butterfly-style belt but with a semi-rigid seat for additional comfort. Other features include sliding D with replaceable slide strap, broad and deep back support and a quick, double-action connector. It should also be noted that the Komet Butterfly harness can be converted into a Dragonfly harness by the addition of the Komet Seat.

Petzl now offers an arborist seat harness with integrated seat. This one, called the Sequoia Swing, is new and has a wide, semi-rigid waist belt for support. The seat width is adjustable to reduce bulk and facilitate movement within the tree. The attachment bridge provides for lateral mobility and is attached to the waist belt and to the leg loops by two gated rings. There are five equipment loops with protective sheaths, two rings for attaching a hand saw and slots for a Caritool tool holder.

For the flexibility of a detachable seat, take a look at the Austrian Duo harnesses. These offer movable leg loops for greater mobility and a sit-board and shoulder straps that can be fitted in a matter of seconds so you can enjoy the freedom of movement offered by leg loops or you can use the seat for those jobs that require considerable work from one position in the tree.

Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 27 years and has spent more than five years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.


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