Your equipment is an investment in doing your job safely and efficiently, so keeping it in good condition is important.
By Mark Gaudet
1. Sharps Away From Softs!
Whether we are talking about on a harness or in the truck, always protect your ropes and harnesses from sharp objects. This could be something as simple as a cabinet door on the truck or the freshly sharpened chainsaw you put on top of your coiled climbing line. Think about not only when it is put in, but when it is going to be pulled out and by whom.
Scabbards can be an effective guard if saws and softs need to be stored within proximity to each other. The back of a pickup truck is often a breeding ground for clutter and gear seems to never go back in the same spot it came out of.
I always keep my chainsaw and handsaw on the opposite side of my harness as my lanyard. I learned this from day one and have maintained this, it has surely prevented many knicks in my lanyard over the years.
2. Rope Bags
I can’t stress enough about the importance of rope bags. They protect your ropes from coming in contact with sharps objects, harmful contaminants with one of the worst being dirt and all other environmental factors such as rain and snow.
Rope bags come in many sizes from ditty bags to 70L+. Ensure that the bag is large enough to fit the diameter/length of line you plan to store inside. Consider buying a larger option if you want to be able to store other items inside as well.
Not all vehicles have great storage compartments for large gear bags. Starting out I tried to cram all my gear into one giant duffle bag. Often it needed to ride with the chips which meant it was often dumped/filled with chips.
A few smaller bags can make it easier to organize your gear. It can also prevent you from having to carry every piece of gear to the depths of every job site while being able to also fit them onto a shelf in a designated cabinet.
3. Organize For Efficiency
I have 4 rope bags and 3 gear bags that are always on the truck. They are typically packed in such a way that the closest to the door is climbing gear and the ones further back are rigging gear that get bigger as they go. This is because majority of the jobs we are going to involve climbing, if there is rigging involved it is usually done with the 1/2” rope. If needed we would switch to a 5/8” or larger rope given the situation . Not having a system for gear storage can mean having to move more than you need with the possibility of leaving something behind after being taken out of the truck.
I have 2 rigging gear bags that hold my blocks, slings and various goodies or trinkets. These are some of the things I may not use everyday, but I’m very glad to have them present when it can be used to make the whole job safer or more efficient.
Knowing which bag contains what equipment can make it a lot more efficient for the crew who is searching for a specific piece of gear that you would like.
I also like to organize the chainsaw cabinet similarly, so that the smaller saws and blower are easily accessible because they are more commonly used than the larger ones.
Once your system is setup and working, Pictures or labels can be a great way to help remind people of where things should go/where they are. This could be tags on bags, labels on a shelf or even a picture on the inside of a cabinet door(All 3 if needed).
4. Tidy it up!
Having my lanyard dangling in my feet/spurs/chainsaw has always annoyed me. I have been using lanyard manager clips for a long time to help keep my lanyard tidy while allowing for instant use whenever needed. There are various ways people are keeping their ever growing length of lanyard stowed nicely and social media can be a great spot to check some of these out and try them for yourself.
I often carry a few webbing slings on my harness because of their versatility no matter the situation. But having them just clipped on will for sure allow them to get snagged on every twig and stub. I use the twist method that I find to be the quickest and works on any length webbing sling.
Ever seen a climber whose line is weaved through the entire canopy of the tree and would struggle to descend in an emergency? Or the climber who has their rigging and climbing lines forever entangled? Spend the time to tidy it up! It can be the difference between glazing/melting a climbing line or lanyard, Not being able to descend in an emergency or your rope being pulled into a chipper or stumper because it was tangled in debris.
5. Don’t Wait Until the Bitter End
Sharpen your saws sooner than you think! Much like while cooking, a dull knife/saw can often be the cause of a cut related incident. Dull saws lead to people pushing harder into the wood which also affects the anti-vibration system of the saw. That can lead into banana cuts that are often blamed on improper sharpening or bar maintenance. Looking at the dust on the air filter will often tell you a lot as to how sharp the chain is typically run. A dull chain produces a lot of fine dust and a long list of problems that we couldn’t possibly cover in this list. Keeping your chain sharp may cost you 10min but could possibly save you 20min or your life!
Follow these 5 steps and expand them to other areas not covered ie chippers, trucks, job sites. You will notice that your equipment is SAFER, more EFFICIENT and EASIER to use!
Mark Gaudet is a climbing arborist, teacher and Notch brand ambassador from Ontario, Canada. He's been working in the private tree care industry for 10 years as well as competing across North America since 2012.