By Matthew Norman

3_5stars

Spiderjack Review

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Review of the Art Spiderjack

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As a freelance arborist I climb for a number of regular and occasional guys undertaking varied work and it has been the ideal way to trial the Spiderjack – from deadwooding a big 100’+ cedar to thinning out a scraggly bird cherry in a customer’s garden. I’ve used it on every job for the last six months, big and small. Here’s my own personal feedback.

GOOD POINTS

  •  Quality product – A well designed, built and good-looking gadget. Just what you’d expect from German engineering.
  •   Self- and slack-tending – Smooth, friction free self tending when in the right position. One-handed slack-tending is fantastic, especially when on the outer periphery of the canopy and you’re clinging onto the skinniest of branches with your free hand.
  •   Pantin friendly – When combined with a foot ascender the Spiderjack provides smooth, easy and faultless ascending, even when you are positioned away from the stem or when ascending from a redirect through a crotch etc.
  •   Reduced rope wear – Fast, controlled descending is achievable without the worry of melting or glazing your climbing line as when using a friction hitch.
  •   Great for BIG trees – When traversing big voids, or finding yourself moving vertically up and down the tree a lot, the Spiderjack comes into its own.

BAD POINTS

  •   Levers – On more than one occasion I had foliage strike the lever of the Spiderjack without warning. On one such time a large chunk of thick ivy fell from above and landed on the device. I dropped approximately 12′ vertically down the stem of the tree before the cam closed again. Other times I have been working in tight crowns and either branches, or my own arms have nudged the lever and the cam has released.
  •   Cam operated by climbers weight – Not a problem as long as the climber’s weight is always on the line. However, a number of factors can negate the climber’s weight, thus leading to the cam opening. This has happened to me when working in windy conditions – as the anchor limb and the limb I was stood on swayed independently of each other, my weight, in effect, was taken off the Spiderjack causing the cam to release and slack develop in my system. This has only been a problem on larger trees.
  •   Less versatile – The Spiderjack is used to ascend and descend the tree in a DdRT system and that’s pretty much it. Compare this to the versatility of the Hitchclimber with which you can ascend and descend as normal, but also use M-rig and V-rig systems and clip other hardware and software into it by way of additional holes in the pulley. Additional bits and bobs can be used with the SJ by using quickdraws and extra krabs, but it ends up being a big, jangley mess.
  •   Not good in smaller trees – Compacted crowns and conifer trees don’t readily lend themselves to the SJ.

CONCLUSION

Although a superb bit of tree climbing equipment I found that the bad points I highlighted above meant that the Spiderjack, unfortunately, is not for me. This is my own personal review of the Spiderjack and in no way a negative reflection of the device itself – it’s just that it doesn’t match my climbing style. I really, really wanted the SJ to work for me, but ultimately the versatility and security that the HC affords is more important to me. I fully admire what Hubert Kowalewski has created for tree climbers, and understand that there are SJ users out there who are more proficient at using it than I am. My Spiderjack hasn’t been totally retired though – it’s in my climbing kit bag along with the Positioner (similar story!) If there are any big trees to do in the future I’m sure I will consider using it again.

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