cropped Outdoor Zone Imran vai V2 Website ready

Tree Gaffs Vs Pole Gaffs | What Are The Differences?

Tree Gaffs Vs Pole Gaffs

The easiest way to climb up a tree or a pole is by using a climbing spur. Simply put, they are attachments that you wear around your legs that can help you climb up. These climbing spurs have a sharp spike, also known as a gaff, at the bottom which climbers use to pierce the surface of a tree or pole so that they can quickly and easily ascend. However, the gaffs used for trees are different from the gaffs used to climb a pole. And that is what we are going to be discussing today.

But before we continue on with the article, there is something you should know. Climbing spikes are generally discouraged to be used by tree-climbing communities. That is because using a climbing gaff can severely damage a tree as it penetrates and punctures the surface, leaving the tree vulnerable to insects and deadly bacteria.

Hence, you should only use a climbing spike when the tree is being removed. However, there can be an exception made for climbing up poles or a tree that is very difficult to climb. With that out of the way, let’s dive in and see what are the differences between a tree gaff and a pole gaff. 

What Is A Tree Gaff?

Tree gaffs are very traditional climbing spikes. They are attached to the outer part of the climbers’ boots and secured using Velcro straps or a belt. The main purpose of tree gaffs is to provide a strong foothold for the climber so that they don’t lose balance. Fun fact, tree climbing gaffs were originally designed to be worn by people who are handicapped or are missing a limb. 

Tree Gaffs
Tree Gaffs

To use a tree gaff, all you need to do is wear them around your legs, find a tree that you want to climb, and then stick it into the body of the tree at a 45-degree angle. Then with each step, you can climb higher. But do note that a climbing gaff will not be enough for you to scale an entire tree. You will need other important gear like a harness, climbing rope, etc. 

What Is A Pole Gaff?

Pole gaffs are very similar to tree gaffs. Both in design and function. And climbers use them the same way that they would use a tree gaff. The primary difference is, as the name suggests, tree gaffs are best suited to climbing up trees whereas pole gaffs are very effective at climbing up tall poles with relative ease. That is because pole gaffs do not have the same penetrating power as traditional tree gaffs. 

Pole Gaffs
Pole Gaffs

Tree Gaffs Vs Pole Gaffs: Main Differences

Although tree gaffs and pole gaffs look the same and serve the same purpose, there are quite a few things that set them apart that you should know about.

Tree Gaffs Vs Pole Gaffs

Penetrating Power

As mentioned previously, tree gaffs are meant to be used on trees while pole gaffs are usually used to climb up utility poles. That is because tree gaffs have much higher penetrating power than pole gaffs. So, tree gaffs are much better suited for trees with thick bark. On the other hand, pole gaffs are primarily used on poles or trees that have thin bark as they cannot penetrate as deep as tree gaffs. 

Weight Capacity

Tree gaffs usually have a higher weight capacity than pole gaffs. That is because tree gaffs are made from much tougher and stronger materials like steel, titanium, alloy, etc. Most heavy-duty tree gaffs are made from steel and they can sustain an entire load of a single person with relative ease. 

In comparison, pole gaffs come with their own weight capacity. So, you should look out for that before confirming your purchase! Pole gaffs are primarily designed for comfort. They feature an inner cushion padding that helps to protect your legs. And their ergonomic designs help to provide maximum comfort and support. 

Types Of Trees

Tree gaffs are excellent for climbing up hardwood trees like cedars, pines, redwood trees, etc. You can also use tree gaffs on softwood trees with relative ease as well. Whereas, pole gaffs work very well on pine trees and thin poles. But they don’t work well with softwood trees as the gaffs are not able to provide a proper footing due to their low penetrating power. 

Product Features

In terms of features, there are also a few key differences here as well. Tree gaffs have great durability. But that depends on its construction material. For instance, steel tree gaffs are very durable. Whereas carbon tree gaffs are quite fragile. Similarly, steel tree gaffs aren’t the most comfortable to wear. But carbon steel gaffs are comparatively more comfortable as they are very lightweight. Luckily, the gaffs on your tree-climbing spurs are quite easy to replace. So, even if you do end up breaking it, you can simply change it out for a new one. 

One thing that we noticed about pole gaffs is that they have a much more aesthetically pleasing design when compared to tree gaffs. There are a variety of designs to choose from when picking out a pole gaff. Not only that, pole gaffs are relatively more comfortable too. They are also available at a variety of prices which can range from being very affordable to high-end pole gaffs. Do keep in mind, if you want to use your pole gaff for a long time, then it is recommended that you also get a climber belt to keep you safe when you are up in the tree. 

A Quick Overview Of All The Differences

Here is a table summarizing all of the differences between tree gaffs and pole gaffs.

Tree GaffsPole Gaffs
Tree gaffs have high penetrating powerPole gaffs have low penetrating power
Best for trees with thick woodBest for trees/poles with thin wood
Can be used to climb up hardwood and softwood treesCan be used to climb up only hardwood trees
Suitable for climbing up cedars, pines, redwood trees, etcSuitable for climbing up palm trees, electric and utility poles
Great weight capacityLimited weight capacity
Durable and replaceableComfortable and affordable

Ending Thoughts

Despite their very similar appearance and function, tree gaffs and pole gaffs are quite different from each other. If you want to climb up a hardwood or softwood tree with thick bark, then tree gaffs are the ones you should go for.

But for poles and thin bark hardwood trees, pole gaffs are the most ideal choice. The best thing to do is to get the one that best fits the needs of your job. However, if you are unsure about which one you will need to use, then you can get both and see what works best for you. 

Leave a Comment