By Tara McClendon, eHow Contributing Writer
Whether you want to climb a red oak in Virginia, a cedar in California or a sequoia in Oregon, you'll want to make sure you have the proper safety equipment for tree climbing. From helmets to gloves, each piece plays a specific role in keeping you safe while you're off the ground.
A good safety helmet protects your head in case of a fall. It also acts as a buffer in case you hit the branch above you. Helmets come in a variety of colors and most have a lightweight, yet effective, shell. Manufacturers design the tree climbing safety gear for optimal visibility. Helmets like the Petzl Vertex Duo include a headlamp.
Climbing ropes come in 12- or 16-strand styles. Safety equipment manufacturers design the ropes to resist the abrasion caused when the rope rubs against the bark of a tree, and they rate the ropes based on their weight capacity. Some styles such as the ArborMaster Rope can hold 8,000 pounds. Also consider purchasing a bright color in order to see the rope better when it's in the tree.
Carabiners are the oblong pieces of metal with spring clips used to join a rope to a piton or a harness. You can also use a carabiner to connect two ropes. Carabiners come in a variety of sizes and have different safety ratings. Most manufacturers stamp the weight capacity of a carabiner on the side of it. In place of a spring clip, arborist carabiners may have a screw gate to secure the rope in place.
Some arbor climbers like to use other types of connectors. Aluminum or steel snaps splice ropes in a single isolated hole. Thimbles can protect your rope from fraying, and swiveling allows you to rotate the clip without detaching it.
A saddle or a harness should be comfortable and able to support your weight. Manufacturers make saddles in a variety of sizes including children's. Adjustable leg straps allow you to get the best fit possible. The number of attachment points varies by model.
Tree climbers use a fall arrest harness to protect against falling. This style has suspender straps with an attachment point in the center of the back. You can attach suspenders to several styles of saddles to convert them to fall arrest harnesses.
You'll want to include gloves as part of your safety gear for climbing trees. The gloves will protect you from the rough bark of the tree and from heat caused from fiction on the rope. If you don't like gloves with fingers, protect your palms with fingerless styles. If you plan to rappel down, pick a style with extra leather on the palms.