A new wave of mechanical friction devices bring ultimate control to arborist climbing systems. These devices can be used to replace friction hitches in Doubled Rope climbing systems for smoothly-controlled ascents and descents. The Unicender. has the additional flexibility of being excellent for use on Single Rope climbing systems. These devices are more expensive than a traditional friction hitch using a prusik or split tail but for competition or high-production level climbers, they offer great benefits in speed and control. Click on any of the "More Info" links below to learn more.
New, more compact Hitch Hiker 2 now available!
The Hitch Hiker 2 incorporates a steel friction device with your hitch cord to produce a great device for hybrid tree climbing systems. The Hitch Hiker advances smoothly and engages instantly when weighted, with easy slack tending, and may be used in double or single rope systems.
The Hitch Hiker is sold complete with steel carabiner and 4' of Sterling RIT cord. You may pick up extra hitch cord from the choices above or those on our prusik cords page.
Rated: Excellent Review by: JB Holdway
“The Hitch Hiker 2 system from Paul Cox of Ropetek is a rope work positioning tool. The Hitch Hiker 2 rides below your hitch. It is very smooth and you get the benefits of a hitch based system. It is one of the few (if only) working systems that functions equally well for DdRT and SRT. The HH2 performs almost exactly like the original Hitch Hiker. So, all the reviews of the original still apply. Plus, it is a smaller and more refined ... a very nice piece of kit.”
The reviews below were written for the original version of the Hitch Hiker
Rated: Excellent Review by: Rich Jamison
“If you are looking for one hitch setup to do everything, look no farther. The Hitch Hiker works great for ascending, descending, lanyards, SRT and DdRT you name it! Very smooth and precise. I am currently using Velocity 7/16, and climb mostly SRT with a base anchor.
”My old setup was a rope wrench that worked okay most of the time, but would sometimes get in my way. Everything the wrench would do, the Hitch Hiker 2 does better. The HH is more compact, responsive and reliable. One thing to watch out for is the HH getting hot on long descents, just like any other descender. The RopeTek Hitch Hiker is the best hybrid device I have ever used! ”
Rated: Excellent Review by: Nick Bonner
“The best thing the Hitch Hiker has going for it is that it is just so versatile. Being able to seamlessly transition from SRT to DRT with the same cord/hitch setup is unbelievable. Learning SRT couldn't be easier with the Hitch Hiker. You can set up DRT and choke the line in the tree to try some SRT (simply lanyard in and run a biner or a bowline up to a suitable TIP). Or start with a base tie and SRT and if you decide you want the familiar DRT a ground worker easily disconnects the base tie and sends up the end of the line, you clip in and you are back in DRT. I totally understand all the reluctance to try SRT, but with the Hitch Hiker making the change; and still having the option to use all of your current skills, tricks and tools makes it practical from a production point of view.
“The whole unit is compact and familiar, using it is like tending with a normal pulley/eye-to-eye climbing setup. Rated and tested its a bomber piece of life support, they break test at over 10k lb! The dog-bone holding the hitch is great. Not having to rely on eye-to-eye cords presents benefits twofold. First its cheaper and easier to replace. Second being able to set the stopper knots lets you fine-tune the exact length of your climbing hitch. Personally I really like HRC with the Hitch Hiker. The thin diameter, tapered and taped, slides right through the dog bone and the reliable grabbiness is perfect.
“On short ascents no tending tether is necessary, simply pulling the device up while standing on the foot ascender works great. Using a lanyard over the shoulder connected to either the bridge ring or to the Oxan reliably tends the device up. The other option is using a short, 7-8”, eye-to-eye (I made mine of 5mm cord and used black electrical tape to form the eyes and stiffen it) If you clip either end to the OXAN on either side of the HH it makes a handle that when clipped to a chest harness or like tends the HH with ZERO sitback.
“I mentioned this before but I absolutely cant wait to utilize a second Hitch Hiker as my primary lanyard adjuster. The versatility this promises will be unmatched by any other option I can think of.
“I have been using the HH every day for every climb for a couple of months now, pruning and removals. I think that it is a perfectly crafted device, it fit in with existing techniques and opened up a whole new world of options. I believe someday all climbers in the know will have one of these, whether they prefer SRT or DRT.
“It is also worth noting that the Hitch Hiker is the only device available that allows both the ascent and descent of a fixed, WEIGHTED, line. The applications for this go far beyond the scope of tree work but a few areas it could be applied are: Rescue, Alpinism, Rock Climbing, Class 3 & 4 terrain, Glacier travel, all sorts of exciting stuff!”
Review by: Jamz Luce
“Every once in a while along comes a new arborist tool you gotta have. I have had the opportunity to use the Hitch Hiker for a few weeks. SRT access and working the tree on SRT have been game changers in tree work for many of us. I have used my 5nicender. and a Rope Wrench 2+ years. The Uni allowed new ways to work in trees. The Rope Wrench took that to a whole new level with its predictable smooth handling. The Hitch Hiker is a big step forward with many advantages over the Wrench.
With the Hitch Hiker, the mechanical friction is added below the friction cord making the whole setup more compact. The design is simple and solid. The release is smooth and the grab on the line secure. The hitch is easy to tend even when the line is only lightly loaded. This is a big advantage over the Wrench. The Hitchhiker works sweet when working a 3:1 off the single line. Working the Wrench you must take it out of the system to work on the dynamic 3:1.
I used HR for the friction hitch tied in a VT with 4 wraps on top with 3 crosses. This is on more wrap than I use on a DRT. The design of Hitchhiker makes breaking the friction hitch super easy and smooth. It doesn't seem to jam tight. The HH must be held in place to ascend efficiently. Same idea as using a Croll or Rope Wrench. The difference is you need to hold the place where it attaches to the saddle in place not the HH itself. When you get it dialed it is super smooth on ascent yet super secure to hold you when needed. Works great in long ascents with frog style systems plus gives you a great way to work or descend. Another nice application is to use it when you choke off a single line on a spar pole . Helps with work positioning and provides a second tie in that can be used to descend.
The Hitchhiker is more expensive than a Rope Wrench, but you don't need to add any parts to use it, and it comes with a hitch cord and biner. The carabineer is an integral part of the design that attaches to the climber, works as the fairlead and adds to the mechanical friction below the hitch. The construction of the unit is bomber. The unit I used had a finned base for dissipating heat of descent. The friction hitch cord length is easy to adjust due to the way it attaches to the top bar of unit. It worked smoothly on a variety of lines from 10 mm to 13 mm.
SRT tools are evolving fast these days. For now the Hitchhiker is a great choice.”
This sewn tether is a durable, compact tether which fastens to the oval carabiner and a chest harness or shoulder strap to help tend the Hitch Hiker in SRT climbing.
The Rope Wrench ZK-2 friction device allows climbers to ascend, descend and work the tree "Single Rope" with their favorite friction hitch. While the Rope Wrench ZK-2 is not for use as your life support device, it places a bend in your climbing line and takes just enough pressure off your hitch, allowing you to climbing on your friction hitch SRT with greater ease. Improved version in 2012 with aluminum frame, integrated pulley, swinging sideplates, and smaller profile.
ISC pulley built this pulley to work with the stiff tethers used with the Rope Wrench ZK-2. The wide spacing between the swinging side plates provides plenty of room for various tethers. The Rope Wrench pulley will work with spliced or hand-tied prusik cords.
Sewn stiff tethers for use with the Singing Tree Rope Wrench. One eye features a rubber grommet to aid in positioning.
The Unicender can replace friction hitches, figure 8s, and ascenders! In the doubled rope technique, the Unicender can be used as a mechanical split tail in place of a friction hitch. Because of the ease with which it advances in this configuration, it makes any rope climbing technique easier and faster. In the single rope technique, the Unicender takes the place of both ascenders and descender. Works on 7/16” to 1/2” lines.
Rated: OK Review by: Baby Gorilla
“ I love the Unicender. The ability to instal it midline and switch seamlessly from Ddrt to Srt is unfathomably amazing but there is one major drawback to it being made out of aluminum, which is that it wears out quick, especially if you are heavy (210 pounds suited up) like me. Mine wore out in less than one season. After it wears, it starts creeping, which is not safe. You must retire or repair it which will cost more than half the brand new Unicender. Such a great product, but I'll have to keep using my way less convenient stainless steel mechanical knot instead. I wouldn't care if the Unicender. weighed 2 pounds, if it was stainless and therefore more reliable. ”
The Singing Tree Rope Runner is a single rope ascent and descent device for 11-13mmm 24-strand ropes. The Rope Runner provides smooth control of the rate of descent for the climber on single, 24-strand line. Color may vary.
The Zigzag mechanical prusik for arborists combines all the individual pieces of gear being used in doubled rope climbing into one slick device. The Zigzag functions like a prusik, slack tending pulley, and swivel all in one.
Friction is managed by running the climbing line through the linked "zig-zag" pattern of rings. The top ring is a lever, and pushing down on this lever releases pressure in the rings, and the climber descends - just like using a prusik cord. Release the lever and the Zigzag jams, stopping descent. The climber has control over the rate of descent through varying the pressure on the Zigzag lever.
Climbing on the Petzl Zigzag is just like climbing on your prusik and pulley, but with all of your hardware integrated into a single mechanical prusik.
Rated: Excellent Review by: Matson Ruddell/Certified Arborist
“ I've been climbing since the 80's and I love this thing. I bought a SpiderJack and never liked it much so I ending up not using it. This makes my day a little easier and at this point I need all the easy I can get. God bless.”
Rated: Excellent Review by: Climber805
“Despite the recall and some negative reviews on this mechanical Prussic, I love the device. It makes my climbing life much more fun, easier and efficient. I feel very comfortable with the device and it is very user friendly. I will be purchasing another very soon to have on my other climbing line. Two thumbs up!”
The Lockjack can totally replace the friction hitches used on climbing lines. The Lockjack works as both an ascender and as a descender for self-belay in the doubled rope technique (DdRT). The advantage of the Lockjack is that friction is applied to the rope with a smooth aluminum surface which causes less friction while climbing for an effortless advance, and a smoother more easily controlled descent. While climbing, the Lockjack tends slack by itself as the weight of rope below the climber pulls the line through the device. Works with 1/2” rope.
Use with a small D or Oval carabiner only. A larger carabiner may allow the wooden ball to pass through and become stuck, resulting in free fall.
The newest innovation from ART (Advanced Ropeclimbing Technology), the SpiderJack is an improvement of the popular Lockjack. By allowing slack in the line above to fall through the device with even less friction, the SpiderJack makes ascents in the doubled rope technique even easier. In addition, the SpiderJack also allows finer control over friction during descents, making tasks such as limb walking even easier by permitting the user to vary friction more subtly than before. Smooth friction surface. Carabiners and rope sold separately.
Works with 7/16” - 1/2” rope.
The popular SpiderJack 2.1 from ART (Advanced Ropeclimbing Technology) is now available with the mounted Dyneema Kit (included). The Dyneema sling is attached on the body of the device with a lower ring to be attached onto the carabiner (before climbing, always verify that the ring of the Dyneema Kit is connected onto your carabiner!). On the other end of the sling, you can attach a carabiner for the spliced end of your rope. The Dyneema Kit allows you to change the climbing system much more easily than before when climbing with more than one rope and anchor point. Carabiners and rope sold separately.
Works with 7/16” - 1/2” rope.