I just picked up the new 2019 Sequoia SRT Saddle with the Petzl SRT Shoulder Straps. The first thing I noticed was how light yet sturdy it felt, compared to my old saddle and all the stuff I loaded onto it. Without the extra stuff clipped onto the saddle, the new saddle was similar in weight to the old stripped down Tree Motion (TM) saddle and I’m surprisingly impressed with the rugged yet light weight feel to the new saddle.
It’s a very solidly built, high quality saddle and the clips are pretty much bullet proof. The hardware and materials are exceptional and very lightweight. While I leave the leg straps clipped and step through it when putting on and taking off the saddle, the release clips are strong and function very well, as expected. The one inch wide bungee straps connecting the leg loops to the waist is a nice feature. I adjusted the leg loops to fit around my legs, but the length of the bungee strap hasn’t needed tweaking in my case and there has been no complaints from the leg loops, when it comes to protecting the family jewels.
Wearing the saddle feels better than the TM, mainly because of the width of the two side-loading waist straps. With the two adjustable side plates, the waist straps tighten and loosen very nicely when intentionally adjusted, and stay well secured during multiple climbs. There’s never any question as to the clipped in straps unintentionally getting looser or becoming undone, because waist strap never disconnects. While both ends can be loosened or tightened, they don’t come apart. These differences, for me makes the SRT saddle safer and more comfortable, than the TM.
One thing I did notice is where the saddle likes to rest on the hips. If it rides a bit too high it can pinch the hips and be uncomfortable, but when it’s riding at or a tad below the hip bone level, it feels great in a passive position with no pinching issues at all. When connected to my multicender, there is no problem with the position and location of either the upper or lower side D-rings (D’s). Everything balances beautifully when in a passive resting position, even when lanyarded in using the upper or lower D’s.
I added a second bridge, one 40cm, and the other is 45cm. The new D-rings can now accommodate two rope bridges, which is a great upgrade from earlier models. I couldn’t get the sewn end on the Petzl Rope Bridge with the molded casing to fit through the Rock Exotica Rook, although I’ve heard it did through someone else’s Rook, I stopped trying. I initially used the dual rope bridges as shown in the photo above.
I tried augmenting one of two the rope bridges with an RollNLock, to create one fixed and one adjustable rope bridge, but I prefer to keep everything more simple. The RollNLock can conveniently connect behind the D-ring’s plate using a simple zip-tie. The rope I used for the adjustable bridge is Blaze climbing rope. The ends are hand whipped using a thick waxed thread to mitigate fray, and the ends are tied off using double overhand, or Stevedore stopper knots. On the bridge itself is a large DMM swivel and the fixed rope bridge is a rugged but small CMI ring that can hold two carabiners.
Using the SRT saddle-specific shoulder straps feel great. While there’s no issue with the clips and the little loops that hold it the light wire-gate carabiners on the saddle, it’s the padded shoulder straps that feel better, compared to the unpadded 4SRT or a Petzl Torse chest harness. This shoulder strap is not a full body harness providing fall arrest, although it still feels strong enough to share the saddle’s load and effectively tends multicending devices very efficiently.
Since I rec climb mostly and don’t carry too much stuff on my saddle, compared to many tree care professionals, I do feel some of the saddle weight being transferred and shared on the Petzl SRT shoulder straps. What I do is connect the tending strap, like I would with the Petzl Torse, directly onto the Akimbo, Runner, Uni, Hitch Hiker, or Rope Wrench directly, rather than onto the waist loop, which I’d probably do when climbing DdRT, if I ever decide not to climb SRT. Like the Petzl Torse or Croll harness, the tending strap is adjustable using the clip nicely located under the left shoulder. While I have a Croll and while it would integrate perfectly into the SRT saddle, I don’t anticipate using it as a multicending substitute, unless I’m possibly opting to ascend with as light a load as possible and stop, lanyard in and do a change-over into a descending system when needing to reposition or descend.
The Sequoia SRT climbing saddle and shoulder straps have the craftsmanship, durability and versatility to handle all my tree climbing needs. While I truly respect, admire and still frequently use a TM saddle for training purposes, I have tremendous respect for the innovations Teufelberger has achieved with the TM saddle and the way they’ve inspired the industry as a whole. However, when it comes to personal preference, I’m now sticking with the Sequoia SRT Saddle and Shoulder Straps for my primary climbing set up.