You’ve probably spent a lot of time hanging out in a tree stand, but have you ever spent any time hanging out of a tree stand? It can be scary. One minute you’re enjoying the view from up high, the next you’re dangling from a rope with your feet flailing like a marionette. If you’ve unfortunately had this happen, you know how thankful you were to have that quality tree-stand safety harness protecting you.
It’s estimated that one in three tree-stand hunters will experience a fall at some point, so hunting from the treetops is no small risk. However, a good safety harness significantly minimizes this risk, and you absolutely must wear one when stand hunting. So what makes a safety harness a good one? We’ve laid out everything you need to look for below along with five harnesses that really encapsulate these qualities. Keep reading and learn how to keep yourself safe.
Our Top Harness Picks
- Hunter Safety System X-1 Bowhunter– “HSS’s long warranty sets their harnesses above the rest”
- Hunter Safety System Ultralite Flex– “Incredible comfort makes this harness a top choice”
- Summit Treestands Men’s Pro– “This harness stands out because of the unique MOLLE accessory system”
- Muddy The Magnum Pro– “A winner for its easy-to-use design”
- Gorilla Gear G-Tac Assault Ultralight– “On our list for its adjustability”
What to look for
Is it comfortable?
Comfort is key when it comes to safety harnesses, but not just because an uncomfortable harness is annoying. Harnesses that pinch or ride up or end up in awkward positions can affect your hunt. Drawing your bow is an exaggerated movement and a precise one, and you don’t want your harness getting in the way of that.
An uncomfortable harness might also encourage you to take it off or not adjust it properly. This can be dangerous. Don’t underestimate the importance of comfort when choosing a harness. The best harness is the kind you forget you’re even wearing.
How heavy is it?
Like comfort, the weight of your harness can greatly affect your abilities in the stand. A heavy harness could inhibit movement or make you slower on the draw. Plus, as a bowhunter you’re carrying a lot of other gear in with you. You’re safety harness doesn’t need to add to that.
Can you wear it all year round?
In most places the bowhunting season is much longer than the rifle season. You could go from hunting hot, muggy September afternoons to frigid January mornings. You shouldn’t have to buy a different safety harness each month.
For a harness to be wearable year round, it needs to have a couple of features. One, you should be able to adjust it. In the early season, you’ll most likely be wearing less clothing than in the late season. You want a harness that can fit over varying layers of clothing.
Additionally, the pattern and color of the harness needs to work for your area in all seasons. For example, don’t get a bright green and yellow camo-patterned harness if you know that it’s going to be white and gray where you hunt in January. Harnesses come in a variety of patterns, and you can often order the same harness in different styles and colors. Make a conscious choice.
A long warranty is obviously great because you know you won’t have to buy a new harness if something goes wrong with yours, but there’s more to it than that. A long warranty means a manufacturer is betting on itself. It means the company stands behind its products and is willing to give you a strong guarantee. A safety harness could be a matter of life and death. Know you have something of quality protecting you.
When it comes to accessories, safety harnesses range from bare bones to decked out. This really comes down to personal preference and what you think you’ll need or want on your hunt.
Some harnesses come with things like cell-phone holders or extra pockets. Others might have ropes that can help you if you do end up falling out of the tree. A few harnesses might even have unique devices for carrying or holding accessories. Most importantly, some harnesses come with a lineman’s strap while others don’t. Think about what you might want your harness to have before you choose.
How do you use a treestand safety harness?
Before anything else, you have to put the harness on. Pull the shoulder straps onto your shoulders and buckle the waist or chest strap and make sure it is securely fastened. Wrap the leg straps around your thighs and make sure they are similarly securely fastened. Adjust all the straps and buckles so that they are comfortable but snug. You should do this step before you leave the house.
After you have the harness correctly adjusted for your body, go out to your stand and attach it to the tree. Wrap the tree strap around the trunk of the tree, then loop the loose end through the tether on the back of your harness. Different harnesses attach the tether to the tree strap differently, but most involve weaving the two securely together through a buckle or other device. Follow your harness’s specific instructions. Your tether should be just taut when you sit in your stand, so when standing there should be around eight inches of slack, depending on your height.
You’re now ready to hunt, but if you do fall out of the tree, there are couple of important things to do. If your harness comes with a suspension release strap, you should have this on you or close enough to reach. The suspension release strap is a rope that you use to stand on and relieve pressure from the harness against your thighs, which can potentially injure you.
Some essential safety tips
- Choose a strong tree. Even if your stand and harness are sturdy and safe, that won’t help you if the tree itself breaks. Check that your tree is alive and healthy, not rotting or about to collapse.
- Regularly check your safety harness. You should especially do this before the season, but it doesn’t hurt to check every hunt. Look for any tears or noticeable damage that could cause the harness to fail.
- Keep everything tight. At the beginning and throughout the season, check bolts, buckles, brackets and other attachments on your stand and safety harness. If they’re loose, tighten them.
- Use a rope to haul up your gear. When you climb into your stand, there shouldn’t be anything in your hands. You need them both, after all. Use a haul-up rope to bring your bow up to you afterwards.
- Tell someone where you’re going. It could be your wife or your neighbor, but let someone know where you’ll be. This way they’ll know where to look if you don’t come back.
- Check out more tips at SummitStands.com.
Can I make my own?
Alright, so it is theoretically possible to make your own tree stand safety system.
The basic principle is to make a guide wire from a really strong rope. Don’t underestimate how strong this rope should be. I know it’s been a while since high school physics, but just because you weigh 200 lbs does not mean your rope only needs to be strong enough to hold 200 lbs. The force you exert on the rope will be much greater if you fall.
The best thing to use for a tree strap is a ratchet strap fed back through the ratchet in a circle. You then connect the ratchet strap to the guide rope with a carabiner and a strong knot. Lastly, attach the guide wire to some kind of harness or vest using multiple prussic knots.
But just because you can make your own safety system, does that mean you should? Are you ready to take your own life in your hands? As you can see from our list of favorites, there are plenty of inexpensive options when it comes to safety harnesses. You’ll likely spend nearly as much making your own. The difference is that these are quality-tested devices made by professionals who specialize in these products.
Our Top Picks In Detail
Hunter Safety System X-1 Bowhunter
Hunter Safety System is the title of the company, so you know they take safety seriously. In fact, they specialize in it. The X-1 Bowhunter is one of their most popular models of safety harness, and it’s great for bowhunters, hence the name.
This harness is made with fine, compact material that’s still strong and secure. The most obvious benefit of this is its lightweight. For bowhunters, though, there are even more advantages. Since the design isn’t bulky, it won’t interfere with your draw. Plus, as a bowhunter, you can hunt a much longer season and experience a wide range of weather. The compact design of the X-1 Bowhunter fits over light clothing or under heavy winter gear, so you can use it anytime.
On the whole the Hunter X-1 Bowhunter is a really basic, barebones harness. This keeps it in a low price range. It also means you don’t have a lot of loops and buckles hanging off to catch on the tree and make noise. The fabric is also woven not to make sound, so this is an altogether quiet harness.
Hunter Safety System even took the time with this harness to carefully engineer the lanyard. It’s made of multiple, breakable stitches that will slow your fall instead of just snapping you tight. An immediate stop could injure you or slam you against the tree. The X-1 Bowhunter’s design prevents this.
Finally, Hunter Safety System gives their harnesses a five-year warranty. With such a long guarantee, you know they take pride in their craftsmanship. With the X-1 Bowhunter they’ve made a quality harness that’s great for bowhunters, especially beginners who want something basic and inexpensive.
- Un-obstructive design
- Low price range
- No accessories
Hunter Safety System Ultralite Flex
The Ultralite Flex is another model from Hunter Safety System that shows how seriously this company takes their trade. This harness is a bit more luxurious than the basic X-1 Bowhunter model. For example, it has a cell phone pocket. That just comes down to what kind of hunter you are and what you prefer.
On top of accessories, the Ultralite Flex takes comfort to a whole new level. The upper straps are webbed and hexagonally padded. The material is super flexible, so it contours and moves with your body. Not only is this more comfortable, but it allows you to draw your bow more effectively. HSS even made the harness shock absorbing. They wanted it to be comfortable even when it’s saving you from falling.
As the name suggests, the Ultralite Flex is, well, ultralight. It’s only two pounds, lighter than the X-1 Bowhunter. That lightweight gives it extra comfort, and it makes it more versatile. You can wear it in the early season over your clothes, or you can wear it in January under heavy gear. Oh, and the camo is gorgeous as well.
The Ultralite Flex is a more elaborate model, and as such you might find it in a higher price range. Like most things, though, you get what you pay for. This is a great, well-fitting harness that most importantly keeps you safe. It even comes with a lineman’s climbing strap. Like the X-1 Bowhunter, Hunter Safety System puts their guarantee behind it. It has a long five-year warranty that suggests quality.
- Camo pattern
- High price range
Summit Treestands Men’s Pro
You might know about Summit Treestands because of their reputation in the tree stand world. Their aftermarket safety harness is a product born of the same proud tradition.
The thing about this harness that makes it really unique is the military-inspired MOLLE accessory system. This system features loops of fabric that you can easily attach accessories to via carabiners or ties. It’s a really great way to bring gear along with you that’s hard to find on other harnesses.
This is a strong harness, too. The high performance tether is designed to be shock absorbing and stabilizing. The buckles are especially impressive. They’re quick lock and fully covered, so it’s more difficult for them to malfunction. It’s also less likely that anything will get caught in them and make an unwanted sound.
Now, the Men’s Pro Safety Harness holds up to 300 lbs, which is a lot. The waist size, though, only goes up to 46” on their largest size. If you’re a larger guy, make sure you’ll fit in this one. The fit is really comfortable if it’s the right size, however. The shoulder straps are webbed and padded.
Summit Treestands Men’s Pro Safety Harness is a high-quality product that puts your safety first. It has a lineman’s rope for extra security while climbing. As a bowhunter you can stand to take your shot knowing that you’re protected and secure, and this confidence can translate to success.
- MOLLE accessory system
- Shock-absorbing tether
- Small waist
Muddy The Magnum Pro Harness
Muddy is a brand made especially for Cabela’s, and we know Cabela’s knows outdoor equipment. With their Magum Pro, they’ve made a great starter harness for a beginning hunter. It’s a well-made harness ready to keep anyone safe. It even comes with an extra attached rope to use as support if you fall.
This harness is good for a new hunter because it’s easy to use. It’s easy to get in and out of, and it’s easy to wear. It’s really comfortable, so someone learning how to hunt won’t be distracted by an annoying harness. They’ll be safe, too, because the Magnum Pro is made of tough nylon material.
The Magnum Pro doesn’t come in different sizes. It’s called “one size fits most,” so be careful. If you’re much bigger or smaller than average, you might want to go for a harness that fits your measurements. What this does mean, though, is that the Magnum Pro is highly adjustable. You can adjust the leg straps, chest strap and even the length of the harness.
The adjustability also makes the harness comfortable. What’s more, though, the material is designed as a breathable mesh pattern to keep you cool. If you plan to hunt early in the season or live somewhere particularly warm, this innovation could make a big difference for you.
Anyone just getting into hunting and wanting to stay safe and comfortable should look into the Muddy The Magnum Pro Harness. It’s a tremendous value, a solid product in a low price range.
- Easy to use
- Low price range
- One size fits most
Gorilla Gear G-Tac Assault
The G-Tac Assault is a newer model from Gorilla Gear, and they’ve taken the time to add some cool new features.
At barely over two pounds, this safety harness is lightweight. Most importantly, that means you can focus on carrying more important gear. Since you’re using a tree stand, you also have to carry that weight up. With the G-Tac Assault, the harness isn’t going to add to your load.
The ultralight design makes this harness comfy as well. It’s also ergonomically shaped. You can be sure it’ll fit you right so it won’t be an inconvenience in the stand or while you’re shooting. Plus, you can feel confident you’re safe and that you’re strapped in correctly.
It’s really adjustable, but it doesn’t have a lot of availability for accessories. It’s a harness more geared toward someone looking for something basic.
- Easy to use
- Minimal accessory attachments