Tree Gaffs vs Pole Gaffs

If you’re not sure what the difference between tree gaffs and pole gaffs is, then look no further.

Although tree gaffs and pole gaffs are very similar, there are a few small but key differences between the two that make them easily distinguishable.

The most important difference is that tree gaffs are more suited for thick tree bark such as pines or redwood, whereas pole gaffs are more suited for thin bark.

In this article we’ll take a more in-depth look at the differences between the two, as well as which you should buy depending on your circumstances.

Differences Between Tree Gaffs vs Pole Gaffs

Tree gaffs are used, as the name suggests, for trees. This means that in design they are much larger than pole gaffs which creates a larger angle between you and the tree. As such, tree gaffs can at first feel uncomfortable and cause difficult in manoeuvring around the tree.

The advantages of tree gaffs is that being larger they are able to work with much thicker tree bark. For this reason it is always recommended to have a pair in case you need to scale a tree with thicker bark, such as a big oak tree for example.

Pole gaffs are designed for poles which means they are smaller in size and also typically more narrow. Pole gaffs usually allow for better manoeuvrability and are easier to work with when first trying trying them out.

Although easier to use, pole gaffs are not as well suited to thicker bark due to their smaller size. This can lead to issues depending on the type of tree that you are trying to climb.


Your budget is something to consider when looking at which type of gaff to buy.

There’s lots of people who swear by tree gaffs only, but they are much pricier. Pole gaffs on the other hand tend to be much less expensive.

Different Types of Material

Both pole gaffs and tree gaffs are made in a wide variety of materials.

The most common materials used to make gaffs are steel, aluminium or alloys:

  • Steel is one of the most common choices of material for a gaff due to its incredible strength. This strength comes at the cost of weight however, as steel gaffs tend to weigh quite a lot
  • Aluminium gaffs offer great strength to weight ratio, and are often the preferred choice as there is less stress on your legs and ankles.
  • Alloys are a middle ground between aluminium and steel as they can come in a range of different mixtures which provide different properties.

The choice of material is entirely up to you however steel and aluminium tend to be the most commonly used. The above points work the same for both tree and pole gaffs so there is really no difference in that respect.

Which One Should you Buy?

The answer to this question depends entirely on your circumstances.

You need to first ask yourself what type of trees will you be climbing. As we mentioned earlier pole gaffs will struggle with thick bark, so it wouldn’t make much sense to pick up a pair of these if you intend to climb trees with thicker bark.

If you are only looking at climbing thin bark then you have the option of either type, just remember that tree gaffs are typically more difficult to work with and can take more time to get used to.

Once you’ve considered all these factors then it comes down to budget. You can technically use pole gaffs to climb thicker trees but you will be much slower and have to be very cautious whilst doing so.

Other Factors

When making the final decision there are a few other important things that you need to consider: difference between brands and personal experience.

Difference in Brands’ Designs

Each manufacturer, such as honeybros, designs their gaffs slightly differently, so make sure you double check the size before you buy. The important thing to remember is the types of bark that each gaff works well on, and go from there.

Personal Experience

If you’re familiar with either type of gaff then the chances are you are best sticking to what you know.

You can follow the guidance in this article to decide whether you need to make the switch. For example, if you are struggling to get used to tree gaffs and need more manoeuvrability then you could always give pole gaffs a try – each person will have their own preferences.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully that covers everything you need to know when it comes to tree gaffs vs pole gaffs. Just remember the type of bark that each one is useful for and you should be good to go.

If there’s any other questions then don’t hesitate to contact.

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