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You should use a fall-arrest system (FAS) that is manufactured to industry standards. Never use single-strap belts and chest harnesses—they can be deadly. Before hunting, carefully read the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use of your FAS and follow all safety guidelines.

Most tree stand falls occur when a hunter is climbing up or down a tree. Always use a properly fitting FAS that includes a full-body harness at all times when your feet are off the ground.

Your FAS should include these essential components:

  • Full-body harness—The vest harness is a very effective style of full-body harness.
  • Tether—The tether attaches your full-body harness to the tree strap/belt or lifeline system (see below). Always make sure the tether has no slack in it while sitting on your stand.
  • Suspension relief strap—This strap provides a loop to stand in if you fall.

Your FAS also must have additional components that you use to attach yourself to the tree. The components you choose depend primarily on what you are doing and what type of stand you are using.

  • Lineman’s-style belt or climbing belt—The lineman’s-style belt (or climbing belt) goes around the tree while you are climbing up and down the tree.
  • Tree strap/tree belt—The tree strap goes around the tree after you are in your tree stand.
  • Lifeline system—The lifeline system is an alternative to using a lineman’s-style belt and a tree strap. When installed on a tree, a lifeline system lets you remain attached to the tree with your FAS full-body harness and tether from the time you leave the ground until you return. A complete lifeline system includes these parts:
    • Safety rope/line with prusik knot—The rope/line goes around the tree and extends from the base of the tree to the hunting height. The prusik knot on the rope/line is designed to slide easily with one hand but will lock under pressure if you fall.
    • Carabiner—This metal ring connects the tether from your full-body harness to the prusik knot on the safety rope/line.