Since my initial climb in my first Teufelberger Treemotion saddle five years ago, I have been on a personal quest to find the perfect saddle. I have tried seven saddles in my professional climbing career other than the Treemotion. After each two- to four-week trial, I once again load out my Treemotion and continue the quest. That’s not to say some of the other options aren’t great, but rather that the Treemotion series is that good.
I reached out to Marc Sacker, designer of the TreeAustria Pro, because I happened onto a promo picture in a European climber’s forum. After chatting for a bit, the team at Drayer, maker of TreeAustria gear, agreed to send the first one in the U.S. to me to run it through its paces. This review is my unbiased opinion as a professional climber looking for the best gear on the market to increase my longevity and production as a climber.
The TA Pro weighs in at 3.9 pounds (size 2, medium), which makes it only a few ounces heavier than the Petzl Sequoia (size 2) and 1 pound less than the Treemotion. Despite its light weight, this saddle still delivers in the comfort department. My climbing partners and I really appreciate the high-back design, and we believe that TreeAustria nailed the balance of rigidity and body contouring. The padding is exceptional, and the extra padding reinforcement beneath the hip rings is greatly appreciated. The leg straps provide ample coverage.
The most impressive part of this saddle is the carriage system that Marc designed to attach the upper saddle (belt), the bridge and the leg straps. The attachment system utilizes a clever aluminum ring that has a removable portion, like the Petzl Ring Open. This ring accommodates the deployment of additional rope/strap bridges to the system. The ring also accommodates the semi-rigid textile thigh attachment points. These thigh attachment points have plenty of rigidity to easily clip into, while offering increased mobility without causing uncomfortable cross-loading that can occur between traditional thigh rings and the carabiner or snap.
The textiles throughout the saddle are excellent, and the hardware rivals that of any saddle on the market. Cobra buckles, beautifully designed connectors and lightweight, semi-rigid textiles all work in unison to create a seamless ride experience.
The TA Pro comes equipped with myriad gear-storage solutions that eliminate the need for additional aftermarket add-ons. While it has excellent built-in storage, storage hardware compatibility is the only area in which this saddle doesn’t receive top marks.
The stitched pockets around the primary webbing are wider than we would like for accommodating tool carriers. Many of the devices have too much room, allowing for sloppy movement. I have had great luck with the Rock Exotica Transporter, because its four-screw anchor plate mitigates its ability to move laterally on the harness. If you still want to use other carriers, like your Shembiner, you may want to modify it slightly by adding an additional fastener to it to eliminate the slop (we used our wives’ hair ties).
The stock storage is excellent as is, so my only complaint was quickly alleviated. Although we were initially unsure of the heavy-duty, carabiner-sized stitching pockets sewn around the base of the saddle, we now believe them to be the best and most-accessible storage solution on the market. The superb elastic keeper for the first-aid pack outshines nearly every other saddle’s med-storage solution. This saddle can easily be paired with most Y-back suspender/harness options, and many of the X-back options as well.
The TreeAustria Pro retails for around $500. In my opinion, the TA Pro easily justifies the price point and outshines many of the saddles in that price range. I think this is an excellent saddle for new and seasoned climbers alike.
My quest for the perfect saddle may never end. But saddle manufacturers, be on notice! I really believe Marc and TreeAustria have raised the bar exceptionally high with the design of the TA Pro, and I am eager to see the effect it has on the rest of the saddle manufacturers in the market. Innovation and competition drive advancement and produce better products for all of us climbers!
Andrew Jones, CTSP, is an ISA Certified Arborist, production climber and co-founder of Rooted Arbor Care Climbing Solutions, based in St. Louis, Missouri.
Lucas Kessels, co-owner of Rooted Arbor Care, assisted with this project.
To see a video with demonstrations of the TreeAustria Pro, go to tcimag.tcia.org and, under the Resources tab, click videos. Or, under the Current Issue tab, click View Digimag, then go to this page and click here.