When both seem they'd be equally-adequate for the job at hand, what're the pro's/con's of choosing between a speedline or a drift line?


Nov 1, 2019
Tampa-Area, FL
I'm trying to finish chunking-out the top of an Oak that I've been playing with for a while, the last section is larger than I'd like for the trunk-thickness at that point so I'm actually 'happy' that it's in a location where I can't even consider just cut&chuck (bonsai benches are directly-beneath this part of the canopy), however I'm unable to choose whether to do a controlled-speedline, or a rigging-line + drift-line....aside from the benches directtly-beneath the limb, the area is target-free, so I want to choose my technique based primarily upon whichever of the two approaches will lessen load on the canopy I'll be in, it's already a weak canopy so being gentler to it is the best advantage I could be aiming for here - would it be gentler to that canopy to have a speedline take the load (speedline would only redirect through my canopy, it'd be anchored from a higher, adjacent tree), with a control-line/rigging-line comiing up the tree I'm in/cutting? Or would it be gentler to have a high-anchored drift line set from another tree, tie that sucker on tight, then setup my rigging-line normally from in my canopy....I feel like the latter option (driftlining) would probably be gentler, not only because there's no speedline-redirect in my questionable-canopy but, (FAR!) moreso because the drift line can be pre-tensioned enough that it'd do a respectable amount of load-sharing with the rig/control line **right away** instead of the rigging/control line taking the entire force at once and then it gets eased as the slackline tensions up.

Thanks a ton for any & all advice on this!! Can provide pics upon request! Also I should mention I've got a Safebloc, my intention is that the speedline (or drift line) will be setup 'normal', while regardless of which approach I do I'll set my control/rigging line to go from the basal-bollard up to the Safebloc (as terminal anchor, this piece is probably 250-300lbs it's just a horrible position!) to reduce peak-force on the canopy I'm in, HOWEVER I'd love people's thoughts on whether it may be a good idea to take that 1 step further and setup the rig/control line as a 2:1 ("double-block rigging" technique) only instead of using 2 blocks I'd simply have the Safebloc as the terminal anchorage and would just use my 5', 3-ringed X sling as the piece's sling so that I could run the rig line into a 2:1 "DBR"-type setup (I'd initiially worried of friction here, til seeing dave driver throw like 500lbs into a *double* Safebloc DBR setup (he says the ropes just glazed but even still I'm surprised it held up!

Again thank you very much for any & all advice, sadly there's nothing for me to tie-into to let me break this last section down into smaller chunks so I've gotta take the ~250lbs top in 1 cut but that's basically all that's left of the canopy except for the limb I'll be standing on when making the cut (that limb's end was cut off weeks ago), it's the only foliage / life up top so has to be significant weight-wise to the top of this ~25' tall but surprisingly-skinny, corkscrewed-trunk Oak (southern live / q.virginiana, the most-common near me in the tampa FL area!)

aaand....Hi guys & gals!!! #1 post, was so stoked when registration opened back up and I finally got approved, am "a longtime lurker" LOL ;D
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #2
Have actually contemplated going up there beforehand, like right now lol, and just skinning the cambium off the area I'd make the cut....after I'd removed all the other leader-limbs up in that tiny canopy (3 or 4 IIRC), the last one is over-compensating of course, am betting that if I skinned it and waited a week it'd drop at least 20-30%weight! (dried is ~10% wet/green weight, right?)


Another thing, IF zip/speedlines are the better approach, I'm uncertain whether it'll be better/worse for my canopy if I do a regular speedline or more of a vertical speedline? Also uncertain whether having the line more taut is good or bad for the forces put into my canopy, I mean the speedline would only be going through a redirect in my canopy so if tight it's an adjacent tree and the landing-tree that'd take that weight, and if it's tight it'll 'engage' the load much earlier in its descent than if there were some more give in teh line, although at the same time more slop in the speedline is easier on the tree....

(PS I have cordage to setup a guy-line to brace this trunk and probably will, I'm new to this concept of "rigging with the compression of the stem" and would love to learn more, any pointers (or keywords) to that end would be incnredibly appreciated!!!)
Welcome to the house! Pics always help....

It also seems like you are complicating it, if you can easily move stuff under it, do so and bomb it down, making a landing area if necessary. If you need to have them land right by the trunk, vertical speedline. Last resort, you can block it down. Worse yet, you can rig in other other trees and float them across an area, but you should probably catch the piece first, then load the speedline to limit forces if you are trying to control them, dropping into a speedline has incredible loads. Most guys only rig if they absolutely have to, it's quicker and often safer that way.
Welcome to the TreeHouse, Cerebus!

I just use a speedline.
You'll want to keep side loads to a minimum. If there are tall enough trees nearby, set a lowering line in one or two of those trees. Ideally, one on each side with your tree in the middle.
Cutting out the bark to make the top lighter won't work in such a short time. I'm not sure if you even get the leafs withered.
And you hope way too much as loosing weight. The water contend in wood is about 30 - 35% of the dry wood and the very most you can take out naturally is 20%. So a 100lbs oak log can only go down to 83lbs. You can get more with the watery woods like poplar, willow or alder, but not oak. At least the oaks around me.

The tighter you set the speedline, the harder you pull on the anchors when it takes the load. It's obvious, but it isn't linear like you could expect, but exponential. So you can get easily some huge force. If you don't trust the tree's structure too much (but still a little) and if you have enough room under you, it's safer to let a tad of slack in the speedline.

Can't you just move the bonsai benches and bomb the wood?