Henchman sent me one of their 4.2m tripod ladders to trial for an unbiased review. To cut to the chase, they are incredible, not something I thought I would ever say about ladders. Read on to find out why…
I’ve been particularly keen to try Henchman ladders after they came highly recommended by my fellow professional horticulturists. Professional gardener Thomas Jackson in All Horts, a group I’m a member of, pointed out that ladders come in different grades and a professional gardener like me would need a professional grade ladder for insurance purposes as well as safety.
Henchman tripod ladders come in a range of sizes from 1.2m up to the 4.2m I’m reviewing here.
Owen Simpson, Henchman’s commercial manager, helpfully spent some time on the phone to me before sending, to explore the correct height for my needs. Explaining that you choose tripod ladders to match the height of the hedge, and that you always work from the top of the ladder, not half way up.
On our new farm we have a number of larger hedges at 3.5 – 5m as well as fruit trees and outbuildings of this height. We also had to tackle an overgrown leylandii hedge of 5-6m to bring it back into a manageable height. This is taller than the ladders are meant for but I was easily able to prune and cut it back down to the right level, removing at least a meter, making it easier to manage in future.
I actually felt the larger ladders were so good, I bought a 2.4m set too for the shorter hedges around our garden.
I’m not the strongest person, I’d say I’m mid-strength on my imaginary human strength scale. I.e. I can carry most heavy things such as a bag of compost but struggle more over time compared the type of person who can seemingly carry two bags as though they’re made of feathers. I’d snap in a game of rugby.
You’d imagine a huge 4.2m ladder that looks like scaffolding would be heavy but I was perfectly able to carry them with ease myself. Even with one arm, when held horizontally.
After a few hours of cutting, as my arms were worn out by the loppers and trimmers, I found I could still carry them but was glad to have Chris helping me. The ladders didn’t feel heavier, but my arms were weaker so for careful ladder manoeuvring around cars and windows, it was useful for two people to carry them. The alternative is taking more breaks, cutting the hedge in spread out sessions to avoid over doing it. Henchman ladders are impressively, and surprisingly lightweight.
Designed in the UK, the best thing about Henchman ladders is the quality of construction, both extremely light and mindblowingly sturdy. The tripod legs form a solid base, with the two ladder legs splaying out at the bottom.
No matter how much I moved around at the top, the ladders did not move or wobble. Including when I had the long reach hedgetrimmer and loppers fully extended by over 3m out.
Obviously you have to position them well but not once did I feel unsafe at such a height. At first my mind didn’t quite compute how this was possible but that wide base and solid construction have clearly been expertly calibrated.
Ease of use
Climbing up and down the ladders is easy with a good angle, and at the top is a safety platform. You don’t climb to what looks like a top step, as a warning there reminds you. The top three bars are actually part of the platform to rest your knees on and a final bar to rest your hips into. This feels safe and is.
The tripod design is particularly clever because it allows you to position the ladders closer to the hedge than a normal ladder would allow. Either pushing the third leg into the hedge or angling it slightly sideways around it.
Dealing with levels
All three legs have adjustable feet allowing for 45cm on each. This is used for uneven ground and we used this feature on every single cut as our farm is on quite a significant slope with various angles, particularly around a leylandii hedge we tackled. No matter the awkwardness of the slope, it was easy to adjust and the ladder always felt solid.
While £569 for ladders doesn’t seem cheap it is really because these are a professional grade tool for specific and significant uses. Given the height and the potential dangers involved in cutting and pruning at those levels, I have to say this price is extremely good value for protecting from serious falls. Solidly made, there’s no reason they won’t last a lifetime.
Both Chris and I are really impressed, me as a professional horticulturist and Chris as an amateur gardener. They were easy to use and the safety features take all of the fear out of working at such a height.