Henchman tripod ladders are described as the safest and most versatile tripod ladder on the market. So when I was sent a set to review I jumped at the chance. I hate working at height and ladders are not usually my best friend. So I guess I was the ideal candidate to test out these ladders from Henchman.

Henchman tripod ladders have been designed typically for pruning trees, topiary and hedges they allow you to work at heights without wobbling about. Designed for when you need to be at height for a while without needing to hold on for dear life.  I find that standard ladders have a habit of wobbling about and moving suddenly so was intrigued to try out the new stable ladders. Regular Garden Ninja visitors will know I’m a keen pruner and with a sloping exposed garden to contend with these ladders would certainly be put through their paces!

Platform for stability

I’m going to start at the top as it were with the biggest selling point of the Henchman ladders, the standing platform. The Henchman ladders have a unique standing platform 3 rungs from the top, which I’ve not seen in standard ladders. By using this platform, sometimes called the crows nest, you can brace your legs against the top of the ladder for hands-free working. Getting to the top of ladders for me is always the worst part, but I found that this platform gives a much more stable feeling when at the top.

The platform allows you to lean into the ladder and brace yourself using your thighs. A bit like a mini squat. Whilst at first I thought this feels rather unnatural once in ‘the position’ the need to cling on to the top of the ladder almost disappears! At first, it felt a bit unintuitive but once braced I did feel really secure. Having another brace against the front of your knees adds to the stability.

Adjustable ladder feet for uneven ground

The Henchman comes with 3 adjustable feet allowing you to not only raise the height of the ladders but also accommodate sudden height changes between the ground you need it to stand on. Say for example a step up on a terrace or a sudden decline in a lawn. The back ‘tripod’ leg is attached to the two front legs by a chain which then braces the whole set. These legs are super easy to adjust with locking pins that ‘click’ into place when adjusted. Something else that’s really reassuring.

The feet also have a claw-like cup at the bottom of them which helps increase purchase on turf or soil. However, they don’t tear up the ground as I feared they might and are pretty low impact which would make them ideal if needing to straddle flower beds or cultivated ground. Given you can micro adjust each leg it means even the most unlevel of surfaces can be accommodated.

The set I received also came with a set of 3 rubber cups that you can put over the feet if you were t use it on more delicate paved surfaces. The cups help reduce potential scratches and are a great addition!

How heavy are Henchman ladders?

Something that I find often overlooked is the weight of gardening products, especially ladders. In the past, I’ve used extendable ladders that are great for adjusting the height but weigh an absolute tonne! Not with the Henchman set. They are so light given their size of 10 feet. I could even lift them with one hand, though two hands are obviously more sensible!

Tree Pruning with the ladders

The ladders are sold as ideal for hedge trimming and pruning, so what better way than to test them out on soft uneven ground to finally prune a wayward pear tree! I decided to test three pruning tools whilst on the Henchman. The wood saw (the most wobbly of all tools when working at height), tree loppers (requiring you to reach and pivot your arms) and lastly secateurs for removing smaller branches.

Wood Saw

The wood saw is usually my least favourite pruning tool when up a ladder. The back and forth motion usually has me in near hysterics as ladders wobble and move. Not so with the Henchman. Using the platform and bracing with my legs there was zero wobble. I almost forgot how high up I was.

Tree Loppers

The tree loppers require a different movement altogether of having both hands off the ladder and in a wide stance. Usually, this feels a bit like a swan dive pose and again is something I usually try and avoid. This position also went without a hitch and I removed some thicker branches that involved both hands. On normal ladders, the weight shift when closing the loppers can cause one foot to lurch forward on the ladders. There was no movement what so ever on these ladders though. Brilliant!

Secateurs

Being able to use both hands is almost mandatory with secateurs and smaller branches. If not you just end up badly severing the branches or only doing half a job. The alternative on regular ladders is to loop your hands through the rung which is mighty uncomfortable and awkward, The Henchman was stable and allowed me to make far neater pruning cuts with secateurs and move other branches out of the way as you can use both hands. So another score! I actually spent over 20 mins up the Henchman without any drama or meltdowns.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The benefits of the ladders based on my experience are:

  • The platform is a godsend for those who usually wobble
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Broad deep foot plates for the rungs
  • Feet grip the ground without excess damage or movement

The drawbacks of the ladders:

  • They are expensive compared to other ‘standard’ ladders of the same height
  • Due to the width not very portable for mobile gardeners
  • Ladders may take up too much space in a standard sized garage or shed, due to the broad base and rungs

Summary

All in all, I think the Henchman tripod ladders are a great bit of kit for any gardener.  They certainly made me feel much more stable and confident when working at height. Gone is the need to speed prune or use telescopic tree loppers, which I always find are more hassle damaging other branches as the debris falls. They are more expensive compared to other ladders but I guess this is the trade-off for the confidence they can provide for someone who is usually nervous of heights.

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