I know we are not yet far into 2019 but this has to be my purchase of the year so far. It is excellent and has made the pruning of the large established orchard so much easier this year.
The Niwaki Japanese Tripod Ladder (available from www.niwaki.com) is a light weight, free standing, aluminium ladder. They come in a range of sizes but the one that I plumped for is the 8 foot ladder which I have found perfect for the winter pruning of the orchard this year.
In previous years I have had to climb up inside the big apple trees to get to the very top and it has always been a difficult and rather precarious activity reaching large, high branches on the edge of the canopy of the larger trees.
I treated myself to this ladder after Christmas and it has been a revelation. I have found it to be a very stable ladder and the tripod leg allows you to work very comfortably in positions around the canopy where there is nothing to lean a normal ladder onto.
The tripod leg itself is easily adjustable and so even if you are working on a slight slope you can maintain the 75 degree angle required for safe working.
The safe working height of the ladder is three rungs from the top and this gives you a lot of support on the front of your body when you are working two-handed with loppers. On my 8 foot ladder your feet are three rungs from the top at around 5 feet. With your own body height (in my case 5ft 6inches) you are working very comfortably with secateurs or pruning saw at 9-10 feet and able to reach up to 12 feet with extended loppers.
If you are working on ladders for long periods of time, many traditional aluminium ladders only have a single narrow rung and this can be very tiring on the feet after a few hours. The Niwaki ladder has a double bar which gives much more support.
I would highly recommend these ladders. They are stable, light to move around and allow you to work safely and in comfort for many hours. I am very pleased with my purchase. The website is very informative about the height options available and safe working practices and well worth a look.