DIY Activist Ledge--a simple portaledge design using locally supplied aluminum tube.
This frame inspired by the need to create easy (and inexpensive) DIY activist "sits" for aerial activists, namely in the threatened Tarkine Rainforest in Tasmania. Why protect the last remaining old growth forests in Tasmania?: TARKINE SLIDE SHOW.
WARNING: Build and use at your own risk. Always stay tied in short to the main anchor when testing or using any single-point hanging portaledge!
The standard tubing for a lightweight portaledge frame is 6061-T6 Aluminum Tubing. SEE THIS PAGE FIRST.
USING LOWER GRADE TUBING: If you cannot get 6061-T6 or better, you can use local sourced 6000 series aluminum if you beef up the wall thickness to about 1/8" (twice as thick as high grade aluminum design). For example, below is a stock list of the commonly found 6060-T5 aluminum tube you can buy at a number of supply shops locally in Australia. It is important to note that 6060-T5 is a softer and weaker grade than 6061-T6 and thus important to overdesign the frame with heavier thicker tube. 6060-T5 would NOT be recommended for advanced designs such as 2-person ledges or the new D4 “cantilever” designs, as there are more stresses involved with these designs, and requires a higher strength tube. This tube should only be used with smaller, one-person traditional side-to-wall portaledges and used with care. A compact one-person frame will be around 2 kg heavier than an equivalently sturdy 6061-T6 frame. If using the lower grade aluminum, such as 6060-T5, increase the wall thickness to at least 3mm. Maximum recommended size: 1.9m x 0.85m. TEST BEFORE USING IN ANY VERTICAL SITUATION.
BENDING TUBE—USE PROPER TOOL AND RADIUS.
There are a myriad of tools used to bend tubing. Some people have made their own tube benders. The most affordable option getting a tool that allows fine control and with the correct bending radius is a tool currently found on eBay for less than $120USD. Look for the W-25S as pictured below (bends up to 1" so if you are building with high strength tubing, this bender also suitable for high grade single ledges using 1” 0.065” 2024-T3 tube.
(NOTE: NOT PIPE BENDERS, pipe is a different category of hollow rounds. Pipe benders are not suitable for thin wall tube bending).
IMPORTANT! MAKE SURE YOUR JOINER TUBES ARE STRONGER THAN THE MAIN TUBE. The joint is the weakest link, so the tube needs to be at least as strong as the main tube. For example, if you wanted to use 25mm 6060-t5 “inside joiner” with 32mm x 3mm 6060-T5 tube, the wall thickness would need to be greater than 3mm, which is harder to find in a mid-grade aluminum. Alternatively, you could use a good 4130 steel 25mm/1” tube for a joiner, at least 1.2mm thick (do not use a lower grade material for joiners—the joiner tube needs to be the strongest tube in the ledge!).
Super Simple Rainfly with outside corner tensioners and full length front zip.
Erik Hayward says of using portaledge technology for direct actions: "Total game changer. Quick deploy is like the difference between a marquee in a sandstorm and one of those pop up tents you throw in the air and it deploys. In the past, We would have to go into the bush and find a specific length and diameter pole, cut and rig it, get a tarp. Attach it, coil it all up, walk a bed frame in, rig it to the plywood, then haul 40kg of wood and iron into the windy stars. Now we can walk in through the bush with everything we need on our backs if we need, pop the sit, hand over hand haul and clip, bounce around to adjust, zip it up" for a complete weatherproof solution.
Back to the future...
Activist Sit V1 how-to VIDEOS (frame, bed, suspension):
Sewing a portaledge bed:
Super simple suspension:
Australia Supplier info:
Main Australia Supplier: PASKAL firstname.lastname@example.org 03 9588 8800
—Paskal sells the 1” seatbelt webbing suitable for suspension.
BED FABRIC: 420D Denier Nylon Paskal # CSL-420HD OR 600d Polyester RipStop Paskal #CSL-600
FLY FABRIC: Not recommended for severe weather (due to lesser coating): 210D Denier Nylon Paskal # CSL-210 OR 300D Polyester Paskal #CSL-300
Fly Fabric needs to be top notch at least PU3000 urethane coated for severe weather, and at least 210d. Weather in trees is much more severe than on ground, so normal lightweight tent fabrics do not hold up. The minimum I would recommend is the HyperD 300 available from RipStopByTheRoll in the USA. They can ship rolls to Australia for reasonable rates.
Another Australian supplier for fabrics is Speedline Textiles (by the roll only) Gary at 03 9702 7563
There is also Ricky Richards rickyrichards.com.au Ask for sample cards.
Another good supplier in USA for everything available in small quantities is Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics, Inc. website: www.owfinc.com
SHOCK CORD: 8mm Polyester Sheath SCM8 (100m/roll)--for smaller quantities the more stretchy stuff you can buy at Bunnings works, and might be preferred.
The 25mm*3mm tubing activist ledge requires 6mm (8mm double fishermans knot will not fit inside tube)
Also available from Sydney Rope Supplies
WEBBING: Seat Belt Webbing 1" (25mm) Item code # W-105/25 (many colors available)
1" (25mm) cam buckles—don’t use cheap cam buckles which can break slip, so portaledge require decent ones, load-rated at least 250kg. (I test each kind for slip and for breakage with a 1000lb. testing rig.)
Other: Hemming tape--seam tape--bindings: Garry Phillips (another local portaledge maker) recommends Herrinbone 307 (25mm) from Paskal. I prefer one from USA called Grosgrain Ribbon 1" Nylon (#GGR1BLK from OWFinc.com)
Thread: At least 69 thread (M20 nylon or polyester bonded thread better) for suspension straps with at least 3 tacks of at least 42 stitches/tack. If uou don't have a good machine to sew the suspension, you would be better to tie water knots for all loops.
Paskal also has zippers (not waterproof) and buckles. Zippers leak so be sure to have a good flap. Waterproof zippers and sliders from Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics USA.
In use in the Tasmanian native forests...
Portaledges have been a tool for Tasmanian NVDA aerial native forest blockades since the Frankland campaign in 2017 (2023 update by Scott Jordan below).
Excellent Documentary: https://www.wildthingsdocumentary.com/meet-the-wild-things
Older Versions and development history
Above, just my initial notes in calculating general size for my first simple DIY ledge. I actually made a tapered ledge by varying the angles of the two "double-bend" ends, so the ledge has a delta shape, allowing bed tensioners on only one side of the ledge bed for ease of assembly and disassembly. See videos. NOTE: these ledges using the softer and weaker 6060-T5 tubing are not recommended for big wall climbing, but they make fine ledges for tree camping or general camp use.
Other DESIGN IDEAS: