Hauling systems have many uses, from the basic sack hauling set-ups commonly used during big wall climbs to the more complex systems that are required for advanced rope rescue techniques.

Many different types of hauling systems are practiced around the world and hauling methods and equipment will vary in different disciplines, applications and countries. This collection of pages explains how a variety of effective hauling systems can be created and are intended purely for example purposes only.

Professional industrial and rope-rescue teams train for many years to master the skills and techniques that are required to undertake complicated rigging and hauling exercises. In no way do these pages constitute for the proper training, experience, knowledge and supervision that is required to safely construct and operate hauling systems.

Before reading any further, an appreciation of how conventional pulley systems work would provide a significant advantage in understanding hauling systems. For basic information about pulley systems and how they work, please see the pulley systems page.

Disadvantages of Conventional Pulley Systems

This conventional 3:1 pulley system has been assembled to raise a load weighing 90kg which needs to be lifted over a height of 50m.

Due to the way that the system has been created we would need at least 150m of rope just to form the 3:1 mechanical advantage. In this situation the operator is standing at ground level so an additional 50m of rope will also be needed to redirect the rope back down to where the effort will be applied. All in all this system will require at least 200m of rope.

Also this conventional system has been constructed from standard pulleys and no self-breaking devices have been installed. If the operative was to raise the load but then accidentally let go of the control end of the rope the load would free-fall into a very rapid and uncontrolled descent!

It is possible to redesign the pulley system making it more compact and manageable while using less rope and equipment. Before we look at building a basic hauling system, we need to ensure that we have a haul or lift plan in place. Planning is the key point in any hauling or lifting procedure!

Diagram showing a conventional pulley system with a 3:1 ratio lifting a load over 50 metres

Planning the Haul

The proper planning of hauling tasks is a key feature that should not be overlooked. As with most things, poor preparation can easily result in further complications, potentially causing unnecessary and timely delays to the hauling operation.

A principle focus of any lifting or hauling task should be to fully assess the weight, dimensions, characteristics and security of the load or object that is to be moved, whether it is a 30kg sack of gear or a rope-rescue scenario where the load of two people may need to be hauled simultaneously.

The loads centre of gravity, its correct orientation and its path during the haul should be determined. If the ‘load’ comprises of a person or casualty then thought should be given to the proper positioning and management of the subject before, during and after the lift.

Ideally the hauling system should be kept as simple as possible by selecting the correct equipment relevant to the task and assembling it to provide an adequate mechanical advantage. Appropriate safety or back-up systems may also need to be incorporated to protect against the possibility of equipment failure within the primary system.

Additionally, effective team management is another crucial aspect which will require attention. A clear and methodical haul or lift plan should be devised, how would this plan be affected if a member of the team became incapacitated or a component failed?

All team members should be competent and fully understand their individual roles and responsibilities in the operation. Adequate communication between the members of the team will also be a necessity.

Before we dive into building a basic haul system, let’s familiarize ourselves with some common types of hauling equipment and how they can be used to construct effective hauling systems.