Table of Contents
- Hang-On Tree Stands:
- Hang-On Tree Stands Decoded: Top 5 of 2017
- Climbing Tree Stands:
- Ladder Tree Stands:
- Understanding Tree Stand Selection
Let this be your guide to figuring out which type of tree stand will make the best addition to your arsenal of elevated platforms from which to hunt your preferred big game animal. We will cover 15 different tree stands from 3 different categories that we think are exceptional in design, construction, innovation, and overall performance. The categories are as follows:
- Hang-On, Lock-On, or Fixed Position Tree Stands
- Climbing Tree Stands
- Ladder Tree Stands
5 stands from each category will be highlighted and talked about in depth to provide you with all the information you might need to make your next tree stand purchase before the next hunting season. Enjoy!
Hang-On Tree Stands:
Budget-Friendly ≠ Hunter-Friendly
A hang-on, or fixed position stand, is probably your cheapest option in retail stores, but that does not mean it is the easiest to deal with. Many are cumbersome and difficult to maneuver into place for the solo hunter hanging stands by him or herself. They range in price and can be found anywhere from $35 to a couple hundred dollars, depending on the brand and features they are available with.
In the end, what you’re paying for is comfort and effectiveness. The cheaper the tree stand, the smaller the platform and seat, the thinner the cushion. That can make for some fairly uncomfortable all day sits come the rut on a chilly morning in mid-November. If you’re not comfortable, you’re far more likely to have to move around and reposition yourself in the stand. This is simply excess movement which can be detected by whatever game animal you’re hunting and can lead to more than a couple unsuccessful hunts.
Many times these cheaper tree stands are also made of lesser materials and require “user assembly” which can lead to improper alignment of parts and ultimately, a squeaky or noisy tree stand on those same cold, crisp November mornings. Not the best scenario for a hunter trying to be as comfortable and stealthy as possible. A lot of good it does to be quiet and careful to avoid breaking any twigs on your way to the stand, only to have your tree stand platform creak and pop when that “booner” buck is coming down the trail.
Top Dollar ≠ Top Quality
With high-end hang-on tree stands, it can be a lot like buying a brand new expensive pickup truck. It’s got all the bells and whistles of a luxury car, and maybe even some you won’t ever use, but what for? At the end of the day it was built and bought to get a job done. Unless you’re really trying to show off your income, there’s really no need to buy a $300 fixed position tree stand. The fact that the platform is big enough for you to lie down and take a nap on, or that it has cup holders built into the seat, aren’t going to make you a more effective hunter, so why bother? You could get two really well built hang-on tree stands for that price, which gives you double the options to hunt in the end.
Hang-On Tree Stands Decoded: Top 5 of 2017
To make it onto this list, a tree stand must fit the bill for versatility, comfort, and quality in a relatively economically priced package. Much less than $100 and you’ll start to see a pretty steep decline in quality and performance. Much more than $200 and you’re starting to get out of a budget friendly package where extra bells and whistles that are included really don’t contribute to the functionality of the tree stand itself. You’ll see several different brands with several different design features pop up here, covering the range of between $100 and $200 packages. Let’s jump right into it and get started.
Manufactured by the industry leader in tree stand technology for the better part of the last decade, Lone Wolf, the Alpha Tech F1 doesn’t look like much, but it sure does bring a lot to the table. First, we should note that this is the lightest tree stand to make this list! Weighing in at under 14 total pounds mass weight, the feather-light Alpha Tech definitely meets the requirements of maneuverability and ease of handling. You won’t have to be on a strict weight lifting program to be able to hang this stand when you find that perfect hunting tree.
Another great feature that really sets this fixed position tree stand apart is its adjustability. Let’s face it, finding a tree large enough to offer concealment and straight enough to be able to hang most low-end hang-on tree stands that is STILL in the right spot to catch that cruising buck in November or that screaming bull elk in September making his way to the water source is a hard task. Lone Wolf fixed that problem by offering angle-adjustability as a feature to the Alpha Tech. There is a channel in the center pillar of the tree stand where the cables connect to a grooved slide mechanism. If the tree leans back, simply adjust the cables along the grooves of that slide and you’re ready to go! No longer are you limited where you hunt based on the shape and size of the trees in a given area.
Another great feature about the Alpha Tech, and all Lone Wolf Tree Stands for that matter, are the silent, friction activated straps they provide to secure the stand to the tree. No louder cranking from tightening down ratchet straps. Simply give the strap a good tug or two once it is wrapped around the tree and connected to the stand, put some pressure on the platform, and you’re good to go! It is also nice to note that the Alpha Tech does come with two straps, making your tree stand doubly secure in the tree and limiting the risk of any failure. You’ll always have a backup strap connecting your stand to the tree.
The last feature that we will talk about with the Alpha Tech is its seat cushion. Large and well cushioned, this seat isn’t quite as advanced as some of the other seats you’ll see later in this list, but it does offer more support and comfort than every low-end hang-on tree stands on the market.
Some other key things to note about this package is that it does come with a 6-point fall arrest safety harness system to keep you secure in the tree stand and to prevent falls. It also comes with two backpack straps to enable you to wear the stand like a backpack and tote it around the woods on those last minute, back-country pack-in-and-find-a-good-spot-to-hunt trips where scouting and preseason preparation is not possible. The Alpha Tech F1 safely supports up to 300 pounds on its platform and its straps will reach easily around trees up to 22 inches around. With a 30×19.5-inch platform, the Alpha Tech F1 is sure to get you safely and comfortably into those hard to hunt locations so you can get a crack at that buck of a lifetime this fall.
Where the Alpha Tech fit the bill as the best over-all hang-on tree stand as the average in all required categories, the tree stand at number two on our list takes the cake in one of those: adjustability. The Trail Cruiser from Twisted Timber Treestands is the pinnacle of fixed position tree stand adjustability.
Like the Alpha Tech F1, the Trail Cruiser has the ability for cable adjustments to accommodate for the cumbersome and inconvenient angles that we run into with some of those trees in the perfect hunting location. With a series of carabiner holes cut into a piece of steel and welded to the rear, vertical frame of the stand, you have 13 different 1-inch increments of angle adjustability on the Trail Cruiser.
The element of adjustability that the Trail Cruiser has that the Alpha Tech does not is where you attach the tree stand straps that secure it to the tree. Got an ugly little knot in the perfect tree that is getting in the way when trying to run your ratchet straps to secure your tree stand? Twisted Timber has you covered with this one. Taking advantage of the same type of carabiner holes, the base of the stand provides 8 points of adjustability on either side of the center point for attaching your ratchet straps. This is critical to the function and security of the Trail Cruise because it features a flat back rather than the angular gripping design of almost every other hang-on tree stand. It also has a steel loop system just beneath the seat for a second strap to be attached, again doubling the amount of security for the stand itself.
Having said that, there are a couple notable features that are lacking for this particular tree stand. What the Trial Cruiser gained in adjustability it sacrificed in a couple other areas. First, the seat that comes with the Trail Cruiser is a very thin rubber cushion, definitely decreasing its comfortability level when compared to the Alpha Tech. You will also find a slightly smaller platform size when compared to the Alpha Tech, at 24×18 inches
The Trail Cruiser is also the second lightest tree stand on our list, weighing in at just under 15 pounds mass weight. Still capable of supporting 300 pounds safely and coming equipped with a safety system and two rubber-coated ratchet straps to reduce noise, you’ve got yourself one heck of tree stand package in the Trail Cruiser. Twisted Timber definitely upped their game by offering such an adjustable beast of a tree stand
Coming in at number 3 on our top 5 list of hang-on tree stand, this is the first stand with a complete seat system to provide superior comfort while hunting. The Pattron, from X-Stand Treestands, is equipped with a mesh seat and ergonomic back rest, as well as padded arm rests for the ultimate luxury when you’re 20 feet up a tree. Similar to the look and feel of many climbing tree stand seats; you won’t be disappointed in the Pattron. The mesh material making up the seat is weather resistant to prevent decay over time from absorption of moisture and the arm rests are foam padded to keep you comfy.
Increasing just how comfortable this stand is when up in a tree, it features a roomy 30×19.5 platform size, the same as the Alpha Tech F1 from earlier in our list. It also has a rimmed slope built into the platform, offering a nice foot rest and an easily detectable marker to let you know when you’re getting close to the edge of your platform, helping reduce your risk of potential falls. You’ll have plenty of room to move your feet around, kick back, and relax while you enjoy nature and wait on “Mr. Big” to take a walk.
The total package is of an extremely sturdy solid steel design, capable of supporting up to 350 pounds mass weight. It comes equipped with a 4-point safety harness, tree stand straps, and a special powder coating on the steel to improve durability and performance. It also features self-lubricating Nylong washers to reduce noise at all points where metal would otherwise contact metal. It is outfitted with a “QuickHitch” attachment that allows for some self-leveling capabilities, but that feature is not well explained in their description.
One area that the Pattron makes some sacrifices is in total weight. Tipping the scales as the second heaviest tree stand on this list at 25 pounds mass weight, the Pattron actually gives up about 10 pounds in order to gain the comfort level it has achieved. It’s up to you to decide whether or not that extra weight is worth the comfort, but you can bet that, with the direction that X-Stands has taken their products, even more new and exciting innovations are in store from this tree stand manufacturer.
River’s Edge Treestands just broke into the market in recent years and they are really pushing the envelope for a small manufacturer. As part of their BigFoot Hang-On lineup, the TearTuff XL Lounger definitely fits the bill in terms of comfort. With a shorter back rest height compared to the Pattron, the TearTuff focuses on lumbar support to provide hours of comfort for any hunter. The seat and each arm rest also fold up independently to allow the hunter to take full advantage of all the space provided by the platform.
The seat, much like that of the Pattron, features a mesh seat, padded mesh back rest, and rubber padded arm rests to provide optimum comfort. The seat and each arm rest also fold up independently to allow the hunter to take full advantage of all the space provided by the platform, which is our next talking point. What you will also find with the TearTuff is a super large platform at 37.5 inches by 24 inches, the largest platform on our list and where the “XL” portion of its name is derived. Even Shaquille O’Neil could probably find a comfortable position in this tree stand.
At this point, some of you are probably wondering why it isn’t higher on our list and there are a couple reasons why it comes in at the number 4 spot. First, the TearTuff XL has no capability of self-leveling, limiting the number of trees that this stand can be placed in safely and comfortably. Second, it is the heaviest brute of a tree stand we put on this list at a brutal 26 pounds mass weight, 12 pounds heavier than the lightest stand we put on this list. Obviously, to gain and improve comfort, you have to add more pieces and parts to a tree stand, which is why the TearTuff XL and the Pattron are so heavy, but it also provides potential disadvantages for a lot of hunters and, ultimately, is why these types of tree stands are not rated higher on this particular list.
Rounding out the features of the TearTuff XL, it supports up to 300 pounds, includes a full body safety harness and tree stand straps. River’s Edge Tree stands are making waves in the tree stand market, so be on the lookout for continued improvements from them in the coming years as well.
Coming in at number 5 on our list of the top 5 hang-on tree stands of 2017 is the Sportsman from Muddy. A leader in hunting equipment manufacturing for many years, Muddy rarely ventures far from their tried and true performance tested products. It just so happens that Muddy’s tried and true are also extremely innovative to boot!
The Sportsman fixed position tree stand is your no guff, get to work, all-purpose hunting tree stand. It’s also the most affordable tree stand to make this list. It does feature two small elements of adjustability that makes it compatible with a lot of different hunter preferences. The mesh seat, which is 15×20 inches, is equipped with a bolt that allows the hunter to adjust the angle of the seat based on personal preference. Also, the platform cables are able to be bolted down into one of three different holes in the rear tree stand bar, making it minimally adjustable for the angle of the tree. The rough part about this is that it is not easily adjustable like some of our earlier models on the list.
The Sportsman features the second largest platform on our list at 33×24, plenty of room to maneuver up in the tree to acquire that perfect shot, and since the seat is capable of being folded up against the tree, you can take full advantage of all that space. Constructed of steel with a tactile coating to improve grip, it also features plastic bushings to eliminate any metal on metal contact that could produce unwanted noise.
Capable of supporting up to 300 pounds and coming equipped with a full body safety harness, the Sportsman definitely meets the standards of safety. The package also includes two tree stand straps: one silent cam buckle and one looped ratchet strap.
Probably the nicest feature about this tree stand is its portability and compatibility with other Muddy accessories. Tipping the scales at 17 pounds mass weight, this tree stand is easy to pack on your back with a couple backpack straps (which Muddy sells). They’ve also designed climbing sticks to be compatible with the Sportsman so that you can lash enough climbing sections to your stand to perch yourself 20 feet up a tree. This enables you to be extremely portable and mobile while hunting, great for exploring new properties that you haven’t had a lot of time to scout and learn.
All in all, the Sportsman is the perfect tree stand to round out our list of the top 5 hang-on tree stand of 2017. Versatile, slightly adjustable, adding an element of comfort to the package, the Sportsman is a great “git ‘er done” fixed position tree stand that still enables you to change locations if the situation calls for it.
When it is all said and done, any of the above hang-on tree stands are excellent options to consider. Whether you choose one from our list or not, at least you’re armed with the information about the manufacturers who are pushing the envelope and developing some truly amazing fixed position tree stands. Checking out any product from their lineup is definitely worth a look.
Climbing Tree Stands:
Climbing Tree Stands – Are They for Me?
A lot of people have reservations about different things, and one of the biggest in the hunting industry is the climbing tree stand. Arguments like “They just aren’t safe enough for me” and “They’re so bulky and heavy that they wouldn’t be worth the hassle” are often tossed around by those who haven’t tried them. In fact, they are fairly simple to use and they are quite safe, especially compared to a lot of other methods of hunting that people use. You are 100% strapped into the tree, tethered from a fall that could cause serious injury or even death, IF you are following the manufacturer recommended safety procedures and instructions.
Having said that, climbers are not for everyone. Some people won’t have the ability to move their bodies in order to properly utilize a climbing stand. Some because of physical ability, some because of age, and others because of price. It is up to each individual hunter to know their limits and to make decisions accordingly. We would still encourage you to test them out for yourself before dismissing them all together. After all, as your mother told you when you were reluctant to try your vegetables for the first time, “how do you know you won’t like something if you’ve never tried it?”
Looks Are Deceiving
When it comes to climbing tree stands looks can 100% be deceiving. Some tree stands look great on the picture on the box, but perform terribly. Others look disgustingly complicated or grotesquely overpriced on the box, but are well worth it to the right buyer. The important thing to remember with climbing tree stands is that they work like your favorite pair of gloves. Some people love a glove because it does an excellent job of keeping them warm and comfortable while shoveling the driveway in the dead of winter. Other people like a thin glove that offers great protection for when they’re helping a friend fix up a house. Still, other people like a glove for the profile, fitting tight to the skin to provide some protection and concealment while not giving up much in terms of their sense of touch.
A good climbing tree stand will fit each hunter differently, so each hunter must do their homework before making a purchase and attempting to hunt with one. The last thing you’d want is to have to shovel the driveway with thin gloves that leave your hands frostbitten, or to have to try to drive a nail with thick winter gloves. You wouldn’t want to have to burden yourself while climbing just to ensure you got the most comfortable seat in the forest once you got there. Likewise, you wouldn’t want to have a breeze of a time climbing 20 feet only to get there and not be able to sit still because you’re so uncomfortable.
This list that we have compiled of the top 5 climbing tree stands of 2017 covers a range of prices and features, to give you ALL of the options at your disposal. From the best of the best, highest priced comfort kings, to the middle class, get the work done value oriented beasts, all the way down to the lowest level, “gimme something cheap that I can hunt out of” models that really don’t offer much of anything other than a place to sit up in a tree when hunting season rolls around. We will cover it all.
Climbing Tree Stands Decoded: Top 5 of 2017
If you’ve got the money for it, you won’t find anything better than the Lone Wolf Wide Sit & Climb Combo II climbing tree stand. Lone Wolf continues to push the envelope in terms of overall tree stand weight. With all the bells and whistles, the Wide Sit & Climb Combo II tips the scales at just 21 pounds. That’s third lightest on our list simply because the other stand doesn’t have all the seat components, and far lighter than some of the fixed position stands we reviewed earlier! That’s quite an impressive achievement for the leader in tree stand manufacturing of late.
It features the same 30×19.5 inch platform that the Lone Wolf Alpha Tech F1 fixed position stand did from our first list. It also features the most comfortably padded seat on the market. With contoured foam cushions to fit any hunters body structure, you’ll be able to sit for hours on end in this tree stand, making it ideal for those all day rut sits.
The uniqueness of the Sit & Climb II is how it attaches to the tree itself. Utilizing a hard rubber belt system of grooves and channels, you can easily adjust the attachment in 1 inch increments to fit any tree up to 19 inches around. There is a simple cam locking system that fits into the grooves on the rubber belt allowing it to securely lock into place to reduce the risk of unwanted platform detachment from the tree during the climbing process.
New for this product, which sets it apart from the rest of the field in terms of functionality, is a built-in vertical bow holder that is pre-molded into the platform. Directly in the center of the platform furthest from the tree, you will see a cutout in the design of the platform that allows the cam of a vertical bow to be secured there. Your hunting tool is now perfectly located right between your feet for easy and quick access so that when the moment comes, you can be ready. No longer will you have to fumble with packing in additional screw in pegs to hang your accessories and your bow from. Lone Wolf solved that problem with this ingenious design.
The Wide Sit & Climb Combo II also features two backpack straps to help you easily carry your stand to and from the woods while keeping both your hands free to carry other items like your bow, gun, or other accessory.
As a complete package, the Wide Sit & Climb Combo II includes a 6-point fall arrest system, a bungee strap to lash other accessories onto the stand while hiking to and from the woods, a safety rating of up to 350 pounds, a tether system to keep the base and the seat connected at all times, and an optional accessory climbing bar that doubles as a crossbow or gun rest! Talk about a lot of value.
The only draw-back to this package is its price. At over $400, however, you’re getting all the bells and whistles available in a climbing tree stand package from the highest quality tree stand manufacturer on the market. Well worth saving up some extra cash to invest in one of these babies!
Summit had been the leader in tree stand manufacturing for the better part of the last decade and is arguably still the leader in climbing tree stand performance and value. At number 2 on our list is the Summit Viper SD climbing tree stand.
Equipped with a comfortable foam seat and pack rest, padded arm rests, and a padded crossbow or gun rest, you’ll be plenty comfortable on long hunts and you’ll be quiet while doing it. Featuring double rubber coated steel climbing cables, you’ll definitely be secure and safe while climbing and, once you get to your desired height, while hunting as well. They are adjustable, but don’t offer the fine-tuning adjustments of that of the Lone Wolf rubber belts.
You’ll find the rigidity of the aluminum platform, newly outfitted with Dead Metal sound deadening technology, to offer premium durability, comfort, and security while using this product. Designed, now, with new rapid climbing stirrups, you’ll no longer have to fumble with sliding your feet into cloth straps to secure the platform to your feet while climbing. The system is completely built into the platform for ease of use.
The platform itself measures in at 26.5×20 inches. Smaller than that of the wide Lone Wolf platform, but plenty large enough to allow comfortable climbing and hunting for any hunter. This also contributes to the Summit Viper weighing less than the Lone Wolf Wide Sit & Climb Combo II, tipping the scales at a mere 20 pounds mass weight. Oh, and no more Velcro either. Each of the arm rest pads feature zippers, reducing the noise potential if you should want to remove them or need to adjust them in the woods.
The Summit Viper SD also comes with a tether rope to keep the platform base and the seat connected at all times, camouflage backpack straps to enable you to tote it hands free to and from the woods, an instructional DVD, and a 4-point safety harness strap and tree strap. You’ll also find a green utility strap that can be used for lashing other hunting accessories onto the stand while hiking in and out of the woods. Supporting up to 300 pounds, the Summit Viper is definitely a comparable option to the top-of-the line Sit & Climb, but comes in at almost half the total cost.
*Sidebar: At this point, it is worth mentioning that both Lone Wolf and Summit Stands do offer other options in their climbing tree stand lineup. If you’re looking for something along the same lines as these two beasts, it is definitely worth checking out their website for more details and to see the other great products these two front runners have to offer.
Coming in at third on our list and rounding out the extremely comfortable climbing tree stands is the Woodsman climber from Muddy. Yet again, the company known for producing budget friendly yet innovative product concepts built a product that will certainly convince a lot of hunters to purchase a climbing tree stand.
With the same general seat structure as the top two, the Woodsman features a hanging 2-inch-thick foam seat and back rest combination for extreme comfort while hunting. The seat can be adjusted in terms of how far away you sit from the back of the stand and how low or high the seat hangs, giving it the perfect little amount of adjustability to fit any body style. You will also find a padded cover on the shooting rail for your crossbow or rifle, as well as padded sleeves on the arm rests for that little bit of added comfort.
Built of aluminum with a non-slip coating for durability and safety, the Woodsman weighs a simple and easily maneuvered 20 pounds mass weight. The platform is 29.5 inches by 20.5 inches, slightly larger than that of the Summit we spoke about earlier. It also features a flip back foot rest for added comfort when the hunter desires it.
The package includes two backpacking straps for easy of carry in and out of the woods, two 2X Hybrid Climbing Chains to secure the stand base and seat to the tree both while climbing and once you’ve arrived to your desired height. The Woodsman, supporting up to 300 pounds, also comes with one of Muddy’s signature series full body fall arrest systems so you’ll never have to worry about falling from the stand. These products are among some of the most innovative products that Muddy has to offer! You’ll also notice that the Woodsman comes with a small accessory bag that attaches to the seat bars where you can place your cell phone, game call, binoculars, etc. Really adds another level of innovation here.
The one area that the Muddy Woodsman falls slightly short of the other two that we’ve mentioned so far is in the foot stirrups. Where the Lone Wolf and the Summit offered metal foot stirrups that were built into the stand construction, Muddy opted for rubber coated cloth foot stirrups that must be attached to the stand base. These tend to be a little bit clumsier to deal with in the dark, and can be a little tougher to get used to using, but they do offer a little bit of added adjustability based on foot and shoe/boot size. Lastly, the Woodsman does come with tether straps to ensure that the stand base and seat are connected at all times and are adjustable in length to suit every hunter’s individual preference.
Overall, you won’t be disappointed with the Woodsman. A terrific package with fantastic design and innovation at a great price point, the Woodsman is definitely ready to get down and dirty and take you where you need to go to catch up to that trophy animal!
When X-Stand Treestands launched the Apache climbing tree stand, they quickly jumped into the game of innovative budget-friendly climbing tree stands. Featuring “Traxtion Control”, the platform is engineered to provide optimal traction and prevent slipping or unsteadiness while using the Apache. That base measure in at 27×20, right in line with the platform size of the higher end Summit Viper SD. Coming in at a mass weight of just 18.5 pounds, the lightest tree stand on this list, you might be wondering why it is not placed higher, and the reason is its comfort level.
The Apache does not feature the comfortable seat and back rest combination that the other 3 have thus far. Instead, it comes outfitted with a Nylon netting seat measuring 21×16 inches and no back rest. This is where you sacrifice a little bit in terms of comfort. You’ll have to rely on the tree itself to lean on. The added bonus of the Nylon netting, however, is that it quickly and silently can be slid backward toward the tree and out of your way if you need to stand to take a shot and want to utilize the entirety of the platforms size.
The Apache does include padded arm rests and a padded sleeve over the crossbar shooting rest. Constructed of aluminum, this climber supports up to 300 pounds and comes with a 4-point full body safety harness to keep you secure while climbing and hunting. Like the Muddy Woodsman from earlier, the Apache features cables coated in rubber to secure the stand base and seat to the tree. X-Stand has wrapped several smaller cables together prior to the rubber coating to improve the integrity of the system while offering great flexibility to make climbing a little easier.
You will also find a similar accessory pouch included in the Apache package, perfect for holding items that would otherwise require a peg to be toted to the woods and screwed into the tree. You’ll also see the X-Stand self-lubricating Nylong washers anywhere that metal would otherwise contact metal, eliminating noise.
Like the Muddy Woodsman, a downside to the Apache are the foot stirrups. Again, they are cloth coated in rubber, which can be clumsy to use and difficult to get used to while climbing. What you lose in security and comfort there, you do gain a little bit in terms of adjustability. In the end, it is a tradeoff that only YOU as a hunter can decide for yourself. The tether system that comes in the Apache package also double as your backpack straps, and can be adjusted according to the size and fit of each individual hunter.
By eliminating some of the extreme comfort elements of the higher end stands, X-Stand has truly created a monster of a climbing tree stand. Perfect for the hunter who wants something lightweight, easy to maneuver, and ready for that moment of truth!
Rounding the corner in our 5th position on the list of top 5 climbing tree stands for 2017 is a neat little piece by a lesser known company that doesn’t care about being flashy. Sniper Treestands just wants to get the job done, and done right, in a user-friendly affordable package. Well, they nailed it with their Insider climbing tree stand.
Rugged steel construction lends this beast to being extremely durable, but that also means it is quite heavy. Tipping the scales at 24 pounds mass weight, it is able to support up to 300 pounds and comes with a full body safety harness to keep you secure. All that said, it will be a little bit more difficult and require a little more work to tote the Insider to and from the woods.
Like number 3 and 4 on our list, the Insider does include a small accessory bag which, again, is a great little added bonus to offer storage of small hunting accessories like game calls, a GPS unit, or even a drink mug or water bottle. Also like the Apache by X-stand at number 4, the Insider is equipped with a Nylon netting seat. Lacking a little terms of comfort, you are afforded the same ability to quickly and quietly push the entire seat back against the rear of the stand to allow you to take full advantage of the space provided by the platform. Just like the X-Stand Apache and very similar to the space of the Summit Viper SD platform, the Insider offers a roomy 27×20 inch base for you to move around on.
The arm rests and shooting rail are covered in camouflage padded sleeves for protection and a little bit of added comfort, and can be removed based or adjusted based on your personal needs. As a package, the Insider comes with backpack straps to help you carry this bad boy in and out of the woods, a fastening system to secure the stand to the tree while climbing, and tie-down straps to double secure your stand to the tree once you’ve climbed to your desired height.
The drawbacks for the Insider are that the backpack straps will offer next to nothing in terms of comfort, so if you plan to hike a couple miles in to the back country, you might want to consider backpack strap upgrades. Especially considering how heavy this stand is. Also, the foot stirrups are straps just like the Muddy Woodsman and X-Stand Apache tree stand packages, which can be a little tricky to work with.
One last disadvantage for the Insider is that it requires adding two additional security tie-down straps to connect it to the tree once you’ve climbed to your desired hunting height. Otherwise, certain warranties and liabilities for the company are null and void. These additional straps can be a bit of a pain to connect once you’re up in the tree, but if you’re looking for a cost-effective climbing tree stand, you won’t find much better than the Sniper Treestands Insider. The complete package is the cheapest on our list, right around $140.
All told, any one of the above mentioned climbing tree stands would be excellent options to consider when looking into purchasing a climber. Every hunter is different and desires different qualities and features out of their gear, and so climbing tree stands come in just about as many shapes, sizes, prices, and with as many features as there are individual styles of hunters that want to use them as their elevated hunting perch. The best way to find the right package for you is to visit a retail store and test them out and inspect them for yourself.
Ladder Tree Stands:
What You See is What You Get
For the most part, ladder stands are pretty straight forward. It’s not easy to conceal innovation or flaws in a stand that is so transparent. Most of the features the contribute to the workings of the stand are in plain sight both in person and on the pictures on the box in retail stores. So, naturally, it tends to be easy to judge their quality of manufacture and their performance based on their appearance. Quite contrary to many of the fixed position stands that made our list.
The Ultimate in Versatility
Ladder tree stands have become some of the most adaptable and versatile pieces of hunting equipment on the market today. They’ve come a long way since the antique “I’m going to bring my wooden barn ladder to reach that branch 8 feet off the ground” style of hunting from half a century ago. Nope, now ladder tree stands come in more sizes, styles, configurations, and innovations than any other tree stand type. If you’ve got a need that fixed position hang-on stand and climbing tree stands don’t meet, but you want to get up off the ground to hunt, look no further than the ladder tree stand. With enough research, you can be sure you’ll find something that fits the bill. Whether they fit the budget is another thing entirely, but hopefully this list will get you started down the right path. We are going to explore the versatile world of ladder tree stands as we run down our final list; the top 5 ladder tree stands of 2017.
Ladder Tree Stands Decoded: Top 5 of 2017
This tree stand is definitely one of a kind. No other ladder stand that is supported by a tree showcases the unique and advantageous abilities of the L360 from Millennium Treestands. Sitting at 16 feet off the ground, you’re going to be plenty high enough to hunt effectively, but that’s not where this stand stops. The name “L360” comes from this ladder stands extremely large 4-foot circular base!
Outfitted with a 360-degree swivel ComfortMax Seat, you’ll be able to take full advantage of every inch of that large base and will have the ability to shoot from a comfortable position at virtually any direction around your stand. That’s pretty incredible! Where before, you had to purchase elevated box blinds or elevated tripod platform stands that leave you potentially out in the open and largely exposed to the eyesight of wary big game animals, the L360 allows you the same versatility in a ladder stand package that can be tucked nicely beneath a trees canopy and leaning against a trees sturdy trunk without sacrificing any directional shooting lanes.
More on the seat; the ComfortMax is a swivel chair with an ergonomic design for ultimate comfort. It rotates 360 degrees with ease and is adjustable to allow each hunter to customize the way they sit in their chair. Built of sturdy steel with a mesh seat face fabric, you’ll stay cool in warmer weather, won’t have to worry about sitting down on soaking wet foam, and have the option to purchase an upgrade cold-weather seat cushion to help you stay comfortable when the temperatures start to drop!
Manufactured with “SilentHunt” design, the L360 has noise dampening elements built into each connection where metal would otherwise contact metal. So as you swivel in your ComfortMax to take aim on the bruiser buck that tried to silently sneak around behind you, he won’t know what hit him!
The L360 is also outfitted with a shooting rail that spans the full circumference of the stand and is adjustable. That’s right, you can customize the fit of this tree stand even down to the height of the shooting rail! With 6 inches of adjustability, regardless of the terrain you hunt or the height and stature of an individual hunter, the L360 has got you covered so you will always be comfortable when taking a shot. The shooting rail also acts as a guard rail to help prevent falls and is covered in a camouflage foam padded sleeve to improve comfort and reduce noise when using it as a rest to take a shot. Not to mention that, for vertical or traditional bow hunters, that 4-foot platform make sit pretty easy to find a comfortable and safe position to let loose an arrow.
Another cool feature about the Millennium L360 is the option for an add-on tree stand concealment skirt! Able to span the full 360-degrees of the L360, this concealment skirt, sold separately, can be attached to the shooting rail regardless of how high you have it set to offer additional concealment for any hunter. Talk about innovation! Millennium hit this one out of the park!
In at number 2 on our list is an extremely creative take on the buddy ladder stand by River’s Edge Tree stands, making their second appearance in this article (featured previously in our fixed position section). The 2-Man Bowman Ladder stand is unique for a couple different reasons.
First, the stand is designed for optimal positioning of both hunters. Rather than being seated side-by-side, the Bowman allows the hunters to sit at 90-degrees of one another. This provides each hunter with additional space for improved comfort and mobility, while also allowing the hunters to work together more effectively by providing each with a different direct line of sight. From every angle, the hunters working together from the 2-Man Bowman will be able to detect movement from virtually any direction.
What this design also allows is for an easier functionality between hunter and cameraman, if that is your cup of tea. Nowadays, a lot of people are toting camera gear to the woods with them to capture their hunts on film. The 2-Man Bowman seat construction allows each person to function as an individual and allows the camera man to work with the hunter to get that perfect angle. No longer will hunter and camera man be fighting in double ladder stands for the best position. Truly a great design element!
The second innovation with the Bowman is that it does not come with shooting rails. Almost every other ladder stand comes equipped with some type of shooting rail, either as a safety feature and/or a shooting rest. Not the Bowman. Hence its name, the “Bowman”.
Removing the shooting rail enables this stand to be the ideal ladder stand set up for any bow hunter, whether vertical bow or traditional. No longer will you have to compete for space with the shooting rail of regular ladder stands. No longer will you bump you bottom cam or limb against the shooting rail, causing just enough noise for that buck of a lifetime to spook and trot off into the distance only to haunt you in your dreams. At this point, we should also mention that River’s Edge Tree stands does make a 1-person ladder stand with this same feature.
Some other bonuses for the Bowman are that is sits around 18 feet off the ground, which is two feet higher than the L360 and fits in right about the average height for most other ladder stand designs. You’ll be plenty high and out of detectable sight of any big game animal. In addition, each seat does come equipped with one arm rest, located on the outside edge of the stand.
Equipped with two individual TearTuff mesh seat that quietly fold up and out of the way, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the space provided by the 69×31 inch platform. Plenty of space for two full-sized hunters to move around on comfortably and efficiently. What you do give up when you use a stand of this size is some weight. Well, a lot of weight, actually. Tipping the scales at 94 pounds mass weight, however, that is to be expected. You’re getting, essentially, two full sized hang on stands weighing 25 pounds apiece PLUS the added weight of a 30-pound ladder stand. Made of steel, all that weight lends itself to an extremely sturdy and well-built hunting ladder stand that is ideal for multi-person hunts. I mean, it can support of to 500 pounds. That’s nearly unheard of in the ladder stand world.
Included in the package you will receive two ratchet straps to secure the stand to the tree, two safety tie off ropes, two full body safety harness systems, and two stabilizer bars to help evenly distribute and support the weight of two hunters. If you need a way to get two people in a tree and want a reliable and ergonomically designed ladder stand, you won’t find anything better than the River’s Edge 2-Man Bowman.
Guide Gear is a lesser known manufacturer of hunting gear, but boy do they bring some innovation to the table! Produced by the Sportsman’s Guide online retail store, Guide Gear has truly “elevated” the ladder stand hunting game.
Meet the 25-foot monster of a ladder stand, aptly named the “25’ Ladder” by Guide Gear. This is THE HIGHEST platform you will find on the ladder stand market today, and it won’t break the bank. In fact, it is the cheapest ladder stand we have on this list! One of the many reasons why this stand finds itself in the middle of our list, bumping other better-known manufacturers further down, and even off the list in some cases.
How on earth did they construct this stand, using only one ladder brace support (which is adjustable to fit any tree by the way) to reach such a height? Well, they did a couple things. First, they constructed it out of sturdy steel to reduce any sort of bend in the metal tubing when put under pressure. Second, they doubled up the tubing used on the ladder itself, making it twice as rigid and, therefore, twice as sturdy. Able to support up to 300 pounds and weighing in at 105 pounds mass weight, it’s a heavy sucker but it has to be to lift a hunter to such incredible vantage points.
Another added bonus to this ladder stand is its seat construction. It features a seat and back, not unlike some of the seats featured in the climber stands we reviewed earlier. This is going to provide exceptional comfort for long hours in the stand. Featuring arm rests and a shooting rail for crossbow and gun hunters that are covered by foam padded fabric sleeves, you’ll be able to sit in this stand all day without a problem. It features a relatively small platform of 22.75×17.25 inches, but that is ample enough for most any hunter. The platform also features a folding foot rest to improve comfort and to act as a warning to let you know when you’re nearing the edge of the platform.
The complete package includes a fall arrest safety harness system and dual ratchet straps to secure it in place against the tree. If you want to go high and be able to see long distance but don’t want to hassle with hanging fixed position tree stands, the 25-foot Deluxe Double Rail Ladder stand from Guide Gear is, without a doubt, the best option for you!
A newcomer to our list, Leverage Lightweight Tree stands breaks into the lineup with their ingenious Speed Ladder tree stand. We will get to the reason “Speed” is in its name here in a moment. First, let’s check out its spec sheet.
To start, the design of the platform itself is honeycomb. The absolute strongest geometric makeup in nature. Why wouldn’t you use it to provide strength to your tree stand platform? Score 1 for the Speed Ladder. Second, being engineered completely of lightweight aluminum, which is only really possible due to its honeycomb structure, you lose a lot of weight that most other steel stands just can’t compete with. The Speed Ladder weighs in at a feather-light 38 pounds mass weight, less than half that of most other comparable ladder stands. It sports a Black Sand powder coat finish to provide increased durability and better grip than typical aluminum.
The third thing to note is that the seat it is outfitted with is cleverly adjustable at up to 10-degrees. Now you can be comfortable in a tree that leans where other ladder stands left you rigid and uncomfortable. The seat cushion, Tricot-covered, is made of dual layers of foam for improved comfort and is built of waterproof material. Equipped with an accessory hook to hang additional gear, the Speed Ladder is really starting to look like a good option!
Now, to the nitty gritty. The ladder of this tree stand is telescoping, meaning that it can be slid into itself, much like an aluminum extension ladder would for easy storage. Coming fully assembled right from the factory, put together and ready to take to the woods, all of the “some assembly required” has been eliminated from the equation. See where this is going?
Where other ladder stands come in pieces and the ladder sections have to be slid together and clamped in place with hair pins, this stand is an all-in-one package deal. Where you take the stand platform, so goes the ladder sections. And THAT is the “ahah” moment for the Speed Ladder. It is one cohesive unit.
It comes as a package with backpack straps included so that you can strap this beauty to your back and hike into the woods to hunt. Say what?! Yep, now the versatility and mobility of a climbing tree stand is INCLUDED in the same package as a ladder stand. This is truly unheard of!
Now, one thing to note is that, in order to gain this mobility and ease of use, you have to sacrifice some things. The Speed Ladder is nowhere near as elevated as our number 3, the 25-foot beast from Guide Gear. It only reaches a height of about 14 feet. Still plenty high enough to hunt effectively if you can remain still.
Its platform is 27.75×21.25 inches, providing ample room to move around. Plus, that angle adjustable seat can also be folded out of the way so you can take full advantage of the platform in its entirety. Supporting up to 300 pounds and coming with a full body fall arrest safety harness system, two ratchet straps to secure the stand to the tree, one clamp strap to secure the support bar to the tree, and fact that the ladder and support bar are adjustable to suit your desired needs and the tree you’ve chose to place your stand in, the Speed Ladder is a true innovation for ladder tree stands.
It’s only a matter of time before Leverage Lightweight Tree stands ups their game even more and redesigns the Speed Ladder with even more improvements in design and performance. Truly, there is nothing like this on the market today.
Tried and true, once again, enter the Muddy Huntsman ladder tree stand. Finishing off our list of the top 5 ladder tree stands of 2017, the Huntsman is the perfect ladder stand for almost every hunter’s needs.
Constructed of the same high grade durable steel as all other Muddy tree stand products, supporting up to 300 pounds and reaching up to 17 feet, the Huntsman is the perfect single-person ladder stand for safety, security, and effectiveness. It weighs in as the second lightest of the ladder stands we’ve reviewed at 55 pounds mass weight. Definitely light enough to get into most hunting locations.
It features a mesh seat and back rest for ultimate comfort, very similar to the style of seat that we saw on the X-Stand Pattron fixed position tree stand in our first list. You’ll see sleeves with foam padding covering the arm rests and shooting rail that can be removed depending on your personal preferences. The seat can be folded back against the tree, allowing you to take full advantage of the 26×19 inch platform. It also includes a foot rest that can be folded out of the way if you choose.
The shooting rail itself is adjustable. It can be extended or shortened to accommodate the stature of just about every hunter, offering the Huntsman some impressive adjustability. Built of 3 individual ladder sections and supported by an adjustable support bar, the assembly process is actually pretty simple.
The Huntsman attaches to the tree utilizing a stabilizer bar strap and two tree stand ratchet straps, offering extreme security against the tree. Included in the package, as is with all other Muddy tree stand packages, is one of their extremely innovative fall arrest safety harness systems to that you are always connected to the tree to prevent falls. Rounding out the top 5 ladder stands of 2017, the Muddy Huntsman is the perfect combination of comfort, durability, and versatility in a ladder stand.
Understanding Tree Stand Selection
Type of Game
Elk, moose, whitetail deer, black tail deer, mule deer, black bear, … the list of North American big game animals is quite a long one! With that said, there are certain styles to hunt each of these big game animals as well. Most people bait black bear where they spot and stalk a grizzly. They spot and stalk mule deer but hunt whitetail from elevated stands. The game you hunt largely determines “how” you hunt, and that can make all the difference in the type of tree stand you purchase.
If you want to get a bird’s eye view but still need to be somewhat mobile like some people do when they hunt elk in the timber, ladder stands are often a good choice. If you hunt moose up north in Maine and want to get a good vantage point to glass from and then can plan a stalk accordingly, a ladder stand might be the ticket. If you are hunting whitetail on public land, a combination of all 3 styles might get you the variety of setups in the variety of locations that you might need in order to catch up to a mature whitetail buck. But if you’re hunting pronghorn antelope out on the prairie, I doubt you’ll need a tree stand simply because there are no trees! Keep all this in mind when you are looking into making your next tree stand purchase.
Type of Terrain and Habitat
Terrain, just as it plays a vital role in how you might devise a hunt for a specific game animal, can just as easily determine which tree stand style you’ll want to invest in. The rolling hills of the Midwest, the swamps of the south, and some of the low country timber that people hunt elk in are all great places to take advantage of all 3 different styles of tree stands. However, if you’ve got to pack miles deep into the back country of the Rocky Mountains, odds are that cumbersome ladder tree stands aren’t going to get the job done. If you’re going to be hunting step hillsides, maybe a ladder stand offers the right amount of stability, or maybe a climber allows you to scale the tree high above the forest floor and out of the line of site of game that is above you on the slope. If you’re down in the swamps of Georgia, maybe a ladder stand would sink to far into the spongy ground. All of these things can help you narrow your search for the perfect tree stand.
Personal Preference and Hunting Style
Lastly, the style with which you hunt can play a major role in the type of tree stand you should purchase. Hunters who spot and stalk obviously don’t really have a need for tree stands at all to the outsider looking in. But some stands like the lightweight climbers do have their uses. Maybe you’ve spotted and studied a group of elk and know that they travel to a specific water source at 4 o’clock in the afternoon every day. That’s great intel, but what if that water source has no good ground cover within bow range to allow you to get in bow range? Well, if you’ve got a couple little aspen trees close that can provide some overhead cover, then a treestand is perfect!
If you’re the kind of guy that likes to wait until the whitetail rut to get into the wood and then you sit all day because you know that at any moment that bruiser buck might show up. For a hunter like that, being mobile might not mean a whole lot, so his main focus is to find a stand that offers optimum comfort. Even though he might not need to change locations at all, a climber might be his go-to simply for the comfortable seats they often offer.
Even still, for the guy down in Tennessee who hunts whitetail and wants to have as many different setups as possible on his property to allow him to pick and choose location based on weather patterns, deer movement from trail camera intel, and wind direction on any given day, then hang-on tree stands are probably the way to go because they are fairly inexpensive compared to the other two options.
Lastly, for the father-son, father-daughter, husband-wife duo, etc., often times ladder stands are the easiest way to get two people in the same tree. This allows for close proximity and enables easy coaching for young hunters and great communication for a team of hunters. This could be for any type of big game animal.
At the End of the Day
When it is all said and done, the choice is yours. Only you are able to discern which type of tree stand is ideal for your type of hunting. We hope that our list of the top 15 tree stands of 2017, broken into hang-on, climber, and ladder tree stands, provided you with ample information to start your search. Continue to research. Continue to explore the other options out there on the market. But this guide is a great place to start if you’re looking for a direction to go with your search.