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Best Tree Stand 2015 – Climbing, Ladder & Hang-on Reviews

Tree StandTypePriceOur RatingWeight (pounds)Weight Capacity (pounds)
Summit Viper SD
ClimbingCheck Current Price on Amazon.com9.820300
Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II
ClimbingCheck Current Price on Amazon.com9.317.5350
Summit Dual Pro

LadderCheck Current Price on Amazon.com9.2871 man=350
2 men=250each
Millennium L-110
LadderCheck Current Price on Amazon.com1092300
Lone Wolf alpha II
Hang-onCheck Current Price on Amazon.com9.514350

Types of Tree Stands

Tree stands are generally available in fixed, climbing and ladder styles. Let’s take a quick look at the attributes of each style so you can choose the best tree stand for you.

Climbing Tree Stands

With climber tree stands or as some people call them, climbing tree stands, a hunter can just backpack the stand to the best place for it. Of course the hunter will have to find a fairly large tree with a straight trunk and a minimal amount of obstructing limbs at the preferred stand height.

Looking for the best climbing tree stand? Climber tree stands come with a top part to sit on and a bottom part for the legs to rest on. They take a little getting used to in order to get up the tree to the level you want. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do but then just climbing a tree is not that easy to do either. From a weight perspective, you can expect them to weigh close to 30 pounds.

In my opinion the best type of climber tree stands use a cable instead of a chain to attach themselves to the tree. You should also make sure that it is large enough to accommodate you and that the view is unobstructed with 180 degree sweep visibility.

Mother nature equips animals such as deer with a lot of defense mechanisms. The most acute is smell, but sight is also a strong factor. That being the case, be sure the stand cannot easily be seen. Some hunters believe that just because they are above eye level everything is okay. That may be the case, but for example, if there is a hillside near the tree stand location then at some point it may actually be at eye level with the game. Also, you don’t want to place it on a completely bare side of a tree. It will surely be noticed as something new and something to be avoided by the game.

Climbing tree stands are the best option when looking at all types of tree stands. They are relatively light (around 30 pounds) and can be backpacked in and aren’t that difficult to move to a new location. The combination of gravity and the cable or chain is what keeps them attached to the trees. Personally I prefer the cable type.

Watching a hunter raise a climber tree stand looks a bit like a caterpillar action to me.


Climber Tree Stands Cautions

Okay we know they are light and can be easily moved but we should also point out their biggest disadvantage. They are smaller and not nearly as stable as a permanent one. It can take some getting used to. They don’t feel all that stable and that can be distracting until you get used to it. But after one or two deer hunts (or other type of game) you should feel comfortable.

About the only other thing to mention is that somehow the best spots don’t seem to have large enough or straight enough trees to mount them too. I know it’s probably just me and a little bit of the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome. But just know that the perfect spot you find may not work for a climber tree stand.

My recommendations

So what is the best climbing tree stand? I personally advise to spend a good amount of money and get a proven quality climbing treestand such as the Summit Viper SD Climbing Treestand (amazon.com) or the Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II (amazon.com). When it comes to my safety I want to take as less risk as possible so I only use the best products.


Ladder Stands

These tree stands are, as the name implies, built with a ladder that is generally around 15 feet tall.  A platform and a seat are built into the top of the ladder.  The tree stand rests against a tree and is attached to it at the platform and about halfway up the ladder.  Those are great and easy to use because you can virtually sit anywhere you can find a tree.  Branches and crooked trees are generally not a huge problem with ladder style tree stands.  Their downside  is that they can be very heavy and it usually takes 2 people to put up on a tree safely.  That’s the reason why most bow hunters leave them in their original location once they are set up.

My recommendations

So what is the best ladder tree stand? My recommendation here is either this ladder stand by Summit (Amazon.com) or the Millennium L-110 Single Ladder Treestand (amazon.com link) depending on your budget and how roomy you want it.


Fixed Position Tree Stands

The original tree stand design, fixed position or hang-on tree stands are a platform with a seat that is attached to the tree usually with a strap or a chain.  How you get up the tree is up to you.  These stands are very lightweight and you can put them on almost any tree you like.  They can be placed in very tight quarters and if you like to hunt in heavy cover for concealment they are an excellent choice.

As for climbing the tree, most hunters use screw win style steps.  Just as the name implies, these steps are pointed and threaded on one end and shaped into a step.  You screw the step into the tree trunk one at a time until you reach your desired height.  This can be very hard work and time consuming as well.  A hunting friend of mine takes a cordless drill with him to drill pilot holes for the steps, making it easier to get them started in the tree.  Another option is small ladder sections.  These are becoming very popular because they are easier to attach to the tree, but they add weight to your load going in.

Fixed position tree stands are generally left in their location like ladder stands because it can be time consuming and hard work to move these.

My recommendations

A good option -the best hang on tree stand from my experience- to consider is the Lone Wolf alpha II hang-on treestand (amazon.com link).


What I Use

I own a ladder style tree stand that I bought to hunt a particularly well used deer run through a stand of pines and some very mature, gnarly old trees.  It conceals me well and is always there ready for me to quietly climb up into and hunt.  I also own a climbing tree stand that allows me to hunt a number of areas on that same property.  It is light enough to carry on my back a mile or so to these other stand locations and allows me the flexibility to get into and out of different trees even in the same day if I’m not seeing deer.

I do not own a fixed position or hang-on style tree stand, but have sat in many over the years hunting with friends.  I love the flexibility they provide when it comes to choosing a tree to set up in.  These tree stands also allow you to sit in thicker cover with branches to break up your outline.  The platforms are generally smaller than those on climbing tree stands so comfort and even safety can be an issue.  Again, similar to the ladder style tree stand, they are there waiting for you to hunt and very quiet to get into quickly in the dark.

Your tree stands should be quiet to set up, they should be quiet when you are sitting in them and shift your weight and they should be matched to the type of trees you predominantly hunt in.

Properly Using A Tree stand

Hunting from a tree stand is one of the best ways to regularly get close to whitetail deer.  The elevated position they provide place you outside the cone of vision of a deer, which is generally focused on what is happening at ground level.  A treestand will help you get into position to draw undetected and even control the distribution of your scent to some degree.

How high is high enough?

The point about how high to hang a tree stand is hotly debated among bow hunters. My belief is that it first and foremost depends on your comfort level with heights and secondly on the terrain and cover you are hunting.  If you are uncomfortable with heights you will not feel at ease in a tree stand.  Having said that, I have a friend that regularly reaches heights in excess of 20 feet. To understand teh height, my rope to raise my bow to the stand maxes out at 18 feet.  We both have success, but I need to hunt just a bit differently to make up for the lower height of my stands; many times just 12 feet off the ground.  I simply seek out for those trees and areas that have better cover closer to the ground or those areas where I can use the rising or setting sun in my favor to keep deer from spotting me.  My friend, being at much bigger heights doesn’t have that much to worry about- he overcomes some of these obstacles I face by getting higher and higher.

Proper Placement

Hanging your tree stand in the proper location is more than just finding that pinch point or creek crossing the deer favor.  It means that after you find that spot, selecting the right stand location on the spot.  Hopefully, you will have at least a few trees to choose from within bow range of the trail.  At First, I consider the direction of travel of the deer and look for trees in an area downwind of where the deer will approach.  Secondly, I look for a good sized tree, because I feel more secure in a thick tree and I can better hide against it or behind it depending on how the deer are approaching.  I like a tree at least 3/4 as wide as my shoulders.  Third, I look for a tree that is in a stand of other trees to provide some cover behind me.  One of my favorite tree stand sites is an old gnarled tree that has 5 main trunks coming out of one stump.  It sits on a hillside with an old road bed below it.  It is tough to get up the first few feet of the tree, but once I hook my lower platform of my climbing tree stand I can pull myself up and continue the process.  I can only get up 10 feet off the ground in this tree, but the deer generally approach from the road bed which is another 4-8 feet below the tree adding some height to my position.  The other tree trunks also provide me great cover once in my tree stand.  In addition to the wind you can also use the sun to your benefit by positioning the stand so that a rising sun will be at your back while hunting in the morning.  Deer looking up in your direction will not see you through the glare from the sun.  Similarly, if you have an evening stand, pay attention to the path of the setting sun.


Not enough can be said or written about safety in a tree stand.  Many manufacturers have started to provide a safety harness of some sort with the purchase of their stands.  If you prefer a different style of safety harness that’s fine, but with the variety of styles on the market there should be no excuses about it being uncomfortable or in the way.  You need to fasten yourself to the tree when you are climbing the tree and also when you are on the tree stand.  It could save your life.

I hunted from the ground for the first 8 years and saw plenty of deer.  Most of them were spooked or at least slightly aware of my presence and in some instances I just couldn’t hunt effectively.  When I switched to a tree stand the number of deer I saw went through the roof and ironically, the best stand sites remain those that I still hunted through for years.  Still hunting allowed me to constantly scout while hunting and the information I gathered on deer movement translated into great stand locations once I had the right tools and an understanding of proper placement.

A good tree stand will be quiet, easy to get into and out of the woods and should allow you some degree of flexibility in its placement.  Climbing stands are not useful if all the trees in your area are covered with branches right to the ground.  Similarly, if all the trees in your area are tall and straight and there is not much for cover at 20 feet up in the way of branches from other trees, a ladder stand is not going to be very effective because it will only allow you to get about 15 feet above the ground.

In order to choose the best tree stand for you you first need to decide on what type you prefer and then read some tree stand reviews to make the right decision.

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