Last Updated MAY 2018
Providing you with a good vantage point for visibility while keeping you way beyond the deer’s line of sight, a tree stand also ensures that your scent is not easily detected by the wild game down below. However, even if the purpose of a tree stand is pretty simple, it doesn’t mean you have to buy just any unit you find on the market. With safety being of primary importance in this type of equipment, the tree stand should also be built for comfort and full functionality. While you could always elect to make your own, a commercial tree stand should be purchased with thoughtful consideration of a number of aspects. Below is a chart comparing only the best climbing, ladder and hang-on tree stands.
Best Tree Stands for 2018 Comparison Chart
|Tree Stand||Type||Price||Our Rating||Weight (pounds)||Weight Capacity (pounds)|
|Summit Viper SD||Climbing||Check Current Price on Amazon.com||9.8||20||300|
|Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II||Climbing||Check Current Price on Amazon.com||9.3||17.5||350|
|Summit Dual Pro||Ladder||Check Current Price on Amazon.com||9.2||87||1 man=350|
|Millennium L-110 ||Ladder||Check Current Price on Amazon.com||10||92||300|
| Lone Wolf alpha II ||Hang-on||Check Current Price on Amazon.com||9.7||14||350|
|Millennium M100U||Hang-on||Check Current Price on Amazon.com||9.2||11.5||300|
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.
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.
Best Climbing Tree Stand Reviews
Engineered with the exclusive and smart sound dampening technology, the Summit Treestands Viper SD is built to reduce the metal-to-metal contact noise that comes with aluminum tubings. In its place is the Dead Metal Sound Deadening Technology that dampens the sound by having the critical parts filled with specially-made expanding foam so your target can’t hear you. The proprietary QuickDraw cable retention system is also the quietest yet fastest system ever, enabling you to just position the cable into the bracket and adjust the cable to fit the diameter of the tree. Then, pull the corresponding cable lug to the back of the bracket till the trigger is secured in place.
The RapidClimb Stirrups are adjustable to fit any boot. They are engineered with comfort so you can easily climb to the desired height. The treestand also comes with the Summit Lokt technology, which uses precision welds to ensure maximum strength and all-around rigidity.
Enjoy an awesome hunting experience every time in buck country with the Lone Wolf Hand Combo II. This model allows you to use any tree you want each hunting season. Lightweight at just 17.5 pounds, this tree stand folds down to a compact 5-inch profile for problem-free carrying. The full-size 30- by 19.5-inch cast aluminum platform has a unibody to ensure no weak spots while ensuring more than enough room for you to survey the area and take a shot. The smart 3D camouflage design keeps the tree stand hidden from the prey, so you can stay concealed up there. The seat pad has contoured foam to ensure comfort as you sit high up.
This tree stand comes with a bow holder that can take in most parallel limb bows, so you can keep safe when you choose to use a hunting rifle instead and just have the bow within reach at all times.
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.
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.
Best Ladder Tree Stand Reviews
Outfitted with a hefty weight of 87 pounds, the Summit Dual Pro ladder stand can accommodate a single occupant weighing 350 pounds and up to two hunters, each weighing 250 pounds. Perfect for novice hunters who aspire to have an awesome hunting trip with a buddy, this ladder stand boasts a full, generous platform on which one or two hunters can be supported. The padded seat provides comfort while waiting for the deer. The backrest is also padded so you can rest your back easily while waiting for the best time to take a shot. The removable gun rest enables you to position your gun before you while waiting for the deer to show up so you won’t have to be carrying your weapon in your arms the whole time.
The impressive realtree design is perfect for stealth hunting, as it makes the solidly built tree stand easily blend in with the hunting environment.
Boasting a strong welded construction, the Millennium Treestands L110 is your perfect hunting ally. It capably supports up to 300 pounds on the patented comfortMAX contoured tight-sling seat that you can easily fold back to obtain a better shot while standing. The powder coat finish ensures protection from corrosion so you can use the tree stand for many hunting seasons to come. The ladder comes with double rail rigidity to provide reliable stability. The adjustable shooting rail and arm rests are also padded so you can rest your arms and weapon comfortably to prevent hand fatigue. The folding footrest provides comfort while you wait to take the best shot.
The unit ships with an adjustable tree brace outfitted with a stabilizing strap so you can secure the stand to a tree quite easily. The platform offers generous space with its 20-inch width and 32-inch depth, so you can brace yourself adequately when taking a shot.
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.
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).
Best Hang-On Tree Stand Reviews
Extra lightweight at only 14 pounds, the Lone Wolf Alpha II supports up to 350 pounds of weight. This hang-on tree stand enables quiet ascent and descent so your target won’t become aware of your presence. Superbly easy to use, the tree stand is outfitted with a convenient self-leveling seat and platform so you can get to the recommended height and settle in the seat comfortably while waiting for the wild game. This model accepts a separately bought E-Z Hang Hook accessory so you can maximize your hunting experience by being able to preset a number of stand locations to enable easy and quick hanging. The huge 30- by 19.5-inch single-piece cast aluminum platform has no weak joints or segments to ensure safety and rigidity.
The distinctive camo design goes well with the quiet tree stand engineering to ensure you remain undetected to your prey. Most parallel limb bows can be handled by the bow holder, keeping your weapon within easy reach.
Made 20 percent lighter than the original M100 model, the M100U can easily fold flat to enable easy transportability in backpack style. This tree stand has a seat that can be made to fold against the tree so you can take a standing shot stance easily. The proprietary comfortMAX sling seat is built tight to ensure safety plus comfort when you have to be on the hunt the whole day. This tree stand boasts an all-aluminum construction for corrosion-proof performance through many hunting seasons. The tough powder coat finish ensures freedom from rust.
Lightweight at just 11 ½ pounds, this model has a 17-inch high seat and a platform measuring 20 inches wide and 17 inches deep for more than enough space to position yourself on the tree stand and take aim. Able to support up to 300 pounds, this lightweight tree stand is quiet and easy to set up so you can be up in the tree safely in no time.
What I Personally 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.
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.
You can always take a tree stand safety course given by the Treestand Manufacturers Association together with other organizations in order to ensure that you really know how to make the most of a tree stand during hunting. That being said, there are some basic pointers you really need to focus on when using a tree stand. Whether you are a novice hunter or a seasoned deer hunter, these are the important things you need to remember.
Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the tree stand you buy.
Never assume that just because a tree stand is cited to be easy to use, you don’t really need the manufacturer’s instructions to set it up. On the contrary, you will have to read and understand the instructions and guidelines supplied in the manual of the unit prior to going out in the wild to use it. Practice using the tree stand both in the morning and evening to ensure you can set it up even with your eyes closed.
More importantly, remember to inspect every component carefully before use, making sure there are no rusty or worn out parts or cracks, no missing or loose bolts and nuts, no visible metal fatigue, rotting or deterioration. Do this too after use in case the problems only show then. Replace worn or corroded hardware immediately and tighten any loose elements. Chains, straps or other attachment points should show no signs of wearing out. Promptly replace any parts that appear unsafe for use.
Consult the corresponding link, if any, of the Consumer Product Safety Commission on any product recalls on tree stands to make sure the product you have isn’t one of them.
Let your loved ones know of your hunting plans.
Before leaving home, make sure your family and friends know exactly where to find you in case of emergencies. Leave a copy of your hunting itinerary with them, including the location of the tree stand you’ll be using. Whenever possible, go to the hunting ground with a hunting buddy and if you intend to use separate sites, let them know where yours is. Have a means of communication on hand, such as a cellphone or walkie-talkie. Keep track of the time you’ll be spending out and stick to your schedule.
Have a whistle, strobe, horn or any signaling device in your hunting pack. Make sure the device is loaded with fresh batteries.
Observe safety before and when leaving the ground.
Select a proper or good tree to which a lock-on or climbing tree stand is to be attached. The tree should show no visible signs of rot or damage. Stick to the tree size specifications and restrictions for the tree stand.
Be sure you are harnessed up with an effective, high quality and strong fall arrest system as you go up the tree. Make sure the tree stand has secure attachment to the tree trunk. Use a haul line or rope to get your hunting gear up to the trees tand after you’ve climbed up, so your hands are free while ascending. Make sure that your hunting firearm or bow is unloaded before climbing and before leaving the tree stand. If you’re sick, tired or on medication, do not use a tree stand. Inspect the condition of the tree stand and safety harness before use and during every season.
Check that the tree steps or ladder on a fixed or ladder tree stand are secure or tightly attached to the tree. Use tree stands extra carefully during ice, snowy or rainy conditions. Remember to have three points of contact to the ladder or steps when going up to and down from the tree stand. Inch your way up one foot at a time using slow and consistent movements.
Know your limits and those of the tree stand.
Don’t take chances by going beyond your own physical limitations. Don’t go any higher than necessary. An elevated tree stand should be less than ten feet above the ground, so don’t test yourself by going any higher than that.
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.