For the most part, if you ask yourself the right questions about what you need in a treestand, you should end up with a pretty straightforward answer.
Still, it is possible that you would get lured into the wrong product based on a poor recommendation from a friend or the temptation of a great price on something not suited to your needs.
If you buy the wrong stand for the job, lots of unfortunate things could happen:
- You could quickly learn that a few pounds of weight difference are a big deal depending on how far you have to pack it.
- If you do not pick a stand that has some safeguards against theft, you could easily have one stolen if you leave it in the woods (especially on public property, but someone that is okay with trespassing is probably also tempted to thieve).
- An undersized stand might be uncomfortable and prevent you from sitting still or for a long time.
- A stand not designed for your hunting method could prevent you from taking the shot you need.
- A stand not rated for your weight level could fail either catastrophically or over time.
While buying the wrong stand can set you up for failure, picking a stand that is ideal for you can yield great results.
Whether you are new to treestand hunting or it has been a while since your last treestand purchase, this article is for you.
In addition to a review of some great climbing treestands, this will give you a better understanding of why the right treestand for the job is essential. You will also learn why climbing treestands are considered by many to be the ideal solution for their hunting needs.
The Top Treestands of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for climbing treestands of 2018:
- Best for the money: Get the Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climber Treestand (Read 210+ Amazon customer reviews)
- Best lightweight: Get the Summit Viper Elite SD (Read 115+ Amazon customer reviews)
- Best overall: Get the Summit Goliath SD (Read 40+ Amazon reviews)
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Product|| || || || || ||
|Weight Capacity||300 lbs||300 lbs||250 lbs||250 lbs||350 lbs||350 lbs|
|Foot Platform||21″ wide x 31″ deep||19" x 26"||19 1/2" x 28 3/4"||17″ wide x 29″ deep||20" x 36"||20” x 35”|
|Seat Size||19″ wide x 10″ deep||10" x 17"||18" x 12"||15″ wide x 9″ deep||18" x 12"||22” x 34”|
|Weight||13.8 lbs||33 lbs||17 lbs||11 lbs||21 lbs||19 lbs|
|Construction||Pro-lite Series 60/61 Aircraft Aluminum||Sturdy, all-steel||Lightweight Aluminum||Pro-lite Series 60/61 Aircraft Aluminum||Closed-front aluminum||All steel|
|Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||$$$|
Best For The Money
X-Stand The X-1
When you are contemplating the purchase of a piece of hunting equipment designed to hang you 15 feet up in a tree, “cheap” is not a word you necessarily want to hear thrown around.
The X-1 by X-Stand would not be described as cheap, but it is often available at a tremendous value. While some products do not seem to go on sale often, the X-Stand products are often advertised heavily discounted.
Its price is about half the price of comparable products on the market that has similar weights. At just 13.8 pounds, it is one of the lightest climbing stands available.
The X-1 is not the cheapest on the market but it is the best bang for your buck. Its features are similar to many of those stands that cost twice as much:
- 10” x 19” padded seat (3” of padding)
- Large, 31” x 21” foot platform
- 4-Point full-body safety harness
- 300-pound weight capacity
- Aluminum construction
- Bar flips up to double as shooting rest
Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climber Treestand
If you are looking for a great value in many outdoor products, the house brand of a major retailer is a good place to start.
In many instances, these products are made in the same factories as big-name brands and you get a like-quality product for less money. Guide Gear is the Sportsman’s Guide house brand and an excellent example of a line of great products.
The Extreme Deluxe comes with a foam padded seat, backrest and armrests, all clad in camouflage for concealment. The frame is sturdy steel so you know you are not compromising on strength, safety or rigidity.
Size-wise, it is right in the middle of the market. It has a 10-inch by 17-inch seat and a 19-inch by 26-inch foot platform that situates it amongst most products not marketed as oversized.
- Included full body harness
- 18 in x 14 in Padded backrest
- Adjustable nylon foot straps for climbing
- 300-pound weight capacity
- Weighs 33 pounds
Summit Viper Elite SD
The standard Summit Viper treestand has been a gold-standard on the market for a long time.
They raised the bar for the Viper line with the Elite model. With a variety of design enhancements including a round-tube perimeter frame, they managed to shave nearly 3 pounds off the previous Viper model. Without much compromise to size, the Viper Elite comes in at a mere 17 pounds.
The Viper Elite still has a comfortably-sized seat at 18” by 12”, and the platform area is 19 ½” by 28 ¾”. Perhaps the most notable downside of its weight-saving construction is its weight capacity — it has a 250-pound maximum weight.
It is the ideal climber for packing in any amount of distance and it can be hung on trees ranging from 8” to 20” in diameter. Summit offers 5-year warranties on their treestands, so you can be sure they are built to last many seasons.
- Bungee backpack straps
- Mesh, camo seat
- Lightweight aluminum tube frame with closed seat
- Zippered camo arm pads
- Safety harness
- Patented RapidClimb Stirrups
X-Stand The Mini X-1
The Mini X-1 is the latest and lightest in the line from X-Stand, which they claim represents the lightest treestands available on the market.
While the standard X-1 stand features a frame that weighs just less than 10 pounds, the Mini X-1 is sized down to just an 8.5-pound frame. Once it is fully geared and accessorized (including your harness), it still comes in at just 11 pounds.
Of course, as the name suggests, it is a little on the “mini” size. The seat is 15” by 9”, but still features the popular X-Stand 3″ of cushion. The foot platform is 17” x 29”, and the whole frame is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum.
It also maxes out at a 250-pound weight capacity. Still, if you are in the market for a lightweight, packable climbing treestand, there is no better option than the Mini X-1.
The weight represents the extreme low for the market and the price falls right in the middle. Its feature set is consistent with most products in that middle price point:
- Quick-attach cable for tree-size adjustment
- Lay-flat design makes for easy packing
- Proprietary flex arms hold the stand securely to the tree
- 3-D Camouflage pattern for concealment
- Anti-slip foot platform
Summit Goliath SD
With 30 years of good products in the treestand market, Summit has become one of the most trusted brands available. Depending on your needs, they make several models that could be argued as the best overall.
The Goliath gets the nod here because it offers the hunter some space to maneuver without adding a whole bunch of weight. While it weighs just 21 pounds, it has a 350-pound weight capacity and generously sized seat and platform.
The Summit climbing system includes their patented Quickdraw Cable Retention System, which allows for easy adjustments for a variety of tree sizes. The Goliath also utilizes the RapidClimb climbing stirrups that quickly adjust to attach any sized boots to the platform securely.
SD stands for sound deadening. Their five-chamber aluminum constructed frames are designed specifically to quiet the noises of your movements while on the stand.
They include an instructional DVD to make sure you understand how to utilize all of features safely:
- Aluminum construction
- 18” x 12” padded, Mossy Oak camo seat
- 20” x 36” D- shaped platform
- Full Body Fall Arrest Harness System
- Coated steel climbing cables
- Stand Umbilical Rope
TreeWalker ProMag XL Treestand
Like Summit, TreeWalker could have several products in the “Best Overall” category; but the ProMag XL offers a good comparison to the Summit Goliath SD.
As its name suggests, the ProMag offers ample space with a 22” by 34” seat frame above a 20” by 35” platform. Its combination rail can be used as a shooting rest, bow rest or adjustable backrest, making it extremely versatile.
Standing shots facing in front or behind the tree? No problem.
It be used in various tree sizes from 6” to 26”. It uses a seat-climbing system, which means no need for stirrups to lock in as you climb.
TreeWalker is also the only treestand brand that sells 100% American Made products.
- Lightweight- 19 pounds
- Patented Posi-Grip system assures no slip without needing straps
- Easy Glide Seat reclines in both directions
- Interlock system snaps the seat and platform together for easy transport
Why Climbing Treestands are Dominating the Market
A lot of treestand hunting opportunities call for a stand that is not left in the tree. It could be that you are hunting on public property where a permanent stand is either not allowed or likely to be stolen.
Many stands that are designed to be left are either heavier or they require you to use climbing stakes to access the stand. If you are hunting an area that is hard to access, heavier stands or more accessories are not the best to pack in.
Pros & Cons
A climbing treestand is versatile, lightweight and easy to put up and take down for each hunt. Unlike a ladder treestand, it is limited to single person occupancy. However, many people get around this by putting additional stands in nearby trees.
It is also smaller and has a less stable feeling than a ladder stand or some hanging stands. A quality climbing stand is safe but it takes some familiarity because of the size and slight movements.
Some of the other downsides of the climbing treestand are associated with the fact that they are designed to be put up when you get to the tree.
In some situations, putting up the stand could be disruptive to the animals in the area when compared to sneaking up the ladder of an established stand. Many people also like the notion of giving animals time to acclimate to a stand in the area because its presence may initially throw them off.
How to Overcome the Downside
Despite its few downsides, the climbing stand is still the ideal solution in many scenarios.
- You still may want to visit the area beforehand and pick the tree you will place the stand in.
- You can cut away branches that would interfere with the installation or your view once you are situated in the stand.
Because they are easy to put up and take down, you can use them in multiple locations in a single day. Their lightweight construction also makes them reasonable to pack around to multiple spots.
Important Choosing Factors
If you are reading this article, you have probably already decided that a climbing treestand is the direction you want to go. Though you already narrowed your search down to the single category, there are still lots of brands and models to choose from.
Answer the following questions to help you decide:
- How do you access the treestand location?
If you plan to use a treestand in a location miles away from the nearest road and you must bring it in on your back, a lighter weight option is the best.
If your site is right off the road or you can reasonably get an ATV to area, you do not have to worry as much about weight.
- How much space do you want in your treestand?
In most cases, the tradeoff to a lightweight climbing stand is one with a smaller seat and platform. For some people, space is not something they are willing or able to sacrifice.
If you are a bigger hunter or you like having a little more room to move around, there are climbing treestands built to accommodate you.
- What kind of trees are you putting your treestand in?
Most climbing treestands accommodate trees 6” to 20” in diameter, but some have a wider range than others. If you know your area is full of bigger or smaller trees, this limitation could come into play.
Also, if the trees are very close together or have lots of limbs, some of the compact models that are shaped to squeeze into tight spots work best for you.
- How much do you weigh?
Many climbing treestands come with at least 300-pound weight capacities that will accommodate a lot of hunters. If you are on the heavier side or plan to pack lots of gear into the tree with you, make sure to find a stand that has an appropriate weight rating.
- How much do you want to spend?
If price is an essential factor to you, it makes prioritizing your needs in a treestand even more critical. There may be a stand that perfectly fits your needs but it may be out of your budget.
If you are trying to buy a more affordable stand, you may find one that is light or spacious but probably not both. The feature-loaded stands that offer the best of both worlds are going to cost you.
One significant advantage of buying a climbing stand is you can just purchase one to use in multiple locations instead of needing many.
- Do you hunt with a rifle or a bow?
Most treestands now are built to accommodate either hunting method because that keeps them open to any market. However, some of them come with features that are better suited for one or the other.
You might also consider whether you like shooting your compound bow or rifle from a seated position or you prefer a stand that allows for standing shots.
Some features to look for would be:
- an incorporated rest for a rifle
- a hook for a bow (although a rifle could be hung by a sling)
- ample room to draw a bow.
- Do you want a “sit and climb” stand or a “hand climbing” treestand?
This might be the trickiest question to answer if you do not have experience with one of the two styles but you will encounter both options on the market.
The choice between the two boils down to personal preference and you probably will not know which you want until you experience both. Demoing a friend’s stand is one good way to determine which you prefer.
As you answer these questions, you should end up with a pretty clear idea of what model treestand you need. Ultimately, weight and cost are the two variables that are likely to create the biggest differences between two stands when it comes to features.
Even if you have to make some compromises, going the direction that the answers point you in will lead you to a treestand you should be happy with.