Let’s say this bow season you go hunting just two days a month. You get to the woods at five o’clock. You like a warm meal, so you only stay out until noon. That adds up to 70 hours in your tree stand, just about three whole days. And you’re probably going to go hunting a lot more than that.
Your tree stand isn’t a purchase to take lightly. You’ll be spending a lot of time in it. Bowhunters have come to love climbing stands for their convenience and versatility. First, consider the qualities of tree stands that make them good for bowhunting. Then take a look at our favorites.
Our Top Climbing Stand Picks
- Summit Treestands Viper SD– “Quiet, lightweight design puts this stand in the top spot”
- Summit Treestands Titan SD– “The increased size make this stand a great choice”
- Lone Wolf Wide Sit & Stand Combo II– “This stand’s wide front design makes it an easy pick”
- X-Stand Deluxe Hunting– “This stand makes the list for being so easy to use”
- Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Hunting Climber– “Recommended for its unbeatable price range”
What is a climbing tree stand?
Climbing tree stands are great because you can put them up in a tree and take them down easily. Many hunters use public land where you can’t leave a tree stand, so something they can carry with them is essential.
No, a climbing tree stand isn’t an elevator. You’re actually the one doing the climbing. The stand displaces your weight so you create pressure and friction against the side of the tree, and this holds you in place. It’s made of two parts: the upper seat and the lower platform. You use these to make your way up the tree like an inchworm, but we’ll get into that later.
Climbing vs ladder tree stands
Unlike climbing tree stands, ladder tree stands reach from their spot up the tree down to the ground with a ladder you can use to climb into and out of the stand. This means they’re easier to get into, of course, but they’re harder to move around. The main benefit of a climber is its maneuverability. You can collapse it and carry it to a new spot whenever you want. If you’ve got a great spot you want to use time after time, though, a ladder stand might be more convenient.
Climbing vs hang-on tree stands
A hang-on tree stand works similar to a climbing tree stand. It uses displaced weight to press the stand against the tree. Hang-ons are designed to be fastened to a tree and left there, though. Again, the benefit then of the climber is its maneuverability. If you like to hunt from several different trees throughout the season, then a climber is your best bet. However, if you have the option of leaving a stand up somewhere, a hang-on stand might be more convenient because you don’t have to carry it out of the woods each time.
Are climbing tree stands safe?
Safety is a big concern with tree stands. Anytime you’re going high up into a tree, you’re taking a risk. Luckily, it’s easy to minimize that risk with the safety precautions included with modern tree stands.
It’s important to always wear a safety harness. This will keep you from falling if you slip out of the stand or on the off chance that it malfunctions. Climbing tree stands also utilize stirrups that connect your bottom feet to the platform while you’re climbing. Use these properly. More than anything, make sure you read the instructions and climb correctly. There is a right way to do it. More on that later.
What to look for
Is it easy to take standing shots?
Something to consider when picking your stand is how well you’ll be able to shoot from it. If you’re using a compound, recurve or longbow, you need enough space for your stance when shooting. Some stands are extra wide or widen out in the front to give you a little more room. Others have seats that flip up. The platform should be stable, and you should be able to position the stand so nothing is in the way of your arm when you draw the bowstring.
Is it comfortable to spend a long time in?
I’ve always thought the word “stand” a little misleading. You really spend most of your time sitting in it, after all. Dedicated hunters might spend a full day in their stand, so the comfort of the seat isn’t something to shrug off. Most tree stands employ some kind of foam or cushion seat, but they’re not all created equal.
Is it easy to lug around?
The biggest advantage of a climbing tree stand is that you can pack it up, sling it on your back and take it home. Then your next hunt, you can take it somewhere else. Of course, this means the lighter weight and more easily collapsible it is, the better. A heavy, bulky stand is a pain.
How safe is it?
Safety is no small concern when it comes to climbing tree stands. Make sure whatever stand you decide on has all the necessary safety features, including a harness and stirrups. If not, be sure to get your own harness. Many manufacturers go beyond that and design extra safety measures for their stands like cable systems. Take these into consideration.
Is it quiet?
Climbing tree stands are almost always made of metal, and that metal can make a lot of noise banging against itself and the tree while you’re climbing. That noise can then alert the deer to your presence, and you’ll never even see one. Different brands use different innovative techniques to minimize the sounds their stands make. Try to find one as quiet as possible.
How to use a climbing tree stand
First, you have to find a good tree. Normally this means one that doesn’t have any branches between you and the height you want to hunt from. At least, not any too large to cut off with the clippers or saw you’ve brought. Also make sure the tree isn’t too wet and slippery for your stand and that the metal teeth of the stand can adequately pierce the bark of the tree.
Once you’ve found your tree, attach the stand to it. Each piece should loop tightly around the tree so that the stand’s own weight puts enough pressure on the tree to keep it place. Next, attach your gear to the stand. Tie a line from the stand to your bow. Put on your safety harness.
Now you’re ready to get in the stand. Enter in between the seat and the platform. You’ll be squatting. Come up through the seat till you can sit in it. Fasten your feet in the stirrups of the platform and attach your safety harness to the tree.
Finally, make your way up the tree like an inchworm. Release the pressure on the platform and lift it up beneath you. Hook it back into the tree, then release the pressure from the seat. Stand up. This will raise the seat up with you. Hook the seat back into the tree and repeat. Be sure to move your safety harness up with you as you move.
When your stand is where you want it, pull your gear up into the stand with you. Find the position that’s comfortable for you and practice getting up to shoot as smoothly and quietly as possible. All that’s left is to wait for your deer.
Our Top Picks Reviewed
Summit Viper SD Climber
Summit Treestands has held a reputation for quality in the hunting world for years. The Viper SD is their flagship model, a great purchase for someone just learning to use climbing stands.
The Viper SD was one of the first tree stands to take advantage of aluminum assembly. While still being strong enough to hold 300 lbs, this stand weighs only 20 lbs itself. The downside of the lightweight can be the small size, and larger hunters might find that they feel a little cramped.
Summit added an additional innovation to this stand as well. Sound deadening technology keeps the aluminum assembly from clanging together while you’re climbing the tree. Getting in position quietly is essential.
The Viper SD has a closed front. This limits your movement, but it adds security and stability. This is especially important for the bowhunter because you have to make much more exaggerated movements to use your weapon. The stand also comes with a full-body safety harness to ensure maximum safety.
This stand is covered with camouflaged foam that’s comfortable for long periods of time. You can also easily replace the foam which gives the stand more versatility.
The Viper SD has been Summit Treestands best-selling stand for 17 years for a reason. It’s a basic stand that fulfills a wide range of hunting needs. For the general hobbyist bowhunter, it’s a versatile stand that provides quality and safety for a great price.
Summit Titan SD
This is another model in Summit’s SD line that combines quality and innovation to make a stand that’s been favored by hunters for years. Like the Viper SD, the Titan SD makes use of a strong aluminum assembly that is lightweight yet durable.
The Titan SD’s defining feature is its increased size over the Viper SD. This stand can hold up to 350 lbs. It’s wider and deeper as well. The seat is 18” x 12”, and the platform is 21” x 30.75”. The added size makes the Titan SD ideal for larger hunters who haven’t been able to fit properly in smaller stands. It can also benefit the hunter who needs to little bit more room for whatever reason, be it extra gear or a cleaner shot. The bigger frame does add a little bit of weight to the stand making it 25 lbs total. This is definitely something to consider if you are carrying a lot and weight is becoming an issue.
It’s quiet and stable as well. The closed front adds security, and the QuickDraw cable retention system keeps the stand sturdy during climbing and while resting on the tree. Summit takes safety seriously, so they’ve locked the joints as well as welding them. Anyone worried about safety can appreciate the precautions taken with this stand’s design.
The Titan SD is a great option for anyone concerned with both comfort and safety on their hunt. Bowhunters can especially benefit from the wider frame and increased space for movement in the stand.
- Large size
Lone Wolf Wide Sit & Stand Combo II
The Wide Sit & Stand Combo II by Lone Wolf is a quality stand made specifically with bowhunters in mind. Maybe the most impressive thing about this stand is the bow holder. It’s designed to hold most bows and really makes an all-day hunt that much more enjoyable.
Plus, the Sit & Stand is big. The platform is 30” by 19.5”, and the entire stand widens out away from the tree. This isn’t just important because it’s comfortable. It gives the bowhunter an advantage because he can have a higher range of motion with his weapon.
Despite its large size, the Sit & Stand is relatively light at 21 lbs. Even better, it folds down to a four-inch profile when packed. This makes the stand easier to carry, and it makes it a lot stealthier because it’s less likely to catch on every sapling and bush you pass on your way to your tree. The downside to this highly collapsible design is that it can be a little complicated to pack and unpack.
The climbing mechanisms on this stand are also innovative. They work really well, but like the packing design, this can be complicated for a hunter used to other stands. It also loses a point for its coloring, which is camo on the back of the seat but monocolor everywhere else. In reality, this probably doesn’t make much difference to the deer eye, but it might make you feel like you stick out.
Still, the Sit & Stand makes its way quickly and quietly up a tree, and when you get to the top, it’s comfy. The two-paneled foam seat contours to your posture, and the wide, open design of the stand gives you plenty of room. And of course, it has all the necessary safety features including a strong harness.
- Wide design
- Bow holder
- Highly collapsible
- Complicated to work
X-Stand Deluxe Hunting
The X-Stand Deluxe Hunting Climbing Tree Stand has an intersection of durability and light weight that’s tough to match. The steel cables and aluminum frame make this stand tough and secure, yet it manages to weigh in at a convenient 18.5 lbs with everything attached. It’s easy to get up the tree, and it’s easy to haul in. Plus, it’s super simple to collapse and strap to your back.
To achieve this light weight, however, X-Stand took the back off the seat. It might not seem like a big deal, but after hours in the stand, it could get uncomfortable. The shoulder straps don’t have any padding, either, so climbing might be a bit less convenient.
The X-Stand Climbing Tree Stand is highly functional. The pivoting seat bar not only provides security, but it also stabilizes you when shooting. The height of the stand is easy to adjust, so bowhunters can put this stand in exactly the right position to get a quality shot.
This stand is the pinnacle of a bare-bones tree stand. The design is simple and effective to give the hunter exactly what he or she needs without adding extra weight or unnecessary accessories. This keeps it in a low price range as well. If you’re a veteran hunter who’s more concerned about functionality and maneuverability than comfort, this stand could be a great choice.
- Low price range
- Easy to use
Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe
The Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Hunting Climber is easily one of the most durable stands on the market. Made of resilient steel, this stand is sure to last you season after season, hunt after hunt. At the same time, it might also be one of the least expensive stands on the market. The price range is great for anyone, but especially a new hunter who’s trying different kinds of stands to find what works best for him or her.
You’re asking what the catch is. Well, it’s heavy. All that steel adds up. Altogether, it weighs around 33 lbs. That can be a hassle to haul into the woods on your back, but the benefit is knowing it’s not going to break on you.
This stand is easy to set up and easy to use, even for a beginner. The nylon straps make it a quiet climb, so you won’t scare any deer off in the early morning dark, even if you’re clumsy. The stand comes with all the necessary safety features including a fully functional and stable harness.
For its price the Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Hunting Climber Tree Stand is also quite comfortable. The seat and seatback are made of one-inch foam, and the seat bars also have foam wraps so you don’t have to rest any skin on the tough steel frame. All that foam comes in a versatile camo pattern as well. Again, this is great for the beginning bowhunter who might not yet be used to sitting in a stand for a long period of time.
- Low price range
- Easy to use