Are you looking to take your bowhunting to new heights? Tree stands have come to be one of the most focused-on aspects of deer hunting, and manufacturers have gone to great lengths to design different kinds of stands with a wide variety of features that give you advantages.
If you’re new to stand hunting, or if you’ve been using an old stand for a while and are looking for something to give you a new edge, this is the list for you. We’ve looked over the tree stands on market, the numerous brands and types, and picked out our six favorites. First, we’ll go through the ins and outs of tree stands so you know what you’re looking for.
Our Top Tree Stand Picks
- Millennium M-025-L Loc-On Tree Stand– “This stand tops our list for its quality design”
- Millennium M150 Monster– “The extra long platform makes this stand great for bowhunters”
- Muddy Huntsman Ladder Stand– “We chose this stand for its compact size”
- Millennium M-110-SL Single Ladder Stand– “Its comfort over long periods earn this stand a place on our list”
- Summit Treestands Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand– “We love the quiet design of this climber”
- Lone Wolf Assault Hand Climber Combo– “The light aluminum construction of this stand make it a terrific choice”
How high should a tree stand be for bowhunting?
The ideal height for your tree stand depends on a few factors. Your stand should be high enough to give you a good view of the surrounding area, but not so high that you can’t see through the tree cover.
Your stand should also be high enough that your scent is caught on the wind and carried away instead to the noses of nearby deer. The funnest way to figure out what height this is is with a kite, but you could also just climb a tree or ladder.
For both these factors, the ideal height tends to be around 16-20 feet, and you’ll notice that most ladder stands are manufactured in this range. If you’re a bowhunter, you have to pay extra attention to height because you have to be high enough that the deer don’t notice you drawing the bow. This means you have to be a little higher up than a rifle hunter. You should probably err closer to the 20 feet, maybe going up to 22.
The Types: Hang-On, Ladder or Climber?
Climbing stands are nifty inventions that allow you to scale the tree using the stand itself. The weight of the stand uses a fulcrum system to create pressure against the tree and keep the stand locked in place. The platform and seat are separated, so you can release the weight on one part to bring it higher. This way you basically inchworm your way up the tree.
Climbing stands maximize versatility and portability. They’re usually very light and can be carried easily in and out of the woods. Plus, you don’t need anything else to get you into the tree. If you like to try out a lot of different spots over the season, or if you can’t leave your stand up because you hunt on public land, climbing tree stands are great options.
Hang-on stands keep some of the portability of the climbing stands while adding a little bit of stability as well. They’re a good intersection. The stands are light and collapsible, so you can carry them in and out of the woods no problem. They come with strong brackets or straps to attach them to the tree. This lets you leave the stand up if you want. Alternatively, you can buy extra sets of brackets or straps and leave them up in various trees. Then you can carry your stand to whichever tree you want to hunt from.
The downside of hang-on stands is that they’re difficult to get into. Most hunters opt for climbing sticks which you attach to the tree leading up to the stand, and this means one more thing to either carry or leave in the woods.
Hang-on stands are ideal choices for anyone who’s hunting a new place and might want to leave their stand up if they find a good spot. They can also be a good choice for anyone who wants the versatility of a climbing stand but also wants something a little more secure.
Ladder stands aren’t very portable, but they maximize stability. They’re meant to be left in trees for the whole season, maybe even for years. As a result they’re strong, durable and safe. The frames and ladders are made of tough materials, and the platforms tend to be larger. This means you have more room for your stance.
Of course, the tradeoff for this is weight. Ladder stands are much heavier than climbers or hang-on stands, so it would be difficult to move them around even if you wanted to. You might not even be able to set it up by yourself. Consequently, ladder stands are great choices for someone who has a great spot picked out that they plan to hunt over and over.
Need a second man?
Climbing and hang-on stands are usually meant for one person, and you can usually operate them alone. Ladder stands, on the other hand, often need more people to set them up, especially if they’re heavy. One person holds the ladder in place while the other lifts it up and fastens it to the tree.
If the ladder stand is on the lighter side, you might be able to put it up yourself. You will have to hold the ladder in place somehow. One way to do this is to bend rebar over the bottom rung to keep it from sliding.
What type is best for bowhunting?
The best kind of stand for bowhunting depends on the situation and area, but in general, we’re partial to climbers. A bowhunter can hunt a much longer season, which means different phases of the deer life cycle. Different phases mean different strategies, so a versatile stand is key.
Climbing stands also let you more easily find your ideal height. Like we mentioned, height is more important when bowhunting, and this also gives you more versatility when hunting different seasons because the tree cover will change.
How comfortable is it going to be?
You’re going to be spending a long time in your stand. You want it to be comfortable. The seat is the most important factor to this. Consider whether it has a seatback and whether it’s padded or woven mesh. Padding will be softer, but woven mesh more supportive.
The size is also important. Larger seats and platforms allow you to stretch out more and change positions, so make sure the stand you pick is big enough for you.
Finally, check the extra comfort features the stand has. These could be things like footrests, armrests or bow holders. If you’re going to be in your stand all day–or even just several hours–every little bit will make a difference to how much you enjoy the hunt.
How portable is it?
If you’re going to be carrying your stand in and out of the woods or to other spots for hunting, you need to make sure it’s not going to be a hassle. Weight and size are obviously important to this. A heavier or larger stand will be inconvenient to carry. Also look at how collapsible it is, though. Some stands fold down flat while others end up in bulky shapes that are hard to carry.
What safety features are included?
See if the stands you’re considering have other safety features as well. This can mean things like fall arrest systems that make it less likely your stand will fail and fall from the tree.
Is it quiet?
Stands are big metal contraptions, so clanging and making noise is an associated risk. A lot of stands take measures to prevent this, so look at what they have before choosing one. Sound deadening technology is one thing that numerous modern stands feature that make them much quieter in the woods.
Also consider the quality of the construction and the welding. The more moving parts a stand has, the more likely it is to make noise. For ladder stands especially, make sure the ladder is as sturdy as possible so it won’t be loud while stepping on it.
A few tips from the experts
Pick the right tree
Your tree is everything when deer hunting. Your tree has to provide you cover while still giving you adequate shooting lanes. It has to be tall enough that you can see long distances but not so tall that the tree canopy blocks your view. Take time to find the right tree regardless of the stand you’re using.
Put your gear in the right place
Sometimes your trophy buck pops out when you’re least expecting it. Your gear needs to be easily accessible to take a quick shot. This is especially important for bowhunters. First of all, you have more gear to grab. Second of all, an awkward, bungled grab for your bow might be loud enough to scare off the deer. Be organized and keep everything close.
Keep your tree stand healthy
It might not seem like it, but tree stands are made of many little machines that require maintenance. Before each season you should check that every part of your stand, especially the safety features, are in tip-top shape. If it’s a climbing stand, make sure the teeth and fulcrum mechanisms still keep the stand tight to the tree. If it’s a hang-on, make sure the brackets or straps are strong and functional. If it’s a ladder stand, make sure everything is bolted together tight and that the ladder is safely attached and hasn’t been worn down.
Our Top Picks In Detail
Millenium M-025-L Loc-On Tree Stand
Millennium is one of the best-known brands on the tree-stand market and for good reason. They make quality products with fine craftsmanship and incredible value. The Millenium M-025 is a perfect example of this tradition.
Since the M-025-L is a hang-on stand, it combines portability with stability. The stand is really collapsible. You can fold it nearly flat, and it comes with back straps for carrying it. At 19 lbs it’s incredibly light for its weight capacity of 300 lbs. Despite this portability you connect it to the tree with a tough metal chain that’s stronger than similar straps yet still adjustable.
This great balance of portability and stability does come with one price. This stand takes a bit of assembling when you receive it. It comes with easy instructions, though, and it doesn’t take much time to put together.
The M-025-L is super comfortable. The seat is a tightly woven, contoured comfortMAX seat. It’s 20” wide and sits atop an even larger platform. That means you won’t just have room for your body, but you’ll also be able to take an accurate standing shot.
Ultimately, the Millennium M-025-L Loc-On tree stand tops our list because with all these great features, there just isn’t a catch. It even falls in an affordable price range.
- Collapsible and portable
- Flip-up seat
- Price range
Millennium M150 Monster
It’s no coincidence that the second stand on our list is also a Millenium. The M150 Monster is one of their newer models, and they’ve made a lot of innovations that really make this an ideal stand all around.
The Millennium M150 Monster is constructed of aluminum, so it’s light but durable. The frame is expertly welded and keeps it stable against the tree. The straps are secure. Millennium has also added is the ability to level the platform. While simple, this unique innovation helps you get the most accurate shot possible. A metal adjuster can be extended or retracted against the tree to change the angle of the platform. You can adjust it however you want based on your stance and preferences.
Maybe the best thing about the M150 Monster is its seat. For starters, it’s very comfortable. The mesh seat is tightly woven and holds your weight while still maintaining rigidity. It’s even ergonomically shaped. The stand also has a convenient flip-up seat that you can adjust based on your height. For a bowhunter, the benefit of this cannot be overstated. The M150 maximizes the space you have in your stand.
The platform helps maximize space as well. It’s 24” wide and 37” deep. That extra depth allows for wide stances, especially if you flip up the seat.. The platform is also wider than many others in the back, so you have a lot more room to find the right stance. It even has a foot rest.
The M150 Monster is another quality Millennium stand you should check out if you need a tough, secure stand that’s also highly adjustable.
- Flip-up seat
- Long platform
- Platform can be leveled
Muddy Huntsman Ladder Stand
When it comes to the Muddy Huntsman, the name says it all. This is a simple stand made for the nitty gritty hunter. It gets the job done.
The Muddy Huntsman is a ladder stand, so it’s not exactly designed to carried around. Still, for a ladder stand, it’s pretty lightweight. It’s under 62 lbs. You will have to carry your stand into the woods at least once, after all. If you’re going to try to set it up alone, the lighter weight will really make things easier. Even if you have conscripted a buddy to help you, he’ll probably appreciate the convenience of this stand.
Now, the Muddy Huntsman is on the smaller side, especially for a ladder stand. Along with the innovative graphite construction, this is one of the reasons it’s so lightweight. For a bowhunter, the small size can hinder the quality of your shot. It does have a flip-up seat, though, so you can maximize the space there is.
On top of its simplistic design, this stand is really comfortable The stand comes with full padding on the seat, seatback and armrests, and the seat is well shaped. The platform is also nice and stable because it extends to the tree after setup.
Muddy Huntsman makes durable products for hunters who expect quality from their stands. Their ladder stand is no exception. This stand could be a great choice for someone who has private land to hunt with a ladder stand but wants to be able to set it up solo. It could also work well for a beginner who wants to learn on something simple.
- Simple assembly
- Flip-up seat
Millennium L-110-SL Single Ladder Tree Stand
Millennium makes our list again for a stand that really takes comfort to a whole new level. The Millennium L-110-SL is a basic one-man stand that doesn’t skimp on great features. The stand includes full padding, and the sling seat is contoured to make all-day hunts easily doable. The armrests are adjustable, and it even has a foot rest.
The L-110-SL is durable and stable. Millenium constructed it strong-welded steel and an adjustable tree brace so you can make sure the stand is fastened to the tree as securely as possible. The disadvantage of such a strong design is its weight. The Millennium L-110-SL exceeds 90 lbs. This is a lot, even for a ladder stand, and especially for a one-man stand. You shouldn’t expect to put this stand up alone, but when you do put it up, you should expect it to stay there.
This stand is on the smaller side, which can be bad for space. But on the plus side, it’s compact and efficient for a single hunter. Also, Millennium did manage to increase the platform a bit to 20” by 32”. It has a flip-up seat as well, so you should be able to take an accurate shot.
The Millennium L-110-SL come with a strong safety line, and the adjustable tree brace makes the stand less likely to fall because you can set it perfectly for the tree you find. The stabilizing straps keep it firmly in place. If you’re planning all day hunts, comfort and safety are going to be your two most important factors. This stand maximizes them both.
- Comfortable for long periods
- Flip-up seat
Summit Treestands Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand
Summit Treestands has held a reputation for quality in the hunting world for years. The Viper SD is their flagship model. If you haven’t used a climbing stand before, this is a great option for learning the basics.
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. In a climbing stand, this makes an even bigger difference because you want enough room to feel secure while climbing.
Summit Treestands 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 and can be one of the downsides of a climbing stand. This stand eliminates that.
The Viper SD has a closed front. This is really helpful for the bowhunter because you have to make much more exaggerated movements to use your weapon. The bar in front is an extra safety measure so you don’t have to worry about falling over the front. The stand also comes with a full-body safety harness to ensure maximum security.
This stand is comfortable for long periods of time thanks to padding that comes in a nice camo pattern. You can also easily replace the padding, though, if you prefer a different pattern. This gives the stand more versatility.
The Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand has been Summit Treestands’ best-selling stand for 17 years for a reason. It has a wide range of features that fulfill 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.
Lone Wolf Assault Hand Climber Combo
Lone Wolf has a cool name and a cool logo, sure. But their stands are even better. The Assault Hand Climber is a quality stand that really maximizes all the benefits of climbing stands.
To start with, this stand is super light. It’s only 14.7 lbs. If you’re hunting public land and need something that’s easy to carry in and out with you, don’t overlook this stand. Your shoulders will thank you.
Fair warning: this stand does come in a higher price range, but you get what you pay for. Lone Wolf constructed their Assault Climber with a carefully engineered aluminum platform that keeps the weight down while still being easily collapsible and portable. Plus, it’s comfortable and safe. The seat is padded foam in a 3D camo design that will keep the deer confused. It also has a 6-point fall arrest system, which will keep you secure along with the included safety harness. Safety is a particular concern for people new to climbing stands, but with this one, you won’t have to worry.
Finally, the Lone Wolf Assault Hand Climber Combo is adjustable. If you’re going for a climbing stand, that means you’re probably going to be picking a new tree each hunt, whether by choice or necessity. The traction belts on the stand fit trees from 6-19 inches in diameter, and you can even order larger ones if you need. Oh, and if all that weren’t enough, the Assault Climber comes with an in-cast bow holder. It’s a terrific option for any bowhunter, especially someone who likes to hunt a lot of different spots over the season.
- Fall arrest system
- Price range