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New hunters often underestimate the importance of having a quality tree stand.
They don’t think that it’s the most exciting way to hunt, but we both know that it might be the most beneficial way to ensure you’re bagging up game by the end of your hunting trip.
Whitetail deer are the main target of tree stand users, while also being able to get some smaller game along the way.
You’re calculated; you know how to mask your scent, position your tree stand in the right spot, and give yourself the best odds of success.
The best climbing tree stand is here to lend a helping hand.
You’ll be physically relying on it to hold up your weight while you ready yourself to line up for the kill.
Materials, maximum weight capacity, and comfort all play a vital role in your purchase decision, among others things.
Let’s take a look at every single thing you would ever have to look at when picking out the right tree stand for your needs.
Our Reviews Of The Best Climbing Trees
#1 Summit Treestands Viper SD Climbing Stand
Summit did what they could to make a lightweight tree stand, but with something that you’re relying on to keep you up in the trees, there’s only so much that can be done.
Fortunately for you, they still managed to pull out a lightweight climbing treestand coming in at just 20 lbs.
Some of these can get as heavy at 75 lbs and up, so this is a real feat of engineering. Including your gear and clothing, this will hold up to 300 lbs of weight.
You might have to strategically plan this out with your gear weight and get everything written down, but it’s going to get the job done just fine for most hunters on the trail of whitetail deer.
The seat measures 18” wide and includes a comfortable foam padding, giving you refuge from fatigue after the long hike to get there in the first place.
One of the main feats that Summit presented with this tree stand is just how easy it is to assemble and hoist up in the tree.
When you bring the overall weight and simple strap-up method together, it’s basically the quickest and most effective way you’ll ever hang a climbing tree stand.
Mounting a climbing tree stand isn’t easy, mind you, but when it’s heavy enough that you need two people to get it done, that’s when things get aggravating.
You can go solo into the woods and hang this up without worry, and test the tension to be doubly certain.
The camouflage seamlessly blends into the trees and becomes part of nature, aiding you in masking yourself from prey.
#2 Summit Viper Steel Climber
Yeah, Summit is that good.
The list of tree stand companies and manufacturers is small, but that doesn’t stop Summit from providing a competitive edge over their competition.
Much like the Viper SD model we just reviewed, the Viper Steel Climber features a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs.
The reason that this plays second fiddle to the SD is the size. It’s a bit smaller, and the seat dimensions are only 18” x 12”, so you’re a little more cramped.
Not to worry though; as many climber treestand reviews have stated, it’s an excellent all-day tree stand, just not one you want to spend most of the weekend in.
Day hunting trips?
Forget about it—you’re covered. The all steel frame surprisingly costs less than the aluminum frame from the SD, which we couldn’t be more ecstatic about.
While the price is right, this falls short on comfort.
The seat cushioning is minimal, so you’ll have to maneuver yourself around a bit to stay comfy (or bring an extra pillow/cushion with you at the very least).
As Summit is known for, the installation process on this is fairly simple.
You use the quickdraw cable retention system to quickly secure your lines and straps to trees, and it can all be done by one person.
Steel is heavy, and is often used in thicker pieces than with aluminum. It’s part of what gives this tree stand a 29 lb weight.
Still low enough that you can hang it yourself without worry, but it will be a little more difficult than the SD version.
The one thing that this kit has though, is the rapid climb stirrups that you get with your purchase.
It doesn’t have to take ages to climb back into your tree, at least when Summit’s on your side.
#3 XOP-XTREME Air Raid Tree Stand
Before you turn away, we know this one doesn’t look that impressive, but give it a chance.
XOP’s little wonder here is going to shock you.
First and foremost, there’s plastic in the construction along with an aluminum central pipe, but it can actually hold more than the previous models we’ve reviewed.
This is rated for up to 350 lbs between you and your gear, and part of that reason is due to the size. A bigger platform allows for more weight pressure on the tree trunk.
It’s built to last, but it’s not going to weigh you down. Coming in at just 19.9 lbs, it’s simple to hang up, and includes all the necessary straps.
We wouldn’t say it’s the fastest installation, but it is pretty darn quick. You might be noticing the lack of a safety guardrail or steps; that’s where we start getting into the cons.
It’s very basic, and you’ll have to rely on your own vigilance to stay safe.
There’s no guard rail, and we’ve all been known to nod off once or twice in our time in tree stands.
It’s something to consider before you decide to purchase, and it’s a question that requires a lot of attention and honesty with yourself.
The green finish isn’t the most camouflaged, but it will hold up against wear-and-tear over the years.
There’s even an offset feature where you can properly hang this up, even on crooked trees that don’t seem to want to host your tree stand.
A full arrest body harness (which matches industry standards) is included to prevent that guard rail that we talked about earlier from being an issue, so you’ll still have a form of safety, just one less layer than most tree stands offer.
#4 XOP-XTREME Vanish XT
Consider this to be the little brother of the Air Raid model we’ve just reviewed.
As far as lightweight climbing tree stands go, this is one of the best (and cheapest) options that you have available to you.
You’ll be limited on space, but what it lacks in foot area it makes up for with power.
The Vanish XT is made from a cast aluminum frame that’s able to support up to 350 lbs between you and your gear.
That’s nothing new though, since XOP already brings that to you with other models.
They’re also bringing you their tri-layer seating that comes across their tree stand lineup, offering you comfort and cushioning for those extended waiting periods when prey just isn’t coming along for you.
Again, this has no guard rail, so you’ll have to be on guard the entire time you’re up there.
XOP threw some other goodies in here as well, including the full harness system that you get with your purchase, complete with steel buckles.
There’s that, and UV treated seat fastening straps, right alongside a six-point bracket, and backpack straps.
XOP even throws in a DVD on how to get started with setup (a URL would probably have worked too, but hey, they’re supplying it to you).
So what’s the catch?
It’s just a smaller version of the Air Raid and Maximus system, so it’s going to come with less foot space, but also a lesser carry weight.
At just 20 lbs, this can be setup in a matter of minutes without the need of a spare set of hands.
There’s no creaking or noises to be had when you lean in to take that bow shot on a prey; they’ll never know what hit them, and you’ll have a quick and easy way to get down from your tree stand and bag up your game.
#5 Guide Gear Hang On Tree Stand
It’s not the most comfortable climbing tree stand, but it gets the job done.
It’s as basic as it gets, and that’s especially true for the seat.
It’s just this really thin layer of foam that doesn’t do anything for you except keep you from, you know, sitting directly on steel.
Speaking of steel, yes, you can get steel for this price. It’s rough, it’s painted, but it’s steel and it’s fitted to hold up to 300 lbs between you and your gear.
Setup, as you can imagine, is fairly easy to do.
The straps included with your purchase are simple, and they don’t have a wide range, so you’ll have to stick to more narrow trees.
Climbing to this tree stand is easy, but as with others, it has no guard rail or means of securing yourself.
This is just the stand, so there’s no harness or any other way to stay put: this is something you need to purchase if you’re confident with your positioning and safety in a tree stand.
Climbing Tree Stand Buying Guide and FAQ
How to Use a Climbing Tree Stand?
Bow hunting climbing stands are used to hunt game, such as whitetail deer, more easily.
Once you’re positioned in the tree stand, you’ll have an angle over your prey. High ground is always key in any engagement, and this grants it to you.
But there are ways to use it, and plenty of mistakes that you can make. First and foremost, you need to select a good tree.
Look at the straps or mounting system for your tree stand to see just how thick of a tree you can hang on.
You want to stay within these limits so the straps have enough line to stay taut and in the buckle.
Grab a tailor’s measure and bring it with you to measure the tree. They’re a buck at most, and super helpful for this.
Next is actually bringing the tree stand into the tree.
You can use a pair of Lone Wolf sticks to help you climb into the tree, which should take between two and three minutes.
From there, you can use your safety harness to rappel from the tree and hang your stand. The amount of sticks you need is dependent on how high you’re hanging your tree stand.
It can take about one stick for every four feet of clearance, depending on your physical fitness level. Be sure to plan ahead.
To use a tree stand, you have to position it near spots that a deer or whatever game you’re hunting would end up travelling.
Be within 100 feet of water sources, but at least 10-20 feet away from commonly trodden paths.
You can find paths by looking for turned leaves, broken twigs, and clearings that may prove to be the only avenue of movement.
To see how high your tree stand should be, see below.
How High to Setup Your Climbing Tree Stand?
Your tree stand height actually has a lot of personal preference.
You can go between a fairly wide range of heights with whatever you feel comfortable with, but there are parameters that you need to stay within in order to make it effective.
You shouldn’t hang aluminum climbing tree stands less than ten feet off the ground.
Tree stands are primarily used in whitetail deer hunting, and the average height of a whitetail deer caps out at about 3.3 feet. You want to be three times their height at the very least.
They’re not very vertically-focused creatures; their predators are all on ground level, so they have no reason to constantly scan the trees.
Depending on the distance that they are from the tree you’re in, they might be able to see you, so you need to account for a few things.
For one, is it winter?
Winter has less cover (obviously), so it might be wise to hang it higher.
In the middle of summer, you don’t want to be in the middle of a tree with no line of sight, so you might want to hang it lower.
10 feet is the minimum, and anything over 25 feet is just unnecessary. Your aim will be lacking at that point.
It’s up to you; a common height is 16-18 feet, and most hunters appear to be comfortable with that. As for me, I usually hang around 20-21 feet.
How to Carry a Tree Stand?
On your back.
You need to use the harness and strap it to your back while you climb up the tree, or to a hunting site.
The thing is, you’re also going to have a hunting backpack, and a weapon. You still need to be able to carry those efficiently.
Consider investing in an external frame backpack with a kangaroo pouch. You can store your tree stand here.
If not, you can position the tree stand on your back and put a smaller daypack on top of it with your essentials, while carrying your gun or bow by your side.
Ideally, you would have another set of hands with you. You could carry two tree stands while the other person carries gear and backpacks.
Since that’s not always an option, just optimize your carry weight and the size of your backpack, accounting for the tree stand weight in the process.
Which is the Safest Device to Use While Climbing a Tree or in a Tree Stand?
Hunting tree climbing isn’t exactly a safe thing to do—you need to exercise caution at all times to avoid injuries.
The safest device you can use is a haul line, also known as a pull rope.
Put yourself in a full harness, hoist the rope over the harness or a nearby branch, and pull yourself up.
This should be able to fit back inside of your backpack, or with a nylon bag that comes with your tree stand during purchase (usually if it comes with a full body harness, it’ll be in something like this).
The only issue you’ll run into is that you need to hoist your gun up separately. If you’re using a compound bow instead of a rifle, it cuts out an extra step.
Then of course, there are ladders. Metal ladders don’t hold scents, so you don’t have to worry about it spooking any nearby wildlife.
Hanging tree stands don’t come with ladders, but some tree stands actually come with built-in ladders.
They’ll be around six feet long, and hang from the tree, giving you four to six feet of clearance to hoist yourself up, and then ascend the ladder.
Even if you end up using a standalone ladder, it’s still wise to pulley your gun up to you.
What Should be Worn at All Times While Climbing on a Tree Stand?
Your hunting boots, jacket, gloves, face mask/hat, and above all else, a scent reducer or eliminator.
Scent is the first thing that will give you away, and it’s one of the easiest things to control.
Your tree stands will be made out of rubber, steel and aluminum, which don’t pose any scent-related threats that deer or small game will pick up on: it all comes down to you.
While deer have a very limited line of sight, they’ll be able to smell from miles away.
They possess more olfactory sensors than a bloodhound, and that’s saying something. If you’re in a tree stand, you can’t be caught without a scent killer.
For your own personal safety, you should also wear enough insulation to stay warm.
Tree stand heights are usually no lower than ten feet off the ground, but once you learn about positioning and staying near hilltop areas for a greater range of view, you’ll quickly find that wind and the elevated height will make things feel a bit colder.
Stand Tall, Hunt Strong
Are you ready to get hunting?
There are long waits ahead of you in your new tree stand, but you’re a calculated hunter, one who knows the importance of patience and proper tracking.
Find the right spot to hoist your tree stand up, and make yourself comfortable.
With expert tracking and perfect positioning, your tree stand will literally hold you up until victory is within your grasp.
Having the right tree stand could be the difference between bagging ample game, or having an empty cooler to bring home to the missus.
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