Best Tree Stand Reviews

Best Tree StandMost people hunt from tree stands particularly when it comes to hunting white tailed deer. tree stands are great for getting elevated and seeing deer before they see you. They give you a greater field of vision and allow you to move unnoticed in order to make a good, ethical shot.

There is a problem with tree stands though, and that is that they are not all created equal. Some are difficult to use, others are poorly made and move around once you get in them and others are just plain uncomfortable. There are so many to choose from that it can be difficult figuring out which one is the one that you need.

The truth is that there really are a lot of choices to make when it comes to buying a tree stand but we can help guide you. We will explain to you the different types of tree stands, their uses, and assist you in picking out a quality stand that will serve you well for years. Then we will give you some of our top choices for each category to get you started.

Best Tree StandA tree stand is nothing more than a device that allows you to sit comfortably in a tree and hunt, unnoticed, for the game that you are seeking. Prior to the availability of commercial tree stands a hunter only had two options. He/she could build their own tree stand out of lumber, which was very dangerous, or they could hunt from the ground. Ground hunting usually involved sitting on a fallen tree and trying not to move around too much, in order not to frighten the game.

Today, most hunters recognize the advantages of hunting from a tree stand and use one type or another every time that they go into the woods. tree stands will make you more a productive hunter and every hunter wants to be successful. After all, we’re not sitting out there for hours only to come home empty handed, day after day.

Before operating a tree stand we recommend you read this informative guide on tree stand safety.

Types of Tree Stand

There are 4 general categories of tree stands and each has its designed purpose. These purposes are dictated by the environment that you are hunting in or by your own expectations and preferences.

Ladder Stands

Ladder stands are somewhat permanent stands that are fairly labor intensive to assemble and erect. They are heavy and need to be placed a few weeks before you actually hunt from it. The reason for this is that the ladder, which reaches all the way to the ground, is very visible to animals and it will take some time for them to adjust to its presence. Many people prefer ladder stands because they are unquestionably the easiest stand to climb into and out of.

Hang-on Stands

These stands are simply platforms and a seat that strap around a tree and on which the hunter sits. These are slightly less difficult to erect than ladder stands and slightly more moveable, though it can be difficult. These stands will not frighten game animals as easily as ladder stands but still require some type of steps or ladder system for climbing into them. This is usually a set of ‘climbing sticks’ or screw-in steps. This type of stand, like a ladder stand, is best used on private property where it can be left in place for the remainder of the hunting season.

Climbing Stands

These are the relative new comers on the market of stands and are sort of a combination of the other two. A climbing stand does not need a ladder system or steps, since the stand itself is used to climb the tree. They do, however, require a certain type of tree (both in size and straightness) in order to scale the tree safely. They are extremely portable and are usually carried into the woods by the hunter and out of the woods the same day. They have the advantage of allowing the hunter to change locations easily and quickly. By far, they are the most often used tree stand.

Tripod Stands

These are a kind of specialty stand, though their popularity is growing. This is simply a three-legged tripod with a seat and a platform at the top that provides an elevated hunting position when there are no trees available. For example, the center of a large cornfield would be a particularly good location for one of these stands. They are by far the most labor intensive to erect and need to be in place for a long amount of time before nearby animals begin to relax around them. They are very conspicuous and very noticeable.

Choosing a tree stand

Beginning with ladder stands, let’s take a look at what we should be looking for when selecting a good one.

Ladder stands

  • Ladder stands: They come in both one-person and two-person models, the two person model being great for taking children hunting or for someone who simply wants extra room around them.
  • Height: Height is very important in ladder stands because it is something that cannot be changed once the stand is purchased and erected. Many of the discount ladder stands are shorter (15’ and under) and make it easier for animals to see your movement.
  • Removeable or at least moveable shooting rail: The shooting rail should be able to be raised or even removed if the hunter chooses. This not only makes it easier to get into and out of the stand but also allows the hunter to use different types of weapons simply by raising the shooting rail out over their head and out of their way.
  • Comfortable seats: Let’s face it, if you are not comfortable enough to sit for hours without moving around every three minutes you will either be seen moving by your game or you will cut your hunt short altogether and climb down. Comfort is important though most people do not automatically equate comfort with being in the woods.
  • Sturdy and durable: Since they are difficult to move and will be exposed to the elements on a daily basis, ladder stands need to be made from quality metals and still be safe enough to climb the following season.

Click here to jump to a list of our picks for the best ladder stands available today.

Hang-on stands

Hang-on stands are one-person stands that will also require the additional purchase of some type of ladder system or steps, as we’ve already discussed. The features that we are looking for in hang-on stands are similar to ladder stands because they are essentially a ladder stand without the ladder. Height is no longer an issue as it is with ladder stands since you decide how high you wish to hang it when you install it. However, we still need,

  • A moveable shooting rail if there is one on it: Note that most hang-on stands do not have a shooting rail on them.
  • Comfort and durability: These factors are still important for the same reasons as those listed under ladder stands.

Click here to jump to a list of our picks for the best ladder stands available today.

Climbing Tree Stands

Climbing stands are by far the most popular stand sold today and for good reason. There is a kind of subcategory of climbing stand that nearly all manufacturers have entered and they are the “lightweight” climber. The trade off for getting a lighter climbing stand is that they do not have a shooting rail at all and the platforms are typically smaller in order to cut back on metal mass. We want the following in a climbing stand

  • Teeth that don’t slip: All climbers rely on metal teeth that are located on the back to bite into the wood and hold while the other half of the stand is repositioned. Good teeth are non-negotiable.
  • A quality foot strap system: Nearly all manufacturers have different systems that are designed to retain your feet on the lower portion of the climber as you climb up the tree. Some are better than others and believe me, you do not want your feet to come out of these when you are scaling a tree in the dark.
  • An easy to use cabling system for attaching the stand around the tree: Different systems for attaching the stand around the bottom of the tree can make it easier or harder to attach or detach in the dark when most of us are beginning or ending out hunt.
  • Lightweight: Climbers have to be lightweight or they are pointless. The whole purpose of using a climbing stand is for mobility. If the stand is too heavy to carry very far from the truck, you may as well be using a ladder stand.

Click here to jump to a list of our picks for the best ladder stands available today.

Tripod stands

Tripod Stands are not really tree stands at all but no discussion of stands would be complete without at least recommending one. The ideal tripod will have the following features:

  • A rotating seat that allows you to turn and engage an animal in any direction: Fairly important when you consider that it will most likely be erected in the middle of an open field.
  • A large platform: A platform allows you to stand if you choose or if it is necessary in order to shoot a bow or other weapon.
  • Height: This is also an issue with tripods because just like ladder stands, you are stuck with what you buy.

Click here to jump to a list of our picks for the best ladder stands available today.

Top 3 ladder stands reviewed

We have reviewed ladder stands in a search for those that meet the above criteria and here are our top picks.

1. The Vine by Summit

The Vine - Summit

A great ladder stand for those who appreciate the subtle advantages to the uniquely ‘hidden’ steps and want the quality that comes from a Summit.

The Vine is aptly named due to it’s twisting ladder portion that twist and turn similar to vines on a tree. Presumably, this allows animals accept its presence in the woods more quickly because there are no sharp corners or manmade angles on it. The Vine can be configured for one or two people, giving you some flexibility on its use. It is also comfortable to sit in with its integrated back rest. The powder coated steel construction will last for years and remain sturdy from one season to the next.

FEATURES:

  • Powder Coated Steel
  • Mesh Folding Seat with Backrest
  • 18” W X 16” D Seat
  • Includes two Full-Body Fall Arrest Systems

PROS:

  • Mesh seats with backrest makes them comfortable
  • Holds 2 people comfortably
  • Padded armrest and shooting rail.
  • ‘Vine’ like steps and ladder blends in better than standard steps.

CONS:

  • Takes 2 people to install
  • Pricey compared to some other stands
  • Might be difficult to relocate

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

2. Jumbo Jack 17’  by River’s Edge

River's Edge 17' Jumbo Jack

A great traditional ladder stand for those who know what they want.

The Jumbo Jack allows you to flip up the seat if you wish to get it out of your way before shooting and the rail is designed slightly wider than standard shooting rails so that it provides more stability when using it as a shooting rest. The mesh-style sling seats are comfortable and durable. The platform includes an angled footrest which makes a nice addition when sitting still all day.

FEATURES:

  • Extra Wide Seat
  • Platform with footrest
  • Removeable Shooting Rail

PROS:

  • 17’ tall
  • Extra wide seat for larger hunters
  • Shooting rail is removable for traditional gear

CONS:

  • Requires a lot of assembly with difficult instructions
  • Only seats one hunter

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

3. Series XL2 2 Person Stand by Big Dog

Series XL2 2 Person Stand by Big Dog

For those who want extra room for gear and comfort. It’s like sitting in a stadium box!

The Big Dog is 17.5’ tall and boasts a dual-rail ladder extension. The seat is unique in that the bottom and back support are curved, so that the stand actually bends around the tree. The Big Dog also comes with its own blind that you can install if you choose to aid in hiding movement and reducing the silhouettes of hunters.

PROS:

  • 17.5 feet high
  • Seat and platform wraps around tree for better visibility
  • Padded backrest makes seat comfortable in any position
  • Includes blind to wrap around stand

CONS:

  • Blind can be difficult to secure
  • Seat cushions are a bit thin
  • Shooting rail feels ‘flimsy’

FEATURES:

  • Dual-rail ladder construction
  • Curved Foot Platform
  • Curved Padded Seat
  • Padded Backrest

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

Top 3 hang-on stands reviewed

Our choices for the best hang-on stands are as follows.

1. M100U by Millennium

Millennium tree stands M100U

For those hunters who like to leave the beaten path and carry a lighter stand past the point that other hunters stop!

The M100U offers a ‘sling’ type seat that helps to alleviate a lot of the repositioning (thus movement) that you find yourself doing in some of the cheaper stands. Many cheaper hang-ons have nothing more than a foam pad on top of a metal seat. You are then required to use the tree itself to lean against. The sling type seat is similar to a small hammock and you can spend the entire day in one, but try to stay awake.

Like most hang-on stands, the M100U does not have a shooting rail but it does have a large platform that makes standing up to shoot easy and comfortable. 

The M100U is also designed to work with an assortment of add-ons, made specifically for it. Items such as locking cables, a bow holder, and other upgrades will allow you to customize this stand to truly make it your own. This is an unusual option with tree stands as most accessories you might buy are most often third-party items that may or may not work well.

PROS:

  • Incredibly lightweight
  • Sling seat ensures all day comfort
  • Folds easily for backpacking in

CONS:

  • Slightly more expensive than competitors

FEATURES:

  • 20% Lighter than the original M100
  • Seat folds against tree for standing shots
  • All aluminum construction
  • Weight only 11.5 pounds

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

2. Combat by Hawk

Hawk MEGA COMBAT

For hunters who need a rock solid stand that can take years of abuse and exposure to the elements.

What we like about this tree stand (Combat by Hawk) is that, although there is no back rest on the seat, Hawk has created what they have named “Tree Digger” teeth that bite into the tree much more aggressively than the teeth on many other tree stands. This helps to eliminate “tree wobble” which can be a problem if the tree is not perfectly straight or the stand is not hung perfectly level. Though there is no back rest on the seat, as mentioned, the foam padding on the lower portion of the seat is 3” thick. The seat is also adjustable so that the hunter can choose the most comfortable angle. This more than compensates for the need to lean back against the tree itself.

PROS:

  • Large, 24” x 30” platform
  • Durable

CONS:

  • It is very difficult to find anything bad about this stand. If you think of one, let us know!

FEATURES:

  • Steel Construction
  • 24”x30” Platform
  • 300 LBS Capacity

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

3. s2 by Advanced tree stands

Advanced tree stands S2

For easy hanging, the S2 cannot be beat. With its three piece design, installation is a breeze.

We like s2 by Advanced tree stands because hanging it is easier than many other hang-on stands. You hang the platform and stem, which is all one peice and then simply snap the seat in place once everything else is erected. It also has a very large platform which is important when standing up to draw a bow or fire a rifle. We especially like the heavy duty ratchet straps that hold the stand to the tree.

PROS:

  • Three piece design makes hanging quick and easy
  • Includes quality ratchet straps
  • Does not wiggle or make noise

CONS:

  • The only downside to this stand that we can find is its price. It may be tempting to save a few bucks and go with a cheaper one but you will regret it.

FEATURES:

  • Simple to hang with 3 piece design
  • Includes ratchet straps
  • Take down design

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

Top 3 climbing tree stands reviewed

These climbing tree stands all fit the above criteria and we will list those now.

1. Hand Climber Combo II by Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II

Folding down to a 5” packed profile, the Hand Climber is about as mobile and packable as you can ever hope to find in a climber.

Hand Climber Combo II is Lone Wolf’s “lightweight” climber. Though there are lighter ones on the market, we like the beefier build, the cabling system and the sturdy teeth that never fail to bit into even the hardest woods. Because it is a lightweight climber, there is no shooting rail on it but this also allows you to easily use traditional bows such as longbows and recurves without having a shooting rail to to work around. This climber comes in at around 18 pounds in weight.

PROS:

  • Lightweight design allows easy carry
  • Bow Holder included
  • Includes 6 Pt. fall arrest system (better than most ‘freeby’ harnesses)
  • Open design allows use of all types of archery weapons.

CONS:

  • Slightly heavy for the ‘ultra-light’ category
  • Can be difficult for some to climb with due to prominent location of seat.
  • Platform is smaller than most climbers.

FEATURES:

  • Weighs 17.5 pounds
  • 30 x 19.5” platform
  • Contour foam padded seat
  • 3D Camo

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

2. Alumalite CTS Deluxe by Ol’Man

Ol Man Grand Alumalite CTS

This one is lightweight and strong, with its tubular frame design!

Another lightweight climbing stand but one that has features many others do not. Alumanlite CTS Deluxe by Ol’Man has a 20” wide mesh seat as opposed to many other lightweights whose seats are nothing more than a foam pad. It also has a straight bar or shooting rail that can come in handy when hunting with a rifle or a crossbow. I wish the foot retention system was something more than the same old straps but most climbers use this same method and it seems to work effectively. It also has a footrest that can be rotated up into a comfortable location in order to relieve pressure from your ankles after sitting all day. This stand really pushes the limit of a “lightweight” category but at 21 pounds it’s still no heavier than many similar stands with the same features.

PROS:

  • Provides an Open Design but still has a ‘bar’ across the front
  • Foot straps include a ‘tube’ to facilitate foot placement
  • Slightly larger than the previous model for larger hunters.

CONS:

  • Cable system can be difficult to use while wearing gloves
  • Can be uncomfortable if placed on smaller diameter trees due to armrest design
  • Can feel ‘bulky’ carrying it into the woods.

FEATURES:

  • Open design that has 3 more inches compared to original model.
  • Reconfigured cable system
  • Tubing style foot straps for easy foot placement
  • Footrest can be converted to gun rail

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

3. Sentry (Closed or Open Front) by Summit

Summit tree stands Sentry

With a name like Summit, there is no need to look any further. A leader in the industry they are known for safety and durability.

Summit has led the world in climbing tree stands and they are what all other tree stands strive to be. One of their newest climbers is called the Sentry, comes in two models. One with a shooting rail and one without. The only real difference is a slight reduction of weight on the Open Front. One of the best features of any Summit is their durability and quality of course, but also their foot locking system on the platform portion of the stand. They use two semi-circles, made out of hard plastic that makes sliding your foot in and out the easiest of any manufacturer. Also, the cable system that locks the stand onto the tree is simple, effective and safe.

PROS:

  • Great cable retention system
  • ‘Dead Meta’ technology reduces noise even while carrying
  • Manufactured by one of the leaders in the industry

CONS:

  • Can be difficult to carry into the woods on your back due to design

FEATURES:

  • Dead Metal Technology
  • Quick Draw cable system
  • Weighs 23 pounds
  • Mesh seat

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

 

Top 3 tripod stands reviewed

Here is our top choice for tripod stands, though there are more and more of them showing up on the market every year.

1. Big Game Delta Tripod Stand

Big Game Delta

Don’t let an absence of trees keep you from getting the big one that you know is in that field. This tripod will get you close and tagged out!

The Delta provides the rotating seat, as mentioned above and a complete, surrounding shooting rail. It has  a very comfortable platform that makes pivoting around in the seat to see what is behind you easy. It’s taller than many others at 15.5’’ and that helps to hide your movements.

PROS:

  • Seat swivels 360 degrees
  • Adjustable shooting rail
  • Cheaper than many other tripods.

CONS:

  • Platform is smaller than other similar stands
  • Chair can be uncomfortable for some people because of its angle

FEATURES:

  • Flared shooting rails
  • Swivel seat that rotates 360 degrees
  • Padded armrest and adjustable shooting rails.

Click here to by this product at Amazon.com

Conclusion

We hope that this article has been helpful and has cleared up some of the many features and uses of today’s tree stands. Remember to always wear your safety harness regardless of which type of stand you choose. Safety is always the important consideration and none of the stands above can keep you from falling out of them.

 

 

Author: Lawrence

Lawrence is our mysterious chief in house writer. Is he a famous novelist? Is he a famous journalist? We don’t know. All we know is that he is Lawrence.

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