The Best Climbing Tree Stands To Elevate Your Game In 2024

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Given the considerable attention tree saddles have garnered from both hunters and manufacturers, you might conclude that they represent the sole practical choice for elevated hunting today. However, while tree saddles undeniably offer an appealing solution, there’s still a place for the best climbing tree stands—in some situations, they’re hands-down the best tool for the job.

I’ve spent plenty of time in a climbing stand over the years and today’s climbing stands are lighter, stronger, more comfortable and easier to use than those of the past by a large margin. Hunting from a quality climber, in this hunter’s opinion, provides the most comfortable experience of any elevated option and, when used properly, a climber is one of the safest ways to get up a tree as well.

The best climbing tree stands offer a comfortable, reliable perch to survey and hunt game.

Illustration: Forbes / Photo: Getty

Yes, climbing stands have their limitations. They’re bulkier than lock-on stands and weigh significantly more than a saddle setup. And, of course, you’re limited to trees with straight, limb-free trunks. But, in areas with plenty of suitable tree options, a climbing stand is the ultimate in comfort and stability.

  • Best Climbing Tree Stand Overall: Summit Viper Pro SD
  • Best Budget Climbing Tree Stand: Guide Gear Deluxe XL
  • Best Climbing Tree Stand For Bowhunting: Summit Open Shot SD
  • Best Lightweight Climbing Tree Stand: XOP Ambush Evolution
  • Best Climbing Tree Stand For Big Guys: Summit Goliath SD

How We Chose The Best Climbing Tree Stands

We understand that investing in the right tree stand is paramount for any avid hunter. That’s why our selection process is grounded in expertise and hands-on experience.

To determine the best climbing tree stands, we read product reviews and evaluated options from both established and new-to-market brands. We also relied on our firsthand experience and tested some of the stands, taking into consideration features that hunters value the most, from weight capacity to construction quality to comfort. Beyond these features, we also evaluated each stand’s safety features and ease of setup. The final options on this list reflect several weeks’ worth of in-depth research and personal vetting.

Why Trust Forbes Vetted

The Forbes Vetted team has researched and written dozens of gear guides, including stories on compound bows and hunting knives. As for the best climbing tree stands, we combined weeks of research with firsthand experience to discover the best options on the market.

The author of this story, Tony Hansen, has hunted game for decades, giving him an unmatched understanding of the sport and what makes a climbing tree stand not just good, but exceptional. Vetted gear editor Cam Vigliotta, who oversees this guide, also has robust experience with testing and reviewing a wide array of hunting-adjacent gear. From rugged coolers that withstand the relentless summer heat to camping tents that shelter you through the wildest weather, he’s scrutinized it all.

But our expertise isn’t confined to climbing tree stands. We know what it takes to elevate your outdoor experience, and we bring this extensive background to every review and roundup. To keep this guide current and accurate, we also update it frequently. It was last updated in October 2024 to further explain how we chose the best climbing tree stands featured on this list.

What To Consider When Buying A Climbing Tree Stand

If you’re on the hunt for a climbing stand, there are a few things you’ll want to consider and be familiar with.

Stand Type

There are two types of stands—sit-and-stand and hand-climbers.

The difference between the two is just as it sounds. One style uses a sit-and-stand climbing method while the other uses a hand-climber to gain elevation. The sit-and-stand type is more popular and thus more options are available. The sit-and-stand climber is easy to identify by the wrap-around frame.

Material

Climbing stands are made from steel or aluminum. Aluminum models, of course, weigh less than those made of steel. Steel models, however, may offer higher weight capacities and generally cost less.

Some aluminum models, like those from XOP, are made of cast aluminum.

Weight

Weight is one of the key considerations when choosing a climbing tree stand. If you intend to pack the stand deep into the timber, you’ll want a lightweight option. Aluminum stands are the lightest option for now, though technology advances in carbon construction could someday change the game.

Portability

A light climber definitely makes it easier to transport the stand in the woods, but if it’s big and bulky, the journey can still be a pain.

The most portable climbers are those that are able to pack nearly flat, reducing their profile and making it much easier to move through brush and obstacles.

What Is The Best Tree To Use A Climbing Stand On?

The best tree to use a climbing tree stand on is typically a straight, mature tree with a consistent diameter and minimal branches, such as an oak, maple or pine tree. These trees provide stability and safety, allowing for a secure attachment of the climbing stand and a clear ascent to whatever your desired hunting height may be. Avoid trees that taper towards the top, grow at an angle, contain dense foliage or have multiple branches close to the ground, as these can make climbing and positioning the stand more challenging.

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