Hunting from an elevated stand gives you a stealthy position and great vantage point to get the lay of the land. Tree stands come in all shapes and sizes, including the ladder stand, which makes it easy and comfortable to hang out and wait for your target to come into range. Ladder stands are among the easiest elevated stands to place and are comfortable for hunters of all ages and experience levels, giving them a 270-degree field of view, and a considerable opportunity for success.
Best Ladder Stands
- Best Overall: Hawk 20-Foot Big Denali 1.5-Seat Ladder Stand
- Best Value: Guide Gear 15.5-Foot Ladder Stand
- Best Two-Person Stand: Hawk 18-Foot Denali 2-Man Ladder Stand
- Best Extra-Wide Seat: Guide Gear 20-Foot 2-Man Double Rail Ladder Stand with Hunting Blind
- Best Tall: Primal Treestands Mac Daddy Xtra Wide 22-Foot Ladder Stand
- Best for Bowhunting: Big Game Hunter HD 1.5-Seat Ladder Stand
The Expert (Nancy Jo Adams):
What to Consider When Buying a Ladder Stand
Ladder stands have become a vital piece of hunting gear in regions from the Midwest to the Southeast, where woodland hunting allows you to make effective use of an elevated position in high-traffic areas.
That said, ladder stands are bulky and often quite heavy. Frequently weighing 50- to 100 pounds, they are generally too heavy to carry in and set up and on a single-day hunt. It always pays to look for a lightweight option, but don’t get too hung up on weight: Every ladder stand will be heavy, so it’s more important to focus on the details that will set you up for success.
Safety First: Always Wear a Harness
When using a stand or hunting from an elevated blind, you should always wear a safety harness. All of our picks lift you around 20 feet in the air: Without a harness, slipping or missing a step could lead to a fall, which could kill you.
If you need a harness to go with your stand, look for a “full-body” harness, which alleviates pressure that could cut off circulation to your limbs or torso. We recommend the Hunter Safety System Hanger Harness for hanging stands or the Hunter Safety System X1 or similar for all-season hunting. Both are easy to use and fit well under your hunting jacket and hunting pants.
There’s no point in using an elevated stand if you don’t get up high enough to avoid detection. If your stand is too low, your prey might be able to see or smell you. We’ve found that most hunters should look for a stand that’s 18- to 22 feet high, and our picks are all in that range. Manufacturers typically measure stand height from the ground to the platform, seat, or rail. (They’ll tell you which one with the specs.)
A taller stand makes it hard to line up your shots, though, so keep that in mind when picking out your stand. If you’re hunting in an area with thick brush and cover, you can get away with something shorter-around 10- to 12 feet high. A few ladder stands feature an adjustable ladder, allowing you to hit both sweet spots with a single stand. It’s a very useful perk, but not a standard feature.
The main disadvantage of a ladder stand is its size. It is bulky and often heavy compared to other types of stands, which may or may not be a problem for you on a hunt. It’s worthwhile to invest in a stand designed to weigh less, but don’t sacrifice comfort for the sake of a smaller, more portable stand. There are no ultralight options, and you may be up there for a while.
Keep in mind whether you plan to carry and set up the stand on your own or with a hunting partner. Remember that some stands are designed for solo outings, and others are made with a duo in mind.
Make sure your stand can handle the weight you plan to put on it. That means everyone who plans to use it, plus the weight of their gear. Your stand’s load capacity should be significantly higher than that number. You do not want to exceed the limit because you brought some extra stuff.
Seat Size & Style
The seat quality is essential to any ladder stand. You will not be still if you are uncomfortable, and moving around can ruin your hunt quickly. Ladder stands generally come in single seats, extra-wide “1.5 seats,” and double seats for hunting duos.
Ladder stand seats are usually made with waterproof nylon or Cordura exterior and a 1- to 2 inch foam insert, or a tightly woven mesh material riveted to a metal frame, similar to some patio furniture. Many seats will flip up out of the way, allowing full access to the platform, which is especially helpful for bowhunters, who need more room to draw and shoot.
The rail on your ladder stand is, first and foremost, a shooting rest for guns and crossbows. It is not a safety feature. Wear a safety harness.
Ideally, you should look for a padded railing, which allows you to rest your weapon without marring the weapon’s finish, and adjust your aim quietly. If you get a stand with an unpadded railing, you can also add padding yourself using pipe insulation.
Make sure to look at the shape and angle of the railing, as well, as some sit higher or lower than average, which can affect your shooting position. Some rails are adjustable to allow a customized height.
If you are a compound bowhunter, make sure to look for a ladder stand with a removable or adjustable rail to free up space when you shoot.
Some ladder stands offer less common features, such as fold-away footrests, side hooks for hanging gear, adjustable rail heights, cup holders, adjustable seat backs, removable seat pads, and the ability to remove a rail section for a shorter height. These are all perks and can be useful in the right circumstance, but they aren’t always necessary. Think about how they might improve your hunt before picking a stand because of them.
How We Selected The Best Ladder Stands
We selected the best ladder stands based on experience, research, and the opinions of other hunters. Considering the location, the type of hunting you are doing, and how far you will need to transport a stand will significantly influence the style of ladder stand you choose. With our combined evaluation, experience, and research, this article can assist you in determining which option below best fits your needs and is worth your investment.