By Jayden Mark
These days, there is an ever growing range of hunting gear available. They make your life easier and improve your safety during the hunting season. Because of their growing popularity, this review is mostly going to revolve around some good comfortable hunting tree stands.
Some of us can remember the days before hunting tree stands were the order of the day. Many an inventive hunter would improvise stands and hides out of the materials available to them. These may have been crude structures, and not always the safest, but they were the best we could. When hunting tree stands became commercially available, they tended to heavy structures that would creak and groan. These awkward contraptions were quite revolutionary for their time. But, by today’s standards, those early hunting tree stands were far from the best.
There are several advantages to using a hunting tree stand. From the elevated position, you have a much better line of sight. You can see deer approaching from a much further distance, giving you more time to line up your shot. You also have the element of surprise. Not only are deer less likely to spot you when you’re high in a tree, you’re also above their scent perception. Any hunter knows the value of remaining undetected. There are safety advantages to using a hunting tree stand. Most importantly, the fact that you are shooting downward and are not in a position that could cause a stray bullet to harm your fellow hunters or someone’s property.
In this review of hunting tree stands, we’re going to cover a broad range of topics under the following headings:
Hunting Tree Stands
We’ll be reviewing all the best options for those looking for a hunting tree stand. If you’re new to hunting tree stands, you may be a little confused when you see terms like best climbing tree stand, best hang on hunting tree stand, or best ladder tree stand. So before reviewing our selection of the best hunting tree stands, here’s a quick overview of the three main types of tree stands.
1. Summit Tree Stands 81120 Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand
For over 17-years now, the Summit 81120 Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand has been a firm favorite amongst bow and gun hunters alike. Although this is one of the more expensive offerings from a brand that isn’t exactly cheap, it’s easy to see why this is one the most popular climbing tree stands around. Quality and durability are of the highest order and a fantastic, well thought out design, makes this an impeccable product. These guys certainly know hunters and what you want from the best hunting tree stand.
As a really solid climbing tree stand with a very stable platform, I’m astounded at the low weight tag. Even though you have all-around metal supports and generous padding on the seat, back and arm rests, the Viper SD weighs a mere 20-pounds. It’s obvious that aluminum has been used throughout and this is ultra-strong tubing with a quality powder coated finish. This product is obviously built to last a lifetime. To make it one of the best in terms of portability, the Viper SD has a nesting frame that attaches to your backpack. The ease with which you can carry and use the Viper in no way restricts its weight capacity. Even a burly hunter won’t have a hassle with the 300-pound capacity.
By using an ingenious, yet ultimately simple, cable system to attach the Viper to any size tree, you will set it up in record time with ease. It’s perfectly quiet, no creaking and squeaking to give away your position. This is thanks to the ultra-strong welds that keep everything in place and the QuickDraw cable retention system that secures it to the tree without any hint of movement. It also comes in a Mossy Oak camouflage design that is almost invisible in the tree.
The QuickDraw cable not only makes the Viper a synch to set up and secures it perfectly, when the time comes to remove it, things are just as easy. A simple pull on the trigger releases the cable instantly.
The seat can be raised or lowered, providing the perfect position for both bow and gun hunters. The really solid front bar makes climbing into the stand easy and provides a stable gun rest. Summit climbing stands are famous for their Rapid Climb stirrups that fit onto any boot. They are a wonderful safety aid, allowing you climb to any height and will secure to the platform.
It’s clear from this review why so many hunters consider the Summit Viper SD (81120) to be the very best climbing tree stand. This is a brand that is renowned for manufacturing some good hunting tree stands, a trait that is prevalent in every aspect of their design and the high-quality materials used throughout. It comes as no surprise that they offer an incredible 5-year warranty on this product.
2. Millennium Tree Stands M150 Monster Hang-On
As one of the many great customer reviews put it: “Millennium tree stands are expensive, but worth it”. This perfectly sums up the Millennium M150 Monster Hang On hunting tree stand. With the exception of the a few steel links and other minor components, the M150 is constructed almost entirely of aluminum. Of course, the seat and side straps are made from a very durable, and breathable, fabric. I’m not sure what this is, but it looks like high-quality nylon.
By its design and the materials used, the Millennium M150 Monster hunting tree stand is wonderfully portable, weighing only 19 pounds. Despite the lightweight design and easy setup, it’s incredibly stable with a fantastic metal platform and footrest. The ComfortMAX seat is also one of the best I’ve seen. The ergonomic shape and breezy lightweight material allows you to sit in wait for hours without any kind of discomfort. Furthermore, it is adjustable for just about any height, 16 to 20 inches from the platform. It can also hold up to 300-pounds. An angle compensation of up to 15° means that you can have a level platform and normal seating position, even when the tree is far from being straight.
The platform is certainly wide enough and the fold up seat allows bow hunters the ideal position to line up the perfect shot. The optional M101 gun rail is the perfect accessory for hunters who prefer using a gun. It offers solid and stable support.
The Millennium Tree Stands M150 Monster is about as close to perfection as one can get in a Hang on tree hunting stand. With excellent adjustments and a full backrest for the seat, few can compare when it comes to comfort. It’s tough, super-tough, yet lightweight and compact enough to be as portable as it gets. Being a top of the line product from one of the best brands in the business, it sure isn’t cheap. Though anyone who owns one will agree, it’s worth every penny.
3. XOP-XTREME OUTDOOR
Foregoing a little of the luxuries, like a backrest, can have its advantages. The minimalist design of the XOP-Xtreme Vanish hang on tree stand, makes it quite light for a heavy-duty hunting tree stand with an incredible 350 pound weight baring capacity. It is also a little cheaper than others that display the same level of durable quality.
If you thought that a solid, cast aluminum, ultra-tough hunting tree stand cannot cost less than 200 bucks, think again. That’s what first struck about the XOP-Xtreme. It’s up there with the best of them in terms of rough and ready durability, but not quite as expensive.
The only thing that you’re not getting out of the deal is the comfort of a backrest. On the plus side, the thickly padded, tri-layer seat is remarkably comfortable to sit on for prolonged periods. Aluminum makes it lightweight and durable, and the I-beam structure is as rigid and strong as it gets. Despite being ultimately compact and lightweight (20 pounds), it can hold a whopping 350-pounds.
The uniquely rigid design means absolutely no sound and it has a strong, large platform – 27 X 19 inches. This is one of the most easy hang on tree stands to use, with their Vanish XT quick connect cable system. The seat remains perfectly level and the platform can be angled for any situation. You can find the ideal cover in any type of tree, no matter where the branches or the angle of the trunk.
Judging by my initial impressions, and the views expressed in the many customer reviews that I’ve read, this is a truly amazing hunting tree stand. The seat is superbly comfortable thanks to seriously generous padding, albeit with no backrest. It’s ultra-strong and totally silent. You really couldn’t ask for more. While this is not a particularly cheap product, in the context of high-end hunting tree stands, it’s very affordable.
4. Lone Wolf Assault II Hang On Tree Stand
Number one for portability is the biggest pro point for anyone considering the Lone Wolf II hang on hunting tree stand. It is also as tough as it gets, ranking amongst the best high-end hunting tree stands. This places it in the more expensive category of hunting products.
This is not surprising when you consider that Lone Wolf is an industry leader with a sterling reputation going back more than two decades. Intended to be the most portable hang on tree stand available, the guys at Lone Wolf have certainly done their job. The Lone Wolf Assault II weighs only 11-pounds.
This portability does not compromise on the weight baring capacity. At 350-pounds this is one of the best hang tree stands for heavy-weights. Using top quality aluminum has its advantages, the Lone Wolf Assault II is as lightweight as it gets, incredibly solid, and perfectly quiet. Though the compact, lightweight design also has a slight down side. The seat, although big enough (14” X 12”), is not the most comfortable. Apart from having no backrest, the padding is not that great.
The seat has a fixed height of 21”. If you’re going to be sitting for long periods, the seat base could become somewhat annoying. Then again, when shedding those extra pounds, they had to make a few compromises on comfort. Though limited padding for the seat is far as they’ve gone in this respect. The platform is strong and big enough at 26” X 19.5”. This single-piece cast aluminum platform is both perfectly rigid and makes no sound.
The straps are easy to use and will fit snugly around trees 4” to 22” in diameter. You also have the benefit of a 6-point fall arrest system as a great safety feature. An in cast bow holder works well for most parallel limb bows. The 3D camouflage design is also great.
The real advantage to choosing the Lone Wolf Assault II over any of the other hang on tree stands in this (higher) price range, is the weight advantage. It will easily strap onto your backpack, and you’ll hardly notice that it’s there. This means that they’ve been less than generous when it comes to a comfortable seat. Other than this, it is on a par with any of the best hang on tree stands.
5. Rivers Edge Tree Stands
The Rivers Edge Tree Stands collection comprises a number of very affordable products. Although the Teartuff XL Lounger is one of their more expensive, range-topping hang on tree stands, it is cheaper than one would expect. Value for money is the name of the game, and this is the product that we’ll be reviewing.
The Teartuff XL has the goods to compete with the high-end hunting tree stands, without an exorbitant price tag. When I say that the Rivers Edge Teartuff XL can compete with more expensive hunting tree stands, we need take into account that is quite a bit cheaper than the more prestigious brands and is probably not quite as solid.
With that said, this is not a flimsy tree stand. The all-metal platform and seat are good quality. All the customer reviews attest to the general quality as being great. Slightly heavier than many of the others in this review, the Teartuff XL is still light enough at 26-pounds.
Your general comfort is great. It has a strong seat, with a padded backrest and armrests. The seat has no height adjustment though. The standard seat height of 22”, doesn’t bother me too much, but this won’t work for everyone. The armrests both fold up, which is nice. At 37.5” X 24”, the platform is large enough and the seat is also quite roomy (20.5” X 13”). The foot rest at the end of the platform helps a lot for that extra bit of comfort when sitting for hours.
They have an easy to use, lever action tree strap, which does a good job of securing the tree stand. It is noiseless and they say that there’s no need for a second strap. Though it appears that a second strap is better. Some users have said that they’ve added a few ratchet ties for extra security. It’s a fairly basic hang on tree stand. But it has the goods, at a very reasonable price.
In terms of affordable value for money, the Rivers Edge Teartuff XL is a real champion. I wouldn’t call this very best hang on tree stand that you can buy. For that, you’ll need to think about spending much more. Realistically, this is a sound, good quality product at a great price. If you’re looking for the best value for money hunting tree stand, the Teartuff XL should top the list.
Ladder Tree Stands
1. X-Stand Tree Stands - Lookout Ladder Stand
This is a comfortable, well-made ladder tree stand. The X-Stand Lookout has a lot of pros, as well as few cons. Though few seem to be bothered much by what I see as the cons.
All that bothers me concerning the X-Stand Lookout hunting tree stand is the small platform. It’s only 20” X 12”. Though it is strong and rigid, with a footrest and that counts for something. While not such a big deal, as ladder tree stands tend to be heavy, some have mentioned the weight as being a bit excessive – 70 LBS.
On the plus side, the square tubing construction is great for a safe and sturdy tree hunting stand. The jaws that clamp to the tree also offer a great deal of structural integrity and it’s really quiet. This gives one a good deal of confidence, 17-feet from the ground. The Comfort Flex seat is made from durable, breathable material and is very spacious at 20” X 16”. The seat also folds out of the way, which enables you to make better use of the limited platform size.
The front rail is padded and folds upward, or can be completely removed. Gun hunters would probably prefer the rail in position, as it functions well to provide gun support. If bow hunting, then you will probably prefer to remove the rail. It attaches to the back of the armrests.
Basic, and ultimately functional, the X-Stands Lookout makes for a great, compact, one-person ladder tree stand.
2. Rivers Edge Two Man Ladder Stand
Rivers Edge have a great selection of two man ladder tree stands. They vary in price size and features. So amongst this lineup, you’re sure to find the best option to fit your needs and budget. They all have a weight baring capacity of 500 pounds. The differences come in when one looks at their height, seat and platform size, as well as the seat design and the weight of the structure.
The Standard 18’ tree stand is the lightest, at 63 pounds. Though it is, as to be expected, the one with the least space and creature comforts are fairly basic. The 18-foot shooting rail height is great and the whole thing is stable enough. You’re a bit limited by a 36” X 12.5” platform.
The seat is okay in size (38” X 12”) and the seat has no backrest. For one person, this is going to be a very spacious tree stand. Though if you have two fairly large guys up there, things might get a bit cramped. The stand and rails are all fairly basic, but it works well. Many will like the lightweight design and affordability of this product.
Once you look past the weight, the Lockdown 21’ Rivers Edge two man ladder stand, is the cream of the crop in this lineup. It weighs a petty hefty 124 LBS and is not the cheapest, though still excellent value for money. It offers the best seat and platform out of all the Rivers Edge 2-man ladder stands. The seat is a generous 40” X 19” and has a good backrest. The platform is also a good size – 42” X 28.5”. Your seat is 19’ 18” from the ground with a great, stable shooting rail at 21’ feet from the ground.
Of the Rivers Edge two man ladder stands, the Lockdown 21 is certainly my favorite. Though another one that could appeal to many, would be the Bowman with separate seats at 90° to one another. Each has their merits and are all worth considering.
3. Skunk Ape Tree Stands
This is certainly not a portable ladder tree stand, by any means. Instead, it’s a large, very stable hunting tree stand with room to spare. It’s obvious these guys have put a lot of thought into what a hunter requires form a tree stand. There’s absolutely everything you could possibly want, whether you’re into gun or bow hunting.
A very sturdy structure secures perfectly to the tree, without causing any damage. It’s a ladder tree stand that’s kind to nature. It’s kind to you too. With a fantastically comfortable seat that rotates a full 360°, you have the best hunting position.
You’re 20-feet from the ground, which is great, game will never know you’re there. The metal frame provides a safe hunting platform that can handle up to 300-pounds.
There’s heaps of storage space, the Skunk Ape ladder tree stand has four gear storage hangers and two 25’ gun or bow lift cords. The adjustable shooting rails, give you the best position to line up for any shot, and they’re padded. It’s also one of the safest ladder tree stands with a harness and a 25’ safety tether, which offers great peace of mind when climbing the ladder. When not in use, the seat folds up, so it won’t collect water and leaves between hunts.
It may take a bit of time to set up, but after that, you have one of the best ladder tree stands. It’s a strong, safe and superbly versatile hunting tree stand with everything you need 20-feet above the ground.
1. Millennium Tree Stands T100 10 ft
The Millennium T100 tripod stand is accepted by many as being the best in its class. It is most certainly a well-made product, of an incredibly high quality standard.
They call this a 10’ tripod hunting stand, but that will depend on your eye height when seated. The seat is situated 8’ from the ground. Although this a lightweight, 50-pound portable stand, it is comfortable enough. The aluminum tubing is strong and the seat is comfortable with a good back and footrest.
I’ve heard some say that the Millennium tripod stand is clunky. I’m not too sure what these guys expect. Remember this is a tall, very portable tripod stand, and it that respect it’s pretty stable. The general consensus, however, is that this is a high-quality tripod stand with a good level of comfort and practical design features. I’d most certainly agree with this.
2. Muddy Liberty Tripod
The Muddy Liberty Tripod may be on the heavy side and will take some time to set up. But for this, you’re getting a really great, spacious and stable tripod stand with an excellent rail height of 16-feet.
Weighing in at 132 pounds, the Muddy Liberty Tripod is no lightweight. But this gives you the advantage of better stability. This is something you’ll appreciate at a height of 16’. Okay that’s the height of the shooting rail, I guess the seat would be about 2’ lower. It has a weight rating of 300-pounds, which is great. Though some of the heavier guys have said they feel that it not’s quite that suitable for the extra weight.
You have a lot of space and practical user aids. The circular platform (42” in diameter) and 360° swivel seat, give you the perfect advantage for all-around versatility. The Flex-Tek seat is really spacious and comfortable. You also get 2 gear bags and the surround gun rail has generous padding.
I like the spacious and versatile platform and the comfortable seat. The steel construction is on the heavy side, but this does give you more stability and the legs are adjustable for uneven terrain.
3. Guide Gear 12' Deluxe Tripod Deer Stand
For its price, this is a wonderful tripod stand. Though remember that with cheaper steel products, you need to take some care and do the correct maintenance.
This is a strong steel tripod stand, weighing 72 pounds. It has a reasonably good coating, but this is one area where the low price tag shows itself. I’ve read of number of people complaining about rust. Though, I reckon with correct care, this shouldn’t be a problem. Take care not damage the paintwork.
Occasionally give it a good sanding and touch up the paint where necessary. When you considering what you’re paying for the Guide Gear tripod, this isn’t too much to expect.
The 12’ platform gives a great 360° vantage point. The seat is comfortably padded and can swivel a full 360°. The gun rail is height adjustable and gives you an easy position for lining up the perfect shot.
I’d say that this is one of the best tripod hunting stands in its price range. The general quality is great, just take care to look after it properly.
Other Useful Hunting Equipment
1. Lone Wolf Tree Stand Climbing Sticks
A lot of people say that the Lone Wolf Tree Stand Climbing sticks are very expensive. I’d say that you’re getting what you pay for. High-quality aluminum isn’t cheap and the fold out steps are excellent. For an ultimately portable, and very practical solution, these Climbing sticks are magnificent. In my opinion, worth paying extra for.
Each stick is 32” in length and very light, only 2.5 pounds. So they’re excellent as far portability is concerned. Although lightweight and very compact, they can take a weight of 350 pounds. The standard straps fit a round trees from 4” to 22” in diameter.
Strap extensions are available for wider trees. These hunting tree stand climbing sticks are very easy to use and well thought out pivoting V-Brackets follow the contour of the tree.
The steps are reversible, they can pivot to either side of the stick and are spaced 15” apart. As a tall guy, I don’t have a problem with the step spacing. Though not everyone feels this way. A 15” distance isn’t too bad, but the sticks don’t slot into each other. Each piece is completely separate. So where two sticks meet, there is a couple of extra inches between the steps. Even though this is a bit of a stretch, most will be handle it with ease. It just takes a little getting used to.
I’m suitably impressed with high-end quality of this product. The Lone Wolf Tree Stand Climbing Sticks are not only crafted from the very best materials, the design is great. Tough and portable, they are some of the best climbing sticks for a hunting tree stand.
2. Hunter Safety System Reflective Lifeline System
Safety, when climbing into a hunting tree stand, is of utmost importance. A quality lifeline is, therefore, an important investment. Paying a few dollars more for a strong lifeline, with the best Carabiner Snap hooks, is worth it when your life is on the line.
There’s no weight specification given for the Hunter Safety System Lifeline. But the manufacturers claim it can safely handle the weight of two large men. Going by the thick rope and top of the line Recon Carabiner fasteners, I can see no reason to doubt this.
It’s designed for easy use and the Cowbell sound dampener system means that there will be sound as you ascend, or descend from your hunting tree stand. It also has high-visibility markings, making it super-easy to see in the dark.
They say that over 80% of tree stand accidents occur when climbing up or down the tree. So it makes perfect sense to buy the best hunting tree stand lifeline. The Hunter Safety System Reflective Lifeline System certainly qualifies as being one of the very best.
3. Walker’s Razor Slim Hearing Protection
As much as ear protection is quite important to the hunter, you also need to hear what’s going on around you and be able to communicate with your fellow hunters. So the invention of electronic hearing protection muffs has been a great idea.
Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection Muffs do so much more than protect your ears and allow you to communicate easily. They are remarkably comfortable and lightweight, something I greatly appreciate. The also fold into a very compact unit and easily fit into the smallest side pocket of your backpack.
Ease of use is key, so the perfectly positioned single touch volume control knob is fantastic. It automatically adjusts, providing up to 23dB noise reduction as soon as the surrounding noise exceeds 89dB. Reaction time is 0.02 seconds, so you won’t notice a thing.
Omni directional mics, allow you to communicate with perfect clarity and the input jack is a nice thing to have. You can connect up your iPod or any MP3 player to your electronic ear protection muffs.
Amazing quality and excellent design, place the Walker’s Razor Slim Electronic Hearing Protection Muffs in a class of their own. They are amongst the more expensive offerings in this market. But for something this comfortable, practical, and durable, it’s worth it.
4. Guide Gear 20' Tree Ladder
To make the Guide Gear 20’ tree ladder more portable, it comes in 5 sections that bolt together. It takes some time and effort to set the ladder up, but this also gives the confidence that it is more secure than some that may go up much quicker.
5. GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000
I’m sure we’ve all been through the mill in the search for the best hunting flashlight. Finding a flashlight that is bright, lightweight, and rugged enough to handle the tough conditions we throw at it, is no mean feat. Having tried so many myself, I know how frustrating it can get.
The Gearlight S1000 LED Tactical Flashlight seems to make the grade. No one will have the time to read through all the 2,000+ customer reviews on Amazon. When it comes down it, an average rating of 4.7 stars from so many customers says a lot.
It’s as rough and ready as the best I’ve seen, with a seriously tough, military-grade aluminum body. The lens is plastic, but this seems to be the way all flashlights are made these days. I guess, quality scratch resistant plastic lenses are as good as it gets. This one seems to make the grade.
LED flashlights have become common, they use a fraction of the power that old-fashioned incandescent bulbs used and last for ages. The Gearlight is no different in this regard. There’s no indication as to who manufactures the LED, but they are certainly bright enough (500 – 1,000 lumens). The beam focus is excellent and it has a number of settings – High, Medium, Low, Flash, and SOS.
Weighing just over 5 ounces, it’s as lightweight as it gets and the flashlight measures 6.1 X 1.57 X 1.57 inches. That’s dynamite in a small package. The 2-pack deal is great value. Apart from two Gearlight S1000 flashlights, you also get two straps and two holsters.
For a shock and water resistant flashlight that you can take anywhere with confidence, the Gearlight S1000 certainly makes the grade. It is, without a doubt, tough and capable enough to rank amongst the best hunting flashlights.
Jayden Mark has gained a wealth of knowledge about safety protocols in industries while working in a steel mill as well as a welder in the construction industry. He is the content editor for comfortworkboots.com where he shares his insights and expertize in his related field.
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