Climbing Tree Stands Part I

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Mike P
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Climbing Tree Stands Part I

Post by Mike P » Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:00 am

Climbing Tree Stands Part I

I am going to review some popular climbing tree stands. But before I do, I think we should lay some groundwork. And I did say “we.” This is not all about me and my thoughts about tree stands. I hope this is a community effort here and that this series of articles will include your knowledge and experiences as well with your replies.

I also hope we can stay on topic. The temptation is to start discussions regarding the use of climbing tree stands versus hang on stands versus ladder stands etc. etc. I think that is fodder for further down the line and perhaps we can submit reviews of these types of stands and all the pros and cons under separate posts or after we finish with climbers.

I am doing climbers because they are the only stand I use. I have used every other type of stand and all of them are gathering dust in the basement or in the barn. For the last ten years I have used nothing but climbers. This is not a condemnation of the design or uses of theses other styles of tree stands, it is just my choice to use climbers for the type of hunting I do.

Climbers can be the most dangerous stand you can use. Or, they can be the safest stand you can use. There is no middle ground when using a climber. The scales of safety tip one way or the other, there is no gray area! I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I fell twenty-eight feet. After that accident I vowed I would never hunt from any stand that I felt was unsafe regardless of type or design. I would never fall again.

I did a lot of investigation. And I decided the only stand that fit my needs and would prohibit me from duplicating my accident was the same category of stand from which I fell. I just changed one thing. I changed the way I used it.

Climbers allow you to attach your full body harness to the tree before you are three feet off the ground. I couldn’t find any other system at the time that would allow me to do that. (I am aware that now there are systems that do the same thing using ladder and hang on stands.) With a climber you stay attached to the tree all the time. You’re attached during your accent, during your hunt and during your descent. When I fell, I only attached to the tree for the hunt portion and removed the attachment to the tree for the ascent and descent. It was almost a fatal error!

Another of my needs for my style of hunting was mobility. I only hunt one location for three hunts. I will hunt an evening, a morning and another evening in one spot. Or I will hunt a morning, an evening and another morning in a location, but that is it. It took me a long time to learn to hunt like this, but the dividends started to pile up once I adopted this practice. The need for this mobility also mandated that the stand I used must be light and easy for this old body (now not quite as good as before the accident) to carry. Light weight climbers again filled this bill. I also wanted to hunt from a minimum of twenty feet off the ground. In over fifty years of hunting whitetail bucks I have determined that there seems to be a magic line in the air at about twenty feet. Above the line, mature bucks have less of a chance to be aware of your presence. Below the line they seem to be able to bust you more frequently. It may be scent, it may be sight, I don’t know. It is probably a combination of both. I know lots of folks have killed mature bucks at less then twenty feet in the air. I am just telling you what I have experienced with “mature” whitetail buck behavior over the course of my hunting history. Hunting above “the line” could realistically only be accomplished by using a climber.

I have used a lot of different brands of climbers from Loggy Bayou to Treelounge to Lone Wolf and everything in between. I will review three stands that I feel are at the top of the food chain in the climber category. These three stands will be the Equalizer, the Timbertall Brute Lite and the Summit Viper.

I will review the stands based upon the following criteria:

1. Design

2. Ease of use

3. Comfort

If you’re a climber aficionado, chime in. Feel free to bring up the brand you prefer and use the same criteria as above to tell us why you like (or dislike) the stand.

Climbing Tree Stands Part II will be a review of the Equalizer.

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Post by wabi » Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:01 pm

I own a Summit climbing stand I've used only a couple times in several years. I feel much more safe & secure in a ladder stand! I rigged a climbing rope with a prussic knot sliding loop, so my son can attach at ground level when he sets in the "buddy" stand with me. I just never felt that sense of security in a climber, so it's been hanging in the garage gathering dust for a few years now.
I use ladders frequently in my work and have never had a fall, so climbing the ladder to a stand just feels more secure for me.
As the years go by I'm gravitating more toward ground blinds, though. I still keep a few stands out, but I also place a couple ground blinds in good locations well before deer season opens and leave them in place throughout the season.

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Post by sumner4991 » Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:04 pm


I'm not into hunting from a tree. It takes some elements out of hunting that I enjoy. There's something special about sneaking up on a deer. Looking at them eye to eye and knowing you got the upper hand.

The times I have stalked to within a few yards of deer are memorable moments. The "trophies" taken in this manner are some of the most "blood pumping" times of my life.

Still hunting . . .I had a small buck walk to within arm reach(I still think he actually touched me). That's a feeling you will never get in a tree.

Yeah . . .the tree stand offers some nice advantages. But overall, being in the same playing field as your prey is awesome, IMHO. Maybe I'd reconsider if I were bear hunting. :lol:

I'm looking forward to your reviews. Who knows, I might even be tempted to get back into a tree. Back when I was using a tree . . .I didn't really have a stand. It was a couple of 2X4's and a piece of plywood with a length of baling twine for a safety strap. Don't laugh at the twine . . .it saved me once.

Last edited by sumner4991 on Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by groundpounder » Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:46 pm

The Tree Lounge is the only climber that I own, but I probably only use it once or twice in a season. I know you are not using this stand in your test but see where you have used it before. I think the Tree Lounge is an extremely safe stand to hunt from. But bulkiness of it and the pain in the arse it is to set up is what keeps me from using it more. The guy in the video makes set up look a snap and quick and easy, but it has never gone that quick and easy for me. Especially when you are trying to set up in the dark. The ground is where I spend most of my time hunting but think your review may help us get a better unbiased review of other stands out there. Looking forward to your review.
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Post by Sopchoppy » Mon Jul 14, 2008 5:20 am

I've hunted most of my life but have deer hunted only a couple of years. Started with a ladder stand because the climbers looked scary. Didn't like the lack of portability so started looking for a climber. Looked at all I could find on the internet and decided on the Summit Viper SS. I can rate it on comfort; can't see anything being more comfortable. I'm 59 and have an easily aggrevated back; can sit in the Viper SS all day. The padded wrap-around seat is a pleasure just to sit in. My buddy uses a tree lounger and it looked like a pain to get ready to climb but once there, he looked more ready for a nap than to hunt. I NEVER leave the ground without the safety harness on and attached to the tree. The Viper is extremely well designed as it has a shooting rail, bunches of pockets, and a padded foot bed. It is somewhat heavy at 28#. It's a bit pricey, but I found it on Ebay for $330 shipped. Have had no regrets.


Post by curmudgeon » Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:49 pm

Being 69 years young, I have hunted out of a number of climbers. I started out with the home made Baker style tree stand using a chain and a steel pipe for a hand climber which I found easier than just bear hugging the tree.
I next used a Loggy Bayou mainly because it was light weight to carry, the new Loggy Bayou looks neat to me right now.
For the last several years I have used the North Starr Tree Climber. I like it a whole lot, not only is it light weight and feels very safe and you can hunt facing toward or away from the tree., but the best thing I like about it is that you can lay your cocked ready to fire crossbow down horizontal in front of you on the stand (when facing away from the tree, by that I mean, one limb up and one limb down, trigger toward you).. It has the closed cell foam seat that never absorbs rain of gives you a wet fanny. I have tried the Summit Viper and the Gorilla stands, but I just don't like to sit on a seat held in place with straps, I want a solid fixed seat.

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Re: Climber

Post by Mike P » Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:03 pm

curmudgeon wrote:Being 69 years young,
Curmudegeon, you are my hero. I can only hope I am still using my climbers ten years from now when I hit your age. way to go!

curmudgeon wrote:I just don't like to sit on a seat held in place with straps, I want a solid fixed seat.

Interesting point, I am just the opposite. I really love a sling seat. This will be evident when I review the three stands. One is a solid seat and the other two are sling seats.

Sopchoppy wrote: I'm 59 and have an easily aggrevated back
Another "geezer" using a climber. It is true, todays sixties are the new fifties. Way to go as well Sopchoppy!

Sopchoppy wrote: I NEVER leave the ground without the safety harness on and attached to the tree.

Wisdom does indeed come with age!

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Post by worm » Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:30 pm

summit is all i'will use got a viper ss and a corbra use the corbra fore bow season and viper fore smokepole season thanks WORM :shock: :shock: WORM

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Post by DuckHunt » Mon Jul 14, 2008 6:28 pm

I haven't heard anyone mention API yet. I have an API Grand Slam Super Star ( It weighs in at reasonable 23# which is still plenty heavy to tote through the mountains here. The weight is what deters me from using it more often. Most every hunt I have begins with climbing at least a couple hundred feet in elevation. I still haven't perfected a way to do this without breaking a sweat. Adding 23# to my back just increases the amount of sweat (and smell).

It is designed well. It is one of the few stands that are very multi-purpose. The footrest repositions as a shooting rest. You can also swing the climbing seat/bar out of the way for a completely open front for bowhunting if you so desire. The seat is very comfortable when positioned correctly. My only complaint would be with the seat covering material. It is made out of a very nice cotton fabric. A nice absorbent cotton fabric. The fabric can easily absorb odors and liquid. Leaving it outdoors results in a very damp, if not soaked, seat. A waterproof scent-proof cover would be an improvement.


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Post by fuel80guy » Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:30 pm

Im very much loooking forward to the reviews on climbers as im in the need of one this year.In the past ive only used a summit bushmaster and found it pretty comfy but was a royal pain to carry into the leaning towards a lone wolf but will wait for the reviews.

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Post by BryanOney » Tue Jul 15, 2008 9:16 pm

I had a Summit Viper and liked it a lot. I am 6 foot 2 and weigh 250 though. When I was dressed for 20 degree weather it was tight fit. 2 springs ago my skinny friend bought my Viper from me so I could buy the Goliath by Summit. It is better for me because it it has a bigger inside diameter on the top rail and a slightly bigger platform. This fall Summit came out with an even bigger climber. I forget its name, but I would have bought it instead of the Goliath if it had been available at the time. I used to use various lock on stands, but they seemed small and easy to fall out of. With the design of the Summit tree stands I can sleep in them. I could never have done that in a lock on. For me the seat hanging from straps is more comfortable for me than the rigid seat on most hang on stands. The lock on rigid seat gave me a sore rear after 2 hours. I can sit much longer in my Summit. Most metal ladder stands give me the hebi gebies. I always feel like they are going to collapse on me. The Summit climbers seem really solid and well built to me. I must admit I have not used any other brand. I should sell my 18 lock on stands. I have not used them in 5 years. I have nothing but good things to say about the Summits. I will also say that Summit really stands behind their product. A seam on the seat of my Goliath started to rip out after I used it a few times the first year I had it. I called Summit and they sent me a new seat. I was impressed.

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Post by saxman » Wed Jul 16, 2008 6:45 pm

I bought a climber from Dicks before I got sick,it has never been used,I have about talked a friend out of his summit Viper.
I love climbers during cold weather but when it's hot down here I am soaked by the time I carry it in and when I have left them for the next day sometimes they get stolen.
I like a sling seat and for the most part I dont like a bar on the seat part,my legs are so long that it bothers me.I have looked at the eqalizers and always liked them because of being able to change body positions.
3 of my favorite are the treelounge,the gunslinger(same as treelounge) and an old warren and sweat that someone decided I didn't need anymore.

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Post by vixenmaster » Wed Jul 16, 2008 7:21 pm

well i must confess i brokedown and ordered myself a new viper SS climber on tues. it should be here by sat.
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Post by Mike P » Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:24 am

Sorry for the delay. My daughter and her husband are visiting from Chicago with three of my five grandchildren and of course, the kids take precedent over everything.

I should be able to start the reviews after they leave on Tuesday.

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Post by ninepointer » Sun Jul 20, 2008 1:52 pm

No discussion about climbing stands would be complete without talking about Lone Wolf treestands I own the Alpha Hand Climber and I consider it to be the Ninja of climbing stands. Compared to the Lone Wolf, every other climber I have tried seems like a noisy, heavy, mechanical monster.
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