The climbing tree stand was originally invented for bow hunting. It’s a portable tree stand that doubles as a tool for climbing up a tree. You use the tree stand to climb up a tree and then you affix the thing to the trunk and it becomes a tree stand to give you height advantage over the game. You the hunter can look out far into the distance while sitting in rest and comfort. The tree stand also makes your scent harder to detect.
It’s such a great invention that soon people would adopt climbing tree stands for hunting with rifles as well. And it’s so simple that it’s a wonder why climbing tree stands hadn’t been invented earlier.
Anyway, what are the things to look for when shopping for a climbing tree stand? Safety is of course at the top of everyone’s mind, but it’s also at the top of every manufacturer’s mind, so they’re all pretty safe if used properly. The other things to consider are ease of use, comfort, maximum load, portability, build quality and cost.
We’re going to talk about a few of the best climbing tree stands, and then we’ll pick the one that’s the best of the best. Let’s get to it.
Hand Climber Combo II
You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more appropriate name than Lone Wolf for a manufacturer of hunting tree stands. Lone Wolf’s most popular climbing tree stand is the Hand Climber Combo II.
The Hand Climber Combo II is one of the lightest climbing tree stands in the market at only 17.5 pounds, and it’s not because of any compromise in size or build. This is a full-size tree stand with a 30-inch by 19.5-inch platform that can support up to 350 pounds.
The whole thing folds down to only 5 inches thick. The combination of thin profile and light weight make the Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II the ultimate in portability. It comes with backpack straps for carrying it on your back.
For safety, the platform is a one-piece design made of high-grade cast aluminum. A bungee strap and a tangle-free 6-point harness are included for climbing and helping you stay up there. There’s a bow holder that can hold most parallel limb bows.
The foam seat pad is rather tiny so this climbing tree stand is not the last word in comfort. However, the Hand Climber Combo II makes up for it in more than one way. First, it’s a competent climber, giving practically nothing against bulkier designs. More importantly for the avid hunter, the 3D camouflage design is highly effective. Unsuspecting bucks remain unsuspecting.
Like all Lone Wolf tree stands, the Hand Climber Combo II’s cast aluminum construction should prove durable way beyond the 1-year manufacturer warranty.
180 Max SD
Summit is the most well-known tree stand maker and the 180 Max SD is their top-of-the-line climbing tree stand. This model offers more room for taller and bigger hunters. It’s arguably more popular with firearm hunters than bow hunters.
The size of the platform is a massive 38-inch by 21-inch and the seat frame is an equally massive 28.75-inch by 21-inch. The seat has a full back and it’s completely padded including the armrests. The platform has an additional brace to accommodate bigger hunters (up to 350 pounds) with equal sturdiness.
Everything else about this climbing tree stand is beefed up. The frame is made of sturdy extruded aluminum, oversized in all the crucial places. The welding process is what Summit proudly termed SummitLokt technology. Every joint is “locked” together before welding and designed to minimize stress on the weld.
Everything you’ll need and more is included: 4-point safety harness, RapidClimb stirrups, ropes and straps. Summit climbing tree stands are legendary for their climbing prowess and the 180 Max SD is no exception. The RapidClimb stirrups are adjustable to fit any boots. The first time you climb with the stand you’ll marvel at the ease, and when the second time comes around, you’ll be skipping up the tree with the Summit 180 Max SD. This tree stand easily snaps into place – what Summit termed the QuickDraw cable retention system. It fits tree trunks of 8 inches to as thick as 20 inches.
This is all great but does it stay out of the way? Poor deer has no chance when you’re on a Summit. Summit’s DeadMetal sound deadening technology fills the aluminum tubing with expanded foam at the right places to keep the tree stand noiseless even when you shift your weight. What’s more, Summit’s camouflage pattern has been proven to work at all hours and in any weather.
The drawbacks of the Summit 180 Max SD are its high price of admission and fairly hefty 26-pound weight. There is another Summit climbing tree stand that removes these drawbacks without compromising the desirable Summit qualities. Let’s talk about it next.
At more than $100 less, the Summit Viper SD has a smaller 30-inch by 20-inch platform and 26.5-inch by 19.75-inch seat frame. This tree stand can support up to 300 pounds. The seat features full padding just like the 180 Max SD and it’s also a closed-front design for added safety.
All other signature Summit features and technologies can be found on the Viper SD: RapidClimb stirrups, SummitLokt enhanced welded joints, DeadMetal sound deadening technology, QuickDraw cable retention system, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camouflage.
Please refer to the Summit 180 Max SD section for more information on any of the above features.
The Summit Viper SD is highly portable at just 20 pounds. This climbing tree stand is an even more agile climber than its larger counterpart.
The Summit Viper SD receives our unqualified endorsement for the best climbing tree stand available. Everything about this climbing tree stand exudes class and quality. When you feel supremely confident on a Summit Viper SD during a hunt, the game will come. As they say: If you climb it, they will come. (Pardon us for adapting a famous line from Field of Dreams.)
The Viper SD will fit a tall hunter almost as well as the larger Summit Max 180 SD. However, if you’re a large individual, you might want to consider stepping up to the Max 180 SD for the larger seat. This larger Summit can also safely hold 50 additional pounds than the Viper SD.
As for the Lone Wolf Hand Climber Combo II, the trump card it holds is portability. The Hand Climber Combo II is only 18 pounds and it folds down to quite a bit thinner than any Summit stands. The Lone Wolf may be ideal to those hunters whose motto is to travel the lightest.