Which tree stand is best?

Since many animals don’t spend a lot of time looking up, a tree stand gives hunters an advantage to watch for prey from above. Tree stands are quiet and provide an adjustable perspective. 

Most modern-day tree stands are lightweight but sturdy and have been designed to provide extra comfort, since many hunters will be sitting in them for most of a day. Finding the right tree stand for your hunting pursuits is an important endeavor. For overall transportability with a lightweight, sturdy frame, the top choice is the Summit Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand.

What to know before you buy a tree stand

What type of tree stand is best for you?

There are three main types of tree stands. Ladder stands are the easiest to get into and are also very quiet. They include a rigid ladder that leans against the tree for you to climb and install your stand. Because the ladder is on the ground, you will need to place the ladder weeks in advance so that animals passing by grow used to its presence.

Hang-on tree stands are lightweight and can be placed in trees with lots of branches. However, the screw-in climbing steps required to scale the tree can be quite heavy. Because you have to hang on the tree to set up the stand, a safety harness, straps and clips are recommended.

The easiest to install are climber tree stands. A strap is placed around the bottom of the tree and then walked upward until you find the desired height. Only trees without branches on the trunk work for this style, though. It also can be quite noisy getting it in place.

What type of tree is best for your stand?

Before purchasing a tree stand, walk through the area where you will be hunting and look for the trees that might serve as the host for your stand. Trees with a lot of branches will limit your choices to hang-on and ladder models.

Type of land

Hunting on public land will limit your ability to cut away branches from thicker trees. You also won’t be allowed to set up a semi-permanent or permanent stand. Even on private land, you will need to check with the landowner to make sure you have permission for cutting branches and length of time for the stand to be in place.

What to look for in a quality tree stand


Aluminum and steel are the most common materials for tree stands. Aluminum is lightweight and doesn’t rust. Steel is stronger, but it can rust if the paint job doesn’t protect it well against the elements.


Pay close attention to the seat style and the materials it is made from. Since you will be sitting in the seat for a long time, you want a design that will support you well and keep you comfortable for the long haul.

Shooting rail

Some tree stands have a padded shooting rail. You can rest your gun on the rail, and it helps with your overall aim. Other tree stands do not include the shooting rail because it is extra weight.

How much you can expect to spend on a tree stand

Basic climber or hang-on tree stands are available for under $100, while those with ladders or climber stands run between $100-$200. Tree stands that will be up for a long time and have sturdy steel frames typically are priced over $200.

Tree stand FAQ

Are tree stands built to be up year-round?

A. Many tree stands are constructed with steel and can be left up year-round with the permission of the landowner. You still should check the frame periodically for any loose connections or other signs of wear.

What is the difference between a tree stand and a ground blind?

A. Both options provide hunters with advantages. Tree stands have the advantage of being above the prey, but ground blinds are less expensive and slightly more mobile. Ground blinds may take time for animals to get accustomed to, while tree stands are rarely seen even when first installed.

What’s the best tree stand to buy?

Top tree stand

Summit Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand

Summit Viper SD Climbing Tree Stand

What you need to know: This temporary tree stand is lightweight and allows the hunter to move their stand into the tree while climbing.

What you’ll love: Engineered with DeadSound sound-deadening technology that reduces metal-to-metal sound, this tree stand is quiet and keeps you safe and concealed. A suspended foram padded seat is easily movable and comfortable.

What you should consider: It works best with a straight tree with minimal branches. While lightweight, it still weighs 20 pounds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top tree stand for the money

Ol’ Man Steel Tree Stand

Ol’ Man Steel Tree Stand

What you need to know: This steel-framed tree stand is sturdy and dependable and quite affordable compared to other steel stands.

What you’ll love: Rugged and customizable, this stand has a classic straight bar but also a reversible gun/footrest for both gun and bow hunters. Its steel frame holds 300 pounds and offers a padded seat cover. It is made in the United States.

What you should consider: This tree stand weighs just under 30 pounds, and there were some concerns about strap strength.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Lone Wolf Alpha Hang On II Tree Stand

Lone Wolf Alpha Hang On II Tree Stand

What you need to know: This lightweight tree stand works well in trees that have a lot of branches or are straight and smooth.

What you’ll love: This hang-on tree stand weighs 14 pounds and is easily moved even in trees with heavy intertwining of branches. It holds 350 pounds and comes with backpack straps.

What you should consider: Without a seat back, this tree stand is not as comfortable as some others with the same style.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Steve Ganger writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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