Gearing Up: Up a Tree

Serious stands that are simple, comfortable, and light.

Field & Stream Online Editors

**1. Ameristep Non-Typical Climbing Stand **
When you start to add features that make climbing stands more comfortable and easier to use, you often end up with a contraption that weighs almost as much as a small deer. But Ameristep has come up with one of the best new climbing designs I've seen in years, and it weighs a reasonable 19 pounds. Its controlled-leverage climbing system is quick, quiet, and incredibly safe; you don't have to be Tarzan to make a fast ascent._ $250; 810-686-4035; www.ameristep.com_

2. Loggy Bayou Big 8 Pack-N-Lite Combo
This is the stand for hunters who like to backpack away from the crowds. The entire Pack-n-Lite package weighs just 13 pounds, including three 32-inch climbing sticks that ride quietly on the back of the stand, allowing you to easily set it 15 feet off the ground. With a 12-inch folding seat, an 181/2x29-inch platform, and a maximum weight capacity of 275 pounds, the Big 8 gives you a secure and sizable perch. Padding and plastic bushings at all pivot points help prevent game-spooking squeaks and groans. It comes in Mossy Oak New Break-Up, Realtree Grey HD, or Realtree Hardwoods camouflage. $100; 870-234-2260; www.loggybayou.net

3. Advanced Outdoor Designs Vulture
The Vulture is one of the most unique stands out there. Its patented rotational design permits you to swing safely and silently around the tree, riding two oil-impregnated nylon bushings with little effort. You'll be able to take shots in any direction. The 15-pound seat assembly can be removed from the 6-pound hanging bracket, so it's easy to install. It has a 250-pound capacity. $200; 616-844-1947; www.vulturetreestand.com

4. Summit Headhunter X4
Sometimes the perfect stand location is missing a perfect tree. The hang-on X4 solves that problem, because it works great on leaning trees. It's quite light (10 pounds) and easy to hang using its innovative bracket pivots. There are no chains or ratcheting, making it supersilent. Despite its compact design, the seat and platform are roomy._ $119; 256-353-0634; www.summitstands.com _

**5. Trophy Ridge Mantis VDrive Bow Sight **
The VDrive is a movable sight system that uses half the parts of similar products. When added to the Mantis pendulum sight, it creates a combination pendulum and movable one-pin design. To convert from one to the other, you simply lock down or release the VDrive system-a major innovation for ease of use. The head features a round window with over 2 feet of wrapped fiber-optic material to light up the single pin. It works for both right- and left-handed shooters. $150; 406-388-7781; www.trophyridge.com