Whether you hunt with a bow or a rifle, want to hide in the treetops or stay closer to the ground, one of these four ladder stands has you covered. A hunting buddy and I started with six models and after a full day of setting up, climbing, sitting, and tearing down chose these four favorites. Here are our picks for an all-around stand, a bow stand, a best bargain, and a gun stand.
**Ol Man 15′ Bowlite **
Specs 15′ high • 25″ x 171⁄2″ platform • 45 lb.
What’s SpeciaL With its mesh seat and narrow ladder, my test partner, a veteran New York hunter, thought the streamlined Bowlite was the best of the test. Two points of contact to the tree made it the most secure by far, and it proved the fastest to assemble.
Bottom Line Easy to build, comfortable, and rock solid. We docked points only for the narrow ladder, which allowed just one foot per rung—not good for XL hunters ($150; olmanoutdoors.com).
Rivers Edge Bowman
Specs 19′ high • 24″ x 17″ platform • 64 lb.
What’s SpeciaL Tall, with a big 17 inches between rungs, the Bowman is a young person’s treestand. The large platform and skyscraper height is ideal for maneuvering and drawing on deer undetected. Yet we felt it needed a second (not included) ratchet strap to feel secure.
Bottom Line With almost 2 square feet of platform 19 feet up, this is a killer bow stand, but the pins were noisy ($170; huntriversedge.com).
Summit Crush Series Solo Performer
Specs 151⁄2′ high • 19″ x 121⁄2″ platform • 40 lb.
What’s SpeciaL For just one Benjamin you get this light, easy-to-set-up, comfortable, do-it-all option. The ladder assembles with bolts and lock nuts, so it’s deathly quiet compared with the others in the test, which use locking pins. But the platform feels small.
Bottom Line Lots of value, plus it’s the lightest and quietest system in the test. Another $30 gets you a backrest and shooting rail ($100; summitstands.com).
Big Game NextGen Stealth DX
Specs 15′ high • 25″ x 181⁄2″ platform • 55 lb.
What’s Special Big Game hit the sweet spot of price and performance with the Stealth DX. The ladder is wide, with short 13-inch spacing between the rungs for easy climbing, even in the heavy clothing typical of gun season. There’s a cushy backrest and an adjustable shooting rail.
Bottom Line A comfortable all-day sitter that can be found online for well below the list price. We would have liked the gun rest to elevate a little higher ($220; biggametreestands.com).