Top 5 Best Climbing Treestands for Bowhunting – [2024 Reviews]

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Of the types of hunting stands, the climbing treestand is our personal favorite and should be yours too. Compared to fixed stands, bow hunting climbing tree stands are more versatile. Instead of relying on a single spot, you have the ability to hike with your stand and explore new hunting spots. In this article, we share our guide to choosing the best climbing treestand for bowhunting and our current top picks.

If you’re new to stand hunting, there are certain principles to be aware of when getting started. However, if you’re a veteran stand hunter, feel free to skip the list of considerations below.

Treestand Bowhunting Tips

  • Rule#1 – You must always use a bowhunting safety harness. One study found that of 8,563 hunting-related deaths from 2000 to 2009, 684 were due to falls from a stand. So, that’s nearly 8% of all those deaths caused by falls. The bottom line is to always wear your harness. It’s as simple as that to avoid becoming one of those numbers.
  • Rule #2 – Always check the specs of the stand to ensure it’ll accommodate you. These specs include dimensions and weight limits. Similar to rule #1, this isn’t a place you want to play around with, so be sure the stand can accommodate you.
  • Rule #3 – Don’t skimp unless you absolutely have to, even then, you must use a harness. Cheap climbing stands equal cheap materials that are more likely to break or cause discomfort while you hunt. Like your bowhunting binos, stands aren’t an area to cut corners.

One last point is to consider the difference between bowhunting ladder stands and climbing treestands. The main difference is that bowhunting climbing stands are portable, while ladder stands are bulkier. Your ladder stand remains fixed in one spot until you remove it, while you can carry a climbing treestand on your back to hunt multiple spots.

Now, let’s get rolling with our top picks.

Best Climbing Stands for Bowhunting Reviewed

In the following reviews, you’ll discover the reasons we chose these treestands, pros & cons to consider, and helpful tips along the way to help you land on the right one for you.

#1) Summit Treestands Viper SD 81120 Climbing Treestand

In the climbing treestand department, Summit is the clear leader of the pack, particularly for bowhunting. Currently, the Viper SD is the most popular and best model available for average-size hunters. First, the Viper SD shines in the weight category. At just 20 lbs, it’s one of the lightest bowhunting climbing stands on the market. And despite its low weight, it still manages to support up to 300 lbs.

Next, the Viper SD features a variety of premium features designed by Summit to make every hunt a good one. Firstly, the sound-dampening tech known as Dead Metal includes custom-engineered expanding foam in all the right places to avoid unwanted noise. However, if you’re anything like us, you may want to make a few easy mods depending on your setup to expand upon Summit’s system.

Secondly, the QuickDraw cable attachment system makes adjustments and climbing trees faster & easier than ever before. Additionally, there’s a trigger that instantly locks the stand and removes it from the tree when you’re ready. Lastly, the included RapidClimb stirrups and full-body harness ensure that you’re ready to go right out of the box. All in all, the Viper SD is a sure winner for even the pickiest bowhunter.

Note: Summit Treestands recently released the Viper SD Pro with a better arm pad and improved QuickDraw Pro cable system. For the money, the Viper SD is still better, but the Pro version is certainly worth a look for avid hunters.

Pros

  • The most comfortable climbing stand for bowhunting
  • 5-year warranty
  • Includes a full-body safety harness
  • Lightweight at 20 lbs
  • Supports up to 300 lbs
  • High-quality aluminum construction with precision welds
  • Functions as a sit-down or stand-up climber stand
  • Bow-friendly design
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • You might want to upgrade to a better harness than the included one
  • Footrest sold separately
  • Unclear instructions are a common problem with Summit stands

#2) Hawk Warbird Climber HWK-HC2042 Treestand

After Summit, Hawk is our next favorite treestand brand for bowhunting. Of the available Hawk models, the Warbird Climber is our current favorite. First, the razor-thin frame folds flatter than the Viper SD, which you may find is this stand’s greatest selling point if torn between the two.

Second, the Warbird Climber bites trees just as well as the Viper SD, and you might find that it’s even quieter without the need to modify. One difference to consider is that this stand weighs 2.5 lbs more than the Viper SD. Plus, the platform is larger. Comparatively, the Viper SD platform measures 20” W x 26.5″ D, and the Warbird Climber platform measures 21” W x 34″ D.

As for the weight limit, the Warbird supports up to 300 lbs. Finally, this stand also includes a full-body safety harness, camo backpack straps, two cam buckle tree straps, and an accessory bag. All in all, the trademark Fold-Flat tech by Hawk and the roomy platform are what set this stand apart from the competition.

Pros

  • It folds completely flat
  • Ultra-thin frame
  • Supports up to 300 lbs
  • Quiet operation with the Auto-Latch cable
  • Lighter than steel stands at 22.5 lbs
  • Roomy platform

Cons

  • Not as good for larger trees as a Summit stand
  • 1-year warranty compared to 5-year from Summit
  • Larger dimensions than the Viper SD

#3) Summit Treestands 180 Max SD 81116 Climbing Treestand

For the big & tall, our favorite model in the Summit lineup is the 180 Max SD. Even hunters who aren’t big & tall will find value here if they want a roomier stand. Just be careful and bring a thermos full of hot joe to avoid falling asleep because this thing is that dang comfortable. Regarding specs, the 180 Max SD beefs the weight limit up to 350 lbs, and taller folks over 6′ will find that this model is more comfortable than the Viper SD.

Similar to the Viper SD, the 180 Max SD is built with high-quality aluminum for ultimate durability and to cut down on weight. For this reason, the latest 180 Max SD model weighs just 26 lbs. This is impressive, especially considering that it doesn’t weigh a lot more than the Hawk Warbird Climber.

Next, in case you didn’t notice, Summit upgraded its Viper SD armrest by providing a fully-padded armrest on the 180 Max SD model. In turn, that’ll cut down on those optional modifications we mentioned in our Viper SD review above. Lastly, the 180 Max SD features all the same premium tech as the Viper SD, and the package includes a safety harness that you may or may not want to upgrade later.

Pros

  • Beefed up weight limit up to 350 lbs
  • Fully-padded armrest unlike the Viper SD
  • Our top pick for big & tall hunters
  • Roomier than the Viper SD, yet still lightweight at 26 lbs
  • 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Velcro pockets
  • Highest upfront cost
  • Depending on your size, you might notice some interference with the bar while bowhunting

#4) OL’MAN by Milennium Alumalite CTS Climbing Stand

Next up is our current top pick by OL’MAN treestands, now OL’MAN by Millennium. Firstly, Millennium improved upon the old design and lightened the load by swapping out the steel for aluminum. Overall, the switch lowered the weight from 29 lbs to 21 lbs, which just about matches the weight of the Viper SD. In other words, the Alumnalite is an excellent choice for hunters who plan to cover a lot of ground.

As for the specs, the Alumalite CTS supports up to 300 lbs and has a wider seat width than the Viper SD. Comparatively, the Alumalite manages to extend the seat width a full 3″ from 18″ to 21″, so be sure to keep that in mind if you want a wider seat.

Additional upgrades in the design include an improved cable system for easier setup, new oval tubing, and a completely redesigned standing platform with tubing-style foot straps. Lastly, Millennium offers a 1-year warranty on its Ol’Man treestands, which matches Hawk but falls well short of what Summit brings to the table.

Pros

  • Wide 21″ seat
  • Super lightweight aluminum construction brings the weight down to 21 lbs
  • Stealthy quiet operation
  • Easier to lock in the pins with the new oval tubing
  • Comfortable seat, and it’s replaceable

Cons

  • 1-year warranty
  • More quality control issues than Summit (be sure to check all the components upon arrival)
  • Might not bite trees as well as Summit
  • No backrest

#5) Summit Treestands Viper Steel 81137 Climber Stand

Our top budget pick in the best archery climbing tree stand category is by none other than Summit. At the time of this writing, this stand won’t break the bank, however, you will feel it on your back more than the Viper SD since it weighs 29 lbs. Clearly, the tradeoff for the added weight is the lower cost.

In case you’re wondering, the reason it weighs more is that it’s built from steel rather than aluminum, which is also why it costs less. Yet, we’re still big fans of this stand and like it a lot more than the OL’MAN steel climber. First, the Viper Steel sports a backrest, which is a must-have for those long days in the field, especially for our old backs.

Regarding specs, the Viper Steel boasts a 300 lb weight limit to match most of the stands in this guide, an 18″ seat width to match the Viper SD, and it uses most of the same tech featured in premium Summit models. You’ll find the QuickDraw cable retention system and RapidClimb stirrups in the base package along with the standard Summit safety harness.

Pros

  • Most of the same tech as the Viper SD
  • Features a backrest unlike OL’MAN climbers
  • The most affordable model in our guide at the time of this writing
  • Locks in tightly for a secure feel
  • High level of comfort for the money

Cons

  • The heaviest model in this guide at 29 lbs
  • The backrest and armrest padding isn’t on the same level as the Viper SD and Max 180
  • Made of steel instead of aluminum

Bottom Line

When selecting the best climbing treestand for bowhunting, always remember safety first. We know a lot of the young guys might think it’s cool to be able to climb up a tree without a harness, but it’s not cool when they get injured. In reality, there’s absolutely no reason to skip your harness, and we’ve even seen veterans do it when making instructional videos. As guys with construction backgrounds, it’s a pet peeve of ours to watch seasoned hunters teach newbs without using a harness.

So, with that short rant out of the way, the key takeaway is to lock in your safety knowledge and system first, then start with Summit climbers. The Summit brand is the best available, it manufactures its stands in the US, and it offers the longest warranty of 5 years. Though, having put them on a pedestal, we still can’t figure out why the instructions aren’t better. For the mechanically inclined, the instructions are good enough, but newcomers will most likely run into a few speed bumps during assembly.

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