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The Best Climbing Tree Stand: Reviews of Our Favorites (and Some Safety Tips)

One of the most enjoyable aspects of hunting is sitting up in a tree stand, waiting for game, listening to the forest wake up. Being perched up in the trees—that’s just a wonderful way to spend a morning, and with a little patience, it can be a great way to encounter game.

So in this post, we’ll discuss climbing tree stands. We’ll present the models we like (so hopefully you can find the best climbing tree stand for your needs), discuss the factors you may want to consider when choosing one, and provide some (brief!) tips on how to use them. Let’s dig in:

Climbing Tree Stands: Quick Summaries

We’ll go into more detail below, but here are our top picks for climbing tree stands, along with a condensed summary of how each is uniquely useful:

The Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climber Tree Stand: A no-frills option that's good for single-day trips and setting up near the forest's edge;


The Summit Treestands Sentry SD Open Front Climbing Stand: Summit's "just-the-basics" climber, a lightweight option great for bowhunting;

Summit Treestands Sentry SD Open Front Climbing Stand
  • Open-front aluminum climbing stand
  • Contoured mesh folding seat
  • Weighs 21 lbs. and holds up to 300 lbs.


The OL'MAN Multivision Treestand for Bowhunters: A "mid-range" selection good for rifle hunting and bow hunting, with a comfy foot rest;

OL'MAN TREESTANDS Multi-Vision Climbing Stand, Steel Construction with 21" Wide Net Seat, Gray, One Size (COM-04)
  • LEGENDARY TREESTAND: The OL’MAN Multi-vision treestand is loved by gun and bow hunters everywhere.
  • 3 TREESTANDS IN 1: Configure the Multi-Vision for the way you hunt. Set up this legendary climbing stand with the classic OL’MAN straight bar, or with the included reversible Gun Rest/Foot Rest to accommodate both gun and bow hunters.
  • QUIET: The Multi-Vision Series is the quietest climbing stand on the market. It remains our best-selling tree stand.


The Summit Treestands Viper Climbing Treestand: Summit's most popular climbing tree stand, good for both hunting and bow hunting, great for long treks;

Summit Treestands 81120 Viper SD Climbing Treestand, Mossy Oak
  • Closed-front aluminum climbing stand
  • Suspended foam-padded seat with backrest in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo
  • Weighs 20 lbs. and holds up to 300 lbs.


The Summit Treestand Goliath Climbing Treestand: A comfy option with extra sitting / standing space, good for hunters and bowhunters up to 350 pounds (with gear)

Summit Treestands SU81119 Goliath SD Climbing Treestand, Mossy Oak
  • Closed-front aluminum climbing stand with Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo finish
  • Suspended foam-padded seat with backrest
  • Weighs 25 lbs. and holds up to 350 lbs.


The Lone Wolf Sit & Climb Combo II Climbing Tree Stand: Our pick for best climbing tree stand overall. Well-padded, lots of sitting / standing room, lightweight, and with great customer service. In our opinion, the top pick for hunters/bowhunters of all sizes who may (or may not!) want to hike a while before hunting.

Lone Wolf Sit & Climb Combo II Climbing Tree Stand
  • Pivoting sit & climb bar provides easy climbing
  • 2-panel contoured foam seat pad provides all-day comfort
  • Features the full-size 30" x 19.5" platform with distinctive 3-D camo platform design

A (Very Brief) Buyer's Guide to Climbing Tree Stands

Certain pieces of hunting equipment—mainly electronics—can get very complicated. Rangefinders all seem to have 1,000 functions, and the same thing goes for hunting watches. They get complicated.

Climbing tree stands, however, and pretty simple. There are only a few things that really differentiate models, so there are only a few things you need to keep in mind when looking for one. Here's what you may want to consider:

Weight. Manufacturers usually list this right up front, because it’s an important factor. The lightest climbers we’ve found are about 15 pounds; the heaviest are 30 pounds or more. When selecting for weight, consider what kind of hunting you do: do you remain near the edge of the woods, or within a mile of the edge of the woods? If so, a heavier climbing tree stand may be fine. Do you like to move around, or penetrate deep into the forest, so that you’re the only hunter within miles? If that’s the case, you may want to consider a lighter model, because a heavy model can really weigh you down. “Just-the-basics” models tend to be heavier, and high-end models tender to be lighter.

Comfort. This is another huge factor, because sitting up in a tree stand for hours on end—well, it can get a little painful! The main features that deal with comfort are padding (padded seats, padded arm bars, padded mat for you to lean back on) and size (namely, size of the seat, and size of the foot platform). As you’d image, basic models tend to have less padding and be smaller, whereas fancier models tend to have more padding and more room.

Maneuverability. This is also related to space: when you see your game and it’s “go time,” you’ll want as much room as possible in the climber so that you can ready yourself for your shot. Bigger models provide you with more space, but there are other characteristics that can also help, and some climbers feature a flip-up seat so that when you stand up, your seat flips up, and you have more free space to ready yourself and aim your rifle or bow.

Open or Closed Front / Rail. Many climbing tree stands feature a rail in the front, and that’s very helpful for rifle hunters when aiming. It’s not great for bowhunters, because that rail can get in the way when you’re aiming. If you’re rifle hunting, you may want to look for a model with a rail, and if you’re bowhunting, you may want to look for one without a rail. If you do both, you can look for one with a removable rail or one that flips up when you want to move it. In our reviews below, we discuss which climbers are good for rifle hunting, bow hunting, and both.

Quiet / Silence Features. Some climbing tree stands are designed to be as quiet as possible upon set-up, and also while you’re sitting in them. Most climbers don’t have any noise-deadening features, but Summit models sometimes feature “DeadMetal” design (basically, the structure of the climber is filled with foam), so that if you clang something against the climber, it’s not so loud. It’s a nice feature, especially when you’re out in the quiet woods.

User-Friendly / Good Customer Service. Climbing tree stands take a little patience to set up (and we definitely suggest that you practice setting them up in your yard). Some are easier to piece together than others; some have good text instructions/video instructions (and others have bad instructions); and some have really great customer service. It’s something to consider.

Straps and Safety Harness. Many climbing tree stands come with straps, so that you can carry the stand through the woods like a backpack, and a safety harness, which you’ll need when you’re up in the tree. For whatever reason—and we’ve gotten this feedback from a lot of hunters—the straps and safety harness that may come with your climber are very often… meh. There’s not much you can do about the straps (although it’s possible you could DIY, and add some fabric around them to make them more comfortable), and as for the safety harness, it seems like a lot of hunters get an additional safety harness that’s more to their liking. 

Now that you know the features, let’s take a look at the climbing tree stands we’ve selected, and see how they add up.

The Best Climbing Tree Stand: Our Picks

Here are our picks for the best climbers, along with some in-depth commentary about why they might be right for your particular situation. First up:

The Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climber Tree Stand

Summary: A solid "no-frills" climber, good for day-trips and hunting near the edge of the woods

Stats:

  • 10-inch x 17-inch seat
  • 19-inch x 26-inch foot platform
  • Can hold maximum of weight of 300 pounds
  • Unit Weight: 33 pounds

The Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climber Tree Stand is our first review, and it's a sturdy "no-frills" model: it's a decent-sized climber with a reasonable amount of foot space, an inch of camo padding at the seat, and covering on the arm bars and front bar. Those, really, are the fundamental parts of a climbing tree stand, and they're all you need to sit in a tree all day and wait for your game to appear.

At 33 pounds, it's a little on the heavy side—we've seen some models that are half that weight—but if you've got your favorite tree on a plot of public land that isn't too far in the forest, it may certainly be do-able. That extra weight, by the way, is from the frame materials—this is made with steel, whereas a lot of climbers are made from aluminum—so if you've got some fears about the material your climber is made from, steel is certain one of the stronger metals used in tree stands.

It's also got less room on the platform and in the seat than some other models, but that may not be a bad thing—less platform and seat room translates to a smaller climber, and while it may be heavier than a lot of other models, it's a lot less bulky.

It's not a great option if you'll be trekking a long way, but in our experience—well, a lot of hunters don't really trek too far before they hunker down!

The Summit Treestands Sentry SD Open Front Climbing Stand

Summary: Summit's "just-the-basics" option, it's a lightweight model and good for long pre-hunt hikes—our pick for best bowhunting climber

Summit Treestands Sentry SD Open Front Climbing Stand
  • Open-front aluminum climbing stand
  • Contoured mesh folding seat
  • Weighs 21 lbs. and holds up to 300 lbs.

Stats:

  • 18-inch x 16-inch seat
  • 20-inch x 28.75-inch foot platform
  • Can hold maximum of weight of 300 pounds
  • Unit weight: 21 pounds

Our next pick is the Summit Treestands Sentry SD Open Front Climbing Stand. Summit has a range of trees stands, and this is one of their "just-the-basics" models.

That's not to say it's a bad model—Summit is a great company, and we actually think this is a really good option, especially if you'll be bow hunting: it's got an open front designed to give you a broad range of aiming opportunity, and it has an elevated mesh seat that falls forward when you want to sit, but flips up when it's “go time” to give you a little more room to maneuver and get your stance right when your quality comes along. That's a neat design idea, and while there are other climbing tree stands that are great for bow hunting, the Sentry stands out in that regard.

Summit also has some intelligent design aspects to their stands—they feature "DeadMetal" (the metal tubing is filled with foam to soften the sound of any metal-on-metal contact you make); "QuickDraw" cable system is designed for quiet cable attachment, so you're not clanging away in the woods during set-up, scaring deer away; "RapidClimb" adjustable stirrups, designed to make pulling up the platform easier (because trying to pull up a platform in loose stirrups will drive you crazy, and probably isn't too safe); and "SummitLokt" joints, which are locked into place before they're welded together during manufacturing. If you need more explanation on what these features actually are, don't worry—we'll be re-explaining them in our reviews of other Summit tree stands!

At 21 pounds, it's not Summit's lightest treestand—but the Sentry is not their heaviest, either, and 21 pounds is definitely in the "competitive" range. That's a very reasonable weight designed for some trekking, and that can make the Sentry a good pick if you want to spot-and-stalk, as they say, and set up your stand in different parts of the forest.

In terms of comfort, weight, and versatility, we think this is one of Summit's most accessible models, and it can be a great pick if you need a "just-the-basics" model designed to get you up in the tree and looking for game.

The OL'MAN Multivision Treestand for Bowhunters

Summary: A good "mid-range" option, it's a sturdy climbing tree stand good for rifle hunting and bow hunting, and has a (fantastic) foot rest to provide some extra comfort

OL'MAN TREESTANDS Multi-Vision Climbing Stand, Steel Construction with 21" Wide Net Seat, Gray, One Size (COM-04)
  • LEGENDARY TREESTAND: The OL’MAN Multi-vision treestand is loved by gun and bow hunters everywhere.
  • 3 TREESTANDS IN 1: Configure the Multi-Vision for the way you hunt. Set up this legendary climbing stand with the classic OL’MAN straight bar, or with the included reversible Gun Rest/Foot Rest to accommodate both gun and bow hunters.
  • QUIET: The Multi-Vision Series is the quietest climbing stand on the market. It remains our best-selling tree stand.
  • 21-inch wide adjustable net for the seat
  • 18-inch x 32-inch foot platform
  • Can hold maximum of weight of 300 pounds
  • Unit weight: 29 pounds

There are a lot of products in the hunting industry that have great names, and we love the name of our next review: The OL'MAN Multivision Treestand for Bowhunters. We have a couple of guys in our crew who are nearing "OL' MAN" status themselves, so we love that.

In addition to being a fun name, though, we think the OL' MAN Multivision Treestand is a pretty good tree stand. It's versatile—it's a good option for both rifle hunting and bow hunting—and for those of us who love any kind of hunting we can do, that's an important feature. It's also got mesh seating, which can give you a little more space when you stand up, and that's actually a pretty clever design—the mesh slides back to the back of the seat, giving you more space to move around when it's “go time.” Some climbers have a flip-up seat, but that can be a pain, because every time you stand up, the seat flips up. You have a little more control here.

If we're being real about this, climbing tree stands aren't the most exotic piece of hunting equipment in the hunting game, and there's only so many variations you can make to the product. Seat size, cushion material, platform size, etc. There's a lot of overlap between products, and there aren't too many "unique" features that really set a model apart from the others. And that's why the reversable foot rest on the OL' MAN is such a clever idea. If you want a rest, set it up so that the bar is higher; if you want a foot rest, reverse it so that the bar is lower. Honestly, we wish more climbing tree stands would have foot rests—when you're up in a tree for hours, literally hours, and your feet start swelling out like loaves of bread, being up to put them up for a minute or two could make things a lot more comfortable.

It doesn't have a back mat—and some people definitely won't like that—and because it's made out of steel, it weighs in at 29 pounds, which means it can be a little bit heavy if you want to do some trekking before you find the tree you like. Nonetheless, we think this is good option with strong fundamentals, and that foot rest is a GREAT feature. If you want a climbing tree stand that doesn't have "Summit" in the name, this can be a good option.

The Summit Treestands 81120 Viper SD Climbing Treestand

Summary: Summit's most popular climber, and the lightest climber we review, the Viper is a great choice both hunting and bow hunting, and longer trips into the woods to find game

Summit Treestands 81120 Viper SD Climbing Treestand, Mossy Oak
  • Closed-front aluminum climbing stand
  • Suspended foam-padded seat with backrest in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo
  • Weighs 20 lbs. and holds up to 300 lbs.
  • 18-inch x 12-inch seat
  • 20-inch x 26.5-inch foot platform
  • Can hold maximum of weight of 300 pounds
  • Unit Weight: 20 pounds (the lightest climbing tree stand we review)

You didn't think we'd actually get through a review about climbing tree stands and only include one Summit stand, did you? Of course not!

The Summit Treestands 81120 Viper SD Climbing Treestand is the second Summit tree stand on our list, and it's one of the models where Summit steps it up a little bit.

In the world of climbing tree stands, "fancy" very often means "well-padded," and that's what you've got with the Viper: the seat, backrest, arm bars, and front bar all feature padding. It's kind of weird that more climbing tree stands don't come with padding—it's such a simple addition, but it can make a world of difference—especially when the most common complaint that people have about climbing tree stands is comfort. 

So, we think it's comfortable. It's also versatile, and that's also important: it has a padded seat that you can keep down and then raise when you need to (and that up/down capability makes it easier to climb into, as well—it can be difficult to climb onto a stand with the seat down!). It's got all those features that Summit models have—DeadMetal (basically, foam inside the bars to the stand, to lessen the sound if you clang something on it); QuickDraw (the cables lock into place, so you don't need to fiddle with pins and bolts); RapidClimb (basically, adjustable foot straps to make your ascent quicker and easier); and SummitLokt (a poorly-spelled feature that Summit has, where they actually lock their stands during manufacturing before actually welding them)—and those features, as far as we can tell, are pretty unique in the world of tree stands, and not many companies offer things like that.

At 20 pounds, is one of the lighter models available, and the lightest climbing tree stand we review, so if you want to do some hiking before you do some hunting, the Viper can be a great fit for that. That pre-hunt hike can seem a little intimidating, but when we need a little hiking motivation, we try to remember how many hunters stick to the edge of the forest, and how few humans are a few miles in-woods—and that can make the extra effort seem worthwhile (by the way, at present, we believe that the Summit OpenShot, which clicks in at about 15 pounds, is one of the lightest climbing tree stands out there—but we didn't review it, because we don't think it's very comfortable).

Last but not least, the harness on the Viper is actually pretty decent! That's rare for a stand, and it seems like most stands have sub-par harnesses. Sadly, as much as we'd love to report that the straps on this are fantastic, they're... merely OK, which in the world of stands, isn't half bad.

Summit has stated that this is their most popular model, and that doesn't really surprise us—it's a solid, lightweight, well-padded climber with decent legroom, and that's all we could ask for.

The Summit Treestand Goliath SD Climbing Treestand

Summary: With a max weight of up to 350 pounds, this is a good option for hunters and bowhunters of all sizes, can be used for both hunting and bow hunting, and it provides a lot of sitting and standing space; it's also surprisingly lightweight, and a good option for spot-and-stalk hunting

Summit Treestands SU81119 Goliath SD Climbing Treestand, Mossy Oak
  • Closed-front aluminum climbing stand with Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo finish
  • Suspended foam-padded seat with backrest
  • Weighs 25 lbs. and holds up to 350 lbs.
  • 18-inch x 12-inch seat
  • 20-inch x 36-inch foot platform
  • Can hold maximum of weight of 350 pounds
  • Unit weight: 21 pounds, as per Summit website

The Summit Treestands Goliath SD Climbing Treestand is one of Summit's "deluxe" models, and there's a lot to like here. It's kind of funny that Summit went with the name Goliath—after all, he was the bad guy in the "David v. Goliath" match-up, and he didn't come out the altercation as well as David did—but Summit was probably just trying say something about the size of the model. And for good reason: it's big.

From a purely subjective point of view, the Goliath is a lot like Summit's other offerings, but the factor that differentiates it is its weight capacity: most Summit models have a weight capacity of 300 pounds, and the Goliath has a weight capacity of 350 pounds. If you're a larger-framed hunter / bow hunter, you'll need a climber that can support your weight and the weight of your gear, and the Goliath is one of the few climbing tree stands that can support more than 300 pounds (the Summit Titan is one of the others we know of, along with the Lone Wolf, and we'll talk about those in a moment).

As for the climber itself, it's got Summit's suite of features—padding everywhere we'd want padding, a closed front where you can rest your arms (or your rifles, if you'll be rifle hunting), and camouflage fabric. It's also got Summit's design features, and pardon us for our repeating ourselves: DeadMetal (a sound-deadening feature, to mask the sound something makes if it hits your treestand), QuickDraw cables (so you don't have to use a bunch of pins, nuts and bolts, etc. to set up the stand when you find a tree you like), RapidClimb (basically, easy-to-use stirrups designed to make your climb easier, and keep you from losing the lower half of your tree stand), and SummitLokt (which is a manufacturing feature designed to add some structural integrity to the piece—during manufacturing, they click the joints into place before welding them).

In our opinion, the Goliath has generous padding, generous space, and at a very lightweight 21 pounds, it's a great option for trekking before set-up. This is a great option, and it gets our vote as top climber for the big-and-tall crowd.

(One quick note before we move on: we said we'd mention the Titan, so we'll do that here). Summit makes another tree stand that's very similar to the Goliath, and that's the Summit Treestands Titan SD Climbing Treestand. The Goliath and the Titan are very similar and their stand-out feature is that they can support at max weight of 350 pounds, but as per the description on the Summit Titan web page, the main difference is that the Titan has a bigger platform size (the Goliath has a 20 x 36 platform, whereas the Titan has a 21 x 38 platform). If you're a hunter with a larger frame and you want a little extra room to sit and maneuver, the Titan may be a better option (even though it weights a little bit more, at 25 pounds).

The Lone Wolf Sit & Climb Combo II Climbing Tree Stand

Summary: This gets our vote for best climbing tree stand overall. It's lightweight, well-padded, relatively easy to set up, and we've known Lone Wolf to have a reputation for great customer service. Good for hunters and bow hunters of any size (including big-and-tall hunters with gear up to 350 pounds), this is our pick for top climber overall.

Lone Wolf Sit & Climb Combo II Climbing Tree Stand
  • Pivoting sit & climb bar provides easy climbing
  • 2-panel contoured foam seat pad provides all-day comfort
  • Features the full-size 30" x 19.5" platform with distinctive 3-D camo platform design
  • Official seat size dimensions unavailable
  • 30-inch x 19.5-inch foot platform
  • Can hold maximum of weight of 350 pounds
  • Unit weight of 20 pounds (nice!)

OK! Our last pick: the Lone Wolf Sit & Climb Combo II Climbing Tree Stand. This gets our vote for best climbing tree stand for both regular hunters and bow hunters. Here's why:

One of the TOP complaints about many climbing tree stands is that the instructions included aren't very helpful. And that makes a lot of sense—if you've ever tried to put one of these things together, gotten frustrated because it wasn't obvious, and then pictured yourself up in a tree for three-to-four-to-TEN hours while not sure if you've put things together correctly, well... you know what a scary feeling that can be. Lone Wolf seems to address that by recording a very helpful video about set-up and operation of their climber. Wouldn't it be nice if all climbing tree stand makers had something like that! (hint, hint: climbing tree stand makers: make videos like this!).

As for the design of the model, it's got all the features we'd look for: cushioning, roomy seat, space at the platform, and a collapsible bar that you can put up if you're rifle hunting or put down if you're bowhunting. Not only that, but it's one of the few climbers we've seen that has a molded seat cushion. That may not seem all that important, but some of the flat seat cushion can have a tendency to ball up over time, like the material inside a cheap pillow. The molded cushion on the Lone Wolf is designed to keep that from happening.

This is a small detail, but one we appreciate: the color of the cushions in a tannish/grey, much like the bark you'll probably be sitting in front of. Most climbers feature fabric that's traditional green-and-brown camo, but... you're not always going to be sitting among leaves when you're in a tree stand. In fact, because you can only use a tree climber on trees that *don't* have branches obstructing your climb, it's a lot more likely that you won't be sitting in leaves. And that's especially true late in the hunting season, when all the leaves have fallen anyway. So that tan/grey color is actually pretty clever, and we appreciate their thinking there.

Like some of the Summit models, the Lone Wolf can also handle larger-framed hunters, with a max weight capacity of 350 pounds. It only weighs 20 pounds, and that’s a pretty impressive unit weight for a stand with that kind of weight capacity. If you're a bigger guy and you'll be hiking in to you hunting spot, that lower weight can be a really, really nice design feature. Not only that, but the model itself packs down to a profile of 4 inches, which is another nice design feature—we seen some lightweight climbers that are somehow bulkier and hard to carry, and the sleek, compact shape of the compacted Lone Wolf model is pretty unique. This is one of our favorite climbers—recommended.

Safety Tips for Using Climbing Tree Stands: Do the Following…

That's right: we're going to be responsible adults and remind you that you need to be AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE when using your tree stand. Your hunting classes no doubt made a big deal about tree stand safety, as well they should have: we don't have any stats or studies on this, but we're willing to bet that a high percentage of bowhunting injuries come from accidents in tree stands. The worst part is, accidents in tree stands can be very serious, very painful, and very hard to recover from.

So here are some safety tips to keep in mind when setting up, climbing, hunting from, and climbing down off a tree stand. It's not a complete list—we'll leave that to your state's hunting classes—but it's a good start. And we apologize in advance if we seem a little preachy—we just want everyone to be safe and enjoy hunting, and when you consider that 30% of hunters who use tree stands will fall at some point during their lives, well, tree stand safety seems a lot more important. 

Make Sure Your Climber is Strong Enough for You

This is Job #1: make sure your climber can support your weight, AND the weight of your gear. Climbers are NOT built to support more than the weight they list as their maximum weight, so if you (and the gear you’re bringing up) weigh more than the model’s maximum weight, do not use that model, and get one that can support you.

So, weigh yourself before you buy your model, and this is also important—weight yourself before you climb up into it. A lot of us put on weight in the off-season, and your weight when you buy your climber may not be the same as when you finally use it. Also remember that your clothes and gear factor into that maximum weight, so weigh all your equipment before you ascend. 

Wear Your FAS (Fall-Arrest-System)

An FAS typically consists of a full-body harness you wear, a lineman's belt, a system that tethers you to the tree, and a strap / suspension relief strap. Make sure all these items fit properly, and make sure your FAS has been made to meet industry standards—some knock-off that your cousin got at a flea market from his friend Tom (or whatever) will not support you. Finally, if you see that your FAS has experienced some wear-and-tear, replace it, and/or make a schedule to replace your FAS as recommended by the manufacturer.

A full discussion of FAS and how to use them is beyond the scope of this post, and it's something you'll go over in your hunting class. PLEASE pay attention—falling from a tree stand without an FAS (or even falling from a tree stand with an improperly secured FAS) can result in serious, lifelong injury, or even death. Seriously. It happens, and it happens more than you'd think. Know what you're doing, and use the right equipment. 

Practice Using Your Tree Stand in Your Yard

Or wherever. Know the procedure for unfolding your climber, attaching it to the tree, and ascending up the trunk. Read the manual and take note of any instructions you don't understand, and inspect all the parts to make sure they're up-to-snuff. If you don't know what you're doing, find a hunting instructor who does—they tend to be very generous with their knowledge, and they'll show you the safe and right way to use your climber.

But that’s only half the picture. Set up your tree stand so that it’s a few feet above the ground, and then practice everything you’d do on a hunt: haul gear up, sit for a while, get up and aim at something, loose a few arrows (do so safely, of course). Go through the motions and figure out what actions are cumbersome, and even more importantly, figure out what actions are potentially unsafe. Rehearse your entire hunt, and you’ll have a clearer idea of what to expect.

Select a Tree that Can Support You

Make sure your tree can hold your weight, and make sure it doesn't have loose bark. It doesn't matter how good you are with a tree stand—if your tree can't support you, you may be in for some trouble.

This is going to sound silly, but it happens—some hunters fall in love with a tree, and the climb it, even though they shouldn't. They image it's the perfect spot, they'll finally get that buck they've always been dreaming of, and so on. Be smart, and don't attach yourself to a tree that's iffy.

Climb Smart / Use Three Points of Contact

When ascending or descending the stand, always maintain three points of contact, and never climb with your bow or any other gear you bring. Use a haul line to bring that equipment up to you, and make sure that your bow or crossbow or whatever is 1) unloaded; 2) is pointing downward; and 3) has the safety engaged.

Slow Down and Take Your Time

This is a good reminder for absolutely all of us—slow and steady is usually the safest way to do things. Take your time during set-up, climbing, sitting, and descending. Know what you need to do, be mindful of your actions, and resist the urge to rush. Chances are you’re going to be up in that tree stand for a long time anyway, so what’s your hurry?  

Climb to the Right Height

Some hunters get the idea that the higher you go, the more likely you’ll harvest the deer of your dreams. That’s not really the case, though, because the higher you climb, the smaller your target will become. Trees are also a lot less stable the further up you travel, and as we’re persistently reminding you, safety is the name of the game. Fifteen or twenty feet is usually enough to get you fully out of a deer’s line-of-sight, and a mature tree trunk may still be thick and steady at that point.

Take It Down After You Use It

Climbing tree stands are not designed for long-term placement, and if find a tree you like and leave your climber there, the chances of it falling down when you use it in the future skyrocket. There’s nothing securing a climbing tree stand to a tree—it simply stays aloft because of the two straps you’ve put on the backside of the tree. Wind, rain, heat, and humidity can all affect your tree stand, and that’s why they should be “single-use” only. If you use your climber on a tree you like and want to use it there on the following day, take it down the first day and put it up again the second.

Attach to Yourself Everything You Can

The fewer loose items you have up in a tree stand, the better. Loose items have a tendency of falling off/out of your tree stand, and it can take a while to retrieve them. So if you can, try to find gear that you can attach to yourself.

Here are two examples: your flashlight, and, if you’re bowhunting, your bow release. Old-school handheld flashlights are great, but it makes a lot more sense to use a headlamp when you’re up in the stand. It won’t fall down, and you don’t need to figure out how you’re going to get it up in the tree. As for the bow release, hand-held releases are great, but being able to attach a trigger release around your wrist when you’re up in your stand means 1) you won’t drop it, and 2) you won’t have to reach for it / find it when it’s “go time.”

Figure out which items you can attach to your personage, and save yourself some hassle.

Try to Remember You’re in a Stand

This one sounds a little funny, because if you’ve been up in a stand for four hours, you are pretty dang sure you know where you are. We’re referring to that moment when it’s “go time,” and 100% of your focus zooms in on the game below you. When you’re in the moment, you can get so focused that you forget you’re 15 feet in the air, precariously tied to a very, very small foot platform. It’s not too uncommon to get so into aiming that you lose your footing and tumble. If you’ve got your FAS all set up, you should be good to go, but—well, you’ve likely missed that shot.

So, if at all possible, try to maintain a 360-degree knowledge of your surroundings, even when your quarry comes into view. It may be difficult if you’re just starting out, but it’ll get easier with practice.

Make Sure Them Boots Ain’t Muddy

For many of us, hunting means early morning hours when there’s a lot of moisture on the ground, and that can translate to mud on the bottom of your boots (and, still, others of us aren’t afraid to hunt in the rain, and then it’s a mud extravaganza).

This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to overlook: muddy boots at the top of the little tree stand 15 feet in the air… well, that’s not a great idea, because you can slip and fall. So check your treads before you ascend, and try to get all the muck and mire out of them.

More Safety Tips: DON’T Do the Following

Alright, now that you know a few things you should do, here are a few things you shouldn’t do:

Don’t Be on Your Dadgum Phone the Whole Time

We could talk about how the whole point of hunting is to get out into the woods, enjoy nature, commune with wildlife, and so on, but here’s the truth of it: hunting takes focus. Long-term, dedicated, focus. Your cell phone—even those old-school flip-phones some of us have—destroy that focus.

It’s also not very safe. Hunting is dangerous, but the very act of being up in a tree stand is also dangerous, and it requires some focus. We’re not always fully aware of how much of our attention our phones use, and with all the features on your phone—texts, apps, video games, and whatever else they now have—you could be chatting away while your dream buck saunters by.

And you’ll probably drop the phone anyway, so what’s the point?

Smoking Cigarettes / Pipes / Vaping / Whatever

This is a bad idea for obvious health reasons, but even aside from, you know, wanting to be alive and healthy, smoking is 1) smelly, and your game can smell that weird scent from a good distance away; and 2) an incredible fire hazard—especially if you’re out west.

So, smoke at home, and try to quit if you can.

Don’t Fall Asleep

This can be a tough one, because you’ve gotten up early, hoofed it into the woods, and have been sitting up in that stand for what seems like an eternity. Sitting in there in the still, quiet woods… it can be very calming! You should be strapped in and your FAS should keep you safe is anything, but… suffice it to say, staying awake is the best plan of action.

So, do all you can to be wakeful. Go to bed early the night before—and no alcoholic drinks or sleeping aids that might make you groggy when you wake up—and eat a good breakfast if you can. Have a game plan if you get sleepy—maybe bite your tongue, or pinch your cheeks, or do whatever you can think of to remain alert. Being awake and alert is the best way to be safe, but… it’s also the best way to nab that buck when he comes around!

Don’t Get Surprised by Your Alarms

If you wear hunting watches or carry a GPS, you may have some features on there that can go off without your knowledge—and scare away game that may be near your tree stand.

This is actually common on hunting tech that features weather alerts. If you’re about to get some serious weather, your watch / GPS / phone may go off, and often times those alarms are LOUD. It can ruin a morning, and you may need to scout another spot.

So, the best thing to do is know your gear. Know all the gear you’ve got on you, know the features, know the sound settings you’ve got programmed. Surprises are no fun.

Enjoy Your Time in the Trees!

A good tree stand can really be an advantage when you’re hunting, and hopefully something in our discussion above will help you with your hunting goals. Good luck, have fun, and be safe, and all the best to you!