The profound peace and quiet you can feel while sitting, silently and patiently, in a ladder stand is unique in the sport of hunting. It feels like you’re untouchable and apart from everything, whether you’re bow hunting or using a rifle. Looking down on the forest from a high vantage point, it seems as if everything you can see belongs to you and you alone.
Not only does it feel great to be up in a ladder stand, it’s also one of the most effective ways to hunt whitetail deer and other types of game in many circumstances. By getting up off the ground, you’re leaving the line of sight of any deer that you’re after while also making yourself more difficult to smell. Putting yourself in a great position to bag a deer and just waiting is, unsurprising, one of the best strategies there is.
In this guide to the best ladder stands, we’ll go over some of the best options for hunters looking to stake out a position up in the trees. Each review will cover the product’s specs, use conditions, and availability.
Hawk Big Denali 1.5 – Best Ladder Stand
Sometimes simplicity is best, and that’s certainly the case with the 20 foot tall Big Denali from Hawk. It’s simply one of the best ladder tree stands you could ever buy.
With a large padded seat that’s made from a super comfortable mesh, a flip-up, padded shooting rail, and lots of extra features like a gun holder, the Hack Big Denali has everything you could need without forcing in anything extra.
The Hawk Big Denali has a weight capacity of 300 lbs despite the entire apparatus weighing only 65 lbs. Making it even easier to transport is the collapsible ladder stacking system that’s easy to use and efficient.
The fact that the Hawk Big Denali is compact, comfortable, and easy to use and set up makes it an ideal tree stand for just about any hunter. There are tree stands with more features, there are taller stands and ones that have a cup holder, but hunters that need all those accouterments will shop for them specifically.
We’ve rated the Big Denali as the best ladder tree stand overall because it’ll be the best product for the largest amount of people.
With the Big Denali, you’re getting everything that you need–from safety features to a comfortable seat–in a incredibly sturdy and well engineered package.
X-Stand The Duke – Safest Ladder Stand
If you’re someone who likes to feel secure in your ladder tree stand, the Duke’s sturdy steel construction and full body safety harness will make you feel more comfortable than all the stands on this list.
The Duke tree stand from X-Stand comes equipped with a jaw safety system that keeps you securely fashioned to whatever tree you’ve chosen as your vantage point.
Once you’re up there, you’ll find that the Duke is both functional, with an adjustable shooting rail, and comfortable, with mesh seats, padded armrests, and a padded foot platform.
The Duke is 20 feet tall and has a weight capacity of 300 lbs.
Wise hunters know not to take unnecessary risks out in the wilderness, where help is often far away. And, since this is a one-man ladder tree stand, you’ll often be out there on your own–making caution even more prudent.
There are two safety features that come standard with this ladder stand, the jaw safety system and the full-body safety harness, both of which make a real difference for lowering your risk of injury.
The X-Stand Duke follows all the safety standards you’d expect and more while remaining comfortable and functional.
Big Game Hunter HD 1.5 – Lightest Ladder Stand
The Big Game Hunter HD is sparse and economical, but it makes up for it by being among the lightest ladder treestands around.
First and foremost, the Big Game Hunter HD weighs only 61 lbs but has a weight capacity of 350 lbs, which is higher than many heavier ladder stands.
This tree stand is highly flexible, with a flip-up shooting rail and a comfortable flex mesh seat that flips out of the way when you want to take on standing shots.
This ladder stand makes a long walk a lot shorter, and means you can hang a ladder stand in remoter places that you wouldn’t be able to lug a heavier ladder stand to.
The Big Game Hunter HD might not be comfortable enough (or, at 18.5 feet, high enough) to be your favorite ladder stand, but it’s a great option for when you’ve got a spot that is really inaccessible and forces a longer than usual walk.
For those who like to trek way out into the middle of nowhere, this is one of the best ladder tree stands around.
Rivers Edge Lockdown – Tallest Ladder Stand
The Rivers Edge Lockdown is quite simply a massive ladder stand, standing 21 feet tall and with enough room for two. (River’s Edge Lockdown tops our list of tallest ladder stands which we cover here…)
The two-person ladder that leads up to the Rivers Edge Lockdown has a solid steel construction that still sets up quietly because all the ladder sections are dipped in vinyl, so there’s no steel on steel contact.
The hang-on tree stand has a huge seat and platform, allowing more space than any other product on this list. To be precise, the Lockdown’s platform size is 42 inches by 28.5 inches, and its seat size is 40 inches by 16 inches.
The Lockdown has a flip-up footrest as well as an adjustable shooting rail, meaning you can make any kind of shot you need to.
If you’re looking for a high two-man stand that gives you both a great view and lots of room to move around, the Lockdown is an excellent option.
The fact that it’s so large and built from quality materials means that it’s on the expensive side, but if you have the budget for it, you’ll never have trouble finding a buddy to go hunting with.
When you’re 21 feet above ground level with enough room to shoot however you like, sitting or standing, with a rifle or a bow, you’ll be surprised how much easier hunting feels.
Muddy Stronghold 2.5 – Biggest & Best Buddy Ladder Stand
While it’s a little shorter than the Rivers Edge ladder stand we just looked at, the Muddy Stronghold has a few features to keep two people comfortable while elevated.
The Muddy Stronghold stands 18 feet tall and has a massive amount of space. The foot platform is a massive 50 inches wide, while each seat is 24 inches by 17 inches.
That’s right; this ladder stand has not one but two seats, separated by a padded armrest. When you combine that with the comfortable and well-padded seat that each has, you’ll almost feel like you’re up there alone in a single-person ladder stand.
The Muddy Stronghold is perfect for people who want to stay comfortable while they’re hunting with a friend. The fact that there’s a cup holder for each person makes that even more true.
It’s also a very safe ladder stand, with high-quality stabilizer straps and multiple accessory hooks included with your purchase.
The Muddy Stronghold is one of the best ladder tree stands for people who like to hunt in pairs but if you’re not sold on that then be sure to check out our expanded list of the best double ladder stands here >>.
Muddy Nexus XTL (for Bow Hunters!)
The large and stable platform of the Muddy Nexus XTL makes it one of the best ladder stand for bow hunting you can find.
The Muddy Nexus XTL is 18 feet tall, supported by a heavy-duty double-railing ladder that’s made of steel.
The standing platform is 42 inches wide and 34 inches deep, allowing even hunters with a very wide stance to hunt comfortably. The 39-inch seat size allows two people to sit down with plenty of room.
Bow hunters know that stable footing is essential for making an accurate shot. The Muddy Nexus XTL is able to provide an ideal platform for bow hunting because of its support bar, ratchet straps, and stabilizer straps that combine to keep your tree stand securely fashioned to the tree.
It’s also got four separate ladder sections that ensure one or the other corner won’t dip down when you put weight on it.
If you’re a hunter that relies on solid footing to feel comfortable while shooting arrows, the Muddy Nexus XTL is an excellent ladder tree stand for you.
Guide Gear – Best Ladder Stands Under $200
Guide Gear is Sportsman’s Guide in-brand, which they use to sell everything from hunting jackets to ice coolers to hang-on stands. Although the website still sells products by other manufacturers, they started producing their own so that they could sell high quality items for an affordable price.
Gear Guide offers several different ladder tree stands for under $200 and, even though they are inexpensive, there’s still great value to be found.
For instance, the rather spartan 15 foot Mesh Seat Ladder Tree Stand is well under $100. It doesn’t have a padded seat or a shooting rail, but it’s a good product for someone who wants to try out hunting from a ladder stand.
The 16.5-foot Two-Man Ladder Tree Stand, on the other hand, has a padded shooting rail and comfortable seating for two while remaining well under $200.
They even sell a 12 foot tripod stand for under $200, which might be appealing to hunters that already have a few hang-on stands but lack a tripod.
The entire Guide Gear range is available from:
Bolderton Outlander 360 – Best Ladder Stand with Swivel Seat
For hunters who are serious about never missing a shot, the Bolderton Outlander 360 allows you to line up your shot perfectly every time.
Standing an impressive 19 feet off the ground, the Bolderton Outlander 360 is a large and imposing tree stand. Its comfortable mesh seat is on a huge, hexagonal platform that gives you a lot of room to stretch.
The built-in camouflage blind panels will keep you concealed from whatever game you’re hunting. And, impressively, the tree stand weighs only 110 pounds.
It really changes the game to have a swivel seat, taking away any sense that you’re stuck up in your tree stand and unable to adjust to the wildlife around you.
The durable construction and high-quality materials make this ladder stand an ideal one to set up in your favorite spot for a long time. The hang-on stand’s steel construction won’t suffer rust or corrosion as a result of the weather.
Perfect for a single person to hunt in 360 degrees, the Bolderton Outlander 360 is a high-end tree ladder tree stand that’s packed with convenient features.
X-Stand The Jayhawk 20 – Best Heavy Duty Ladder Stand
X-Stand geared everything about the Jayhawk 20 towards being solid and basically unbreakable.
The headline spec of the X-Stand Jayhawk is its ridiculous weight capacity of 500 pounds. It’s also quite a heavy ladder tree stand, as you’d expect, weighing in at 122 pounds.
The jaw safety system that comes with the ladder stand not only keeps you attached to the tree but also allows you to set it up from the ground.
Another important feature is the helix oval tubing that the ladder sections are made of, which helps achieve the Jayhawk’s exceptional weight rating.
When you have a heavy-duty ladder stand beneath your feet that you feel confident in, you can be more attuned to the forest and more accurate in your shooting. The heavy-duty nature of the Jayhawk ladder stand really goes a long way towards giving you this peace of mind.
The ladder stand also has a lot of features that help you hunt well, likes its completely removable shooting rail and self-lubricating nylon washers that keep all the moving parts quiet.
In terms of the quality of construction, the X-Stand Jayhawk is one of the best ladder tree stands around.
Whether you plan to use your ladder stand for bow hunting or traditional hunting (or both!), choosing the best one for you is a difficult proposition.
How To Choose a Comfortable Ladder Stand
Ladder tree stands need to be comfortable because you never know how long you’ll be up there waiting for a deer to wander by. It can be tough to predict which ladder stand will be the most comfortable before you sit in it, but you can usually make a pretty good guess from the pictures.
Before buying, you can also try to simulate some aspects of the ladder stands that you’re considering. For instance, take a look at the seat size and measure it out to see if you need more space. Don’t forget to measure out the platform size, as this is another important aspect of comfort.
Are Ladder Stands Safe?
Ladder tree stands are safe as long as you follow a number of precautions. The first and perhaps most important one is that you should always wear a safety harness when you’re on any kind of tree stand–whether it’s a small, single-person hang-on stand or a big two-man ladder tree stand.
One thing that experienced hunters always say is that it’s key to check everything before getting up into ladder tree stands. If you have an adjustable ladder support bar, check it before you climb up. Make sure your safety bar is properly attached. It’s just common sense.
It’s also crucial to pay attention to the manufacturer’s weight capacity. In short, 300 lbs means 300 lbs.
Finally, setting up correctly is crucial for safety, which we’ll cover in the next section.
Setting up ladder stands is the first and most important step of hunting from them.
What Factors Make It Easy To Assemble a Ladder Stand?
Ladder stands from different manufacturers have different parts and, therefore, very different assembly procedures.
A number of factors impact how easy it is to assemble a tree stand. For example, tree stands with pinned ladder sections are easier to set up than those with nuts and bolts. However, many hunters complain that pins can cause squeaking and suggest fixing them with nuts and bolts, regardless.
Another aspect of this question is how much latitude you have to adjust your ladder stand to the tree you’re planning on using. If your stand has an adjustable ladder support bar, it’s going to be simpler to get into place than one with rigid support bars.
How Long Does It Take To Assemble A Ladder Stand?
It depends on your level of expertise, the ladder stand you have, and how difficult the tree itself is, but ladder stands can be assembled in around 20 minutes.
How Much Does A Ladder Stand Cost?
Ladder stands usually cost around $250, but there is a wide range depending on how many add-on features you want.
Choosing A Silent Ladder Stand
The importance of choosing a ladder stand that doesn’t make a lot of noise is underrated. You can very easily spook deer by making the slightest of noises.
To find a silent ladder stand, look for features like a silent snap pin, an adjustable support bar that doesn’t squeak, and a shooting rail that moves without a sound. Also, check out our top tips for how to fix a squeaky ladder stand.
Best Height For A Ladder Stand
There isn’t anyone best height for a ladder stand since the ideal height will vary according to conditions, the game you’re hunting, and the time of year.
How High Should A Ladder Stand Be?
The best ladder stand height is as high as possible while (and this is key) giving you a clear line of sight and a good angle to shoot your prey.
For example, you don’t want to set up a 20-foot ladder stand right on top of a water source where you expect whitetail deer to congregate. If you do, you’ll be shooting straight downwards.
Why Do You Need To Get Up High?
There are two main reasons you want to be up off the ground while hunting for deer and similar game. First of all, ladder tree stands get the hunter out of the line of sight of game. Think about it, deer are used to keeping an eye out from predators on the ground, but not up in trees.
Pros And Cons Of Different Heights
Pros of being very high up:
- Out of the line of sight of deer
- More difficult to smell
- You can see further
Cons of being very high up:
- Shooting nearby game is difficult
- Foliage and branches can get in your way
In comparison, choosing a shorter tree stand (say, less than 14 feet) can keep you out of the foliage, but it makes it easier for deer to see and smell you.
Durability: How Long Do Ladder Stands Last?
You can expect a ladder stand to last anywhere between 3 and 8 years, with lots of different factors making a difference.
The frames on the tree stands we’ve covered in this article are very tough and can last a long time, but they’ll last longer if they aren’t left out permanently. Periodically removing them from a tree saves them from becoming bent or otherwise stressed by a tree that’s growing.
Pinned ladder sections are the most important parts of the frames to check because they bear the most weight. The foot platform, on the other hand, is less likely to break.
Bolts, Pins, and Washers
Blots, pins, and washers will be vulnerable to rust as well as wear and tear. The good news is that these parts are usually very easy to replace.
Fabrics and Seating Material
In terms of safety, the most important pieces of fabric are the two accessory hooks and the backpack straps since they help support the tree stand. Parts like the seat and padding will slowly suffer from the elements, but how much depends on whether or not you bring your ladder stands in for the winter.
Platform: How Big of a Platform Do You Need?
Platform size is a very individual matter and has to do with your height and your shooting stance. As long as you have a foot platform that’s big enough to support your stance, you’re good.