Hunters who spend hours walking through the forest on the lookout for a great spot for observing animals know that a light, portable tree stand is vital. But at the same time, your climbing stand needs to be safe and comfortable, not to mention appropriate for your style of hunting.
To help you through the jungle of products on the market, we’ll review our top three picks and pick out the lightest climbing tree stand for 2021.
The lightest climbing tree stands are:
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What Is a Climbing Tree Stand?
Hunters can choose between different types of tree stands, but in this article, we’ll focus on climbing tree stands. These consist of an upper seat and a lower part that is a standing platform. You can use these to climb a tree without any additional straps, ladders, or other components—which is very convenient.
However, they have a hard time adapting to unusually-shaped trees and may assemble at a weird, uncomfortable angle.
What To Look For in the Lightest Tree Stand
Naturally, you want the tree stand to be as light as possible, but how does weight affect other factors, and what is a good compromise? Also, what other features should a climbing tree stand have?
Let’s start with the basics: light climbing tree stands should weigh less than 20 pounds. For hunters who walk long distances in the woods, a lightweight stand is vital to prevent fatigue. If you tend to stay closer to the edge of the woods and not venture so far from your car, a heavier stand of about 30 pounds would be okay.
As we all know, hunting requires patience, and sometimes you have to sit still for hours until you spot prey in the distance. To have as comfortable a wait as possible, invest in a tree stand with padded, cushioned seats and an appropriately-sized seat that suits your body.
More space also means better maneuverability if you need to quickly change positions to aim your rifle at a fast-approaching deer.
Keep in mind that the lightest climbing tree stand might compromise comfort to be as light as possible, so you’ll have to decide what to go for regarding this trade-off.
Some models feature a rail at the front of the chair where you can put a rifle and aim with better support, which is why these are great choices for rifle hunters. For all bowhunters, a stand is more likely to be in the way of the bow, and you’re better off going for a climbing tree stand without a rail.
Safety Harness and Straps
A safety harness keeps you in the chair when it's mounted on a tree, and a strap makes it easier for you to carry around your stand tied to your back. So look for climbing tree stands with these features.
You should always use a safety harness to prevent accidents, as falling from tree stands is a common cause of neurological injury in hunting.
Your stand should be able to fasten around differently-sized trees, and a hunter should be able to use their climbing tree stand in the 15–24-inch diameter tree stem range. There’s seldom a need to go beyond that.
Reviews of the Lightest Climbing Tree Stands
Now that you know what to look for in a climbing tree stand, let’s review our top three products on the market and see how they compare.
1. Summit Treestands OpenShot SD—Most Lightweight
This is the lightest climbing tree stand on our list, weighing only 15 pounds, but it can still hold up to 300 pounds of weight. It features a foam seat pad that’s compact and foldable to give the user more space when they stand on the platform. The armrests are also padded for comfort.
Note that this product doesn’t have a backrest, however, which adds to its portability but might decrease the overall comfort for the user.
The OpenShot SD also comes with bungee backpack straps, a full-body harness, a QuickDraw cable system that automatically locks in place, and RapidClimb stirrups adjustable to any boot. This is most likely why buyers find this tree stand super portable and easy to assemble. Also worth mentioning is the 5-year warranty included in your purchase.
One cool feature common for Summit products is that they’re made from DeadMetal, meaning reduced metal-to-metal sound that greatly increases noise reduction. This is great if you don’t want to scare off your prey. Furthermore, its aluminum construction is both lightweight and durable due to the high corrosion resistance of the material.
Finally, note that the OpenShot SD doesn’t have a rail and is constructed as an open-front tree stand that works great with archery hunters, but perhaps not as well with hunters using rifles.
- Weight: 15 pounds.
- Tree diameter: 8–20 inches.
- Platform size: 20 x 32 inches.
- Material: Aluminum.
- Long-lasting aluminum.
- The seat and armrests are padded with foam.
- Easy to assemble.
- 5-year warranty.
- DeadMetal reduces metal-to-metal noise.
- No backrest.
- Doesn’t have a rail.
Incredibly lightweight, easy to assemble, and super portable, the OpenShot SD is a solid option for any serious hunter. Just keep in mind that while it works great for bow hunters, other users might not like that it doesn’t have a supportive rail to stabilize a rifle.
2. Summit Treestand Mini Viper SD—Most Comfortable
Here’s another product from Summit that weighs in at 18 pounds and can support weights up to 300 pounds. Equipped with a fully padded backrest, seat, and armrests, it’s the most comfortable lightweight climbing tree stand, in our opinion. The seat can be fully folded up to get more room for standing on the platform as well.
In terms of safety, the Mini Viper SD has features such as a full-body arrest harness system and a four-point harness safety strap. It also comes with bungee backpack straps for easy carrying that users like due to their stretchiness. Other features include RapidClimb stirrups adjustable to any footwear and a QuickDraw cable system that doesn’t require you to fasten the tree stand with bolts or pins.
The Mini Viper SD also has a front rail made from aluminum that works great to support rifles, though not as much for bow hunters. The aluminum frame is constructed using DeadMetal, a sound deadening technology that reduces noise from the climbing tree stand to prevent making animals aware of your presence.
According to customers, this is a rock-sturdy stand that grips well on to abrasive tree stems such as pine and oak, but it tends to slide a little on sleek, wet surfaces. Another thing users praise is that the tree stand is very portable due to its relatively small seat, but the downfall with this is that larger people might struggle to fit onto the seat and the platform.
- Weight: 18 pounds.
- Tree diameter: 8–20 inches.
- Platform size: 20 x 32 inches.
- Material: Aluminum.
- Comfortable design with foam padded seat, backrest, and armrests.
- Four-point harness strap for added safety.
- Stretchy bungee backpack straps make it easy to carry.
- The front rail is great for rifle users.
- Noise-reducing metal.
- Tends to slip on wet, sleek tree stems.
- Might be too small for a larger hunter.
If you’re looking for the most comfortable lightest climbing tree stand, the Mini Viper SD is likely a great alternative. It features a seat, backrest, and armrests fully padded with foam and comfortable backpack straps, making it super portable and easy to carry. For larger people, though, this isn’t the greatest tree stand due to its smaller frame.
3. XOP Ambush Climbing Tree Stand—Most Budget-Friendly
While being the cheapest product on our list, this 18-pound climbing tree stand can also withhold weights all the way up to 350 pounds. This makes it a good fit for larger people looking for a lightweight stand.
In terms of portability, this tree stand is also great since it packs down to a 5-inch frame. The safety harness strap included with the product doubles as a carrying strap, which might not be ideal for long distances. Users do state that it’s easy to assemble and use once you’ve found your perfect tree, though.
The XOP Ambush Climbing Tree Stand also features a rail in the front that stabilizes rifles. As an additional plus, customers also like the design and aesthetics of this tree stand and report that it looks and feels modern and sturdy.
While several buyers praise the durability and quietness of the platform, there are some complaints related to the seat. It’s angled downwards, so unless you support yourself with your feet, you might slide down, and it lacks padding as well. Several users also state that the safety strap is awkward and gets caught on tree bark and other things.
- Weight: 18 pounds.
- Tree diameter: 6.5–18 inches.
- Platform size: 19.5 x 30 inches.
- Material: Steel.
- Great fit for larger people.
- Super portable small frame.
- Easy to put up.
- Quiet and sturdy platform.
- Rail in front to support rifles.
- The seat lacks padding and is angled downwards.
- Safety strap gets caught on the bark.
- Not the best straps for carrying the stand.
If a wallet-friendly price is the most important deciding factor for you besides a lightweight climbing tree stand, go for this product. Also, if you weigh more than 300 pounds, this product will support you where the others on our list might not. However, the safety strap that doubles as carrying straps could be better according to users, and the seat isn’t the most comfortable one out there.
Which Is the Lightest Climbing Tree Stand Out There?
As you’ve learned, a lightweight climbing tree stand is excellent when you carry it deep into the woods, but you also need to consider other factors such as comfort, compatibility, and safety.
The lightest climbing tree stand on our list, which is also the best product in our eyes, is the Summit Treestands OpenShot SD. It only weighs 15 pounds but still has a padded seat and armrests. Both the seat and the platform are also decently sized, which is an excellent compromise between lightness and function.
If you want a more comfortable seat with a backrest as well as a front rail that can support a rifle, the 18 pounds Summit Treestand Mini Viper SD might be a better fit for you. Finally, for all bargain-hunters out there, the XOP Ambush Climbing Tree Stand gives you the most bang for your buck and also weighs 18 pounds.
But which is your favorite lightest climbing tree stand?