Treestand Basics: 4 Stand Styles Every Hunter Should Know

By Joe MartinoSeptember 1st, 2021

The debate over what type of treestands are best continues to rage each year as deer season draws near. The debate honestly boils down to preference. While one hunter may swear by a climbing stand, others prefer a hang-on or ladder stand.

But if you’re just getting started with treestand hunting, you need to know the basics. Below we’ll break down the different styles of treestands to help you decide which stand you might be the most comfortable climbing into this season. 

How To Survive A Treestand Accident
Just getting started with treestand hunting? Below is a look at the basic treestand styles you should know.

Hang-On Stands

One of the most popular styles of treestands is the fixed-position hang-on style of treestand that is used in conjunction with tree steps or climbing sticks. Other than the old, homemade wooden stands that were built in the tree, these types of stands have probably been around the longest.

They do offer a certain degree of mobility, allowing the hunter to get into remote areas for run-n-gun deer hunting.

Their safety, however, is not the best. Probably the most injuries to hunters using treestands have come from these type of stands. I’m not saying they aren’t safe. There are just a lot of things that can happen with tree steps, climbing sticks, cables, etc.

Lifelines are essential when using such stands. These stands are secured to the tree by a strap or chain once arriving at your desired stand height

adjusting-treestand
As the name implies, Hang-On treestands are hung on the tree by a chain or strap.

Climbing Treestands

“Climbers,” as they are often called, are a popular choice for those who like to remain mobile, or who hunt state lands and may need to pick up and move at a moment’s notice. 

They undoubtedly offer the highest degree of mobility, and comfort, with their comfy sling-style seats and adjustable leg-height.

Their degree of safety is questionable, but pretty solid overall.  It is important to wear a safety harness as you climb and slide it up the tree as you go up.  There are horror stories of brackets on the top portion breaking, as well as the bottom section coming loose and sliding all the way down the tree.

Climbing stands are a portable treestand option used to ascend and descend the tree each time you hunt.

Ladder Stands

Ladder stands have grown to be one of the most popular types of treestands over the years due to the safety and simplicity of climbing in and out, as well as the stability they provide.  

Ladder stands are likely the safest option out there, but their mobility factor doesn’t rank near the top. They are the most cumbersome to transport and install, but with higher-end models, their comfort is unmatched.

Those with mesh, fold-up seats are the most comfortable and stealthy as you can fold the seat up and hug the tree in order to hide your silhouette.  Some models even come with narrower ladders in order to help them blend in better.

I used to swear off ladder stands as I always believed they would stick out too much to a mature deer. But I have since found that to be untrue. I have killed several trophy-class animals from ladder stands, including my biggest buck to date.

Ladder stands are also the only stand type that allows 2-man options in a single stand. 

Treestand Basics: 4 Styles Every Hunter Should Know
The ladder stand is one of the safest treestand options on the market.

Homemade Wooden Stands

I touched on these earlier, but they are worth mentioning again.  Homemade wooden treestands are the least safe option out there, and frankly, should be avoided.  With no real way to determine weight ratings, deterioration, loose nails, etc., these types of stands cannot be recommended.  Shell out some dough and buy one with safety ratings and tests to back them up.

Conclusion

So, what type of stand is best?  Well, that’s not as easy to answer as you might think. If ease of mobility or changing locations according to hunting pressure or deer movements is key for you, then a hang-on type, or climbing stand is the best option.  But, for safety and comfort, ladder stands get my nod.

Find the stand that allows you to hunt with confidence – and safety – every time you climb into the tree. Only you can determine the best treestand style for the property you hunt. Just remember, always wear a treestand harness and use a Lifeline. 

Joe Martino
Media Contact at River Cleanup conservation group
Joe is a true outdoorsman who writes articles based on his experiences and knowledge of fishing, hunting, trapping and conservation. While Joe does occasionally fish and hunt throughout the country, many of his experiences come from pursuing the great outdoors throughout the Midwest.
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