The 10 Best Climbing Sticks to Get You up Trees in 2020

Hunting, Reviews

Half of the joy of the hunt is the anticipation. There’s not many feelings in the world sweeter than waiting for an hour or two, only to see your prey prance along just as you thought all hope was lost. Of course, not every hunting ground is blessed with grassy knolls and excellent vantage points. Sometimes you have to create your own. This is where climbing sticks come in.

Climbing sticks are one of the most efficient and safest ways to get yourself up a tree and set up a tree stand, or, if it’s already been set up, to climb back up when you’re ready to hunt. There are a whole host of different styles available, all useful in their own way, but they can all be described as a device that attaches to a tree and acts as a ladder or steps.

If you’re new to hunting and haven’t used a tree stand before, then choosing the right climbing sticks can make that first experience much simpler. Even if you’re used to swinging in the trees like Tarzan, an upgrade on your sticks can mean less time spent scouting for the ideal location and more time spent lying in wait.

What to Look for in a Climbing Stick

There are many factors that need to be taken into account when choosing a climbing stick, but a lot of these will depend on where you’re planning on using them. However, there are some things you should always bear in mind, regardless of where you’re thinking of hunting.

Extended Height

Most climbing sticks are nested, so they can be packed together to form a package that’s as short as a couple of feet. However, the length of a climbing stick when not in use is only important when you’re deciding how to get to your tree stand location.

What you really need to know is what the height of the climbing stick is when fully extended. In practice, this is easy to measure as many sticks come in packs of three or four, each one a standard height. The overall height may vary, depending on the number of sections and the height of these specific sections.

You also have to bear in mind that the extended height in this article will not include the space between the sticks. This is because this decision is best left up to the person using it depending on how comfortable they are and how big their gait is. This means that for non-ladder climbing systems you will be able to go higher than the heights listed in the product reviews.

The perfect height for your hunt will depend on what sort of vantage point you’re looking for. Once you’ve figured out the best height for your tree stand, then you can figure out what height you need to be able to achieve with your climbing sticks.

Weight

If you’re the sort of hunter who likes to trek into the wilderness, then you’ll want something a little lighter to carry around. After all, if you get fatigued it can impact your hunting performance.

You’ll want lighter sticks in tougher conditions, as the extra effort expended thanks to hiking in rough weather can really tire you out. The straps and other fastening components will compensate for a system being lightweight in rough, windy conditions, so you won’t feel unsafe climbing up.

Moreover, if you’re going to leave your setup by the tree then the weight of the climbing stick is less of an issue, as you don’t have to constantly pack, unpack, and carry it. However, if you are going to take it down after every use, then you may prefer a lightweight type of climbing stick.

If you don’t walk much to get to your hunting spot, or even drive all the way there, then the weight shouldn’t be taken into too much consideration.

Weight Rating

The actual weight of the sticks is important, but not as important as how much weight the climbing sticks can bear. Most sticks can carry between 300-350 pounds, but you have to remember this will include all your equipment too.

It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to weight rating, so if you know you and your equipment will weigh almost as much as the sticks claim they can take, it’s better to go for something that can carry more heft.

Distance Between Steps

This is a consideration that many people don’t take into account when deciding which climbing stick to buy. However, it’s is incredibly important if you want the best climbing sticks for your needs. Some brands have steps as little as one foot apart, whereas others have the distance between them almost twice as long. If you have a wider gait then it makes sense to go for more space between the steps to save time when climbing. However, if you are shorter, for comfort and safety you should go for a foot or less between steps.

Strap Diameter

Climbing sticks are seen as more environmentally friendly than screw in tree steps. This is because climbing sticks use straps to secure the sticks to the tree, leaving the bark mostly unharmed as you climb up and down. However, this does mean that the diameter of the tree trunk, and therefore the diameter of the straps that come with the sticks, is of vital importance.

If you know you’re going to be climbing up wider, older trees, then make sure the strap can handle it. However, you can usually buy longer straps for most products online, so if you find the perfect stick but feel the strap diameter is too short, look into that. Remember: the strap is measured by diameter of tree, not circumference.

With that birds-eye-view out of the way, let’s take a look at our picks for the best climbing sticks available on the market today.

Top 10 Best Climbing Sticks 2020

1. Best Overall Climbing Stick: Lone Wolf Climbing Stick

Why we like it: Ease of use, competitive pricing, and reversible steps make this is the king of climbing sticks. No matter what sort of tree you’re looking to get a vantage point from, the Lone Wolf Climbing Stick will make easy work of getting up it.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 128” (32” x 4)
  • Weight Rating: 350 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 15”
  • Strap Diameter: 4”–22”

When you’re putting your life in the hands of something, as you do when using a climbing stick, you want to make sure it’s of the highest quality. Lone Wolf has been producing excellent hunting gear for years, and this is their most popular climbing stick offering. The straps are incredibly secure, there is very little fumbling involved in setting up the sticks, and unlike other brands they stay completely still as you shift your weight onto them.

Aside from the high quality and safe design, the Lone Wolf Stick is incredibly easy to use. It’s relatively quiet, avoiding the heavy clanking that some other sticks produce when being unpacked or set up. This means more chance of spotting prey as animals won’t be scared off by metallic bangs, although there are even quieter options on the market.

The stick also has V-brackets for extra grip, meaning the chances of the stick slipping from the tree are negligible. This makes it easier to climb up crooked trees. There are three steps per stick, which makes it easy to clamber up and down from your tree stand.

Pros
  • Lightweight and easily transportable
  • Extra secure
  • Easy to set up
  • Reversible steps for ease of use
Cons
  • Although quiet, not the quietest brand

2. Best Lightweight Climbing Stick: Muddy Stagger Step

Why we like it: This offering allows hunters to conserve their energy by minimizing carry weight. If you like to head right into the wilderness to stalk your prey, then this is the climbing stick for you.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 93” (31” x 3)
  • Weight Rating: 300 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 15”
  • Strap Diameter: 9”+

With the Stagger Step, Muddy has created a lightweight, easy to use method of getting up to your tree stand. The multiple sections aren’t bound by the rigidity of a poll like most other products in this article, taking on a more step-like form. However, unlike the more common screw in steps, this product uses straps to secure itself, making it much better for the environment. This lack of weight means they can, however, feel less sturdy than competitors.

The main benefit of the Stagger Step is just how easy it is to hang off a tree and climb on. Not only that, but you can carry a set of three (or even more) and barely feel the weight of them as they’re so light. Because the footholds are so step-like, they’re really easy to use on oddly shaped trees, and the extra grip in the steps makes it an incredibly safe product. The cherry on top is that this product is relatively cheap, so you get plenty of bang for your buck.

Pros
  • Grippy coating to avoid slippage
  • Easy to use
  • Super lightweight
Cons
  • Only comes in a 3 pack, which may make it too short for some trees

3. Best Premium Climbing Stick: XOP Climbing Sticks

Why we like it: The lightweight aluminum materials used in this climbing stick make it easy to carry yet able to the rough and tumble of the outside world. The steps are long, and the stand-off brackets make it much easier to climb up.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 136” (34” x 4)
  • Weight Rating: 350 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 16”
  • Strap Diameter: 9”+

One of the more unique choices on this list, the XOP climbing stick has a whole bundle of characteristics that makes it different to the competitors. The main difference is in the steps, which are larger and set further away from the tree compared to other sticks. This makes ascent and descent feel much safer.

Although primarily using a strap for safety, the teeth in this stick are what make it incredibly secure to climb on. These bite into the tree with much more force than other competitors, although not enough to cause as much damage to the tree as screw in steps.

In terms of other features, the sticks come in camo, and because they bite so tightly they’re incredibly quiet to climb up. They lock together for easy transport from one location to another, meaning you can focus on getting to your tree stand spot instead of making sure your equipment isn’t sliding around on your back. Expensive, sure, but unless you’re looking for a serious budget option not too much more than the standard prices.

Pros
  • Incredibly secure thanks to tough bite
  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable to carry as they lock together so well
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive than similar products

4. Easiest Climbing Stick to Transport: Rivers Edge Tree Climbing System RE719 3 Pack

Why we like it: These climbing sticks fit together better than most puzzles when being transported, making sure there’s one less thing to think about when you’re heading out to hunt. The steps are also very grippy, so you feel safe on them.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 96” (32” x 3)
  • Weight Rating: 300 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 15”
  • Strap Diameter: 8”–20”

How easy a set of climbing sticks are to transport isn’t just about weight, but about how well they nest. The RE719 climbing system has three identical parts that clip in snugly, for easy transport.

There are plenty of other benefits to this product too. The strap attachment is one of the quietest in the market, so you can set up your climbing system without spooking any nearby wildlife. The steps are coated with a non-slip coating, so it feels incredibly sturdy when climbing. Unlike a lot of its competitors, the RE719 has a wide step that allows for both of your feet to be on one level.

Rivers Edge has plenty of other climbing products, but this is without a doubt their best one. This is true in terms of value, portability, and ease of use. These particular sticks can be bought separately, but also as a three pack.

Pros
  • Easy to transport
  • Lightweight
  • Incredibly grippy
  • Allows two feet per step, unlike some competitors
Cons
  • Can feel like it’s not sturdy in blustery conditions
  • Not as good with oddly shaped trees as some competitors

5. Best Budget Climbing Stick: Big Game Quick-Stick Climbing System CS050

Why we like it: So easy to use even your prey could set it up, the CS050 Climbing System is ideal for hunters who want to get a better vantage point without breaking the bank. This set also goes much higher than most competitors for that extra advantage.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Ladder
  • Extended Height: 240” (48” x 5)
  • Weight Rating: 300 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 18”
  • Strap Diameter: 9”+

The Big Game Quick-Stick is a no-frills solution for your hunting needs. Unlike the other entries on this list, the CS050 is in the form of a ladder anchored to the ground, which negates the slightly less sturdy feel you get from the materials in the actual product. There are straps for additional support, and they add to the feeling that you’re completely safe when going up and down.

With that being said, this climbing stick is made of steel and is more than sturdy enough for most conditions. It’s also super lightweight, which makes it easy to transport. The way the CS050 is designed makes it really easy to assemble and take apart again, so you can focus on hunting instead of setting up.

If your preference is towards ladder-based climbing, but you still want to be able to carry your climbing system around and get excellent value for money, this is the product for you.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Excellent value for money
Cons
  • Ladder based, so not as versatile
  • Not great for crooked trees

6. Easiest Climbing Stick to Set Up: Novix Mini Climbing Stick

Why we like it: A simple set up and reversible steps make the Novix Mini Climbing stick one of the easiest tools on the market to use. The two-sided steps also mean that the stick is easy to clamber up and down, especially in tougher conditions.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 120” (30” x 4)
  • Weight Rating: 350 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 15”
  • Strap Diameter: 4”–22”

One of the most elegant and easy to use set of climbing sticks, this offering from Novix will add to any hunting experience. Not only is the set incredibly lightweight, but the sticks can be snapped together for even easier transportation.

Each stick can carry a hefty load, so they are good for all types of hunting. The space between steps is fairly standard, so it’s an easy set of climbing sticks to get up and down. The Novix set is also fit with V brackets for extra security.

The reversible steps mean that you can climb up and down without having to overthink or worry about where your foot will land. The fact that the stick has steps on both sides is a massive bonus when it comes to coming down. The sticks are really versatile, working with tree stands from multiple other brands including Lone Wolf and XOP.

Pros
  • Great weight rating to weight ratio
  • Reversible steps make it easy to climb up and down
  • Easily transportable
Cons
  • There are better options for climbing knobbly or oddly shaped trees

7. Most Silent Climbing Stick: Hawk Helium 1PL

Why we like it: Silent, grippy, and transportable, this product from Hawk has everything you need from a climbing stick. It also offers steps on both sides for extra security and comfort.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 30”
  • Weight Rating: 300 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 15”
  • Strap Diameter: 9”+

This offering from Hawk has a number of key features that sets it apart from its competitors, but what makes it special is how silent it is. Suction cups are used instead of clips or straps to nest the different sticks together, which is unique even among the most transportable of sticks (although it comes with a nesting strap for additional tightness).

There’s a versa button that you use to secure the stick to the tree, which is quieter than traditional tying methods. The teeth are incredibly sharp so they can effectively bite into trees, which again means less chance of slippage and less noise as you shuffle up and down the tree.

The Hawk Helium is quite lightweight, especially compared to similarly sized products. All in all, if you’re looking for something that won’t scare the prey away or break your back to carry, you won’t be disappointed by this climbing stick.

Pros
  • Quiet to pack and unpack
  • Great stability thanks to sharp teeth
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Not as comfortable to climb as others
  • Comparatively expensive

8. Best Climbing Stick for Heavier Climbers: XOP Short Climbing Sticks

Why we like it: The XOP Short Climbing Stick is stylish and incredibly sturdy. There’s plenty of space for big feet and tall bodies on this piece of equipment, and it’s incredibly convenient to carry.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 88” (22” x 4)
  • Weight Rating: 350 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 11”
  • Strap Diameter: 4”–22”

The shorter, sturdier sibling of the previously listed XOP Climbing Stick, the XOP Short offers most of the same benefits as its big brother but for a lower price. Although sold in sets of three or four, we would heavily recommend getting the four pack thanks to the smaller size of the overall stick.

While having a smaller overall stick size does have some negatives, this can always be negated by simply purchasing more. However, some people will simply prefer taller systems.

Additionally, the stockier design adds a layer of comfort and security to the stick, as it feels easier to climb. This, plus the high weight rating and the extra space between the steps and the tree that all XOP products have thanks to their deep stand-off bracket, is why it’s so good for heavier hunters. Hunters of all sizes will find this product easy to use, so they can focus on catching prey instead of wondering how to get up and down a tree.

Pros
  • Incredibly sturdy
  • Great value for money
  • Comfortable for hunters of all sizes
Cons
  • Shorter than most sets, so will require extra sticks for higher trees
  • The steps being spaced further apart than standard may be uncomfortable for some

9. Best Climbing Stick for Reaching Higher Trees: Millennium Treestands M210

Why we like it: Reach for the stars with this incredibly tall climbing system. Relatively cheap and easier to use for most people thanks to the fact it resembles a common ladder, this product from Millennium can get you where you need to be.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Ladder
  • Extended Height: 240” (48” x 5)
  • Weight Rating: 300 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 12”
  • Strap Diameter: 9”–24” (plus additional strap)

If you’re looking to place your tree stand well up in the branches, this is the climbing system for you. Unlike many others on this list, the entire system is connected, which a lot of people prefer from a psychological perspective as they’re used to using ladders.

The steps are a little narrow but do the job. Moreover, as long as there aren’t too many branches to push past you can assemble the whole thing on the ground, making it easy to use. The construction is fairly lightweight, but there are straps to secure it to the tree so that shouldn’t be an issue. There’s also a 7’ buckle strap if you’re looking to climb an extra wide tree.

While this will never be the hardiest hunting stick, it will definitely be able to do a job and do it well. If you’re not looking to push the boat out too much but still want something fairly versatile and of a good quality, then this could be a great buy.

Pros
  • Easy to assemble
  • Taller than comparable products
  • Easy to use
Cons
  • You have to take it down after every use as it’s more conspicuous than non-ladder-based systems
  • Noisy to set up
  • On the pricier side

10. Best Climbing Stick for Icy Conditions: X-Stand Mantis Sticks

Why we like it: The dual spine, grippy, serrated steps, and the fact the steps are angled for extra boot space make this one of the sturdiest climbing sticks on the market. Even if the rest of your equipment is struggling in the cold, this won’t.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts

  • Type: Tree Sticks
  • Extended Height: 124” (31” x 4)
  • Weight Rating: 300 pounds
  • Distance Between Steps: 12”
  • Strap Diameter: 9”+

Everything about this product from X-Stand is designed to make it easy to use in the toughest conditions. Any hunters who have spent time in secluded locations will know how important it is to be safe, because you will be alone for long periods of time. If you fall, there will be nobody around to help you. Safety is the name of the game, and X-Stand does it exceptionally well here.
The dual spine technology gives an added element of control to your ascent/descent. The steps are placed parallel on either side of the spine for maximum stability. Additionally, the gaps in the step allow for ice and mud to fall through, so there’s less chance of slippage. The steps also have a very strong grip.

Of course, this safety does come at a cost: the sticks are really loud to assemble and pack away, even compared to climbing sticks that aren’t known for silence. However, if you’re going to be in tough conditions anyway, that’s not too much of an issue. All in all, an excellent choice for the more rugged hunter.

Pros
  • Incredibly sturdy
  • Ice and mud won’t get stuck to the steps
  • Gap between stick and tree makes it easy to climb
Cons
  • Loud
  • Only comes in silver so may scare off prey
  • Slightly heavier than competitors

A Guide to Climbing Sticks

Critters are smart enough to know when they’re in danger, so for a successful hunt you’ll need to bring your A-game, and that means using the best equipment. A well utilized climbing stick can get you up and down trees in no time and with minimal fuss. However, each hunter needs something different to maximize their chances of success. The perfect climbing stick for you will depend on a number of factors, although there are definitely some all-rounders that will fulfil most hunting needs.

Types of Climbing Stick

If you’re used to using climbing sticks or similar climbing systems, then you probably have an idea of what you like. However, if you’ve never hunted with them before, or only used one type of system and didn’t like it, then learning about all of the types can help you to choose what will work best for you.

Tree Sticks

This type of system makes up the majority of products in this review, and for good reason. The term “tree stick” can also be used fairly interchangeably with climbing stick. Tree sticks are versatile, safe, and usually fairly easy to carry around with you. They require some specialist knowledge to set up, but there are plenty of free resources that teach you how to do this.

If you want to be able to move around from tree to tree, this are the best type of climbing system. They’re also good for hunters who don’t want to carry too much equipment around, and those who will be climbing different sizes of tree. In fact, the vast majority of hunters would be best served by this type of climbing system.

Ladder Systems

These are the most recognizable system to most non hunters as they resemble a ladder. They often use straps for extra security, which is what separates them from a standard ladder. Ladder systems like the Big Game Quick-Stick Climbing System CS050 are similar to tree sticks but with less versatility, as the component pieces all fit together.

Tree sticks, on the other hand, have each section hung separately to allow for space between each stick, so you can customize the height. Most ladder systems will be made up of different parts that fit together, but you can get lone climbing sticks, which are one big ladder-like stick.

Tree Steps

As you would imagine from the name, they are small steps that screw into the tree. They’re very versatile and customizable, but they can be difficult to use. Since they’re meant to be semipermanent in comparison to easily packable climbing sticks, they’ve been left off of this list.

With that being said, if you’re looking for a set of tree steps to install on your property, we’d recommend the Ameristep Tree Steps, which are easy to install, secure, easy to climb, and have a generous 300-pound weight limit.

Tree steps also damage the bark; as most hunters understand the need to keep nature as intact as possible, this should be seen as a negative. However, if you prefer the versatility of steps, there are strapped brands available that resemble them.

Height and Weight

This is again mostly important from a transport perspective. If you’re going to be carrying your climbing sticks a long way then you’ll want something shorter to avoid discomfort. However, if you are going to be driving most of the way, or only going a short distance, then longer climbing sticks (or even ladder systems) will be fine for your needs.

If you’re the sort of hunter who likes to trek into the wilderness, then you’ll want something a little lighter to carry around. After all, if you get fatigued it can impact your hunting performance.

Material

Climbing sticks tend to mostly be made of steel or aluminum, with additional components usually made of plastic or rubber. The most important material is what the main body is made out of. There is usually a coating of sorts too, to avoid rusting and add additional grip to the stick.

Steel

Steel climbing sticks are usually a bit more expensive but tend to last longer. They feel sturdier without adding too much weight when compared to aluminum products.

Aluminum

A bit lighter than their steel counterparts, aluminum climbing sticks are usually cheaper too. However, for many they feel much less secure than steel climbing sticks, so tend to not be as popular.

Noise Level

Hunting requires patience and control. However, it doesn’t matter how quietly or still you can lie if you scare the critters away before you’ve even set up your stand. This is especially true in the morning, when there is less natural activity to cover the sounds of you setting up.

There have been great strides in noise level reduction for climbing sticks in recent years. This is true when it comes to all aspects of transporting and setting up climbing sticks. Some brands even come with suction cups for nesting. This avoids them clanging together as you transport them. Extra strong teeth mean the stick won’t scrape against the tree as you put your weight on it.

If you’re particularly paranoid about noise, then you can add grease or oil to your stick to avoid scraping sounds. However, this can be dangerous as the lubricant may end up on the wrong part of your climbing stick which can cause slippage.

If you are finding your chosen stick is really loud to set up and use, then you may need to reread the setup manual. Often noise issues can be fixed by setting up the stick as suggested to the letter in the manual. With that being said, there’s definitely a hierarchy of noise produced by climbing stick.

Color

Animals will notice anything slightly awry in their surroundings. If you’re going to be climbing up a tree that isn’t well surrounded by other foliage, then you should make sure to pick a climbing stick that is darker in color or even camo.

A lot of the less expensive options tend to be bright silver or grey, which isn’t always a bad thing but will be a disadvantage in many places. However, if you set up the system properly, the sticks will cling tightly to the tree and therefore be less likely to be spotted anyway.

Hunting Equipment Used

There is a wide range of hunting equipment on the market, but for the purposes of choosing a climbing stick you only need to know how bulky and heavy your piece of equipment is.

If you hunt with a compound bow or rifle, you’ll want lighter climbing sticks to avoid carrying fatigue. While it may seem important to get the higher weight rated sticks, this isn’t necessarily the case as the weight difference between these types of equipment and, say, lighter bows, is normally only a few pounds. The weight is more important for your comfort, as opposed to the safety of the stick.

Ability to Use With Different Tree Shapes

Certain climbing sticks can get a grip on any tree, no matter how weirdly shaped it is. While most sticks will be fine on most trees, if you know you’re hunting somewhere with knobbly protrusions or oddly angled barks it pays to get a stick that can handle that.

Climbing sticks with V-brackets are the best for getting up these misshapen trees, as the extra purchase gained by the bracket means less reliance on the straps. Sharper teeth on the bracket are also helpful.

Step Size

If you have particularly big feet, or are just going to be in really tough, slippery conditions, then you should try and choose a climbing stick that has longer and wider steps. The extra surface area means that you’re less likely to slip and hurt yourself.

Nesting Capabilities

Linked to noise level, the ability of your climbing sticks to nest properly has a lot of further implications. If you are going to be trekking to your hunting spot, then you want something that nests incredibly well to avoid noise and discomfort. A lot of the best sticks will be able to attach to a backpack in some way, usually by strap.

However, if you’re driving or not walking too far to your spot, and you’re planning on staying out all day so the initial setup noise isn’t an issue, then this shouldn’t be a major concern.

Additional Straps

We’ve already covered strap size as a vital aspect of your climbing stick choice, but sometimes you want to hunt somewhere where the trees are simply humungous. Just because the tree itself may be bigger than the strap provided with your stick, it doesn’t mean you can’t climb it. Additional straps can be bought online, usually directly from the retailer.

Generic straps can be used, but we wouldn’t recommend this. Safety should be your first concern, and the safest way to set up a climbing stick is to use equipment that has been designed to be used together.

Hunting for the Best Climbing Stick

With so much choice available, getting the best hunting stick for your needs can seem like a bit of an ordeal. However, if you have a good idea of when and where you want to hunt, finding the perfect bit of equipment for you can be a piece of cake.

Following the above tips and recommendations will mean that you will find a climbing stick that will improve your hunting experience for the better. Soon, you’ll be sniping from the trees and stalking prey like nobody’s business, and that’s the real joy of any hunt.