There are several different treestand options out there, each suited to different situations and needs. Here’s a breakdown of the different kinds of stands and what they are good for.
As you read about the different treestands, think about your own personal situation and what will work for you. Are you going to be walking deep into the woods? Can you drive an ATV or truck to the stand sight? What level of comfort to you need/expect to get out of sitting in a stand all day? And also important, how easy of an install to you need it to be (some are easier than others)?
I’ll explain what each of the treestands is good for, and if I’ve had any experience in them to share. Although these are the most common treestands out there, I use something else completely, called a tree slink (or saddle). I’ve written a separate article on this type of hunting, so check that out after you read the below information.
Hang-on, general description
Hang-on stands are probably the most popular out there. They are generally light (20 pounds or less), fairly compact and usually have shoulder straps so you just backpack them to you chosen stand location.
Hang-on stands can be very secure and quiet once installed. They are secured to the tree with either a chain or a strap on the top of the stand, right below the seat. I’ve always added one or two ratchet straps that make it very secure to the tree.
Your basic hang-on stand with a small seat and platform is relatively comfortable, at least in my opinion. Other’s will find it less so, and will want to invest in a more elaborate hang-on, perhaps with padded arm rests, bigger platform for your feet, etc.
Ease of install
Moderate. Hang-on’s have no climbing mechanism so you have to use screw-in steps or climbing sticks to get up the tree, and then haul the treestand up there somehow. Once it’s at the height you want it, you’ve got to get the chain around the tree, secure it, put an extra strap or two around it to help make it more secure ( at least, I like to do that), and then you’re all set.
Tip: Make sure you put in your screw-in steps, or whatever steps you use, past the height of your treestand. Basically, you want to be able to step down into your stand, not up. It makes getting into your stand much safer and easier.
Climbers, general description
Climbers are treestands in which you can “climb” the tree while in it. It’s made of two different sections, your seat and the platform you rest your feet on. After strapping the treestand (both sections) to the tree while at ground level, you climb into the stand facing the tree, and start working your way up. You stand up on the platform, which takes pressure off your seat section so you can then raise that up. Once you raise that up, you sit down and lift the platform part up with your feet, which are attached to the platform by straps.
It sounds more complicated then it is, but it’s not a bad way to get up a tree.
Climbers are fairly comfortable to sit in for long time periods. Like most stands, the comfort level depends on two things. 1) Your own level of putting up with stuff. Some guys want lots of room for sitting down and resting their legs. Others don’t care. It should go without saying, but in case you haven’t thought of it, bigger guys will want bigger stands, simply for comfort level. 2) How much you want to spend on a treestand. The more comfort you want, the more you’re probably going to need to spend.
Ease of install
Moderate to easy. Honestly, the hard part isn’t getting up the tree, it’s finding the right trees to use them in. You have to use straight trees with no or few branches on them, since the treestand is attached to the tree at the bottom. I run into a lot of guys that use these stands, but they can’t hunt the areas I hunt because they are limited by what trees they can use. So for me, these stands don’t work well.
Another advantage to them though, is that you don’t use screw in steps or climbing sticks, so that’s one less thing you have to pack in and install.
Ladder stands, general description
Ladder stands are just what they sound like; ladders with a stand attached to them at the top. These are bulkier and heavier than the previous two stands we’ve talked about. You’ll want to have easy access to these stands and use a four-wheeler or truck to get the stand to the chosen tree.
Since they are usually larger, ladder stands are pretty comfortable. One nice thing about them is that you can get ones that are big enough for more than one person, so it’s easier to hunt with a buddy, spouse or kid.
Ease of install
Moderate. Like I just mentioned, they are heavy and bulky, so you need ease of access and a four-wheeler or truck. Other than that it’s a fairly basic set-up. The ladder attached to the tree and to the stand.
Blind, general description
Sometimes you might hunt in an area where you need to get up high, but there just aren’t trees around to do it. In that case you might use a blind stand. Basically a large tripod with a stand/blind on top. Places with a lot of scub brush will use blind stands (think of some areas in Texas).
Like ladder stand, blind stands are usually larger and roomier, and so they are also more comfortable.
Ease of install
Moderate. They are heavy and bulky so you need ease of access and a four-wheeler or truck to haul it in.
A couple of final comments. You can probably tell from reading the article that hang-on and climber stands are much more portable than the others, so if you want to get deep in the woods away from everyone your going to want to find one of those to work for you. Ladder and blind stands are bulky and semi-permanent, but they have their places and uses.
I hope this brief summary was helpful, but I have to admit that I don’t use any of these stands myself. Instead, I use a “tree-saddle,” something I read about a year ago. I’ve been trying it out a lot, and I love it. I’m working on that article as we speak, and it will be posted in a couple of days.