Best Tree Stand For The Money – 2017 Tree Stand Reviews

What is a tree stand?

Hunting wild game can be a real challenge given that most animals either see better, hear better or have a better sense of smell than a human…sometimes all three. Knowing that, hunters must find ways of hiding from their quarry in the hopes of getting a shot. Add to the equation that in some areas hunters are also not allowed to bait animals and it is easy to see why having the best concealment can really make the difference between success and an empty freezer.

An elevated hunting platform, also known as a tree stand, can really increase the chances of having an animal come in to range for a variety of reasons. Most game animals are not looking up watching for danger as danger rarely comes from above, so they are going to spend more time looking around them for threats. Being elevated also decreases the chance of an animal smelling a hunter as the scent stream will generally waft above the prey. The tree stand will also offer a hunter the advantage of a larger field of view from the elevated position. Hunting from a tree stand can also have its share of dangers and difficulties as well.

Knowing it is very difficult to sift through all of the types of tree stands that are on the market today as well as learning about the available accessories, we have looked closely and tested what is out there and come up with our best recommendations for several categories of tree stands as well as accessories.

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What are the different types of tree stand?

Tree stands can be broken into two main categories which are the “hang on” style and the ladder stand. The hanging tree stand basically uses multiple straps to go around a tree truck to secure the stand to the tree. The ladder style also secures to the tree with a strap but has a ladder that is attached to the stand that also provides additional support to the stand. A third style of elevated hunting platform is the tripod, and even though not a true tree stand, we will also take a look at the tripod as it does create an elevated hunting experience.

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What is the best hang on tree stand?

A hang on tree stand allows for mounting the stand at virtually any height above the ground as there is no included ladder. To access the hang on tree stand, you will need to purchase a set of climbing hooks that are then drilled into the tree and used like a ladder to climb up. There are also ladders on the market made to attach to the tree, however if you go that route, you are going to be stuck with the height of the ladder as your hanging height. Due to the fact that the hang on tree stand is only supported by straps, these are typically going to only be a one man set up. Below we look at the best hang on tree stands in the basic and deluxe categories.

The best basic hang on tree stand: Guide Gear Hunting Hang On Tree Stand

The Guide Gear Hang On Tree Stand offers a very affordable tree stand for those hunters on a tight budget. At only 18 lbs., not only is it affordable, it is also very portable as well. The platform measures 18” by 25.5” to allow you to even stretch your legs a bit during the hunt. The seat is a flip up design that has a closed-cell foam to allow for some comfort while waiting for the shot. The seams are welded to give it enough strength to support up to 300 lbs. The seat is comfortable, but could be a little bigger. Some of our users have chosen to replace the included straps as they are a bit basic, but that shouldn’t stop you from a good look at this stand given the ease of set up and overall value.


PROS:
  • Great value for the price.
  • Very easy to set up.

CONS:
  • Included straps are a bit Spartan.
  • Seat could be a bit larger.


The best deluxe hang on tree stand: Millennium Treestands M150 Monster Hang On Tree Stand

Millennium has brought forth a solid offering with their M150 Hang On Tree Stand. The stand features a 37” x 24” platform and a folding seat that is adjustable in height from 17” to 20”. The seat also allows for up to a 15 degree adjustment to compensate for tree lean. The platform can also be leveled once on the tree to allow for a solid hunting experience from a variety of locations. Speaking of locations, the stand offers a CamLock Receiver system that allows for multiple stand locations to be preset, making this a truly portable hang on tree stand, and at only 19 lbs. it certainly fits the bill. The only issue we have heard can be the size of the seat. Some hunters find it a bit large such that it must be folded up to take a standing shot. We would recommend practicing once you get the stand set up to see what will work best for you in terms of taking your shot.


PROS:
  • Very stable platform.
  • Can be leveled in multiple ways.

CONS:
  • Seat can be a bit big for a standing shot unless folded.


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What is the best ladder tree stand?

A ladder tree stand is going to afford a greater weight capacity than its hang on counterpart, but the height of the stand is going to be fixed due to the attached ladder. An advantage of this is that there is no need to purchase additional components to attach to the tree to climb up as the ladder is integrated into the stand. The stand will still attach to the tree with straps but also has the ladder itself to add support and stability to the stand. Because a ladder stand offers greater support, we looked not just at the basic and deluxe categories, but also basic and deluxe categories for a two man stand as well.

The best basic ladder tree stand: Guide Gear 16’ Basic Ladder Tree Stand

The Guide Gear Basic Ladder Tree Stand is a no frills, simple design that allows hunters on a tighter budget the ability to hunt from a ladder tree stand without the price tag of many of them. At 16’ in height, this stand will get you high enough to not worry about your scent stream. The seat measures 19 ¾” x 13 ½” wide and does come with padding. We might recommend you take a close look at the padding as you might want to bring your own in for a bit more comfort. The foot platform, at 17 ¼” x 12 ½” is a bit small and is the weak aspect of this tree stand due to its small size. The stand is designed to support up to 300 lbs. and is actually fairly easy to set up. There is no shooting rail, so take a close look to make sure you are going to be comfortable in this configuration. All in all, it is hard to beat the value of this stand at its price point.


PROS:
  • Great stand for the budget minded.
  • Very stable when properly installed.

CONS:
  • Foot platform is small.
  • No shooting rail.


The best deluxe ladder tree stand: Millennium Treestands L110

With an overall height that is adjustable from 8’ to 21’, the Millennium Treestands L110 offers a lot of comfort for hunters looking to be well above the ground. The ComfortMax seat provides a very comfortable perch that does not hit you with any pressure points allowing you to remain in the stand without constantly having to shift around. The spacious platform offers a good secure feeling at 20” x 38” and the double rail rigid ladder gives an additional level of security. The padded armrests and shooting rail along with the folding foot rest mean you can sit comfortably in this stand all day, and the armrest and rail even fold out of the way if you are bowhunting. This is a rather heavy stand, so this isn’t one that most people are going to be able to put up on their own, but once it is up, you are going to have a very solid and comfortable hunting stand.


PROS:
  • Seat has no pressure points.
  • Double rigid ladder design gives a very solid feel.

CONS:
  • Not a stand you can put up alone.


The best two man basic ladder stand: Ameristep 15’ Two Man Ladder Stand

Ameristep has come out with a great two man ladder stand with this new offering. It might be important to note right up front that not everyone out there is going to call this a true “2 man stand” as two large adults are going to find this to be a bit snug. The seat is one large bench seat that has a cushion which is removable allowing you to leave the stand up all year, should you wish. The shooting rest is also padded and can be folded up should you wish to bowhunt from the stand. Some have said the ladder is a bit narrow, but we didn’t see any issues with that. One feature that really stood out is the inclusion of plastic washers for all of the bolts. These really keep the noise down and make it virtually silent when you climb in and out of the blind. Keep in mind that although most single stands are rated for 300 lbs., this one is rated for 500 lbs. in total, including both people and all gear.


PROS:
  • Plastic washers that come with hardware make this stand silent to climb up in to.
  • Excellent stability.

CONS:
  • Two large people might find this stand a bit snug.


The best two man deluxe ladder stand: Big Dog BDL-1050 Stadium Series

The Big Dog BDL-1050 Stadium Series ladder stand is a really cool design for two hunters who want to hunt from the same elevated stand. The way the stand wraps part way around the tree translates to greater shoulder room for both hunters as they are not sitting truly side by side. The stand is very solid once you get it put up, but don’t expect this to be a stand you are going to want to move very often. The forward rail works well as a railing, but not so much as a shooting rest as it is a bit short and also has a bit of movement to it. We have seen where the hardware gets surface rest rather quickly, so we would recommend a can of quality spray paint to help take care of this. One cool feature that is included in the BDL-1050 is the inclusion of material to be attached along the lower portion of the stand to actually make it into a tree blind. All in all, Big Dog has done a good job of bringing a stand to market that two hunters can actually use.


PROS:
  • Spacious seating even for two adults.
  • Includes material to make into a tree blind.

CONS:
  • Shooting rest is a short and also a bit on the flimsy side.
  • Not a stand you want to move very often.


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What is the best tripod stand?

Sometimes there is the need to create an elevated hunting platform but there are not trees around, or the trees that are nearby are not suitable for attaching a tree stand to. Hunting in South Texas can offer a prime example of this. Sometimes a hunter may want to have an elevated position within a sendero, but senderos have been cleared of all trees, leaving a tripod as the logical elevated platform. Tripod stands are fully self supporting and do not require a tree to anchor to. They are available in a multitude of heights and generally have a ladder on one of the legs to climb up. We again look below at tripod stands in both the basic and deluxe categories.

The best basic tripod stand: Sniper Sentinel Swivel Tripod Deer Stand

At 13’ in height to the shooting rail, the Sniper Sentinel isn’t the tallest deer stand on our list, but given its reasonable weight of 66 lbs. and folding characteristics, it got our nod for its portability by a single person. The chair enjoys a good amount of padding as does the armrest and shooting rail, which is fully foldable out of the way. That is a good thing for bowhunters as you are going to need to practice coming to full draw in a sitting position…the 20” diameter foot rest is just not going to allow you to stand to take your shot. The stand is rated for a total of 300 lbs. and the chair and rail swivel a full 360 degrees to allow for shots in any direction. This is a perfect solution for hunting in a marshy area or other location that does not have trees large enough for a tree stand.


PROS:
  • Portable enough where one person can carry and set up.
  • Good padding on seat and armrests.

CONS:
  • Not much foot room.
  • No standing shots.


The best deluxe Tripod stand: Guide Gear Deluxe Tripod Stand

If you are looking to hunt from an elevated platform and you are in an area where suitable trees do not exist, the Guide Gear Deluxe Tripod Stand may be just what you need. With a platform of 30” by 30”, this stand is large enough to allow for a standing shot, which is something you will need to do if you are bowhunting as the shooting rail does not fold out of the way. One advantage to this design is that you can buy material designed to attach to the rail and platform to make this tripod into an elevated hunting blind. The seat swivels a full 360 degrees to allow for shooting in any direction. The tripod is designed for supporting up to 300 lbs., but you are likely going to need to change the seat if you are that size as the seat isn’t the biggest one around. One cool feature is that each leg is adjustable to 6 different heights to allow you to have stability even on uneven terrain.


PROS:
  • Shooting rail is height adjustable.
  • The design allows for attachment of material to make into a blind.

CONS:
  • Seat is a bit small for some hunters.
  • Shooting rest does not fold out of the way.


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What are the most common tree stand accessories?

As with just about any large hunting product, there are a number of accessories available for tree stands. Not all of these are going to fit for every category of tree stand, and not all will be applicable to every hunting situation, but knowing what is out there can really make your time in the field more comfortable. Let’s face it, who doesn’t appreciate a bit more comfort and/or an accessory that can make your time in the field more successful?

Ladder

If you opt for a hang on style of blind, you are going to need a way to get up in to it. Knowing that most of us do not possess the agility or abilities of a squirrel, a good quality ladder is going to offer an easier way to climb the tree to the stand. There are two basic ways of accomplishing this, either by a ladder attached to a tree or by steps that are screwed in to a tree. The ladder allows for a solid frame to make for a straight line climb, even if the tree isn’t as straight. The Guide Gear Climbing Stick offers a solid climbing platform reaching up to 20’ above the ground.


Steps

The other option to climbing up the tree to a hang on stand are steps that screw into the tree to allow for individual climbing points. These can also be used in conjunction with a ladder when you need a few more feet of height to a hang on stand. The advantage of this type of step is you can even climb a tree that has a lot of lean to the trunk by placing them in a fashion to allow for a comfortable climb up to the stand. It is recommended if you go this route to carry a drill with a bit smaller than the step to allow for an easier process to screw into the tree. Ameristep offers a 3 pack of steps at a very reasonable price. Take a look at a normal ladder to see the height between steps to help you better estimate how many packs you will need.


Accessory hooks

Another item that is often overlooked is having enough hooks to hang some of your gear when not in use. Being able to hang a bow, a quiver or even a jacket while you are up in a tree stand can mean the difference between an item held safely in the tree and one that ends up on the forest floor. Big Game Treestands offers a 10 pack of hooks that simply screw into the tree you are hunting from to allow you customizable hangers you can set up once on site.


Canopy

Even though you might be hunting from a tree, odds are that tree isn’t going to have any leaves or be able to offer you much protection from rain or heavy mist. If you are gun hunting, having a scope that is covered in rain or mist could very well mean the difference between a full freezer and an empty one. A very simple, and economical, solution to this is the Allen Instant Roof Tree Stand Umbrella. It comes with hardware to allow it to easily attach to most trees and offers 57” worth of protection. For some hunters in the south, this can also mean a bit of shade on those warmer hunting days as well.


Harness

If you hunt from an elevated platform, WEAR A HARNESS!!! This is something that is said over and over, yet every season there are a few hunters’ families that really wish that hunter had listened to this. Most tree stands on the market today come standard with a safety harness if for no other reason than to mitigate liability. Unfortunately, some of these harnesses might take an advanced engineering degree to figure out, and even then they aren’t very comfortable. If you find yourself with a harness that is overly confusing, not comfortable and/or with dangling straps that threaten to get hung on in your bowstring, you might want to take a look at the Hunter Safety System Harness. It is designed to be very comfortable and also rather straightforward to use.


Rope

Carrying a good length of quality rope is something most experienced hunters will take for granted, but it is not something that hunters new to the sport, especially those hunting in tree stands, might think of. A good length of rope with quality fasteners on the end will allow you to hoist up your gear after you are in the stand, making for a much safer climb. Anyone that has ever tried to climb into a tree stand with a bow or crossbow hanging off them will understand that statement. The Primos Pull Up Rope is a simple and economical tool that any hunter climbing in to a tree stand can benefit from.


Blind

Even though a tree stand offers a hunter some elevation to be out of the line of sight of game animals, there are still some potential ways to be seen. If the tree is barren, as many trees are during hunting season, there is the potential for an animal to see your silhouette and as such, be able to see slight movements, such as the drawing of a bow. If you need to stand to shoot, that can be a lot of movement to be seen as well. Sometimes, if there are many animals nearby it is almost impossible to even move to aim a gun with that many sets of eyes looking to spot trouble. By covering the lower part of your tree stand, you can create an actual blind up in the tree that will allow you to move around a bit without detection. The Guide Gear Universal Hunting Stand allows you to attach it to most tree stands to keep from being seen.

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