New models elevate the art of the ambush.
Not so many years ago, treestands were nothing more than elevated shooting platforms. The best of them were functionally adequate, and the worst were downright hazardous.
Of course, that's no longer the case. Thanks to a never-ending series of improvements in engineering and manufacturing technology, today's top-end stands are veritable homes away from home for archers who no longer have to sacrifice safety or convenience to gain a sporting advantage. From simpler setup and better concealment to enhanced portability and creature comforts, the 2009 treestand lineup has it all.
Here's an up-close look at the year's top models:
Ameristep Team Realtree Skyscraper Ladder
Nosebleed seats might not be good at the big game, but they are very good for big-game hunting. At 22 feet tall, the all-steel, matte gray Skyscraper offers a superior vantage point to spot incoming game animals before they spot you. Despite its height, the Skyscraper features a low-profile ladder design that is extremely stable thanks to Ameristep's patent-pending Truss Tech support system. The ladder also features adjustable feet for leveling the stand on uneven ground.
The Skyscraper's 38.5x28.5-inch platform (rated for 300 pounds) is accessed by climbing through a trap door. When the stand is unoccupied, the trap door can be locked to prevent theft and unwanted stand use. Other amenities include a 16x19x15-inch padded seat in Realtree AP HD camouflage, footrest, two gear pouches, adjustable arm rests that double as shelves/drink holders and a removable shooting rest.
Because of its size and weight (115 pounds), you'll need a couple friends to help install the Skyscraper. However, if you are looking for a super comfortable stand for your favorite hotspot, the Skyscraper is an excellent choice.
Contact: Ameristep, 810-686-4035, www.ameristep.com
API Outdoors Alumi-Tech Climber
API has been a leader in treestand technology since it introduced the first all-aluminum stand more than 20 years ago. The 31-pound Alumi-Tech continues API's tradition of offering hunter-friendly, highly mobile stands. The Alumi-Tech is rated for up to 300 pounds and features adjustable, vinyl-coated tree chains that fit tree trunks with diameters from nine to 20 inches. The gray, powder coated seat and platform sections nestle together for easy transport with the included backpack straps.
The Alumi-Tech has a 20x29-inch platform with footrest and adjustable climbing brackets. It also features a high-density, 17x9-inch foam seat and padded frame coverings in Realtree AP HD camouflage. One of the best bow-friendly features of the Alumi-Tech is the quick-detach seat back, which can be zipped off to reduce setup time and provide more maneuvering room in the tree. Contact: API Outdoors, 800-227-7776, www.basspro.com
Big Dog Stadium Loaded Dual Ladder
The 17.5-foot Stadium Loaded Dual from Big Dog will be appreciated by large-framed hunters thanks to its super-strong, double-rail ladder construction, 24.25x25-inch foot platform and generous 26x13-inch, flip-up cushioned seat. This ladder stand is ideal for those seeking additional strength, sturdiness and stability.
The Stadium Loaded Dual also features a padded backrest, footrest, shooting rail and arm rests. For bowhunting situations, the shooting rail can easily be lifted out of the way and rested against the tree above your head. The matte black, steel stand weighs 86 pounds and can accommodate hunters weighing up to 300 pounds. Optional accessories include a roof kit and camouflage blind.
Contact: Big Dog Treestands, 309-263-6800, www.bigdogtreestands.com
Big Game Ultra-View Ladder
If you've ever missed a shooting opportunity because the animal passed on the wrong side of your tree, you'll appreciate the Big Game Ultra-View ladder stand. This 15-foot (to the seat) ladder features a unique, V-shaped platform design that allows users to take a couple steps along either side of the tree -- a feature that allows you to shoot in a full, 360-degree circle around your perch. The platform measures an incredible 56 inches wide and 41 inches deep.
In addition to being able to shoot along the sides and the back of the tree, the Ultra-View features a cushioned, swivel seat that is ideal for quick shots from a sitting position. For those who prefer to stand and shoot, the seat silently flips up and out the way. A folding footrest is also included.
While the Ultra-View isn't the tallest ladder stand around, its innovative design makes it ideal for areas with multiple game trails or brushy spots with small shooting lanes scattered around the stand. The Ultra-View is made from steel, weighs 60 pounds and is rated for loads up to 300 pounds.
Contact: Big Game Treestands, 800-268-5077, www.biggametreestands.com
Family Tradition HD/HO Lock-On
The HD/HO Lock-On is another stand that's perfect for large-framed hunters, thanks to the 1,900-pound tensile strength chains, big 32x25-inch foot platform with attached footrest and comfortable 22x13.25-inch mesh seat.
Setup of the HD/HO is made easy thanks to a heavy-duty, galvanized steel T-handle that is first screwed into the tree. Then, all you have to do is haul the 19-pound stand up to your perch and slide the special mounting bracket over the T-handle. This holds the stand in place and allows you to use both hands for attaching the two, 800-pound working load ratchet straps.
Family Tradition advertises the HD/HO, which has a weight limit rating of 300 pounds, as the most solid, spacious and comfortable hang-on stand you'll ever use.
Contact: Family Tradition Treestands, 517-543-3926, www.familytraditiontreestands.com
Gorilla King Kong HX Hang-On
For 2009, Gorilla has completely redesigned its entire line and introduced the all-new HX series, which includes the King Kong HX hang-on. All stands in the HX series feature a hexagon foot platform with mesh covering that features hexagonal holes. In addition to giving the stands a sleek appearance, the hexagon shape provides more usable space in the front of the platform and cuts down on edges and corners that can catch clothing and branches.
Other new features of the HX series are "D Tube" steel construction that is stronger and 20-percent lighter than square
tubing (for added portability), XPE foam seats that offer added comfort with reduced moisture absorption, XT-6 nylon bushings to reduce noise, slip-resistant Black Traxion coating and Mossy Oak Treestand camouflage.
The King Kong HX weighs 18.5 pounds, features a 24x30-inch foot platform, flip-up seat and has a weight rating of 300 pounds. It also features a seat-leveling system and attaches to the tree with a single, Easy-Cinch dual-claw strap.
Contact: Gorilla Treestands, 877-685-7817, www.gorillatreestands.com
Lone Wolf Alpha Wide Sit & Climb Combo
Lone Wolf has long been known for making some of the most strong, silent and portable stands on the market. With the new Alpha Wide Sit & Climb Combo, you can add superior, all-day comfort to the list.
The aluminum Alpha Wide Sit & Climb weighs just 21 pounds but features a big, 30x19.5-inch foot platform. The two-panel, padded seat features a base that measures 17x16 inches and a backrest that measures 10x18.5 inches. A pivoting sit and climb bar supports your weight both while climbing and hunting, and you can easily sit hands free using the bow holder molded directly into the foot platform.
Transport of the Wide Sit & Climb Combo is made easy with the included backpack straps, and like all Lone Wolf climbers, the stand attaches the tree using the company's signature, cam-action traction belts, which can be adjusted quickly and silently. The Wide Sit & Climb Combo fits trees from six to 19 inches in diameter and can accommodate hunters up to 350 pounds.
Contact: Lone Wolf Stands, 309-691-9653, www.lonewolfstands.com
Millennium M-100 Hang-On
The Millennium M-100 hang-on was, without a doubt, one of the most comfortable and innovative stands we tested this year. The aluminum stand weighs 14 pounds and is simple to install thanks to the aluminum, Cam-Lock Receiver that attaches to the tree trunk with a chain. The receiver accommodates a post on the back of the stand frame, which eliminates the need to hold the entire stand in place while attempting to attach the mounting chain.
Once installed, hunters will appreciate the M-100's unique, fold-down Textilene sling seat that feels more like a piece of patio furniture than a hunting perch. The seat is 20 inches wide and 17 inches deep and silently folds up when not in use. The M-100's foot platform is 20 inches wide and a full 38 inches deep, which provides plenty of room for archers to shoot -- even in situations when game is passing directly behind the tree.
The M-100 features a green, powder coat finish. Transport is easy using the included backpack straps. Optional accessories include extra Cam-Lock Receivers, cold-weather seat pad, footrest and 20-foot stick ladder.
Contact: Millennium (Hunting Solutions), 601-932-5832, www.huntingsolutionsusa.com
Muddy Archer Ladder Stand
Bowhunters who take a minimalist approach to their hunts will appreciate the Muddy Archer Ladder Stand, which incorporates an ideal mix of features for personal comfort and concealment for ambushing wary bucks.
The Muddy Archer Ladder is fairly tall at 18 feet, 6 inches, yet the ladder remains stable throughout the climb thanks to a well-designed, two-part support bar that braces both the bottom and top portions of the ladder to the tree trunk. In addition to stability, the Archer Ladder features a 10-inch wide ladder that is fat enough for easy climbing but slim enough that the stand doesn't stick out like a sore thumb.
Up top, the Archer Ladder offers a 14x17-inch foot platform and a padded, waterproof seat that's designed to be easily removed and taken along when you head home. Two ratchet straps provide a secure upper connection to the tree, and there are no rests or rails to obstruct bow movement.
Contact: Muddy Outdoors, 877-366-8339, www.gomuddy.com
Ol' Man Swing, Lock & Load Combo
Kudos to the engineers at Ol' Man, who have designed a really cool stick ladder/hang-on stand combo that eliminates setup hassles. The 16-foot stick ladder features a special bracket that allows you to slide the stand on and simply swing it up against the tree without having to support its weight. Once in place, you can use both hands to secure the tree chain and then cinch the chain tight with a special swing arm on the stand that takes up slack and locks into place with a clip pin. In addition to making setup simple, the entire system increases stability by keeping the stand and stick ladder physically connected at all times.
The stand itself weighs 19.7 pounds (with chain), can hold loads up to 300 pounds and comes with backpack straps for portability. When used with the combo stick ladder, this is a stand you could easily install or remove in less than a minute. The stand offers a 21x27-inch foot platform and a flip-up, sling-style ComforTech Seat.
Contact: Ol' Man Outdoors, 888-656-2606, www.olmanoutdoors.com
Rivers Edge 13-Foot Pack-N-Stack Ladder
The all-new, 13-Foot Pack-N-Stack Ladder stand from Rivers Edge is perfect for archers who hunt public land or regularly explore new areas where leaving your stand in place just isn't practical.
The 13-Foot Pack-N-Stack weighs 33 pounds and breaks down into a compact package that can easily be carried afield using the included backpack straps. When erected, the stand measures 12 feet, 10 inches from the ground to the seat. It features a 17.5x10-inch foot platform and sling-style seat. A 10-foot version that weighs just 28 pounds also is available.
The Pack-N-Stack is constructed from welded, tubular steel, comes with an adjustable stabilizer bar, ratchet strap tree mounts and safety tie-off ropes. The stand has a hunter brown finish and can accommodate loads up to 300 pounds.
Contact: Rivers Edge Treestands, 800-450-3343, www.huntriversedge.com
Screaming Eagle Hang-On
If you're looking for a high-quality, no-frills hang-on stand, look no further than the Screaming Eagle, which carries a lifetime guarantee, has no advertised maximum weight limit (for hunters) and in tests has withstood loads of 4,000 pounds.
Just looking at the Screaming Eagle gives you a sense of its quality, as the heavy-duty welding is visible throughout. Despite its ruggedness, the unpainted steel stand weighs just 14 pounds thanks to its minimalist design. The foot platform measures 25x24 inches while the seat measures 6x10 inches. A larger, 10x12-inch seat also is available.
Contact: Screaming Eagle, 406-793-5599, www.e-screamingeagle.com
The ScreamingSummit Raptor Series Hawk Hang-On
Summit's all-new Raptor Series of hang-on stands -- which includes the Hawk, Falcon, Eagle and Osprey -- features the innovative Talon Bracket System, which makes installation a breeze. The rubber coated Talon Bracket is strapped to the tree with a tough
webbing strap and, once in place, allows the hunter to haul up the stand and install it in less than 30 seconds. Another advantage of the Talon Bracket System is the ability to purchase multiple brackets and place them on trees at a variety of hunting locations.
The Raptor Series features one steel stand (Osprey), while the other three are aluminum.
The Hawk weighs 12 pounds, features a 20x28-inch foot platform and 18x10-inch cushioned seat that flips up against the tree when not in use.
All of the Raptor Series stands feature two additional unique features that greatly enhance functionality. The first is a Single Cable Spreader System that keeps the support cable out of the way and increases usable area on the platform. The second is a self-leveling platform that features four cable adjustment points on each side of the stand -- making it easy to eliminate slight platform lean or account for small irregularities in the tree trunk while at the same time ensuring a secure fit.
Eagle attaches to the tree using an included, five-foot chain. Once installed, the stand is extremely stable and quiet. About the only drawback is the shiny, unfinished steel, which can cause glare. However, that issue is easily remedied with a $4 can of brown spray paint, which also will prevent rust.
Contact: Summit Treestands, 256-353-0634, www.summitstands.com
True Quiet Hang-On
Don't let the look of the "plastic" True Quiet Treestand fool you. This hang-on stand is constructed from a high-tech black resin that's as strong as steel and as light as aluminum. In addition to being extremely quiet, the resin will not rust, rot or create glare by reflecting light.
The True Quiet stand weighs 14.5 pounds and can hold up to 300 pounds. The 20x30-inch foot platform is reinforced with added resin molding on the underside and features a honeycomb pattern that allows hunters to easily stick branches in for added concealment.
The padded, Realtree camouflage seat on the True Quiet stand features several height adjustments to accommodate hunters of all sizes. The stand attaches to the tree using two ratchet straps.
The True Quiet stand can also be paired with the new True Step Ladder System, which is made from the same resin as the stand. The 18-foot ladder can accommodate up to 300 pounds but weighs just 15 pounds.
Contact: True Quiet (C&C Innovations), 315-790-3686, www.treestandhunter.com