February 14, 2023
These days, hunters have so many choices when it comes to hunting from an elevated position. Traditional ladder stands still work just fine for many, though lots of manufacturers have also continued to improve upon the basics to offer users even more functionality and comfort.
Meanwhile, for bowhunters who prefer a lower-profile presence, hang-on stands often get the nod. And today's models are lighter, yet more feature-rich than ever, allowing hunters to go farther while remaining confident in their stand's safety and performance. Still, there are other hunters who want to be as light and mobile as possible, and many of these are turning to saddle hunting to facilitate that desire. Saddle manufacturers are producing lighter, easier-to-use saddles, and sleek, portable standing platforms to let hunters push deeper and deeper into public or private land.
Whatever your preference—ladder, hang-on or saddle—manufacturers are producing new iterations offering increased performance and comfort, and at a lighter weight than ever before. This winter, I got to see many of these firsthand while attending the 2023 Archery Trade Association show, an annual convention where many new products are introduced each year. I saw quite a few stands that impressed, and those in the market for a new stand, platform, saddle or treestand accessories should have plenty to look at this year.
Elevate Element Ultra Treestand
Looking for a lightweight stand for run-and-gun hunting? Give Elevate’s new Element Ultra Treestand a look. Manufactured from 6061-T6 alluminum, it weighs just 6.25 pounds. And Elevate’s Ascend Climbing Sticks (sold separately) easily attach to the stand, which leaves you room for a backpack and makes for an easier hike in, however far you're walking. Easy setup is possible with a ratchet or cam buckle, and the stand’s adjustable base and seat allow you to set up in almost any tree. The platform measures 17 inches by 23 3/4 inches, while the seat and cushion measure 10 inches by 8 inches, and the height from platform to seat is 19.5 inches. $419.99 | elevatestand.co
Latitude Outdoors Carbon SS Climbing Sticks
These days, many manufacturers are producing extremely lightweight gear for hunters who are looking to be highly mobile, and Latitude Outdoors' new Carbon SS Climbing Sticks fall squarely into this category. Weighing just over a pound (19 ounces), these lightweight sticks are 18-inch fixed double steps and stack together flat to be very compact for hunters on the move. The sticks have no moving parts, so nothing will ever come loose, no matter how hard you run them. The unique carbon fiber construction is also completely metal free, so there’s no concern about unnatural metallic sounds as you’re sneaking through the woods. $84.99/single, $239.99/3-pack | latitudeoutdoors.com
Millennium Bowlite L-116 Single Ladder Stand
A great new ladder option from a dependable manufacturer, the 16-foot Bowlite L-116 Single Ladder Stand is constructed from powder-coated steel and utilizes Millennium’s well-known ComfortMAX Seat. Despite its solid structure and comfortable seat, the stand itself remains fairly light for a full ladder model at just 53 pounds.
The platform is 20 inches by 18 inches, and the seat measures 19 3/4 inches by 17 inches, and they support a capacity of up to 300 pounds. The stand also has built-in accessory hooks for hanging a bow and a pack or other gear. Lastly, the stand’s design also gives users the ability to swing their legs beneath the armrests if they need to pivot more for a shot on either side of the stand. millennium-outdoors.com
XOP Outdoors Cold World
This ultralight, feature-rich hang-on stand has a four-point bracket for placement in a variety of trees and has a fully adjustable seat and platform, so you can level it on almost any tree. The stand’s shape and dimensions (17.5 inches by 26 inches) translate to ample standing room and incredibly stable shot stances. With its Dura-Grip technology, the stand also offers plenty of traction, even in adverse weather conditions.
The Cold World has a comfortable, waterproof TOUR Ultralight Seat Cushion, and the stand's Quick-Lock seat platform allows the seat to be used as a shelf during transportation. The durable 6061 aluminum stand weighs just 7.5 pounds but is rated for up to 350 pounds. The minimalist Cold World has integrated stick attachment points, dual fast strap buttons and integrated bow holder attachment holes. The completely modular stand is essentially ready to go wherever you are. $449.99 | xopoutdoors.com
Timber Ninja Black Belt Nano
Designed for the minimalist hunter, the single-panel Black Belt Nano weighs just one pound with a bridge rope (less than one pound without the bridge rope). It's manufactured using four-way stretch, American-made technical fabrics that have a higher tensile strength than Ripstop, though, so it remains durable despite its light weight.
For easier transport while walking in and accessibility at your stand site, the saddle also has magnetic stick holders on its sides and a magnetic platform holder on its back. It's engineered for minimal hip pinch and accepts the Uni Shoulder Strap System. The Black Belt Nano is made entirely in the U.S., and it meets OSHA Fall Restraint standards. timberninjaoutdoors.com
Primal Outdoors 18' Hang-Out Deluxe Wrap-Around Two-Person Stand
Like to hunt with a buddy, or planning to spend some time up in a tree with a young hunter? Check out this ladder stand from Primal Outdoors. It utilizes the Primal Grip Jaw and Stabilizer Truss System for rock solid setup and has a spacious full 56-inch by 31-inch angled platform. The two flip-up textilene individual seats measure 37 inches by 15 inches have backrests and come with seat covers. The ladder itself is 20 inches wide and comes with Primal's PVHA-100 Standz Up ladder aid for easier installation. Other niceties include a gear tray for storage, padded armrests and an adjustable shooting rail. With all these great features, this stand does weigh a bit more (87.5 pounds), but it is still manageable. $399.99 | primaloutdoors.com
TrophyLine Onyx Platform
The new Onyx Platform for saddle hunters fuses together elements of previous TrophyLine platforms—specifically, the EDP, Mission and Wingman platforms. This results in an excellent combination of size and functionality. All three sides of the platform are angled with non-slip ridges to maximize the number of contact points for your feet, as well as comfort. The Onyx also has a new Claw design with a single cast post, stomp pad and standoff.
The platform has a 300-pound capacity, weighs just 4.5 pounds, contains a Platform Leveling System and fits trees from 4 to 22 inches in diameter. It measures 14.9 inches wide by 13 inches deep, and it folds flat for easier storage and transport. $229.99 | trophyline.com
Tethrd LockDown Saddle System
While many of the saddle systems on the market are focused on extreme mobility and minimalism, Tethrd's new LockDown option emphasizes making your time up in the saddle more comfortable. This system has an expandable saddle body along with industry-first Active Comfort Management. The LockDown features a brand-new SYS Hauler pocket system with tons of user-friendly features built in from the factory. With an all-new yoke design and updates to Tethrd's patented UtiliBridge and Comfort Channel system, this saddle offers tons of user-adjustability and comfort. $399.00 | tethrdnation.com
Rivers Edge Lockdown 21' 360 Ladder Stand
This tall, spacious stand offers tons of great features for gun and crossbow hunters. For starters, as its name suggests, if offers coverage in all directions with an oversized TearTuff mesh seat that swivels 360 degrees and a full platform providing ample foot room for any shot angle. The stand has a flared shooting rail with six inches of height adjustment to suit various hunters, shot angles and terrain, and a weatherproof solution-dyed enclosure is included to provide durable concealment.
The Lockdown 360 also utilizes Rivers Edge's patent-pending Ground-Level Ratcheting Technology, which allows you to ratchet the platform tight to the tree without ever leaving the ground. I watched the folks in the Rivers Edge booth illustrate this technology at the ATA show in January, and it was impressive to see. $499.99 | huntriversedge.com
Timber Ninja Black Belt Ultimate
The Black Belt Ultimate is an incredibly lightweight American-made two-panel saddle system. Like the company's Black Belt Nano, the Ultimate focuses on minimizing and/or eliminating hip pinch. Also like the Nano, the Ultimate features magnetic stick holders on its sides and a magnetic platform holder on its back. It, too, accepts the Uni Shoulder Strap System, but it also has a "Mud Flap" Stick carrier. Like other Timber Ninja products, it meets OSHA Fall Restraint testing standards. timberninjaoutdoors.com
TrophyLine Venatic Saddle Kit
Perfect for mobile hunters, the new Venatic Saddle Kit includes TrophyLine’s new Venatic Saddle, a Venatic Pouch and two 8-foot-long 8mm-diameter TechCore ropes and carabiners. The saddle weighs just 20 ounces without the bridge (30 ounces with bridge and carabiner), sporting a rugged yet lightweight ripstop fabric construction.
The Venatic saddle utilizes quality U.S.-made Raptor waist and leg strap buckles, and has a rubberized waist band. It features a rigid rubber Molle band, as well as two additional Molle bands for even more attachment options. For walking in and walking out, the saddle has what TrophyLine calls a "bridge garage," basically a loop that securely holds your bridge rope. Similarly, a seat strap at the back of the Venatic helps keep the saddle out of your way while walking. Just tons of smartly designed features here. $479.99 | trophyline.com
XOP Outdoors Invader
The new Invader is a great option for saddle hunters venturing deep into public land. Weighing just 2.9 pounds and measuring 12 inches by 12 inches, the platform can be easily carried in a pack if desired. It uses a four-point bracket, and wide Axiom tooth construction permits efficient placement on a wide variety of trees and bark material. The platform's shape and integrated V-Step offer abundant standing room and stability for solid shooting while positioned anywhere around the tree. The Invader is fully adjustable with built in leveling capabilities. It offers 35 degrees of adjustability.
Add in Dura Grip technology for improved traction, integrated stick attachment points and a single fast strap button for quick placement, and you have a stand that's just as ready to go as you are. $199.99 | xopoutdoors.com
Timber Ninja Carbon Fiber Tree Stand
While there's still not a lot of information out about this stand yet, Timber Ninja has been working on it for several years, and they state that it's the first carbon fiber lock-on treestand on the market. The stand features AmSteel cables and a nicely sized 27-inch platform. timberninjaoutdoors.com
Millennium M-215 Double Step 20’ Stick Ladder
For those hunting hang-on stands, a quality stick ladder can offer the best of both worlds: the stability of a ladder and the portability and reduced footprint of climbing sticks. This new ladder from Millennium offers just such an option. With its interlocking design featuring five, four-foot sections, this tool allows hunters to reach a full 20 feet off the ground. It has a single tube design with dual steps, making for easy climbing, and it weighs just 23 pounds, so it remains highly portable. The ladder also features even-foot cam buckle straps to eliminate unwanted wiggle and noise, and to attach to larger trees. millennium-outdoors.com
XOP Outdoors Retrograde
This hybrid platform (traditional hang-on stand or saddle platform) from XOP measures 14 inches by 23 inches and weighs just 6 pounds. Like other XOP products, it has a fully leveling seat and platform for incredible versatility and a four-point bracket for mounting on a variety of crooked trees. It has a comfortable, ultralight, waterproof seat cushion and, like XOP’s new Cold World, it utilizes the company's patented Quick-Lock system, which allows the seat to be used as a shelf during transport to and from the stand site. It has a chamfered tooth profile for increased stability, and the stand platform itself has Dura-Grip technology for superior traction. The stand's rated for 350 pounds and has integrated stick attachment points and dual fast strap buttons for rapid deployment. $399.99 | xopoutdoors.com