Choosing the Right Treestand for Your Hunt: Hang-On vs. Ladder Stands

By Shaggy Outdoor Team

October 11, 2023

Is a ladder stand or a hang on deer stand the better option?

For hunters, choosing the right type of treestand can inevitably impact their tree-hunting experience. 

As a longtime tree stand hunter, I can say that I've used all sorts of different stands. Remembering back to my youth, I remember taking the hammer and nails from Dad's tool shed along with a few boards and making a ladder system using the tree branches and a single wood platform for a seat.

We've all come a long way from those days. The technology, durability, style, weight, and comfort all play into choosing the best ladder stand or tree stand today!

There are several different types, styles, and brands of tree deer hunting stands on the market today!

How do you decide which is the best for your hunting property or hunting style?

In this article, we will cover the two most common types of tree stands and give you two additional options to think about before you purchase. 

Two Most Common Tree Stands

Additional Tree Stand Types to Consider

The Hang-on and the Climbing Tree Stands are relatively similar to the naked eye. However, the means to install and use these stands are quite different. We will cover those differences and help to provide you with the information necessary to make an informed buying decision. 

Which Type of Tree Stand is The Safest?  In our opinion, the safest tree stand is the Ladder Stand!

While we provided our opinion, just remember any time you leave the ground there is an opportunity to fall and injure yourself. So be cautious when climbing any tree to install a tree stand. 

In this article, we aim to provide you with some details that will help choose the correct tree stand for your hunting needs.

Tree Stands for Deer Hunting. Top treestands are ladder stand, hang-on stand, climbing stands

Do I Need a Tree Stand When Hunting Deer?

The simple answer is Absolutely Not!

There is no need to purchase and use a treestand. If you are a western spot and stalk hunter a treestand will typically not be a tool to use on your hunts. There are exceptions, I hunt elk in Arizona from a treestand on occasion when I'm hunting a dry wash or pinch point where I know there is a lot of traffic.

Public land hunters may choose to use ground blinds where they have the opportunity to put up and tear down the blind daily.

Many states allow for portable tree stands on public lands. Many stands can be installed and removed daily, if necessary, it takes between 30-60 minutes for lightweight smaller stands to be installed.

Tree stands on public land for many states are community property. Meaning, that another hunter could sit in the tree stand and yes that's legal in many states. Check with each state's regulations for public land tree stand regulations and requirements.

In Michigan, the tree stand needs to have your name, address, and Michigan driver's license number or DNR Sportcard number affixed and legible to be read from the ground.

For hunters that are hunting areas with trees, on their personal hunting property, or some public land near their home, utilizing a tree stand to get elevated allows you to get out of the immediate sight of the deer and better visual perspective, a treestand may be a good option.

Just because treestands are sold does not mean that one is necessary to hunt whitetails. I have been hunting whitetail in Michigan for 40 years and I have never seen a rule that says you can't use a ground blind or elevated hunting blind instead of a treestand. 

Your best experience in the woods is having the ability to see your surroundings, if, at all possible, get yourself elevated, and using a treestand could be an affordable way.

Benefits of Using a Treestand When Hunting

As you contemplate purchasing a treestand consider these four benefits for optimal hunting experience and performance. While there are several additional reasons, these four are why the Shaggy Outdoor Team hunts out of a tree stand in Wisconsin and Michigan.

  • Visibility: When you are sitting 15-20 feet in the air you are able to see further than when you sit on the ground. 
  • Opportunity to be Prepared: Being in the  elevated treestand, you have the ability to get ready before the deer comes within range.
  • Outside the Deer's Direct Vision: While deer can look up and see you in a tree, the advantage of being above their normal vision can give you an advantage.
  • Hunters Scent is Above the Ground: Being elevated gives you the ability to have the air disperse your scent and keep the scent off the ground and out of the deer's scent direction. 

Ladder Stands: Best Uses and Benefits

Ladder stands are an excellent option for tree hunters. They are, in our opinion, safer than a traditional tree stand as they have fixed ladders to get to the seating platform and they have a more secure platform area for the hunter. That being said, there are still dangers to any elevated hunting stand. Be careful when using an elevated hunting position. 

The ladder stand emphasizes stability and longevity over portability for hunters. While they may require more effort to set up and move, their advantage for hunters who can place a fixed platform against a tree is a better option over a hang-on tree stand model.

Benefits of a Ladder Stand:

  • Stability: Ladder stands are known for their sturdy construction, which makes them suitable for long-term hunting locations. They are often chosen for hunting spots that won't change significantly from season to season.
  • Comfort: Ladder stands typically offer more spacious seating options, providing greater comfort for those long hours of waiting.
  • Safety: The stability and security of ladder stands can reduce the risk of accidents, making them a good choice for novice hunters. Additionally, the ladder is an easier method and safer method of reaching your seat over the hang-on tree stand.
  • Covered Options: Some ladder stands come with roofs or enclosures, providing protection from the elements and further concealing your presence.

Choose Between a Single or Two-Person Ladder Stand:

Ladder stands are constructed for one or two occupants.

First, is a single hunter platform and seating area. There are several models available on the market and you can check them out here on Amazon, but, in general, the stand is made for one hunter. 

Second, there are two-person ladder stands. In the hang-on stand world, I have not come across a two-person stand, therefore if you are looking for a seating area for two, your only choice is the ladder stand. 

The two-person ladder stand is excellent when accompanying an older hunter or a youth hunter just getting started. 

Both the single and the double seated ladder stand are excellent for hunting whitetails and other animals where a treestand is a viable hunting option and you can put the stand up for the entire season. 

How High Can I Get with A Ladder Stand:

When it comes to the overall height of a ladder stand there are a variety of offerings. 

Universally most ladder stands on the market have a standard height of 17 feet. However, there are models as tall as 22' and as low as 16'. The higher you get off the ground the more secure points of contact are necessary to stabilize the stand.  

Depending on the size of the tree, the diameter of the tree, and your hunting area. The height of the ladder is important. Choosing a maximum height before you buy would be a good idea. 

Cost, Comfort, and Stability of a Ladder Stand:

Choosing the right ladder stand will come down to several factors. Let's start with the first and could be most significant THE COST!

Cost of Ladder Stands:

In my research, ladder stands will cost anywhere from $165 to $500 depending on several factors. Based on the different stands I have purchased over my hunting lifetime, I will say the price does reflect the quality and durability. 

Choose the best ladder stand for the amount of money you can spend. Consider the opinions of others through the reviews offered on websites or Amazon before making a final decision. 

Comfort of a Ladder Stand:

Choosing the best ladder stand option will come with the determination of your comfort requirements.

Several Comfort factors to consider:

  • Height Off Ground
  • Platform Size
  • Seat Size
  • One or Two Seats
  • Padded or Mesh Seat
  • Arm Rests
  • 360-degree secured arm-bar
  • Backrest or No Backrest
  • Angle of Stairs

Do you want a solid stand that has a good seat and secured protection for the hunter sitting in the seat? 

I like having a comfortable seat. I've hunted in ladder stands with small seating areas made of different materials including pads and mesh. I will say having a padded seat will make all the difference if you're sitting for an extended period. 

Stability of the Ladder Stand:

All ladder stands will come with weight ratings. These weight ratings are considered maximum allowable. Therefore you need to consider your weight and your gear. 

Warranties and guarantees are for your protection. Do not extend the weight of the ladder stand further than that recommended by the manufacturer. 

The stability of the stand will come from how the stand connects to the tree and the number of anchor points. The stand typically will have one or more anchor point arms that extend from the stairs to the tree, along with a rachet strap system that will attach the seated platform to the tree.

The stability also comes from the tubing size. The metal tubing will be slightly larger, I have experienced, for the more sturdy ladder stands. 

In my experience, the higher-priced ladder stands will have thicker tubing and more sturdy construction. I do feel sturdier and more secure in a couple of the more expensive stands I have used, but I have several inexpensive stands that work for my needs. 

Safety of the Hunter in the Ladder Stand:

A great option for hunters using the ladder stand is the incorporated security of an arm bar or lockdown security arm that fastens in front. This feature will give hunters an added level of fall protection and safety

If the arm bar is removed, consider using a fall protection harness system. Once you are in the ladder stand the harness can be attached to the tree and it will give you additional fall security when hunting in a tree.

When climbing the tree there are several key safety gear items you may want to implement to add safety and get yourself home. We wrote a recent blog article "What are 4 Key Safety Items Every Tree Stand Hunter Should Use" in which we point out four safety items every hunter should use when hunting out of a tree stand. 

Remember getting home safe is as important or even more important than bagging that deer and putting venison in the freezer. 

Hang-On Tree Stands: A Versatile Hunting Solution

My favorite type of tree stand is the hang-on stand. In my opinion, it gives me the flexibility to afford several tree stands and I can have several locations on my hunting property to choose from when the wind changes direction or bucks are in the rut. 

Hang-on tree stands are a very popular choice among hunters seeking versatility and adaptability in their treestand setups.

Unlike a more fixed tree stand like the ladder stand which is more difficult to set up and can take several people to install, the hang-on stand gives the hunter an elevated platform for hunting in a few minutes.  

In this section, we will explore the key features and benefits of using a hang-on tree stand, as well as address the crucial safety considerations associated with this type of treestand.

5 Benefits of Using a Hang-On Tree Stand:

  1. Portability: Hang-on tree stands are prized for their portability. They are relatively lightweight and easy to carry into the woods, allowing hunters to explore various hunting locations within a single hunting session.
  2. Adaptability: These treestands can be mounted on almost any suitable tree, making them highly adaptable to diverse hunting environments. Hunters can select the ideal tree for their specific hunting needs, whether it be near a feeding area or a travel corridor.
  3. Stealth and Concealment: Hang-on tree stands offer excellent concealment opportunities. By placing the stand above the deer's line of sight and scent, hunters can remain hidden and undetected, increasing their chances of a successful hunt.
  4. Low Profile: The low profile of hang-on tree stands reduces their visibility to game animals. This feature can be particularly advantageous when hunting in heavily wooded areas or locations with dense foliage.
  5. Variety of Heights: Hunters have the flexibility to choose their preferred height for the stand, allowing them to tailor their vantage point and shooting lanes to the specific terrain and hunting scenario.

Safety and Secure Attachment of a Hang-On Tree Stand:

While hang-on tree stands provide many benefits, it's essential to address safety concerns and the properly secured attachment associated with their use:

  • Safety Harness: Safety should always be a top priority when using hang-on tree stands. Unlike ladder stands, hang-on stands require hunters to climb trees, which can be riskier. Using a safety harness is crucial for securing yourself to the tree both while ascending and sitting in the stand. This reduces the risk of falls and related injuries.
  • Secure Attachment: Properly and securely attaching the stand to the tree is essential. Follow the manufacturer's instructions meticulously, ensuring that all straps, cables, and connections are in good condition and correctly fastened.
  • Regular Inspections: Before each hunting season, inspect your hang-on tree stand for any signs of wear, rust, or damage. Maintenance and upkeep are critical to ensure the stand's safety and longevity.

Hang-on tree stands offer hunters the advantages of portability, adaptability, concealment, and flexibility in choosing their stand height. However, they require a heightened focus on safety, including the use of a safety harness and secure attachment to the tree. With proper precautions, hang-on tree stands can be a valuable tool for successful and enjoyable hunting experiences.

Muddy Tree Stand Safety Harness

Muddy Safe Line

Cost, Comfort, and Stability of Hang-On Tree Stands

Cost of a Hang-On Deer Stand:

Hang-on stands come in a huge price range. According to Amazon, they have a variety of hang-on stands that range in price from $62.92 to $298.99.

Many of the offerings on the market include the tree stand with a ladder system as a combo pack. When you purchase a hang-on treestand you will need a way to get to the stand, therefore a combo pack may be a good option. Check prices and compare individual stands and individual ladders. 

I currently use a Big Game Captain XL that I purchased from a local outdoor store. I paid $25.00 more than the current price on Amazon.  

Comfort of a Hang-On Tree Stand:

Hang-on treestands tend to be very uncomfortable. Today, there are a variety of options and each offers more comfort for those long days sitting for that big buck. 

Today hang-on stands have a variety of platform sizes to give hunters the option to stand and be comfortable making a standing shot. 

Seats for stands vary from mesh to different thickness cushions. The size of the seat also can vary and each person should consider their comfort needs before making a purchase. 

Stability of Hang-On Tree Stands:

Hang-on stands are connected to trees via a strap and ratchet system. The straps can be anywhere between 2" and 4" in width. The wider the strap the more surface area connected to the tree. 

The strap system provided by the manufacturer is sufficient to get the stand installed and secured. However, I tend to add ratchet strap to the stand and secure it to the tree. My comfort level requires a second strap. 

How to Get a Hang-On Tree Stand into Place?

Hunters can install their tree stands by installing the ladder system first. Ideally, you will need to check out the different ladder options to decide as to what type you will be most comfortable with.

There are true ladders that you can purchase and install against the tree and there are options that are sections, 24"-36" in size for each section. Combine 3-4 pieces to get you up into the tree to your desired height. 

Primal 20' Grip System

Climbing Stick Ladder

For the safest installation use a harness with a lineman's rope. The lineman's rope allows you to stay secured to the tree while installing each rung of the ladder. Choose a harness system that has a lineman's rope included otherwise you will need to purchase an additional lineman's rope. I have the Muddy Hunting Tree Stand Safety and Harness System

Once you have the ladder installed, use a rope system to pull up the stand to your finished position. Using the Muddy Lineman's Rope you can stabilize yourself while installing the treestand. 

Big Game Captain XL

Climbing Stick Ladder

Two Bonus Tree Stand Options: The Climbing Stand and Saddle 

The two most common treestands are the ladder stand and the hang-on tree stand. While these two encompass the majority of stands in the woods, they are not the only tree stand options. 

The Climbing treestand has been in production for several years and is used by many hunters every year. The benefit of the climbing stand is the ability to get up the tree without a ladder system. 

The negative of the climbing stand is it takes core strength to work your way up the tree. A second negative is you need fairly clean trees so that you don't have significant branches that get in the way of the climb. 

The Saddle treestand is a newcomer to the hunting world. The Saddle has only been on the market for around three years. The Saddle user needs to get themselves up into the tree by using a lineman's rope and walking up the side of a tree. Once you get to the spot you lock yourself in with straps and sit back into the saddle. 

Climbing Tree Stands:

Guide Gear Extreme Deluxe Climbing Tree Stand

Summit Treestand 180 MAX SD Climbing Tree Stand

One of the most versatile options in the hang-on category is the climbing stand. These stands are designed for hunters who value portability and flexibility. Here are some key features and benefits:

  • Portability: Climbing stands are renowned for their ease of transport. They consist of a seat and a platform that can be attached to a tree trunk as you ascend. This design allows you to move quickly from one location to another, adapting to changing deer patterns or exploring new hunting spots.
  • Adjustability: Climbing stands can be adjusted to fit the diameter of various tree trunks, providing a secure and comfortable hunting position. This adaptability is a significant advantage when hunting in areas with diverse tree sizes.
  • Stealth and Accessibility: Climbing stands allow hunters to access elevated positions with minimal noise and disturbance. This stealthiness is particularly crucial when pursuing wary game like whitetail deer.
  • Lightweight Design: Most climbing stands are lightweight, making them an excellent choice for hunters who need to hike to their hunting locations.

Saddle Hunting Tree Stand:

XOP Tree Saddle Hunting System

UII Hunt Hunting Saddle

Saddle hunting is a relatively new addition to the treestand world, gaining popularity for its unique approach to concealment and comfort. Here are some highlights of saddle-hunting treestands:

  • Minimalist Design: Saddle hunting replaces the traditional treestand with a harness that hunters wear around their waist and legs. This minimalist approach reduces the bulk of traditional treestands and is favored by hunters who value mobility and simplicity.
  • Stealth and Concealment: The saddle allows for a greater range of movement, which can be advantageous when silently shifting to make a shot. It also provides a lower profile, making it harder for game animals to spot you.
  • Comfort: Saddle hunting enthusiasts praise the comfort and versatility of this method, as it allows you to sit, stand, or lean back easily.

Where to Purchase a Deer Stand?

Now that you have a better understanding of tree stands, you are ready to purchase a stand that is best for your hunting property. 

The best places online to purchase tree stands are Amazon and Sportsman's Warehouse. I like to purchase on Amazon given the ability to get FREE shipping with my Amazon Prime account and the wide selection of options. 

However, Sportsman's Warehouse has the option to pick up the treestand at the store closest to your home or hunting property. They have a few different brands that are exclusive to their business. 

Additionally, you can pick up any number of treestands at your local outdoor store. If you have time, shop around for the best price. Ask questions of others using tree stands getting their opinion and any recommendations or information to help you make a decision. 

Additional Accessories For Hunting Out of a Tree Stand

Once you have your stand purchased, you will start thinking about comfort in the stand and accessories that can help keep you engaged and comfortable. 

Check out these items. I have a few of these items in my stands and the team at Shaggy Outdoors have used all of the items in AZ, WI, or MI.

Conclusion: Elevating Your Hunting Experience with Tree Stands

In this comprehensive guide, we've explored the world of treestands, each offering its unique advantages and considerations for hunters. Whether you're a seasoned outdoorsman or just beginning your hunting journey, understanding the various treestand options can be the key to unlocking your full hunting potential.

From the unmatched versatility of hang-on tree stands to the stability of ladder stands, the ease of climbing tree stands, and the innovation of saddle-hunting stands, we've covered it all. Each treestand type caters to distinct hunting styles and preferences, ensuring that there's a perfect fit for every hunter.

But why should you consider adding a treestand to your hunting toolkit? Here's a compelling reason:

Increased Hunting Success:

A well-placed treestand can give you the edge you need to outsmart even the most elusive game. By elevating your vantage point and reducing your scent profile, treestands allow you to observe and engage with your prey in a way that ground-level hunting simply can't match. You'll spot the game earlier, approach shots more stealthily and improve your overall hunting success rate.

As your hunting season approaches, take a moment to evaluate your needs and goals. Are you looking for portability, adaptability, or enhanced comfort in your hunting setup? Do you need the security of ladder stands, the flexibility of climbing stands, or the innovation of saddle hunting stands? With a treestand tailored to your specific requirements, you can elevate your hunting experience and increase your chances of a successful hunt.

Investing in a treestand is not just about hunting; it's about embracing the thrill of the outdoors, connecting with nature, and conserving wildlife for generations to come. So, whether you're stalking white-tailed deer in the heart of the Midwest, pursuing mule deer in the Rockies, or chasing any other game, a treestand is your ticket to a richer, more rewarding hunting adventure.

Don't wait; make your hunting dreams a reality by adding a treestand to your property. With the right treestand as your trusty companion, you'll be ready to embark on your next hunting season with confidence and success.

So, go ahead, embrace the world of treestands, and let the wilderness be your witness to the remarkable hunts that await.

Happy hunting!