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Published Oct 4, 2022 5:15 PM

The days of hauling heavy, noisy climbing sticks through the woods are behind us. Modern climbing sticks are purpose built with the mobile hunter top of mind, resulting in climbing methods that are lighter, quieter, and far more mobile than their clunky predecessors.  

This means hunters you have a lot of options when it comes to shopping for your next set of climbing sticks, so I spent time comparing the best of the best to create a guide to buying the best climbing sticks for you. 

How I Tested Climbing Sticks 

The rolling topography and vast hardwood ridges that makeup southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Area is one of the most prolific big buck hunting areas in the country. Laden with various species of oaks, walnut, and maple trees with interspersed cedar thickets and agricultural transitions, the region is representative of classic whitetail habitat. I conducted the test on various trees on a state-owned property that’s open to public hunting. The test focused on the key factors bowhunters consider when it comes to spending their hard-earned cash: weight and size, stackability, attachment method, material, noise, and climbing comfort.

Weight and Length

I used a kitchen scale to weigh each stick to the nearest 1/10-ounce and measured length from step-to-step.    

Stackability

The Best Climbing Sticks of 2022
The author measured the stacked dimensions and evaluated any noise. Erik Barber

I scored each stick for their stackability from one to five, with five being the best. The score was from packed height, length, and width dimensions as well as ease of packing, how well they stay packed, and how quiet they were once stacked. 

Noise

No matter how careful you are, you’re bound to make noise when setting up your sticks. Most noise is derived from the combination of the climbing stick and attachment materials. The perceived sound made while setting was given a score of one to five (five is the quietest).  

Climbing Comfort 

All sticks were used to climb a variety of trees throughout the test. A climbing comfort score was built on a one-to-five scale, with five being most comfortable. This was judged by seeing how well the sticks bit into the trees, noting any significant slipping or twisting experienced during the climb. 

Best Overall: Tethrd One Stick

Tethrd

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Key Features

  • Weight: 4 pounds 3.8 ounces (four sticks); about 1 pound 1 ounce per stick 
  • Length: 17 5/8 inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 22-inches long, 7 ½-inches high, and 9-inches wide
  • Attachment: 103 ½ inches of Amsteel DynaLite rope 
  • Material: Titanium and aluminum 
  • Stackability Score: 4
  • Noise Score: 3
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 4

Why It Made the Cut

The Tethrd, who also makes one of the best tree saddles, makes all the gear you need for saddle hunting. Their One sticks are ultralight, packable, and able to connect to the tree with minimal effort, making them ideal for the bowhunter that puts a premium on reducing weight.  

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Plenty of amsteel rope to climb large trees
  • Pack together tightly and silently

Cons

  • Require aftermarket solutions to reduce noise

Product Description

All the climbing sticks I tested were impressive, but the Tethrd One stick stood out as the best of the best. Weighing in at just over 4 pounds, they’re the lightest of the bunch. Tethrd prides itself on eliminating the “fiddle factor” in bowhunting, which is evident in the Amsteel DynaLite rope attachment method of their sticks. With more than 100-inches of material to grip the tree, this system makes it possible to climb trees significantly larger than what’s possible with stock offerings from other manufacturers. This method is versatile, silent, and easy to use. 

While testing stackability, I found the StickLoc pin system kept the sticks snug and silent during transport, and easy to pack. Simply align the pins into the corresponding receiver slots and snug them together and sneak out of the woods silently. 

The Tethrd One sticks were a bit louder out of the box than other sticks, but that’s to be expected of a 1-pound metal climbing stick. Stealth Strips can be purchased from Tethrd directly, pre-cut to match the One stick’s design. If you want to go crazy, you can do plenty of modifications to make them even quieter. 

Best Budget: Tethrd Skeletor

Tethrd

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Key Features

  • Weight: 8 pounds 7 ounces ( Four sticks); about 2 pounds 2 ounces per stick 
  • Length: 18 ⅞ inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 26 ¼-inches long, 9-inches high, 6 ¼-inches wide 
  • Attachment: 98 inches of Amsteel DynaLite Rope
  • Material: Aluminum 
  • Stackability Score: 3
  • Noise Score: 3
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 4

Why It Made the Cut

The Tethrd Skeletors are an economical version of the premium Tethrd One sticks, sharing many features in common but at a fraction of the price and about twice the weight.   

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Pack together tightly and silently
  • Folding double-step design

Cons

  • Heavier than most other sticks tested

Product Description

The Tethrd Skeletors feature an Amsteel DynaLite rope attachment method, offering versatility to climb a wide range of tree diameters. A folding double-step design means the steps pivot 90 degrees for streamlined transportation. You’ll find the same proven StickLoc pin system from the One sticks, but with an added Rope Containment System to easily stow your DynaLite rope when transporting your sticks. 

You get a lot of features for the money, but there is a trade off—weight.  An all-aluminum design means the Skeletors are roughly double the weight of the One sticks, weighing in at just over 2 pounds per stick. If you don’t mind carrying an 8 pound four-pack, the Skeletors are a feature-rich option for the mobile bowhunter.

Quietest: Timber Ninja C1 Climbing Stick

Timber Ninja

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Key Features

  • Weight: 5 pounds 5.5 ounces (four sticks); 1 pounds 4.4 ounces per stick
  • Length: 18 ⅛ inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 20 ⅛-inches long, 9 ⅝-inches high, 8 ⅞-inches wide 
  • Attachment: 70 ⅛ inches of 6mm cord 
  • Material: Carbon fiber 
  • Stackability Score: 3
  • Noise Score: 5
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 3

Why It Made the Cut

Timber Ninja Outdoors makes these extremely quiet and light carbon fiber sticks in the USA. 

Pros

  • Made in the USA. 
  • Lightweight and noise-dampening 
  • Built-in climbing aider

Cons

  • Expensive

Product Description

Founder and designer, Jason Redd, takes great pride in building all of Timber Ninja’s gear in the USA. He’s a hardcore backcountry hunter and whitetail fanatic who brings over 30 years of hunting experience to his business as well as professional experience in fall-restraints.  

The C1 Climbing Stick from Timber Ninja Outdoors is the first of its kind, made entirely out of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber means the C1 stays warm to the touch, even in sub-zero conditions. It also dampens noise much more efficiently than other aluminum or titanium designs. If anything, the hollow “clack” of two C1 sticks knocking against each other sounds more comparable to your favorite pair of rattling antlers than a foreign sound that whitetails would otherwise associate with danger. Users can eliminate even more noise by adding Stealth Strips or choosing a 6mm rope from Timber Ninja’s list of attachment methods. 

If you choose the rope attachment method, you’ll need to understand how to tie a proper cow hitch knot. If the 70 inches of 6mm cord isn’t enough, you can DIY your own attachment method and apply the same cow hitch knot to effectively climb nearly any tree. Be forewarned, though, if your knot game isn’t strong, you’ll likely appreciate a traditional cam-lock buckle option rather than the lighter and quieter 6mm cord. 

Timber Ninja offers an optional, retractable aider for their C1 climbing sticks. Unlike other aiders that hang onto the bottom step, the C1 aider retracts into the hollow carbon tube, stowing away neatly without any extra slop. 

Most Compact: Lone Wolf Custom Gear D’Acquisto Series Double Step

Lone Wolf Custom Gear

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Key Features

  • Weight: 6 pounds 12 ounces for four sticks; about 1 pound 11 ounces per stick 
  • Length: 17 ⅛ inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 20 3/8″ long, 6″ high, 10 ¼” wide
  • Attachment: 73 ½ inch cam strap buckle
  • Material: 6061 Metal 
  • Stackability Score: 5 
  • Noise Score: 1
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 4

Why It Made the Cut

The D’Acquisto Series Double Step packs away to the most minimalistic dimensions of any sticks featured in the test. 

Pros

  • Sleek and packable profile 
  • Wide foot base 
  • Integrate with other Lone Wolf Custom Gear treestands 
  • Easily accept Lone Wolf Custom Gear aiders 

Cons

  • Assembly required
  • Noisy

Product Description

The D’Acquisto name is synonymous with mobile whitetail hunting, and the Lone Wolf Custom Gear lineup is reflective of the cumulative knowledge shared by Andre and Cody D’Acquisto. The D’Acquisto Series Double Step is the most packable climbing stick in the test, packing to a mere 6-inches high and barely noticeable in your backpack. Hunters can choose from 14, 17, or 20 inch stick lengths. Pre-drilled aider attachment holes make it easy to accept the integrated Lone Wolf Custom Gear aiders. 

Assembly is required to get your D’Acquisto Series Double Step sticks up and running. The tolerances are tight, so be careful not to cross-thread your bolts as I did during assembly. Admittedly, I’m not the most mechanically inclined, but if it can happen to me, it could possibly happen to you. 

Once assembled, you’ll notice how sleek the sticks stack together. While not as light as other climbing sticks featured in the test, they’re certainly the most packable, earning a top stackability score. If you’re willing to tolerate a minimal weight penalty compared to others, you’ll appreciate the extra space you’ll have in your pack thanks to the stacked dimensions of the Lone Wolf Custom Gear sticks. 

You’ll need to get creative with using Stealth Strips or using another aftermarket method to help reduce noise, as the Lone Wolf Custom Gear sticks were the loudest out of the box. The aluminum produces high-pitched “tings” and “clangs” that can send your target buck headed for the next county if you’re not careful. Adding Stealth Strips helped reduce these foreign sounds but didn’t eliminate it. 

Timber Ninja A1 Climbing Stick

Timber Ninja

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Key Features

  • Weight: 8 pounds for four sticks; about 2 pounds per stick
  • Length: 18 ⅛ inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 20 ⅛-inches long, 9 ⅝-inches high, 8 ⅞-inches wide
  • Attachment: 70 ⅛ inches of 6mm cord 
  • Material: Aluminum 
  • Stackability Score: 3
  • Noise Score: 4
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 3
  • Optional Accessories: add a built-in aider to each individual stick and choose between a black cam buckle strap or 6mm cord offered in black or desert color options 

Why It Made the Cut

Made in the USA and built on the foundation of the C1 climbing stick, the A1 is more affordable, but shares common features with its carbon fiber big brother. 

Pros

  • Made in the USA 
  • Built-in climbing aider

Cons

  • More expensive than other climbing sticks positioned as “budget-friendly”

Product Description

The A1 features the same components and options as the C1, but in an aluminum tube. Aluminum is more affordable than carbon, making the A1 a great option for folks who want a minimalistic climbing stick that’s made in the USA, but lacks C1’s sticker shock. Like the C1, hunters can choose to add an aider. Unlike the C1, A1’s aider loops over the front of the stick and hooks onto the versa knob rather than stowing inside the tube. Admittedly, the A1 aider system isn’t as efficient as the C1, but is still very effective and superior to aftermarket or DIY options. 

At around $400 for four, the A1 still isn’t cheap. However, it’s lighter than most other mid-priced aluminum climbing sticks, and comes from a small, reputable company. 

Novix Double-Step Climbing Sticks 

Novix

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Key Features

  • Weight: 11 pounds 6.9 ounces for four sticks; 2 pounds 13 ounces per stick
  • Length: 30 ¼ inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 36-inches long, 9-inches high, 9-inches wide
  • Attachment: 68 inch cam strap buckle
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Stackability Score: 3  
  • Noise Score: 3
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 5

Why It Made the Cut

At over 30 inches step to step, the Novix Double-Step helps hunters reach a higher perch with fewer sticks. 

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Triple step design
  • Climbs higher than other options 

Cons

  • Other options are more mobile 

Product Description

Novix’s 32-inch Double Step allows hunters to climb higher than any other sticks featured in the test. The triple-step design means you don’t need an aider to get to hunting weight with three steps. A pivoting V-bracket helps the sticks grip trees as it rotates, allowing the stick to stay level on crooked trees. When I cinched the sticks to the tree with the included cam buckle strap, the sticks felt solid and I was confident they weren’t going anywhere. The main con is that they aren’t the easiest to pack and they made noise while stacked. While the buckle system helps keep the sticks tight during transport, I wasn’t able to eliminate noise entirely. That’s why I think the Novix sticks are best suited as preset in conjunction with the best hang-on tree stands rather than run and gun setups. 

Beast Gear Climbing Stick 

Beast Gear

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Key Features

  • Weight: 6 pounds 15.6 ounces; about 1 pound 12 ounces per stick 
  • Length: 22 inches (step to step)
  • Packed Dimensions: 24 ⅜-inches long, 10-inches high, 9-inches wide
  • Attachment: 67 ½ inch cam strap buckle
  • Material: 6061 Aluminum
  • Stackability Score: 3  
  • Noise Score: 4
  • Climbing Comfort Score: 5

Why It Made the Cut

Designed by the big buck serial killer, Dan Infalt, the Beast Gear climbing sticks are quiet, easy to stack, and able to grip trees well. 

Pros

  • Aggressively bite the tree resulting in virtually zero slip
  • No moving parts 
  • In-line stacking reduces unwanted noise 

Cons

  • Stack height is highest in the test 

Product Description

Dan Infalt is considered by many to be one of the best public land bowhunters, and has been at the front of the mobile hunting trend. He turned heads when he released the Beast Gear Climbing Sticks built to spec on what he believes to be the perfect climbing stick. 

The climbing comfort is where the Beast Gear stick shines. You can easily and quickly hang them on any tree. I also found that the Beast Gear sticks gripped trees better than any stick in the test. 

Noise is a big deal when you’re hanging a set 100 yards from a buck bed, and the Beast Gear Sticks are very quiet. They stack tight and when cinched, the Beast Gear sticks produce virtually no noise during transport. However, the aluminum design benefits from aftermarket silencing to achieve a stick that’s truly silent. 

How to Choose Climbing Sticks

The best climbing sticks were tested for their grip, noise, and climbing height
Choosing among the best climbing sticks will depend on your hunting style. Erik Barber

Consider your primary hunting style before you choose a climbing stick. If you find yourself trekking far from the parking lot, weight will likely factor into your decision more than if you’re creeping into a pre-hung stand location. 

Another thing to consider is the attachment method. Cam buckles are fast to set up, easy to use, and able to grip the tree incredibly well. But they add extra weight and bulk. Rope and cord attachment methods are silent, but require some knot tying practice and aren’t fool proof. 

Final Thoughts 

Mobile hunting gear keeps getting better with each passing year—especially sticks and stands. The best climbing sticks are quiet, packable, and instill confidence as you ascend your perch. All of the sticks in this test fulfill these requirements and can help you hunt more effectively.