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Tree Steps vs Climbing Sticks: Which One Is Better For Tree Climbing?

Tree Steps vs Climbing Sticks
Written by Marc Niad
Last Update: August 11, 2023

If you love hunting or nature, and want to get a better view of your surroundings, climbing the tree is a great method. This will also allow you to conceal yourself from the prey. But for that, you need to climb a tree. And tools such as climbing sticks and tree steps can help you with that. But which one should you choose? What is the difference between tree steps vs climbing sticks?

Both tree climbing tools serve the same purpose. The difference is that they are designed differently. Tree steps are secured to a tree using screws or other metal parts. On other hand, climbing sticks come with a rope or strap that can be used to secure it with the tree.

That’s not all.

They have many other differences and they also share a few common things. The benefits and drawbacks of these tools will help you better understand what sets them apart.

You will also learn the differences between climbing sticks vs tree steps and how they compare to each other. This will make your choice easier.

What Are Tree Steps?

What Are Tree Steps

Tree steps are little gadgets that can be screwed into the trunk of a tree. Then you can step on them to ascend or descend the tree. They come in a variety of sizes and forms, including hooks, stirrups, and pegs.

Using tree steps will require you to drill holes into the tree and screw them in one by one. You can choose the pattern and height to place them.

What Are Climbing Sticks?

What Are Climbing Sticks

Climbing sticks are ladders that you secure to the tree with straps. They usually provide you with three to five steps to climb up or down. So you will have to use more than one of them if the destination you are trying to reach is a bit higher.

To utilize this equipment, wrap the straps securely around the tree until they are snug. The distance and angle of the sections can be adjusted to match the curve of the tree.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Tree Steps

Tree steps have some advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before using them. Here are some of them:

  • Benefits:

    • Compact, lightweight, discreet: You can easily carry tree steps in your backpack and they don’t take up much space. They also blend in with the tree bark and are less noticeable to other hunters or animals.
    • Adaptable: Tree steps can be used on any kind of tree, regardless of its diameter, curvature, or branch distribution. You can customize your climbing route and height according to your preference and situation.
    • Affordable: They are relatively cheap compared to climbing sticks. You can buy them in bulk or make your own with some screws and washers.
  • Drawbacks:

    • Time-consuming: You will have to put more time and effort to install tree steps compared to climbing sticks. Drilling holes, screwing them, and checking their stability will be time consuming. Plus, the process is tedious and noisy.
    • Risky: If you do not install tree steps properly or they become loose over time, they can become pretty dangerous.They can also damage the tree by creating wounds that expose it to insects and diseases. You should always wear a safety harness when using tree steps and check them regularly for signs of wear and tear.
    • Hard to see in the dark: They can be hard to locate in low-light conditions, especially if they are camouflaged with the tree bark. You might need a flashlight or a reflective tape to find them in the dark.

Benefits And Drawbacks Of Climbing Sticks

Climbing sticks also has its own advantages and disadvantages. You should consider before using them. Here are some of them:


  • Easy, fast, safe: You can set up and dismantle a climbing stick very quickly. You only need to wrap them around the tree and fasten them with pins or buckles. Because of the lack of screwing involved, this also makes them a speedier option for climbing up and down. They provide you with a secure climbing platform and are robust and solid as well.
  • Eco-friendly:  Using climbing sticks on trees is less harmful than using tree steps. Climbing sticks don’t create wounds or holes in the bark that could attract pests or diseases. They also don’t leave permanent marks on the tree after you remove them.


  • Bulky, heavy, visible: Climbing sticks are big and hefty in comparison to tree steps. They take up more room in your bag and add weight to your burden. They also draw greater attention from other hunters or animals since they stick out more on the tree trunk.
  • Expensive: Climbing sticks are more expensive. As a result, depending on your desired height, you may need to invest a significant amount of money.
  • Limited by tree shape: The shape of the tree you intend to climb might limit your options for climbing sticks. They operate well on trees that are straight and have few branches or obstructions. They may not fit well on curved or thick-barked trees.

How To Compare And Contrast Tree Steps Vs Climbing Sticks

Now that you know the benefits and drawbacks of tree steps vs climbing sticks, let’s see how they compare and contrast. Here are some points to consider:

Similarities Between Tree Steps And Climbing Sticks

  • Both tree steps as well as climbing sticks can help you reach your desired place on a tree. Whether it’s for hunting, or recreation, they can give you a better view of your surroundings.
  • Both equipment need some form of attachment to the tree to prevent them from falling or slipping. Tree steps need screws that drill into the bark, while climbing sticks need straps that wrap around the trunk.
  • They come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and materials. You can choose from different brands and models that suit your needs and preferences.

Differences Between Climbing Sticks Vs Tree Steps

  • Tree steps are individual pieces that you screw into the tree one by one. You can place them in any pattern or height that works for you. Climbing sticks are sections that connect with straps or buckles. You can adjust the angle and distance of the sections to fit the shape of the tree.
  • Tree steps are more adaptable than climbing sticks. You can use them on any tree, regardless of its diameter, curve, or branch distribution. Climbing sticks, while stiffer than tree steps, function best on straight trees with few branches.

Differences between the two at a glance.

Tree Steps Climbing Sticks
Small devices that screw into the tree trunk Ladders that strap around the tree
Individual pieces that can be arranged in any pattern or height Sections that stack on top of each other and attach with straps or buckles
Compact, lightweight, discreet, adaptable, and affordable Easy, fast, safe, stable, and eco-friendly
Time-consuming, risky, damaging to trees, and hard to see in the dark Bulky, heavy, visible, expensive, and limited by tree shape
Suitable for public land, stealthy hunting, and different types of trees Suitable for private land, quick setup and takedown, and straight trees with few branches

How To Choose Between Tree Steps And Climbing Sticks

Choosing between climbing sticks and tree steps should come down to your personal preference, budget, situation and terrain. You can take a look at these tips to decide between the two.

  • If you want something compact, lightweight, discreet, adaptable, and affordable, go for tree steps.
  • If easy, fast, safe, stable, and eco-friendly is something you want, then climbing sticks is the way to go.
  • If you hunt on private land where you have permission to use the trees and want to save time and energy when setting up or taking down your stand, go for climbing sticks.
  • If you hunt on different types of trees with varying shapes and sizes, go for tree steps.
  • If you hunt on straight trees with few branches or obstacles, go for climbing sticks.


If you consider the above mentioned factors and understand what climbing sticks and tree steps have to offer, then you should be able to make a decision between tree steps vs climbing sticks.

About the author

Marc Niad

It’s been several years that Marc, a retired teacher and a proud dad, has silently been piling up mature bucks down the South. This humble hunter began his hunting journey at quite an early age and since then, he spent countless hours in the woods and learned good lessons in terms of woodsmanship. Along the way, he also made money sharing his skill with his followers and well-wishers.

The Ranger Expert is the brainchild of this veteran hunter who loves hunting the swamps and the hills around the Mississippi and Homochitto rivers. His most favorite hunting technique is taking his climbing gear and going to the top of pines with a 25.06 – the old-fashioned way!

He gets most of his games during late December through mid-January – his favorite hunting time. Marc strongly believes that hard work, passion, and a bit of luck can bring you success in the wild.

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