Summit Treestands
Best bang for buck Tree Saddle se-up?
Equipment
Contributors to this thread:
Nomad @ work 14-Oct-21
Treeline 14-Oct-21
Treeline 14-Oct-21
Treeline 14-Oct-21
APauls 14-Oct-21
Treeline 14-Oct-21
MA-PAdeerslayer 14-Oct-21
spike78 14-Oct-21
Huntiam 14-Oct-21
Huntiam 14-Oct-21
Nomad 14-Oct-21
Huntiam 14-Oct-21
TD 15-Oct-21
APauls 15-Oct-21
APauls 15-Oct-21
JC3 19-Oct-21
WV Mountaineer 19-Oct-21
Shiloh 20-Oct-21
midwest 20-Oct-21
TODDY 20-Oct-21
APauls 20-Oct-21
WV Mountaineer 20-Oct-21
Shiloh 20-Oct-21
TD 20-Oct-21
Treeline 20-Oct-21
WV Mountaineer 20-Oct-21
Treeline 21-Oct-21
ND String Puller 21-Oct-21
Treeline 21-Oct-21
ND String Puller 21-Oct-21
TD 21-Oct-21
midwest 21-Oct-21
Treeline 21-Oct-21
midwest 21-Oct-21
KHNC 22-Oct-21
midwest 22-Oct-21
MA-PAdeerslayer 22-Oct-21
TODDY 22-Oct-21
TD 23-Oct-21
Huntskifishcook 23-Oct-21
SIP 24-Oct-21
TODDY 25-Oct-21
From: Nomad @ work
14-Oct-21
With all the Tree Saddle talk lately I was wondering what was the best, comfortable, affordable set-up? Include sticks & platform. Knee pad? Reclining options? For short term or all day sits? Ease of set-up?

I've been intrigued for a while but have never seen anyone use one personally.

Thanks!

From: Treeline
14-Oct-21
I know what I just got is definitely not the cheapest but I want to be safe and comfortable using it! I just bought a pile of stuff to get into saddle hunting and went off advice from a guy that knows a lot more than me about it. Basically just bought what he suggested across the line.

I may have a different focus than others in that I plan to have my gear in my pack when hunting from the ground and using it when I find a place that it makes sense.

Will save a lot of extra time, particularly when hunting wilderness, to have to hike back out and drag a hang-on stand 2-3 miles in and then have to go back and pull stands. My whole setup will come in at around 8 pounds and be able to get up to 20’ in a tree if necessary. Hell, should be able to pack out a deer or 1/2 an elk in the pack with my tree saddle! I’m looking at it to save a lot of time and effort.

From: Treeline
14-Oct-21

Treeline's Link
Check the link. This guy has some excellent videos that go through each component of tree saddle hunting and how to consider different options.

From: Treeline
14-Oct-21

Treeline's Link
This is the method I am planning to use for climbing. Will play with building 3- and 5- step aiders to see if they make a lighter setup…

From: APauls
14-Oct-21
I recently bought the Hawk saddle. Way more comfy than the Tethrd I had and cheaper. Much preferred. Also come with everything you need except your platform. I love it

From: Treeline
14-Oct-21
I got the Cruzr XC in a kit that included a platform. That plus a set of the Wild Edge steps.

14-Oct-21
I have a CruzrXC. 4 20” hawk steps, one double and one single aider. XOP platform and a ring of steps depending where I’m going. Pack in with a G3 horn hunter Pack. Saddle on, pull up rope clipped to pack. I can get platform to 20’ if I need to. Typically 16’ is enough for my areas tho

From: spike78
14-Oct-21
I have the Mantis but from what I hear the Tethrd ESS 2 panel saddle is way more comfortable.

From: Huntiam
14-Oct-21

From: Huntiam
14-Oct-21
Academy has the hawks on sale right now for 199 bucks.. for the money they are great a lot better than the tethrd ones IMHO

From: Nomad
14-Oct-21

Nomad's Link
OK.....The Hawk was starting to look good until I saw this video & some negative Amazon reviews that supported it. For those that have one is this a concern?

https://youtu.be/UNiB31PIAZo

From: Huntiam
14-Oct-21
I Prob have 25-30 sits in one no problems from it, comfy saddle doesn’t ride up on me . Im about 6’1 and 170

From: TD
15-Oct-21
Bang for buck is subjective. I've been using an old original trophyline from ebay for 10 or 12 years now and killed a bunch of animals with it. Plenty comfortable and does the job very well still. I forgot what I paid but wasn't much used, likely paid more than I should have because at that time there was pretty much nobody making hunting tree saddles, trophyline hadn't made one in many years at the time. (I know nothing about the current company nor it's "revival") You had to go arborist or rock climbing gear or DIY. None of which was very comfortable to hang from for very long. I rarely do all day, but 4 or 5 hours is common. I'd still fall asleep in that old trophyline pretty regularly.

Most of the newer saddles are offer lighter weight, better comfort, more features and adjustability. Very recently upgraded to the Cruzer Archon which is a two panel..... my search for 2 panel came down to the Cruzer and the Latitude 2, those fit my criteria best. Amsteel bridges, etc. Very adjustable as to back support and seat support. Very happy with my choice. Not cheap IMO. Bang for buck is subjective. But saddlehunter.com often has good deals on pretty quality used equipment. That and ebay can be a good resource. Hands down used can be your best bang for buck. My experience is quality used is normally far better than cheap new.

WRT platforms I've never had good luck with them. You need a good stable solid place for your feet, but kinda see platforms as treestand folks transitioning, they feel more comfortable with a platform. But I was never really in the "treestand" culture much, first time in a tree in my life was in Canada on a bear hunt in 2006. Came home and could see the advantages on some small properties we could hunt. But by 2009 or so was pretty much just saddle hunting. Platforms I've seen were near as much a headache to haul around and set up as a small stand. Most times we just used screw steps or lag bolts and combine with some tree limbs to make a platform.

I know sometimes you can't use screw in type gear, my vote for best bang are the wild edge steps. No matter how you climb, 2, 3 or 4 of those steps makes for a very good platform IMO. I hate strap on steps or what they call a "ring of steps". Steps are okay just standing on straight up.... but when you need to push off and torque around the tree they will move, slip.... can and have cost me shots. They don't take side pressure well. Wild Edge steps do much better. I'd say 3/4 of my shots require some side pressure on the steps. They take practice setting them but pretty quick you can deploy them in your sleep.

Anyway, I've gone all in and working on some real interesting systems, getting more comfortable with them but a bigger learning curve. And a much larger budget. Changing strategies from preset stand sites to run'n'gun sets. We're finding the deer are figuring it out our prepped sites and shifting patterns. And often just a new fence line, property sold with new dogs or no dogs, tree falls, washouts, development, stock tank shut off, etc. renders a spot into a good place to read a book..... anyway, more likely next week.

From: APauls
15-Oct-21
Hawk does not ride up. My Tethrd Mantis did. After several sits I have noticed the softening of the bridge rope where I use it, but am in no way concerned about it.

The guy in that video admittedly never used it. But maybe there’s cheaper options in the US. That’s the only saddle available at a retailer even in Canada. My Tethrd cost me 50% more and was way less comfortable

From: APauls
15-Oct-21
Hawk does not ride up. My Tethrd Mantis did. After several sits I have noticed the softening of the bridge rope where I use it, but am in no way concerned about it.

The guy in that video admittedly never used it. But maybe there’s cheaper options in the US. That’s the only saddle available at a retailer even in Canada. My Tethrd cost me 50% more and was way less comfortable

From: JC3
19-Oct-21
The JX3 Hybrid is by far the most comfortable "saddle" made. It may seem expensive initially, but you are not buying the extras you need for the other saddles. i have used a JX3 hybrid (in different forms, homemade to commercially made) since 1986 and have tried the "soft" saddles, but nothing beats the JX3 for comfort. This is my mantra for people asking about the JX3: Come to the light, the JX3 tree saddle light.............. Don't be afraid, you will sit from dark to dark very comfortably, be able to snooze when you want, no dreaded hip pinch, no back aches, you can shoot 360° around the tree with any weapon, bow or gun. No platform required, only a ROS, no sore feet, no knee pads required, no sore knees, no tired legs from leaning as you can sit all day, built in pack frame for carrying all your needs. Buy once, cry once. Come to the light, the JX3 light...........

19-Oct-21
I’m a tree saddle nut. I like it. A lot. So much so I sold all my hang one and all but 1 ladder stand. No need for them. I still use a summit viper too. I love it as well.

The area I’m hunting dictates my stand choice of saddle or climber. Long haul it’s going to be a saddle every time. My saddles are a mantis and a phantom. I said last year I saw no need to upgrade to the phantom. Well, after doing so, it was worth every penny to do so. It’s a really comfy saddle.

I own two sets of helium’s. The set of 4 short ones and a set of four modified from the longer sticks. I like them both. I use a five step aider the most. And could get to 23-24’ easy with that setup.

However last spring I tried a two tether system. I’ve been using it more. Weighs about 13 ounces total. And is very safe. Check out you tube for Scott Adkins two tether system. He straps in, climbs twenty feet up, then back down, unhooks and walks away in 3 minutes or so. It’s dynamite to me.

I used to use a platform exclusively. This is the first year I’ve used the ring of steps. I like them better. And, they don’t hurt my feet at all. Plus, you can get real close to the tree. Making it More comfortable when setting versus knees into the tree with the platform.

Whew. That sucked. Anyways, I don’t think you could go wrong with the phantom or mantis. The mantis was pretty dang comfortable. The phantom is real dang comfortable.

Knowing what I know now, the hawk sticks are great if that’s the route you go for a climbing method. Better for me then the wild edge. But, not nearly as light or safe as the two tether. And, that’s not knocking either of the other two.

And I’d go ring of steps over a platform. I like both. And, they both have their strong and weak points. So, owning both ain’t a bad option either.

From: Shiloh
20-Oct-21
WV, Did you buy your two tether system and if so, where?? The first time I looked at that video I thought it was too much sugar for a dime, but the more that I watch the more interested I am. I have been using wild edge steps and they are fine, but I think there are better systems.

Jt

From: midwest
20-Oct-21
WV, are you using a strap on ROS? If so, which brand? Wanted to give them a try but I have to use strap on steps for public.

From: TODDY
20-Oct-21
I use a Tethrd platform and have the same questions as Midwest in regards to the ROS. Is there a good set of strap on steps that wouldn't kick out "much" with some side pressure when moving around the tree? Noise being critical as well. I can't comment on some of the newer saddles as mine is a New Tribe (Now Aerohunter) from 2014 and find it meets my needs well. Even though comfortable, I can imagine the newer saddles are even better. Best bang for your buck is relative, just like buying a new bow. I would try as many options out that you can. I have many friends that use saddles. We all have different brands and think ours is "best" so find one that suits/fits you. Great investment regardless!! TODDY

From: APauls
20-Oct-21
If you use climbing sticks and a platform and set your platform at the same height as the top of your last stick, depending on the size of tree that gives you all the advantages of a ROS without the wiggle. But one thing I have found is that with a saddle, each person will find how they like it and it can vary quite a bit. And we don't need to cancel every view other than our own! LOL

But I think for those wanting to get started be prepared to do some experimenting.

20-Oct-21
Shiloh, I bought an extra tree tether from EWO and use a Prussics on it with a foot loop I made. I also bought the stuff and made a Prussics for my tree tether. To hook my leg band to. But, you could buy the whole two tether system from custom gear modifications. Just Google search it. Get a piece of stretch cord to secure your foot in his foot loop. You’ll be set.

Just keep in mind that you need and just able bridge. And, the shorter the better when climbing. Then adjust it out when you set up.

Nick, yes I’m using the strap on ROS. I’ll come back and exit the thread as I’ve gotta Google the company. Mine are packed in my bag and I’m lazy. :^)

Mine are made by Bullman outdoors. I like them a lot. Only ones I use but, they are solid and haven’t kicked out yet. You can get them tight with their strap.

From: Shiloh
20-Oct-21
Good info WV. Might pull the trigger on the Custom Gear package

From: TD
20-Oct-21
"But I think for those wanting to get started be prepared to do some experimenting. "

Yes. This ^^^^^

Climbing method, "platform", even what kind of saddle (from rock climbing harness to recliner and everything in between....) I've seen setups that look like there was a contest to see who could get the most redneck for a quarter. And others that money was no object. I'm sure stuff has been killed from both.

Most of this saddle stuff has a risk, but care and some effort it can be as safe or more so than any other way to spend time in a tree. There is currently a lot more DIY and "new" methods and equipment out there than say a more "mature" technology such as regular treestands. And the interest in it has kind of exploded, like I said, wasn't that long ago NOBODY made hunting saddles at all after Trophyline stopped. As long as you stay safe it's really a fun and effective way to shoot stuff.

From: Treeline
20-Oct-21
My head is exploding! Totally new to this stuff and focused on getting the lightest weight setup to be able to “run and gun” for elk, Coues, and bears

20-Oct-21
Saddles are the way to go Tavis. You’ll enjoy it.

Safety from a saddle is like safety from a lock on. It can be as simple as no lineman’s belt while climbing to tethered in impossible to fall while climbing. It’s what you make out of it. But, it’s important to understand that the only way you fall while climbing is if you are rigged to allow it.

A lineman’s belt holds you to the side of the tree. That’s it. Keeping your hands free. While I have zero reservations with that, you can fall and gut yourself on the way down while using them. The only climbing methods that takes all those variables out are rope rigging techniques that arborists use. Or, the two tether system. The only way you fall with these are if the ropes break. That ain’t likely to happen.

From: Treeline
21-Oct-21
Have now watched the two tether method and the method for getting around limbs three times each. Looks like the lightest and quickest way to get up a tree….

Now I gotta get more stuff! And haven’t even got all the first round of stuff i ordered!

21-Oct-21
Tavis, the struggle is real! I spent another $250 last night on the Tethrd website. I’m in it for $750 now. Wife keeps asking what was this charge for... well hon I can’t climb the tree with out these! What about the lone wolf climber you bought hanging on the wall next to your other lone wolf and climbing sticks! Just you never mind woman!

From: Treeline
21-Oct-21
Thank goodness I had so much stuff coming into the relationship that she never inventoried! Just gotta intercept the boxes before she sees them ;-)

21-Oct-21
LOL yes!

From: TD
21-Oct-21
Yeah.... that "price is no object" comment was about me.... sucks. But you can't take that money with you..... hoping i can take some of my gear with me though.... maybe if I build a pyramid.....

Wanted to get into the real run'n'gun setups, go in with no prep and pretty much pick a tree, any tree. Trying to stay a step ahead of our local deer as well as have a system to easily travel and hunt anything, anywhere with. Been researching for some time and finally just decided to dive in head first..... One Stick Climbing. I needed ALL new gear as my old saddle was not up to it with fixed bridge, etc. I've seen folks shoestring it, but the advice I got was it was pretty gear specific and to get the right stuff out of the gate. So I bit the bullet, chewed on it actually, might have cracked a few teeth. Much of it was near impossible to find like the Madrock Safeguard, but had some folks helping me. A small "platform" is incorporated into the 15" stick (ultimate stick w/UP platform from Eastern Woods Outdoors, great bunch of people) VERY solid, very comfortable.

Once i get it down better I'll post up what I'm using and how. Haven't actually hunted out of it yet (the saddle, yes, but not the rest) Really want to get it down so I can do it in the dark when the time comes. "In my sleep" so to speak. Pretty trick stuff, been playing with a dozen different trees, climb, "hunt", and when done rappel down in seconds. Haven't found one I can't climb yet. Literally takes about 2 minutes to pack everything up after your feet hit the ground and be ready for the next climb. The stick/platform with the amsteel aiders I made comes to 3lb.4 oz, packs into a real small package that straps on my fannypack. Cruzer saddle, 40feet of climbing rope, madrock belay device, linemans rope with ropeman, bow rope, various carabiners, autoblocks/prusik backups, drop pouches, everything, 5lbs 8oz. And all that gets me to from 0 to roughly 30 feet if I wanted to. (I don't really plan on it, the point being I don't have to count sticks or steps or whatever. ) And it all comes right back out with me.

So far I'm pretty excited. First few climbs were REAL slow and the learning curve steep, mostly on little things. And I use my linemans belt pretty religiously, not just cuz the new climbing method, have from the time I got the new saddle, new bridge,etc and wasn't fully comfortable with it,. But I can't recall ever having that much fun climbing a tree and I KNOW never so much fun coming down. =D

But.... Coach did confiscate the magic card again. Says it's like living with a little kid with all this tree climbing stuff and her trying to keep me out of em... but told her I AM using it to prune the big avo tree next week... That smoothed a few feathers, practical don'cha know. If only she saw were I go on the mountain when sheep and goat hunting.....

From: midwest
21-Oct-21
Let me know how you end up liking 1 sticking, Tom. You definitely got top end. I'm going from knaider/swaider and WE Stepps to 3 Shikar sticks and a Versa Aider.

+1 on EWO. Great people, fast service!

From: Treeline
21-Oct-21
Dang it, Tom! Now I’m gonna be trying to figure out that whole method to get up a tree….

That sounds very versatile and lightweight. Not sure if the two tether method will work as well in those twisted up live oaks in Arizona and Texas or the pines around here in Colorado.

One sticking may just solve some problems there… and cause more problems with the little lady if she figures out what I’m doing!

From: midwest
21-Oct-21

midwest's embedded Photo
midwest's embedded Photo
midwest's embedded Photo
Everything in my Kifaru Stryker.
midwest's embedded Photo
Everything in my Kifaru Stryker.
My current system. Everything to climb and hunt.

Tethrd Phantom saddle

Lineman's rope with Ropeman 1 ascender

Tether

(3) Shikar sticks with amsteel rope

Versa Aider

DIY platform

My platform is big enough I can stand and lean against the tree occasionally or turn to make a weak side shot. I also like to wear boot blankets so I can hike in my regular elk hunting boots so the platform is big enough to accommodate those. There is wool felt on top for silence and insulation.

The entire kit weighs in at just under 12.5 lbs. Yes, you can go lighter. A ring of steps or smaller platform or go to the 1 stick method but this is a very simple set up you could comfortably (all relative) stay in dark to dark.

I think having a more minimalist set up may be ideal for a quick morning or evening hunt or scouting new areas.

From: KHNC
22-Oct-21
What kneepads are you using? Currently, i have used the Guido's Web (JX3 owns now) and no need for pads. I have a tethrd menace arriving today to try. I will have to used pads to sit. Otherwise your knees get destroyed by the tree bark.

From: midwest
22-Oct-21
I don't sit. Plenty comfortable leaning or standing. YMMV

22-Oct-21
I’m same boat as nick. I don’t sit. Stand or lean. 4 hours or 10.

Current set up:

Cruzr XC saddle Canyon c-IV 9mm ropes (2) Kong ducks XOP Edge Platform 4- 20” hawk mini steps

From: TODDY
22-Oct-21
As the OP can see, there are a ton of options out there. Personally, you probably can't go too wrong with whatever decision you make. Pick the one that fits your needs. You will constantly be tweeking things until you dial in your setup. My current setup is: Older New Tribe Lone Wolf Steps Knee Pads Tethrd Platform Couple screw in Cranford steps for moving around the tree. Comfortable for all day sits, which is the norm for me, but after 7 seasons using saddles I have more tweaks to make to make it lighter and easier for setting up. Using a two footed step like on Midwest's steps is my next change vs the LW steps I am currently using. Standing on one leg gets old while setting your next step gets old after a while. Adding a Versa Aider will also get me higher without adding weight. A big plus for my current setup is being able to pack ALL of my gear, including steps, in my pack. Very quiet walking the woods without the metal clanging. TODDY

From: TD
23-Oct-21

TD's Link
Anybody seriously looking at saddle hunting needs to check out saddlehunter.com forum. Days worth of info on pretty much any saddle topic.. Takes some time to get the language down but that's likely just me. But it's the bowsite of saddle hunting. You tube can be a wealth of info as well.

23-Oct-21
I've been using 3 bull steps and a strap made by eastern woods outdoors with an OCB buckle for a few years now. No loud ratchets to deal with. Once you get the feel for correct tension just cam it over and it locks on solid, no wiggle at all.

From: SIP
24-Oct-21
Just got an email from midway usa. Running a sale on hawk sticks/saddles/platforms

From: TODDY
25-Oct-21
Do any of you use a retractable bow hoist attached to your saddle? Would you recommend it and what brand are you using if you are having liking it? Thanks, TODDY

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