January 03, 2021
Platforms & Ring of Steps
We all need a spot to place our feet in life…and even more so when in the saddle. The two options are a platform or ring-of-steps. For longer hunts, platforms are more comfortable and most familiar. Ring-of-steps are lighter and easier to pack for shorter-duration hunts and long hikes. Unlike a treestand, both options allow for 360-degree shooting around the tree. All weights below include factory strap.
Lone Wolf Custom Gear’s Kuhnert’s Ambush
5 lbs., 4 oz.; 14 ½ inches deep; 16 ¾ inches wide. A very roomy platform, the Ambush is also quite adaptable to a wide variety of imperfect trees, thanks to its large throat, top-side leveling system and offset bracket. Multiple “cast-in-platform” strap hooks allow a second strap (included) to be employed for special situations. Onboard stick ports make it easy to pack LWCG climbing sticks. Comes with comfortable backpack straps. While the heaviest tested, it’s spacious and feature-rich at $299: Lonewolfcustomgear.com.
Out on a Limb Ridge Runner
4 lb., 3 oz.; 8 inches deep; 16 1⁄3 inches wide. The Ridge Runner feels larger than it measures, thanks to good lateral width. Milled notches running the entire footbed surface make for very secure footing, and a textured finish adds non-squeak tackiness. A convenient single, large platform- leveling knob makes adjustments easy, even with gloved hands. At $159.99, a very good value: outonalimbmfg.com.
3 lb., 6 oz.; 11 ¾ inches deep; 13 inches at widest end tips. The current standard bearer, the Predator offers a lightweight cast platform, a new tree standoff (not pictured), side traction grippers and extreme platform stability. Can handle side pressure with aplomb. Adjustable platform- leveling screw for leaning trees. ZipCam strap and button make secure installation a breeze. Folds flat for packing down to three inches. $179.99 at Tethrdnation.com.
2 lbs., 6 oz.; 7 ½ inches deep; 15 inches wide. The lightest platform in the group by a full pound — and the heavy duty, locking-buckle with retainer clip accounts for a full 10 of those ounces! TIG welded with a powder-coat finish and steel mesh footbed, the Tree-Suit is available in three solid colors. Once secured on the tree, it’s solid and handles side pressure like a champ. Camo it up and add some traction strips along the perimeter tubing and you have an awesomely lightweight package. Although it lacks a platform-leveling provision, at $99.95, it’s an incredible value; buy two and it’s $80 each! Treehopperllc.com.
Trophyline Mission Platform
5.1 lbs.; 13.94 inches deep by 17.97 inches wide. Made from cast aluminum, with the widest platform dimension in the group, this is the choice if you have big feet or just like the feel of a large surface. A convenient “Top Step” sits above the platform stem, providing a great pressure point for setting the stand, leveraging foot side-pressure to take a shot, or just to rest a foot while leaning or sitting. A refined and spacious package at $180: Trophyline.com.
Bullman Outdoors Silent Approach Ring of Steps
2 lbs., 1 oz.; six steps; 5-foot strap with ultra-heavy-duty ratcheting strap (optional 10-foot ratchet strap available). Although the heaviest ROS tested, it also has the most total steps stock (six at 3 oz. per), but all ROS can be customized for the number of steps preferred. A lightweight (4 oz.) cam-over buckle with 7-foot strap and five-steps makes for 1 lb., 5 oz. package. If you like an ultra-rock-solid feel, go with the ratchet strap. If you want to minimize weight and bulk, go with the cam-over buckle. On most trees, five steps is plenty to “walk” and shoot all the way around it, until you get beyond 5-foot diameter. Starting at $64.99 at Bullmanoutdoors.com.
Eastern Woods Outdoors Squirrel Steps
1 lb., 6 oz.; five steps (3 oz. per), 7-foot cam-over buckle. These are solid, compact, indestructible, milled aluminum, exceptionally packable steps; although they will need Camo Form taped for silence and concealment. Squirrel Steps are the “have-it-your-way” ROS. You choose the strap style (three choices), buckle-type (three) and the number of either fixed- or slotted-eye Squirrel steps you want. Although expensive at $25.99 per step, they will last you a lifetime and make for the smallest, most packable ROS option: Doublesteps.com.
Treehopper Strap On Steps
1 lb., 13 oz., as tested; four steps (4.5 oz. per) step with a heavy-duty strap and 11 oz. cam-over buckle. A redesigned, reinforced and re-engineered take on an old favorite among saddle hunters, Treehopper’s new Strap On Steps have undergone rigorous testing at extremes of heat and cold to ensure safe, dependable, all-weather performance. Serrations on the back of the steps allow them to grip trees better; shoulder “wings” stabilize the upper step on the tree and allow nesting of steps together; in a new “Wolf Gray” color. Can be ordered with one to five steps, $52.95 for the four-pack and COB buckle: Treehopperllc.com.