Best Stair Climber
Stair climbing machines simply don’t get the love they deserve in the fitness industry. Honestly, there’s a reason why every fitness professional tells you to skip the elevator and take the stairs. Not only is stair climbing great cardiovascular exercise, but it works the lower body better than any other cardio exercise.
Most modern stair climber are manufactured with high quality parts which make them durable and long lasting while offering great resistance and perfect movement for a challenging but safe workout. Most models offer some kind of extra features which sweeten the deal such as water bottle holders, media trays, and internet-ready console displays. To figure out what type of stair climber and features are best for you, take a moment to check out our buyer’s guide listed below.
Best Stair Climber Overall:
Stair climbing machines simply do not get the love they deserve in the fitness industry. Honestly, there’s a reason why every fitness professional tells you to skip the elevator and take the stairs. Not only is stair climbing great cardiovascular exercise but it works the lower body better than any other cardio exercise. Unfortunately there are few stair climbing machines available because of their lack of popularity which makes finding a good stair climber difficult and a great one nearly impossible.
The following best stair climbers were selected because of their high quality parts which make them durable and long lasting, offer great resistance and perfect movement for a challenging but safe workout, and include extra features which rival their more popular counterparts like water bottle holders, media trays, and even built-in TVs in some cases.
The Gauntlet is unlike any other step machine on the market as it truly mimics the movement of a step with steps on a track versus the traditional pedal. It offers three different console options to choose from to better suit your exercise needs and even comes with multiple programs and challenges. This machine is rather large for the home setting but it is well worth it and supports a decent amount of weight. Read Full Review
This combination step machine/treadmill machine is built with Bowflex quality so you know that it will last even if the whole family is using it. It doesn’t have much in the way of extras but it offers such a complete and challenging workout that you won’t have much time to mess around with a lot of special features. Read Full Review
The MultiSports Stepper 2200 seems to fly under the radar as one of the best steppers available. The machine itself is reliable and safe due to heavy gauge steel construction, a wide base, and oversized nonslip rubber pedals. This machine also offers multiple programs and eddy current resistance which is unique for stair climbers. Read Full Review
The Montana offers a solid frame with a small footprint combined with adjustable hydraulic resistance which is rare to find. Even the screen is more impressive than it seems with multiple functions including a room thermometer and recovery heart rate suggestions. Read Full Review
Stair Master has years of experience making the best stair steppers out there and this is one of their best models. It offers high tech resistance along with preset workouts which you won’t find in most other steppers. There’ also a few extras like wireless heart rate monitoring and your choice of three different consoles to best suit your needs. Read Full Review
Best Budget Stepper:
There are many types of cardio machines out there which fit different needs but few are as unique as the stair stepper. These machines offer an unrivaled cardiovascular workout combined with leg and butt sculpting you won’t get with a treadmill. The only problem with stair steppers is gym quality models can cost thousands of dollars and take up large amounts of space. While there are home and budget friendly versions of steppers out there but unfortunately many of them are not great quality. The budget steppers on this list are the best because of their compact size which is great for small spaces and storage convenience, a higher standard of quality for their price including high grade parts, greater weight capacities, and extra features like twisting pedals and fitness band attachments.
Stamina never seems to disappoint, no matter what their price range is which is apparent with this steppers all steel design. A sturdy set of handles offers balance as well as elevating the screen to a visible level. Adjustable resistance levels ensure that you will be able to continue to reap the benefits of this machine for a long time and a folding frame makes storage a snap. Read Full Review
Whether they meant to or not, Sunny created one of the best budget steppers available when they introduced the twisting motion to their stepper foot pedals. If that wasn’t enough, they offer handles for balance and support, superior console placement of the console, as well as one of the strongest bases for added durability. Read Full Review
This stepper from Stamina is special because of its sturdy design and added band attachments which turn it into a total body workout machine. This device doesn’t have handles, but that makes this model that much easier to store. Read Full Review
This stepper may not be the most advanced nor have a ton of crazy features but what it does have is great price and solid workmanship. It supports a substantial amount of weight for how small it is and will last quite a long time thanks to heavy duty materials. This is the perfect machine if you are looking for something simple to work with and easy to store. Read Full Review
Wagan may not be on the tip of many fitness minded tongues but that doesn’t prevent them from sneaking in one of the best budget steppers around. It comes with tall handles for better balance and supports a surprising amount of weight. While this stepper doesn’t fold up, it won’t take up a lot of space. Read Full Review
Stair Climber Buyer's Guide
The physical features of the stair climber rest mostly within the type of resistance which is used and how the stairs move, but there are a few features worth mentioning.
Whether you’re on a cheap hydraulic system or high class gym climber, you want to make sure your feet aren’t going to slip out from under you. Grip types include a textured tread common on hydraulic stair climbers and raised rubber line treads found on higher-end models.
Most stair climbers offer a clear display with a few fitness feedback options. At a minimum you want to find a stair climber with a console which displays the time, distance, and pace of your workout.
The most common form of foot action for stair climbers is the motion of pressing down on the pedal and it lifts itself back up automatically. This forces more of a marching movement which still offers a great workout but isn’t the same as climbing a flight of steps.
This is the best type of foot action because it accurately mimics the physical act of traditional stair climbing. You will only find this function on expensive step mills which are a continually cycling track of stairs.
Magnetic resistance offers a smooth and quite resistance by activating and deactivating magnets in order to create more or less resistance. Unlike cycles, ellipticals, and rowers, which are large enough to support sizable flywheels, stair climbers are often small which makes offering a range of magnetic resistance difficult.
Hydraulic resistance works when force is applied to an incompressible liquid like an oil which is moved to another point, thus creating resistance in the process. Since you’re pressing down instead of pushing and pulling like you would with say an exercise bike, the regular jerkiness associated with this resistance type does not apply.
Is a Stair Climber Right for You?
A stair climber could be a great investment or a giant waste of money depending on where and how you’re going to use it. If you get a traditional stair climber it will save you a lot of space compared to other pieces of cardio equipment. Stair climbers also offer a greater amount of lower body work than a traditional cardio machine which makes them as good as two or more pieces of equipment.
On the other hand, high-end step mills can costs thousands of dollars not to mention bills associated with their upkeep. There’s also the issue of the constant pushing or stepping which can be shocking to the joints, a very real issue for individuals with past or existing joint injuries. However, a stair climber of any kind is a great addition to your workout especially if you are strapped for time and space.