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.
Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper
Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper
Stamina Products InStride Electronic Mini Stepper
Mabis/DMI Stepper |
WAGAN Wagan Tech Mini Stepper
StairMaster Gauntlet Stepping Machine with Backlit LCD Console
Bowflex TreadClimber TC20
Multisports ST-2200 Stair Climber
Kettler Montana Stepper
StairMaster 4600PT Stepper 4600CL Stair Climber
Stamina is well known for creating budget friendly products with just a little more quality than their competitors and this product is a great example of that. The Space Mate frame is constructed mostly of steel and can support users up to 250 pounds which is impressive for a budget model and also offers multiple levels of hydraulic resistance for a continuous challenge.
While many other companies are content with just creating pedals Stamina understands that handles can be very important for this type of exercise which is why they provide adjustable height handles. Unlike other steppers which are forced to place their console on the base of the machine Stamina locates theirs on their handles so you can easily track all of your key information.
Stamina makes this stepper easy to store with wheels for transportation and a folding frame which makes it easy to store in a closet or under the bed. Unfortunately handles are the only extra feature that this machine offers but they truly do add a lot to the machine.
Sunny is well known for creating budget friendly fitness equipment. While not all of it is great, they hit the nail on the head every once in a while and the Twist Stepper may be their crowning achievement. Its solid construction and steel materials allow it to support weights over 300 pounds and oversized slip resistant pedal add an extra element of safety.
The resistance is hydraulic like every other budget stepper but what makes this one truly special is that the foot pedals twist to engage more leg muscles for enhanced calorie burn. It also offers handles which not only offer balance support but also bring the console closer for easier viewer. The console itself is pretty simple with a large easy to view screen which displays your vital information and one simple button to navigate that information. Unfortunately this machine doesn’t fold up but its small footprint still makes it easy to store in a closet or corner.
Stamina has a good thing going on with this compact stepper machine which offers a total body workout. It measures only 1 by 1.5 feet and can easily slide under most beds, making it easy to store when not in use. Even as one of the smallest pieces of cardio equipment on this list, it can support users up to 250 pounds thanks to a mostly steel frame.
The console is simple to navigate with two large buttons and the numbers are large enough to read even though the screen is located between the pedals. The oversized slip resistant pedals offer hydraulic resistance for a challenging workout every time and the stepper comes with bands to get your upper body into the action. Band attachments mean that even when the included bands become too light, you can always upgrade to higher resistance bands.
Mabis/DMI Stepper |
This budget stepper is built to last with a heavy duty steel frame which supports up to 250 pounds. The pedals are oversized and covered in textured rubber for a safe and worry free workout every time and hydraulic resistance for a difficult but rewarding workout. This stepper has a small footprint which is great for those short on space and in need of an easy to store cardio machine. The onboard screen is incredibly simple to read and navigate with just a few key statistics. This stepper doesn’t come with any real extras; rather it’s just a solid cardio stepper at a great price.
Wagans budget stepper has an excessively small footprint but still supports up to 225 pounds because of its steel and high grade aluminum materials. This stepper is easy to assemble and is designed with handles which not only help with balance but also elevate the console making it easier to read. The console itself only has two buttons and is easy to navigate through the key information it provides. It offers multiple levels of hydraulic resistance to keep your workouts difficult and engaging. The Wagan stepper doesn’t offer too much when it comes to extra features but the built-in handles make a big difference to your overall workout.
This beast of a stair stepper is everything you could want out and if you have the room for this model, it’s totally worth every penny. To start, it’s large with steel and polymer parts that support up to 350 pounds with no worry of it unbalancing. Unlike other steppers which use two pedals that move up and down this machine is like an escalator on a track which forces you to constantly move and is electronically controlled by an alternator.
Just like their other StairMaster machines the Guantlet is offered with the option of three different console screens two which are 10 inch touch screens (one with a TV tuner) and one with a backlit LCD screen. The touch screen consoles come with built-in Landmark Challenge programs which allow users to climb some of the most popular landmarks around the world and feature three different fitness tests to constantly challenge yourself. The Gauntlet doesn’t have a lot of extra features but does provide hand and chest heart rate monitors as well as two large water bottle holders on either side of the machine.
The Treadclimber is a hybrid machine which combines the stepper and a treadmill for the ultimate cardiovascular and toning exercise. This is one of the most advanced machines on the market today with hydraulic stepping action combined with a treadmill movement up to 4.5 miles per hour. The Treadclimber is manufactured using high quality steel and polymers which support weights up to 300 pounds.
The screen on this machine is fairly small but it doesn’t need to be very large to display all of your key information and the blue backlit screen makes it easy to read. Buttons underneath the screen made it simple to navigate and customize your workout, choosing from one of the three challenging preset workouts. Underneath the navigation buttons you’ll find a safety button to quickly turn off the device. The TC20 comes with an integrated heart rate monitor and two trays that can be used to hold water bottles and anything that may be in your pockets.
The MultiSports Stepper 2200 is a nice solid machine with a few tricks up its sleeve. It has a wide, stable base and is manufactured with heavy duty steel for longevity and durability. The Eddy Current Brake resistance system is unique for this type of machine but can be found in many other cardio machines because of its smooth and quiet resistance. The pedals are large and textured rubber to ensure safety during your workout.
Multiple console buttons make it easy to navigate through six preset programs and choose from eight resistance levels. The LCD screen makes it easy to read all of your key information including your resistance levels and your programs. The 2200 includes handle rail heart rate monitors located on the side of the rails making them more convenient than common front rail monitors you have to reach for.
This Device may not look like much but you get Kettler manufacturing which in itself should sell you on the Montana. This machine offers a gym quality workout but takes up less space than a traditional piece of cardio equipment and still supports users up to 250 pounds. The heavy duty hydraulic cylinders offer smooth and quiet resistance that can easily be adjusted with a twisting adjuster at the top of the cylinder. This machine also offers oversized, textured rubber pedals for maximum safety and comfort
The console is much more intricate than first glance may lead you to believe. It has a small LCD screen much like budget models but provides multiple windows displaying your key information along with extras like room temperature and recovery heart rate with recovery fitness grade 1-6. The Console is simple to navigate and gives you the option of pausing multiple features inside the console like audible step rate signals and automatic screen changes. While it doesn’t come with a ton of features, it does have a small footprint and roll away wheel, making it one of the most convenient and easy to store upper level steppers.
At first glance the Freeclimber from Stairmaster does not really look like much with a small footprint and features that aren’t exactly large. However, this tiny masterpiece is built tough with steel and polymers which can support users up to 350 pounds. Unlike many stair climbers Stair Master uses an alternator and chain drive system to control resistance versus the traditional hydraulic resistance.
This machine comes with the option of three different console screens two which are 10 inch touch screens (one with a TV tuner) and one with a backlit LCD screen which is what you would expect from this and most other cardio machine. Each console is easy to use and gets you where you want to go with minimal effort but the touch screens are slightly easier to navigate.
All of the consoles come with 10 built in programs and two fitness tests to ensure your workouts remain challenging. It doesn’t come with a lot in the way of extra features but it does include a water bottle holder and hand and wireless heart rate monitors.
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.