Best Stair Climbers
Going up! Well, not really, but it feels like it. With one of these great machines, you can tackle infinitive flights of stairs without ever leaving your house. For some, they seem too simple, and while that may be true, they are incredibly effective. You’ll notice that there’s an array of different design styles and a vast variety of these machines on the mass market. Choosing between them can prove to be a tricky endeavor without guidance, but that’s where this guide comes into play. In addition to giving you a rundown of some of the best options currently available, you will also learn the tricks of the trade, so to speak, to know precisely how to buy the model that’s right for you. Let’s get this bad boy rolling. Read our guide on the best stair climbers to find out which one is perfect for you.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 2.5 hrs of research
Sports an easy-to-read LCD console
Equipped with 20 different resistance levels
Mimics real-life stair climbing extremely well
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST STAIR CLIMBERS
1. Stairmaster 7000 PT Stepmill
Sports an easy-to-read LCD console
Equipped with 20 different resistance levels
Mimics real-life stair climbing extremely well
The price is ludicrous
To put it bluntly, this is going to make a dent into your bank account. It is arguably the most traditional design on this list with an onboard computer that can rival any other.Read more
Due to the patented revolving staircase (with eight-inch high steps), this does a superb job of mimicking stair climbing. Additionally, there are 20 resistance levels, a water bottle holder, and also an accessory tray.
For sure, this is built to last but the 7000 PT is only rated to hold 300 pounds. Keep that in mind.
The LCD console is easy-to-read thanks to its backlight and is equipped with several motivating programs and also heart-rate monitoring. Oh, and the electronically controlled alternator will account for a wide range of users.
While the steps may not be very comfortable for bare feet, they are texturized and there is enough spacing between them to give you plenty of room.
At 409 pounds, this is nowhere near portable. It is an absolute beast and you will need help whenever you want to move it even a little bit.
Due to the price and the girth, this option is actually going to appall some of you. Then again, it really is brilliantly designed and will be worth it if you are really into this type of machine.
2. Bowflex TC10
Comes with transportation wheels
It offers the benefits of three machines
Has a solid speed range
It can be easy to step in the middle where there is no moving track
The sturdiness could be improved a bit
If you know anything about exercise machines then you should be familiar with the brand Bowflex. Now, their TC10 is extremely versatile as it offers the benefits of three different machines in one, which makes it one of the best stair climbers out there.Read more
Past the fact that the speed can be adjusted from 0.5 to 4 miles per hour, this is designed with a unique dual treadle system. As such, the TC10 offers the benefits of a treadmill, stair climber, and elliptical trainer.
Overall, this is built well and can withstand up to 300 pounds. However, it could be a bit sturdier and the machine can overheat a bit too quickly.
The platforms you stand on are not exactly uncomfortable but due to the small gap in the middle, it can be easy to forget where you step and slip under them.
What is really nice is there are transportation wheels built-into the TC10 and they allow for much easier transport (considering this weighs nearly 200 pounds).
If a regulation stair climber is simply not enough for you then you may fall in love with the TC10. It is one of the most versatile and well-designed models on the market, period.
3. Bowflex Max Trainer M7
Designed with the smoothness of an elliptical machine
Backed by different warranties for different parts
Arrives well packaged
Well known brand
Some have experienced squeaky parts
Some short people don't find it comfortable
Another addition from Bowflex, this machine brings you twenty levels of resistance and the ability to create user profiles for up to four people. If you are looking for a machine that can cater to the whole family, this would be a great option. It has an easy to read LED/LCD screen and handlebars that keep track of your heart rate.Read more
With twenty different levels of resistance, this machine is great for beginners or advanced fitness lovers. The overall design and handles allow you to grip the machine and incorporate an arm workout as well if you so desire. At the front and center, there is a nook to rest your phone or a book. Below the LCD screen, there is an accessories tray to hold various items including a remote, water, or keys.
Besides a few squeaks here and there, this machine looks to be a piece that will last you for quite a while. The pedals are made from stainless steel and the parts all come with separate warranties. The frame, mechanical parts, and electronics come with a three-year warranty and the labor comes with a ninety-day warranty.
The easy to read and backlit LCD screen is stocked with eleven different workout programs. These programs are quite intense but with varying durations, some as short as eleven minutes. If you have an iPhone or an Android, you can download the free Max Trainer app to keep track of your progress and access more programs led by professionals. There is also a built-in heart rate monitor and the machine is Bluetooth 4.0 compatible. One other feature that we appreciate about this machine is that you can create up to four different user profiles. It’s a great motivational machine for the whole family to enjoy.
Many reviewers agree that the gentle motions of the machine make it comfortable, yet intense. Each pedal is 8.5” wide, leaving you with plenty of room to position your feet comfortably.
Whether you see this as a downside of not, this machine does not fold up. However, it isn’t very large, measuring only 49” long, 30.5” wide, and 65.5” high. It weighs 148-pounds and features transport wheels to easily move it out of the way if needed.
Besides a few minor noise complaints, this machine is well built. We love the fact that you can create up to four user-profiles and that there are twenty levels of resistance. We should warn you, reviewers agree that you will get a very intense workout in a short period of time on this beast.
4. Sunny Health & Fitness SF-1115
Designed with dual hydraulics
The “steps” are patterned to prevent slipping
It can easily be stored away
The onboard computer is decent at best
Sports a limited weight capacity
For most of you, a design like this will be appealing to you. Not only is this incredibly simple in its design but it can also be folded and stored away easily when it is not in use.Read more
The dual hydraulic system is designed with piston cylinders that can easily be adjusted. To increase the tempo, you can change the incline settings in 12 different ways.
Being made with tubular steel, this is well-made. At the same time, however, it can only hold up to 220 pounds, which is not that much all things considered.
Admittedly, the onboard computer is not the best. It can still monitor and track your calories burned, time, and count.
To prevent slipping, the footpads are designed with patterned plates. Therefore, it will be best to use this with shoes and not barefooted.
Looking past the fact that this can be folded for storage (which is great), it has a small footprint and is not going to take up too much space regardless.
If you require a unit with an advanced computer then you may want to pass on this one. In pretty much every other area, though, the SF-1115 is a gem.
5. Xiser Mini Stairmaster
It can be disassembled for storage
The resistance is easily adjustable
It can support up to 400 pounds
Some of you may feel the pedals are too close together
There is no LCD console
Now, this one is a bit different. Instead of coming equipped with an onboard CPU or even any handles, this is a compact design that utilizes a reciprocating hydraulic unit to mimic stair climbing.Read more
Indeed, this does use a reciprocating hydraulic unit to function and better yet, it can easily be adjusted if you want more or less resistance.
The cast aluminum alloy construction is quite impressive here and all in all, this can hold an impressive 400 pounds.
There is no handle or top section designed into this model and it is devoid of an onboard computer of any kind. For some of you, this will not be too big of a deal as you may already have an appropriate app on your smartphone.
It is noted that this is ergonomically designed but one of the potential issues you can have is with the spacing of the pedals (as they are very close together).
At only 13.5 pounds, it is fair to call this the most portable unit on the market. Oh, it can also easily be disassembled for storage or travel purposes.
The real question you need to answer is if this is worth the price of admission. Though it is a little steep, most of you will look at the quality and say it is.
6. Wagan EL2273
You can adjust the height of the pedals
It is ideal for small spaces
The handlebars are sculpted from soft foam
It tends to be a squeaker
The steps are a little short
Do not be fooled by the photos that almost make the EL2273 look like a toy; it is a well-designed stair climber. Like many others, it is not without its flaws.Read more
In spite of the fact that the steps themselves are a bit short, they can be adjusted (in regard to their height) so that is a bonus.
With the steel rods, steel frame, and gas shocks, the EL2273 is indeed built to be used. However, previous users have noted it can squeak after several minutes of use.
Using an AAA battery, you can power the LCD console. This same console will display to you your time, repetitions per minute, calories, and steps.
The handlebars on this unit are well-designed with soft and resilient foam. They are also ergonomically placed to enhance comfort even further.
With its incredibly small footprint and lightweight nature (it is less than 30 pounds), this is about as portable as it gets.
The EL2273 is not exactly a flashy design, but it certainly gets the job done. Sometimes, the simple yet effective products are the most appealing ones.
7. Relife Rebuild
It is a space-saving design
Features high-density anti-slip foam
It can be folded up for storage
There is no resistance system
It is not the smoothest unit out there
Even though it would have been nice if this machine was equipped with some sort of resistance system, it is a solid unit that is really going to deliver on the exercise end of things.Read more
Again, a resistance system would be a welcome sight to this design but at least you can adjust the height in five different positions. On another note, this machine can also be a little rough on the up and down strokes.
In addition to the square steel tube design, this is equipped with wear-resistant nylon bearings. All in all, it can safely support up to 260 pounds.
Okay, so while the integrated LCD console is nothing special (and is pretty minute in size) it is nice to have as it displays for you some metrics such as speed, time, and calories.
The handlebars that are equipped here have been designed with high-density anti-slip foam that will absorb your sweat.
Due to the fact that the bottom bar has been built with a hinge in the middle, it allows this unit to be folded for storage. As is, however, this does not take up that much space anyway.
You know, this is almost like buying a bike without a gear system. It provides a great workout but without the gears (and in this case, a resistance system) it limits the design as a whole, admittedly.
8. Sunny Health & Fitness Twist
Comes with attached resistance bands
It is compact and easy to store
The height can be adjusted
Overheating issues can persist over longer sessions
Takes quite a bit of effort even on the lowest resistance setting
As the title of this product indicates, this is designed with a twist-action making it very unique. Additionally, it also comes equipped with resistance bands for additional exercises.Read more
In addition to the twist-action mechanism and the resistance bands that are included, you can also adjust the height of the pedals with the integrated lever.
Though this is designed with heavy-duty steel, the instructions state that this is not to be used for longer than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. If ignored, overheating can persist. Oh, and the rated weight capacity is 250 pounds.
At the base of this unit, there actually is an implemented LCD console. As with most basic consoles, this will provide you with metrics such as calories burned, total count, time, and rep count.
The foot pedals are not optimized to be used without footwear. But, the surfaces on the pedals have been textured to make them slip-resistant.
Due to the nature of this design, it is easy to store, move, and travel with. It is both compact and only weighs around 20 pounds.
The little things need to be appreciated with this design such as the resistance bands and LCD console. However, the 10 to 15-minute timeframe may not be ideal enough for you.
9. Stamina InMotion
The intensity can be varied
It can be used either standing or sitting
It comes in green, orange and silver colors
There is no handle which makes it hard to move around
The foot pedals are fixed
At the end of the day, this is a well-built unit that offers different tensions. While some flaws are present, they do not ruin the overall design.Read more
There are many great features here such as the ability to use this while sitting or standing, the adjustable dial, and the ability to pedal either forward or reverse. But, the pedals are fixed and this can lead to an awkward placement of your ankles.
In the manual, users have noted it claims that users over 250 pounds in weight should not use this. As for the main material, this utilizes steel.
From a distance (and the display is located at the bottom) the LCD display can be hard to view. With that said, it does provide you with some basic exercising metrics.
There is no need to worry about slipping on the pedals so that is good news. Once again, you will want to use some sort of footwear when standing on them, though.
Yes, this is a compact design but it is clumsy to move around because there is no good way to grab it. Some sort of handle should have been implemented to combat this.
This model has received tons of positive feedback from previous buyers and you can see why. Some of the limitations can really start to get to you, though.
10. Conquer Vertical
For storage, it can be folded down
Good customer service
Quick and easy to assemble
Provides an intense workout
Rollers are made from plastic
The chain can easily fall out of place
220-pound weight limit
The Conquer is a simple machine that provides a butt-kicking workout. Just by looking at it, you may not expect such an intense experience, but you will be surprised. One of the best features of this machine is that it folds up to be almost flat and can be easily rolled (or carried) out of the way.Read more
This machine is tall and lean, exactly how many of us wish to look after using it. The versatility of the machine allows for an intense cardio routine while adding in low-impact but effective muscle toning. Most reviewers agree that the machine is nearly silent, however, some reviewers have experienced a few squeaks.
The Conquer is made from steel. There is a chain inside that keeps all of the parts moving. If you experience any pull back from the chain, you can use a bicycle lubricant to get it running smoothly again. The weight limit for this machine is quite low, at only 220-pounds.
This is a simple yet effective product. It doesn’t feature any LCD screens or motivational videos to keep you going. However, it is quite portable, so if you prefer to exercise in front of a screen, you can arrange that. To put more focus on your lower body, you can rest your hands on the stationary handles. For a full-body workout, you can use the moving handles. To target different muscles in your arms, you can simply reverse your grip on the handles.
The pedals of this machine mimic bike pedals, but they are wider, making them easier to stand on. The handgrips are comfortable and the height of the handles is adjustable. When using the moving handles, you can set the handle at the lowest height to 53.5” from the ground, and the highest at 53.5” from the ground. The pedals have a range of 18”.
Perhaps the best feature of this model is its portability. It folds up almost flat and can be rolled away to its hiding place. If you need to lift it, it is possible. The machine weighs 35.3-pounds.
This is a simple machine. It is very easy to set-up, even the assembly tools are included. It has a few faults, a few stand out features, and is an overall great machine.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
In addition to figuring out the style you want, keep some other features in mind.
When it comes down to it, one of the first and most important buying considerations you need to make is the style of machine that you prefer. As you noticed throughout this list, there are quite a few available on the market. If you are after the most realistic experience possible, then you may want to shoot for models that use independent shock systems and those that are motorized.
However, these can be downright expensive and may be out of your price range. No worries, as another popular style is known as a hybrid. This design almost combines a stepper with another machine (such as an elliptical trainer). This can add versatility to your workout. Of course, there are other designs out there such as mini steppers (which are typically just pedals designed with some hydraulic system) and also vertical steppers (which can work out more of your body). No matter which style you prefer to go with, though, keep some of these other features in mind.
Additionally, you should always assess the resistance level of any given model as some will allow you to choose upward of 20 to 30 degrees, while others will not be adjustable at all. Along the same line, some models of stair climbers may come with adjustable pedals (regarding the height) and also extra features (such as accessory trays and water bottle holders).
Not only does the model you buy need to hold you, but it also needs to be built well overall.
Probably the most essential specification to assess for these machines is the weight capacity. The last thing you want is to be using a unit that is not rated to hold your weight. As far as where most models will fall, expect anywhere from a 200 to 300-pound weight capacity. Thankfully, most sellers will indicate how much weight their unit is designed to hold. You may be able to get away with a few pounds over, but if you are a 300-pounder and you attempt to use a machine that can only hold 220 pounds, you are asking for trouble.
Past this, also analyze the overall build quality of any given model. To do this, take a look at what materials have been utilized and the quality of the components. For example, you will see steel used often due to the high tensile strength and low-cost of high-quality metal. Of course, it is also advised to conduct a little extra research regarding user feedback. At the same time, not all buyers will experience the same quality control or longevity issues that others have (though this is a useful reference).
This right here is all about the onboard LCD console ladies and gentlemen.
Okay, so let’s talk about technology for a second. In specific, let’s talk about computers as this is a vital feature that so many of you are going to crave. It is important to assess this because not all steppers will come equipped with the same onboard console (clearly). Some consoles will be quite advanced while others will be incredibly basic (and some machines will not even be equipped with any sort of computer system). What exactly goes into an advanced or a basic computer system in regard to this technology?
For the basic consoles, you will typically see them provide you with basic metrics such as the calories you have burned, total duration, distance traveled, and your speed. However, with advanced computer systems comes way more features. For example, some systems will be integrated with different workout programs, heart-rate monitors, and apps. Either way, you go, ensure that the console itself is designed with an LCD display that can be easily seen. This means you may want to opt for one that is ideally-sized and backlit.
In reality, this is all about the comfort and the stability provided by the foot pedals.
In reality, you can consider this section a hybrid of both comfort and stability (as those are the two factors being considered here). Both comfort and stability are being focused on the foot pedals for this section. The reason both are important is that the basis behind these machines is to mimic the experience of climbing stairs (and this is done with your feet the last time we checked). So, all you really need to do is ensure that the foot pedals are slip-resistant and not poorly designed. It really is as simple as it sounds and most engineers will design their models of steppers with texturized foot pedals.
Looking forward, what about models that incorporate handles in some way? For these, it is ideal to look for the handles to be equipped with some sort of soft and resilient foam that can absorb your sweat. Of course, if the option you desire is devoid of handles, you can bypass this concern.
Perhaps you do not want to deal with a massive unit and something that is not portable.
Remember when the different types of styles were documented? Well, they play an important role in this section right here. You see, these machines come in a variety of different sizes with some of them being quite large and others being incredibly compact. Also, to get this out of the way, do not forget to buy a model that is in accordance with the room you plan to use it in. In other words, if it is too large or tall to fit into your desired room, why buy it? Okay, now back to the portability, there are a few reasons why you would want a portable unit. Perhaps you wish to travel with it, store it away when it is not in use or even move it from room to room.
If so, you can still go with larger units you just need to ensure that they come with transport wheels. Some models can weigh 200 to 400 pounds and simply need to have integrated wheels. Also, some options will even be designed to be folded and this can come into play when you want to store the machine away when you do not want to use it. And, if you do not have much space available, to begin with, you can always go with options that have very small footprints (as they do exist).
Expert Interviews & Opinions
It may come as a surprise to you but this machine comes in various shapes and sizes. Arguably the first thing you need to do is figure out which style you desire. After this, you can then assess different features such as the resistance system. And, at the very end, you can look for extra features (such as accessory holders) that are not necessarily mandatory but very convenient.
Riddle me this, what is the purpose of an exercise machine that can’t safely hold your weight? The answer is pretty simple as it becomes a decent coat hanger or place to sit (but there are much cheaper options for these purposes). The same concept applies to stair climbers to ensure that the model you pick is durable enough to hold your weight. Also, look for high-quality materials and components throughout.
This is all about the onboard computer and how much you desire such a feature. The ironic aspect is this section may hold literally zero importance to you and that is fair. For most of you, however, the addition of an LCD console is going to change the game. Furthermore, you can even find computer systems that come equipped with different programs and apps. Of course, you can also settle for the basics, as well.
Other Factors to Consider
Some may say that using these machines to get in shape and lead a long healthy life is priceless. As true as that may be in the long run, we need to address the overall value of these machines. However, when determining the value of each product, there is much more to look at than just the price. You should also take into consideration the versatility and overall durability of the machine. For this reason, a warranty is always a good feature to look for. Some of these products come with warranties that protect your investment for anywhere from six months to ten years.
As for the versatility of each machine, having a two, or even a three-in-one machine is a much better deal. You will notice that some of the options on this list include resistance bands to help you attain more of a full-body workout. Once you have taken a look at all of the features that the machine has to offer and how well the machine will fit into your lifestyle and home, you can then compare those perks against the price. Some of these items are quite expensive. Knowing that the machine will last you for many years and will end up paying for itself is a good way to be sure you are making a valuable investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: What is this type of machine good for?
All you really need to know is this type of exercise machine provides aerobic exercise. By definition, this is a physical exercise that depends on the aerobic energy-generating process (relating to or requiring free oxygen). In other words, these types of exercises require enough oxygen to adequately meet energy demands. As a result, this means that these machines can burn calories and develop cardio fitness.
q: What muscles will they work?
No, you are not reading the same question twice as this is referring to the actual muscle groups that this type of machine is going to work out. For the most part, it is going to place a primary focus on the lower body and this makes sense when you think about the motion you are actually performing when you use it.
This machine will give your quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and gluteal muscles a really good work out. Who would think that something as simple as mimicking stairs climbers could be so darn effective?
q: Can they be bad for your knees?
Perhaps you have heard this myth before and even though the cat was just let out of the bag, it is indeed that: a myth. What happens when you are using one, and you notice your knees begin to hurt? Well, it is possible that your knees were bad beforehand, and it is also possible that you are not using proper technique. If done right, steppers will not create knee issues. As a matter of fact, these types of machines are actually better than normal stairs as you do not need to climb up and then back down.
q: Will they make your legs bulky?
Speaking of myths, how about this one? There is a decent chance that you have heard this before if you have done any research in the past on climbing machines. To address the elephant in the room, no, your legs will not look larger or bulkier if you continually use this exercising machine. Instead, what is going to happen is it is going to tone and sculpt your legs and your buttocks.
q: Will your buttocks grow?
Well, the answer to this question was leaked in the last question. Generally speaking, women will be more interested in this question than men. However, this question gets brought up quite a bit online. The reality is, these machines will not produce a larger rear, but it is going to tone it (and you may even lose weight in the rear as you shed excess body fat).
q: Will steel rust indoors?
Alright, so this is a totally different question and though it feels like it comes out of the left-field, it does pertain to this product. After all, steel can rust and many of the models on the market use the metal. Rust is only going to happen when iron and oxygen react in the presence of moisture or water in the air. This does not mean that steel is impervious to rust indoors, though. If you have humidity issues in your home then rusting can be an issue. It is not as big of an issue with indoor equipment, but understand that it can still happen.