There is a wide spectrum of stair climber quality. If you are serious about getting into shape with the best equipment possible and can afford to spend around $4,300, the StairMaster SC916 StairClimber (*Est. $4,300) is your ideal fit. If you are a casual exerciser just looking to maintain your health, you may choose to purchase something cheaper and portable, like the Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper (*Est. $130) or the Sunny Health & Fitness Twist Stepper (*Est $65).
The StairMaster name has long been associated with the best stair climbers. The company has a reputation for its high standards of quality, durability and performance. Many reviewers agree that the SC916 StairClimber is no exception. Still, other climbers, such as the aforementioned SpaceMate Folding Stepper or NordicTrack FreeStrider 35S (*Est. $1,000), receive notable praise as well.
While the Twist Stepper is the most compact of the stair climbers we review, at just 18.5 inches long by 17 inches wide, the SC916 has a slightly larger, yet compact, footprint with better stability and durability. The machine fits inside a space measuring 4 feet long by 2.5 feet wide, making it practical for home use. It comes with 10 preloaded workout programs and has a speed range of 26 to 174 steps per minute. The SC916 comes with a backlit LCD to help monitor your number of steps, calories burned and workout time. You can also upgrade to a 10-inch, touch-screen console or add an attachable 15-inch LCD TV. Weighing 155 pounds, it is a bit tough to move around on a regular basis. However, it is significantly lighter than the 235-pound NordicTrack FreeStrider 35S (*Est. $1,000), which features 30 preprogrammed workouts and 16 resistance settings (rather than speeds). The 35S is equipped with a backlit LCD as well.
The StairMaster SC916 does not feature any form of interactive programming, while the FreeStrider 35S is iFit Live compatible; another stair climber we review, the Bowflex TreadClimber TC20 (*Est. $3,300) is equipped with G.O. Coach. The iFit Live and G.O. Coach programs track the user's progress towards goals, and G.O. Coach can adjust workouts depending on heart rate.