Basic stair climbers offer convenience and affordability, as well as a good workout. Many offer a choice of resistance levels and will monitor how many steps you take and calories you burn -- and when your workout is done, they will also be easy to move and store in a closet or under a bed. Many steppers can accommodate a maximum weight of 250 lbs.
Among the array of basic steppers on the market, the Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper (Est. $100) earns the greatest number of positive comments and good ratings, making it our Best Reviewed model. It offers adjustable resistance, so you can vary the level of your workout, and features two hydraulic cylinders for smooth stepping. There's a battery-operated monitor that tracks number of steps per minute, number of steps per workout, time, and calories burned -- plus slide-resistant pedals and foam-covered handlebars, for a more stable and comfortable experience. It has a heavy-duty steel frame that carries a one-year warranty, and there's a 90-day warranty on parts. It also folds easily, with the removal of a pin, so you can store it in slim places.
The Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper earns an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from almost 170 users posting to Walmart.com, with owners agreeing that it is a convenient machine that has helped them lose weight or otherwise improve their fitness. In addition, personal trainer Arthur Thares, writing for Bestcovery.com, names the model as his top pick in budget steppers, commenting that it provides a workout similar to what you'd experience at a gym. Amazon.com users give the Folding Stepper a somewhat lower average rating of 3.7 stars from almost 160 users; many say it offers a very effective workout, but some would like it to be more strenuous, and some report breakdowns.
If you're looking to spend a bit less, reviewers consider the Sunny Health & Fitness Twist Stepper with Handle Bar (Est. $65) a good choice. It also features adjustable resistance, plus it moves with a twisting action, which the company says helps tone buttocks and thighs. Its LCD computer monitors time of workout and calories burned. The Twist Stepper has a steel-frame construction and non-slip footplates, and it comes with a 90-day warranty. Some reviewers love the handlebar feature, saying it helps them to balance. If you don't need that feature you may prefer to spend $10 less for the regular Sunny Health & Fitness Twist Stepper .
The Twist Stepper with Handle Bar earns an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5 from more than 180 users posting to Amazon.com, and an average rating of 4.3 stars from almost 25 users posting to Walmart.com. Nearly 25 users also post to Target.com, for an average rating of 4.5 stars. Most say it provides a good workout, although a few say it's uncomfortable to use, and some report breakdowns or malfunctions.
For a smaller and more portable option, reviewers also like the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper with Resistant Band (Est. $40) . It comes with detachable resistance bands that provide an upper-body workout, and it also features a counter that tracks time, steps and calories. The Mini Stepper earns an average rating of 4.1 stars out of 5 from more than 120 users posting to Amazon.com, and 4.3 stars from more than 55 users posting to Walmart.com. Most applaud its compact size and low price, but some don't find that it gives an adequate workout.