Some feedback options. At a minimum,
you will want to know your pace, as well as the distance covered and time
elapsed. Calories burned is a nice feature as well, but the more features you
have, the higher the price.
Varying levels of resistance. This will
enable you to start as slowly if you need to -- stair climbers can be challenge
when you first try them -- but to increase your intensity over time and ramp up
your workout as you get in shape.
A stable base. Since you will be shifting your full
weight, be sure the stair climber can hold you steadily and comfortably. If you
feel like balancing on a basic stepper may be hard, consider paying a bit more
for a model with handlebars.
An appropriate weight limit. Most steppers
can support between 220 and 250 pounds, but there are a few models that have
upper weight limits of 300 pounds.
Easy assembly. Confusing instructions, holes that
don't line up or missing hardware can make assembly frustrating. If a model
gets a lot of negative feedback for this issue, you may want to look elsewhere.
A solid warranty. While the inexpensive stair climbers
we cover have fairly scant warranties, some hybrid stair steppers are pricey
investments with a lot of moving parts. A good warranty will ensure that your
expensive piece of equipment doesn't turn into a clothes hanger. Also, find out
how the equipment will be serviced -- if you have to drive hundreds of miles for
help, it might not be your best choice.
before you go
many people will be using the stepper? If more than one, choose a heavier
stepper with a more comprehensive warranty. The ability to track the workouts
of more than one user is also a nice feature.
often will you work out? If you only plan to use the stepper a
few times a week, you can choose an inexpensive model. If you want a gym-like
routine, look for a more heavy-duty machine. Experts say it's worth investing
in a top model if you use it on a regular basis.
you want premium features? Top stair climbers have interactive
LCD screens, built-in preset workout programs, heart rate monitors, Bluetooth
connectivity and more. Of course, the more you get, the more you pay, but if
you love all the bells and whistles, it may be worth making the splurge.
you prefer dependent or independent pedal movement? On dependent
stair steppers, the pedals are linked, so that as one goes up, the other goes
down. Independent pedal movement more closely simulates the motion of walking
upstairs, because the pedals are not linked.
you want an upper-body workout? If so, choose a model with a twisting
motion, resistance bands, or moving arms or handlebar so you can exercise your
arms or upper torso as you step.
you want to run? Stair climbers just offer an up and down motion,
with an upper speed limit of about 4 miles per hour, so there is no option to
run (although they are good for incline training if you're a hiker). If you
need something that gives you the option to either walk or run at speeds up to
10 miles per hour, see our report on treadmills.
will you keep it? A basic stepper can have a very small footprint, and
some even fold compactly to store easily in a closet or under the bed. However,
some models are very large pieces of equipment that can take up quite a bit of
room. Still, they do take up less room than a treadmill.
ConsumerSearch editors personally research every product category to recommend the best choices. Expert review sources are heavily weighted, but user reviews, especially those where durability or usability are a factor, are crucial to helping us finalize our top picks.
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