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Stair Climber Reviews

By: Saundra Latham on December 20, 2016

Editor's note:
Sunny is still the go-to brand for anyone who wants an inexpensive stair climber, while Bowflex continues to dominate the high end with its gym-quality treadclimbers. We've also added a well-reviewed vertical stepper, the MaxiClimber, to our report for anyone who wants a more intense workout in the comfort of their own home.

Sunny Twister Stepper with Handle Bar Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Handlebar: Yes Weight limit: 250 lbs. Portable/foldable: No

Best stair climber

Small but sturdy, the Sunny Twister Stepper with Handle Bar gets raves from users for its easy assembly, quiet operation and thorough lower-body workout. Many say that it has been extremely effective for helping them lose weight when combined with an overall diet and exercise program. The handlebar gets a lot of praise for helping stabilize the user, and the timer, which counts time elapsed, total steps and calories burned is also a popular feature.

Buy for $57.70
Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Handlebar: No Weight limit: 220 lbs. Portable/foldable: Portable

Mini stair stepper

If you'd like a handy way to work out while traveling, doing work, or just need exercise equipment that won't take up too much space, look no further than the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper with Resistance Bands. Users say these little pedals give you a great lower body workout, while the attached bands help to work your arms as well. The mini stepper is light, compact, and has a small LCD readout that displays time, step count and calories.

Buy for $39.33
Bowflex TreadClimber TC100 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Handlebar: Yes Weight limit: 300 pounds Portable/foldable: No

Best Treadclimber

The high-end Bowflex TreadClimber TC100 can hold its own against commercial gym-quality machines, say happy reviewers. This is largely due to the unusual workout it provides, which combines the action of a treadmill, elliptical and stepper; one expert says it's one of the most challenging low-impact workouts you can get. The TC100 includes an ergonomically designed console with a backlit LCD screen and a media shelf for a tablet, smartphone or music player.

Buy for $1,803.70

Types of Stair Climbers

Stair Climbers

Basic stair climbers are small, often portable, and affordable. They can be little more than a pair of sturdy pedals on a frame. Other models may have bands to work your arms at the same time, a stationary bar to help you keep your balance, or a movable handlebar for an upper body workout. Upgraded stair steppers have features such as step tracking, speed, heart monitors or workout tracking. Reviewers say that stair steppers can give you an excellent workout despite their basic looks. They can also be easily stored in a relatively small space. Some are great for travel and can provide a portable workout.


Treadclimbers offer a more versatile workout than basic stair steppers. Also called "hybrid stair steppers" or "treadmill alternatives," treadclimbers combine the movements of a stepper with those of a treadmill and/or elliptical, working more muscle groups than a basic stepper. While we use the term "treadclimber" here, note that this term actually refers to a proprietary hybrid-type machine made by Bowflex. Experts say you should consider a treadclimber if you have joint issues that might make even a traditional stair climber too tough to use. Another benefit of these hybrid steppers is that they have a much smaller footprint than either treadmills or elliptical machines, so would be a good choice if you're short on space. On the downside: they tend to be pricey, but plenty of users say that they are all you really need in a home gym.

Other equipment for your home gym

If you're still unsure whether you'd be better served by another type of equipment, check out our reports on treadmills, elliptical trainers and exercise bikes. Want to give up your gym membership altogether? See our report on home gyms for the best alternatives.

Finding The Best Stair Climbers
Our Sources
"Bowflex TreadClimber "WalkTC" Reviews"
"Stair Steppers"
"Stair Climber"

Unfortunately, we found no reputable expert reviews of basic stair climbers, though there are a couple of adequate expert sources for treadclimbers. Those include the in-depth reviews at TreadmillReviews.net and FitRated.com. Owner reviews are much more helpful when it comes to inexpensive stair steppers. Amazon.com is by far the most useful source of reviews, with hundreds of real-world perspectives from owners who have put their exercise equipment through the wringer of daily use. Walmart.com and Target.com also have a smaller collection of reviews on popular stair climbers.

The best stair climbers

Among the array of basic steppers on the market, the Sunny Twister Stepper with Handle Bar (Est. $60) earns a high number of positive comments and ratings from users. It gets kudos for easy assembly, which most say is straightforward and intuitive. Once assembled, the Sunny Twister Stepper is relatively light at 28 pounds, and owners say it's easy to move around. Its small footprint means it can be tucked away in a corner or closet when not in use.

In spite of its minimalist vibe, users say the Sunny Twister Stepper gives them an excellent lower body workout. Many say they have noticeably improved their leg strength and stamina since using it on a regular basis. One thing that puzzles many owners is the "twist" claims: Most think the handlebars are supposed to twist. In fact, the handlebars are stationary and are intended only to provide additional stability; the "twisting" action is actually very subtle and refers to the slight outward slant of the pedals when stepping on them. The company says this motion helps tone buttocks and thighs, but users say it's barely noticeable.

Still, most agree that the Sunny Twister Stepper gives them an excellent workout; in fact, plenty of sweaty owners say it's almost too intense and that they can't work out for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. Resistance is adjustable via a knob on the base, so that may help you find a workout intensity that works for you. Handle height is also adjustable -- a handy feature for users of different sizes. Reviewers also like that this stair stepper includes an easy-to-read LCD display that tracks time elapsed, steps and calories. Maximum user capacity is 250 pounds.

We did find some durability complaints with the Sunny Twister, either that the unit was delivered damaged or that it didn't hold up well over time, but most agree that this basic stair stepper is a great value for the price. The Twist Stepper has a steel-frame construction and non-slip footplates, and it comes with a 90-day warranty.

The Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper (Est. $100) is another basic, but well-regarded stair climber that hits all the right notes for your home gym. 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 other parts. It also folds easily, with the removal of a pin, so you can store it in slim places. Like the Sunny Stepper, the SpaceMate's maximum capacity is 250 pounds.

If you're looking for a little more intensity without spending on a commercial-grade piece of equipment, the MaxiClimber Vertical Climber (Est. $200) may be the stepper you need. On the MaxiClimber, you look like you're scaling a steep ladder in a motion meant to mimic rock climbing. It requires greater effort from the legs and engages the arms as well. Reviewers say they sweat quickly and profusely, and some caution that beginners will be limited to short sessions, but many say the workout feels complete. Adjustable height means users can increase or decrease the intensity of the climb. The machine tracks time and reps, and the steel frame folds flat for storage. It comes with a one-year warranty and has a maximum capacity of 240 pounds.

Portable steppers offer a big workout in a small package

For a smaller, more portable option, reviewers also like the Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper with Resistance Bands (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 kudos from those who love its compact size and low price, but they note that it's not a good choice as a dedicated piece of exercise equipment. Rather, they say, it's best for just moving more while watching TV, talking on the phone, or for a few minutes while on a lunch break. Although this stair stepper is small, the maximum user capacity is fairly generous at 220 pounds.

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Stair Climbers buying guide

What every best Stair Climbers has:

  • Some
  • Varying levels of resistance.
  • A stable base.

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