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Best Stair Steppers

By: Kelly Burgess on November 08, 2017

The best stair climbers

Among the array of basic steppers on the market, the Sunny Twister Stepper with Handle Bar (Est. $70) 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 most users say it's barely noticeable. A few complain that it irritates their knees, however.

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 steel-frame construction and non-slip footplates, and it comes with a 90-day warranty.

The Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper (Est. $105) 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. $190) 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, calories, 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 might not be durable enough to function 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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