The 7 Best Stair Climbers in 2023: Step Up to Get Fit

person on a stairmaster


If you're looking to expand your home gym, investing in a stair climber is a great place to start. Designed to simulate the experience of walking or running up a flight of stairs, a stair climber is an excellent substitute for the real deal, especially during the winter months. Plus, a stair climber provides a low-impact workout that decreases stress on the body and is easier on the joints than other activities like running. What's more, the best stair climbers offer an excellent cardiovascular workout that burns calories, targets lower body muscles, engages your core, and improves overall heart health, similar to an elliptical machine.

The ACTIVE Reviews Team looked at seven of the best stair climbers with varying prices, sizes, and tech features to help you narrow your search. Here, we break down the details of seven brands and what to look for when shopping for a stair climber.

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The Best Stair Climbers - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Stair Climber - Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber

Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber

SPECS

  • Size: 86"H x 59"L x 31"W
  • Weight: 265 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 400 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: 1-20

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Versatility and durability are just a few reasons the Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber is our pick for the overall best stair climber. This unique vertical stair climber combines climbing and stepping in one machine to maximize time, space, and money. It's also one of the only stair climbers on the market with a 400-pound weight capacity, which is reason enough to make this our top pick. Other standout features include adjustable handlebars with four different height settings, a device holder, and access to STUDIO, a fee-based app with thousands of workouts, real-time data, and a community-driven leaderboard. The CC81 has a generous lifetime warranty on the frame, five-year coverage on electronics and parts, and two years for labor. It also comes with six preloaded programs as well as a manual mode.

Even though we chose the Sole Fitness CC81 as our top pick, it still has a few downsides. Unlike other premium stair climbers, the CC81 comes with an LCD monitor instead of a connected touchscreen, which may not be as much of an issue for some people since it has a device holder. Additionally, the CC81 is quite large for a vertical stair climber and it weighs 265 pounds, so it may not be ideal for small spaces and is difficult to move.

What We Like

  • High maximum weight capacity
  • Full motion adjustable handlebars with 15" of arm travel add upper-body resistance
  • Upright frame is a space saver
  • Generous lifetime warranty on the frame

What We Don't Like

  • Does not fold up
  • Handlebars go up and down instead of forward and back

BUY: Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber

Best Premium Stair Climber - NordicTrack FS10i

NordicTrack FS10i

SPECS

  • Size: 58.5"L x 29.5"W x 74"H
  • Weight: 284 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 375 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: 24

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Fitness enthusiasts looking for a premium stair climber will appreciate the quality build, high-tech features, and multi-functional design of the Nordic Track FS10i. This 3-in-1 stair climber allows users to switch between three workout modes: stepper, elliptical, and treadmill. By adjusting your stride, the machine will intuitively follow the movement, changing the workout from stepper to elliptical to a treadmill. Other premium features include built-in fans, oversized cushioned pedals, Bluetooth-compatible amplified speakers, a 10-inch HD touchscreen, moveable handlebars, and access to iFIT—a subscription-based app that streams thousands of live and on-demand classes directly to the touchscreen. This interactive training feature also allows trainers to automatically adjust the resistance as you go through a class, giving you the freedom to focus on your workout. In addition, the NordicTrack FS10i comes with a 10-year warranty on the frame, two years for parts, and one year for labor.

While the FS10i comes with many perks, it also has a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay about $2,000 for this machine. And to get the most out of the workouts, you'll want to consider the iFIT membership, which is $39 per month after a 30-day trial. This may be a downside for some people who don't want an ongoing subscription.

What We Like

  • Built-in 10-inch HD touchscreen and device holder
  • 3-in-1 elliptical, treadmill, and stepper
  • Automatic trainer control can adjust incline and resistance
  • High maximum user weight capacity
  • Ability to stream live and on-demand studio classes

What We Don't Like

  • iFIT requires monthly membership
  • Heavy machine not ideal for moving to other locations
  • High price point

BUY: NordicTrack FS10i

Best High-Tech Stair Climber - Proform Pro HIIT H14

Proform Pro HIIT H14

SPECS

  • Size: 29"W x 52"L x 66"H
  • Weight: 224 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 325 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: 26

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High-tech features have become the norm on many home gym cardio machines, and the Proform Pro HIIT H14 is no exception. This moderately-priced stair climber is loaded with premium perks like a 14-inch HD touchscreen, multi-functional handlebars, oversized cushioned pedals, a built-in cooling fan, Bluetooth speakers, and a 30-pound flywheel. It also functions as a half stair climber, half elliptical since it has a 10-inch vertical and 5-inch horizontal stride. Plus, the interactive training feature allows you to stream workouts directly to the 14-inch touchscreen, giving you access to thousands of live and on-demand classes with the iFIT subscription. You can also use the auto-adjust feature which allows trainers to automatically adjust the resistance as you go through a workout.

The Pro HIIT H14 has a solid 10-year warranty on the frame, two years for parts, and one year for labor. To maximize the high-tech features, you need to pay for the iFIT membership, which is $39 per month after a 30-day trial. This may be a downside for some people who don't want an ongoing subscription.

What We Like

  • Built-in 14-inch HD touchscreen
  • Full motion handlebars add upper-body resistance
  • Ability to stream live and on-demand studio classes
  • Automatic trainer control can adjust incline and resistance
  • 30-day return policy

What We Don't Like

  • iFIT requires monthly membership
  • No media or device shelf

BUY: Proform Pro HIIT H14

Best Budget Stair Climber - Body Power 2-in-1

Body Power 2-in-1

SPECS

  • Size: 42"W x 24"L x 62"H
  • Weight: 94 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: 8

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Sticking to a budget while shopping for exercise equipment is not easy, but it is possible, especially with stair climbers like the Body Power 2-in-1. This affordable stair climber doubles as an elliptical, giving you two workout methods for the price of one. It also comes with eight resistance levels, which is impressive for the price point. Plus, the integrated handlebars move forward and back for added resistance and upper-body toning. The LCD monitor is easy to read and gives users feedback on calories burned, distance, time, and speed. We also like the space-saving features, including front rollers, compact footprint, and lightweight design.

One downside of this budget-priced machine is the warranty, which is one year on the frame and 90 days on parts. We're also not impressed with the maximum weight capacity, which is only 250 pounds.

What We Like

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Combines 2-in-1 exercise movements of elliptical and stair stepper
  • Space-saving footprint ideal for apartments and small rooms
  • Synchronized upper-body handlebars

What We Don't Like

  • Lower maximum user weight capacity
  • Limited warranty
  • Short stride length for an elliptical motion

BUY: Body Power 2-in-1

Best Stair Climber for Home Gym - Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder

SPECS

  • Size: 31.25"W x 76"L x 65.5"H
  • Weight: 325 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 350 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: Self-powered

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If you have the space and budget, Jacob's Ladder is a fantastic stair climber for a home gym. This innovative cardio machine has ladder-type rungs that allow it to be self-paced, so the faster you go, the faster it goes. Plus, the ladder's 40-degree angle offers a natural climbing motion, which reduces the stress on your knees, hips, and lower back. The continuous movement of the arms and legs required to climb the ladder make this machine an effective calorie burner. And, because it is self-powered, Jacob's Ladder does not need to be plugged into a wall outlet. The machine itself is made from welded tubular steel with solid maple climbing rungs, so it is very sturdy.

Jacob's Ladder is best suited for medium to advanced fitness levels, especially at higher intensity levels. However, beginners who want to use this machine can attach the waist belt for extra safety and climb at a slower pace. In addition to needing a larger home gym space, this piece of equipment is not cheap. You can expect to pay around $6,500 for Jacob's Ladder. Plus, the two-year parts and one-year labor warranty is limited for what you're paying.

What We Like

  • Ships fully assembled
  • 40-degree angle is easy on joints and back
  • Self-powered machine does not require a plug in
  • Safety belt attached to machine
  • Solid, welded tubular steel frame

What We Don't Like

  • High price point
  • Heavy piece of equipment
  • May be too advanced for some people

BUY: Jacob's Ladder

Best Stair Climber for Small Spaces: Sunny Health & Fitness Stair Stepper

Sunny Health & Fitness Stair Stepper

SPECS

  • Size: 21.9"L x 18.5"W x 49.8"H
  • Weight: 25.4 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 250 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: Self-generated with step height

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Tight spaces require compact fitness equipment. That's why Sunny Health & Fitness earned the top spot for best stair climber for small spaces. This stair climber is designed with a unique combination of horizontal and vertical motion, allowing users to move up and down and side-to-side. Unlike other stair climbers that only provide a horizontal path, Sunny Health & Fitness creates a twisting motion that targets different muscle groups like your hips. Because the resistance is self-generated, you control the intensity of the workout. Plus, this stair climber is small, lightweight, portable, easy to store, and affordable.

However, the Sunny Health & Fitness machine does have some drawbacks. The handlebars are fixed, so they don't increase the workout intensity. It also has a lower maximum weight capacity, so it's not as durable as other stair climbers. What's more, it lacks many tech features that make stair climbers a great addition to a home gym, so make sure the lower price point and smaller footprint outweigh the other features this stair climber lacks.

What We Like

  • Twisting action creates a more fluid step motion
  • Space-efficient design
  • Affordable price under $125
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Ideal for beginners

What We Don't Like

  • Requires batteries
  • Minimal tech features

BUY: Sunny Health & Fitness Stair Stepper

Best Vertical Stair Climber: MaxiClimber Vertical Climber

MaxiClimber Vertical Climber

SPECS

  • Size: 28.3"L x 35.82"W x 57"H
  • Weight: 33 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 240 lbs.
  • Resistance levels: None

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Vertical stair climbers are an excellent choice if you're tight on space or want to mimic climbing instead of a stepping motion. The MaxiClimber Vertical Climber is a budget-friendly stair climber that is easy to use and appropriate for most fitness levels. It provides users with a low-impact workout that simultaneously targets the upper and lower body. We like how lightweight and portable it is—the climber only weighs 33 pounds. The adjustable height makes it functional for multiple users. Plus, the MaxiClimber has a folding design for easy storage. You also get access to the MaxiClimber app, which features cardio and endurance programs

Although the MaxiClimber Vertical Climber has some excellent features, it also has some limitations. Most notably, it requires decent ceiling height while in use, so compare the fully-assembled size to your floor-to-ceiling measurements. It's also not suitable for people over 240 pounds or over 6-feet, 2-inches tall. Plus, the foot pedals are on the small side, so anyone with large feet may feel unsteady on the machine.

What We Like

  • Full motion upper-body handlebars
  • Ideal for small spaces
  • Folding design for easy storage
  • Adjustable height
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

What We Don't Like

  • Low maximum user weight
  • No resistance levels

BUY: MaxiClimber Vertical Climber

What to Look for in a Stair Climber

Stair climbers are a popular option for people who want to maintain a consistent workout routine at home without sacrificing space. Here are some features to consider when looking to add a stair climber to your home gym.

Size

Size is one of the first things you should look for when shopping for a stair climber. If you have limited space, you'll want accurate measurements, including overall floor space and floor-to-ceiling dimensions. Some stair climbers double as elliptical machines, so they require a larger footprint. Vertical climbers, on the other hand, often use less floor space but may need higher ceilings.

Weight Capacity

The maximum user weight is a critical factor to consider when shopping for a stair climber. In general, the weight capacity ranges from 220-400 pounds. Most lightweight, budget models are designed for people weighing 220-250 pounds. On the other hand, premium stair climbers can hold up to 400 pounds, with 325-375 pounds being the average. You'll pay more for a stair climber with a higher weight capacity, but it's worth it if you're purchasing a machine for multiple users or you weigh over 250 pounds.

Machine Weight

Some stair climbers are foldable and portable, allowing you to move it when not in use. These models are generally lightweight and easy to transport. If this is a must-have feature, look for a machine on the lighter end of the spectrum. A heavier machine is often sturdier, but they are very difficult to move. The stair climbers included in this roundup weigh between 25 and 225 pounds.

Features

Deciding which features are important comes down to personal preference and how much you're willing to spend. Stair climbers range from small, budget-priced machines to premium models with luxury features like built-in HD touchscreens, multiple resistance levels, and multi-functional designs that allow you to switch between workout modes. Multiple resistance levels will enable you to vary the workout intensity, but not all machines have this option. Some stair climbers have adjustable resistance levels, while others have no added resistance and rely on a self-powered design through the pedals. The pedals are another feature to check out. Some stair climbers have pedals that support the entire foot while others have smaller footpads that only support the center of your foot. Other notable features include built-in fans, Bluetooth compatible speakers, moveable handlebars, pre-programmed workouts, and media device holders.

FAQs About Stair Climbers


Are stair climbers worth it?

If you're looking for a low-impact, high-calorie-burning workout, then a stair climber is definitely worth it. Several models are designed for small spaces, making them a worthwhile purchase if you live in an apartment or smaller home. And with so many brands, models, and price points to choose from, you'll likely find a stair climber to fit your needs.

Is a stair climber better than an elliptical?

A stair climber is not necessarily better than an elliptical. Both machines provide users with a low-impact workout, go great in home gyms, and come with various price points. That said, if you're looking for a vertical or up-and-down motion or need a smaller piece of equipment, a stair stepper is worth considering. Also, a stair stepper is more lower-body focused, whereas an elliptical with moveable handlebars is a full-body workout. Either way, both are excellent alternatives to higher-impact cardio workouts like running.

Is 30 minutes on the stair climber good?

The amount of time you need to exercise on a stair climber to reap the benefits depends on your overall health and fitness goals. In general, performing 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days a week will help you meet the physical activity guidelines for adults. That said, if finding a 30-minute block of time for cardio is challenging, consider incorporating a stair climber into a circuit training routine.

Will stair climbers burn belly fat?

Performing cardiovascular or aerobic exercise helps elevate your heart rate and burn calories. A stair climber is an excellent cardio machine for doing those things, but burning belly fat specifically is not that easy. However, exercising on a stair climber can create a caloric deficit, leading to overall fat and weight loss, as long as you're following a healthy diet and participating in regular physical activity.

About the Author

Sara Lindberg

Sara is a writer who focuses on health, wellness, and fitness. She holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a master's degree in counseling. Her work has been featured in SELF, Healthline.com, ACTIVE.com, Verywell, LIVESTRONG, Headspace, Health, INSIDER, Men's Health, Runner's World, Bicycling Magazine, SheKnows, and Everyday Health among others.

See More from Sara

Sara is a writer who focuses on health, wellness, and fitness. She holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and a master's degree in counseling. Her work has been featured in SELF, Healthline.com, ACTIVE.com, Verywell, LIVESTRONG, Headspace, Health, INSIDER, Men's Health, Runner's World, Bicycling Magazine, SheKnows, and Everyday Health among others.

See More from Sara

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