Ask 10 people what's the best machine for a full body home workout, and I bet none of them will come up with a vertical climber.
This blows my mind because for a total body workout, the vertical climber easily beats other cardio equipment like treadmills, ellipticals and even rowing machines.
But with quite a few models out there, which one should you choose?
In this guide, you will find the best vertical climbers for home use, based on your budget, fitness goal, body weight, and available home space.
No time? Jump directly to our picks for best vertical climbers here.
Read our reviews to find out the pros and cons of each model, and more importantly which one is best for you.
It's 2020 so it's about time people wake up to the benefits of climbers.
We review affordable models such as the Maxi Climber Classic and XL and all the way up to the pro level Versa Climber.
Our comparison chart shows differences in features such as folding, weight capacity, resistance levels and more.
Whether you are looking to buy a vertical climber or not sure yet, this guide gathers everything you need to know.
Best 7 Vertical Climbers for Home
It's one of the most underrated home workout equipment. Don't get me wrong, there are many great ways to exercise at home, but I can't think of a single machine that hits your upper and lower body muscles as good as a vertical climber can, all while improving your fitness and cardiovascular health.
It's great as a single exercise machine. You can get a great workout with nothing but a vertical climber.
Even if you already have some kind of home gym setup, workout equipment or just weights, the vertical climber is a great addition because it works all your muscles just as good as it works your cardiovascular system.
At low-intensity setting, it's a very effective cardio workout, but increase the intensity, and you'll get a hard full body strength training workout.
The Rising Popularity of Vertical Climbers
Jason Walsh who trained Hollywood stars Bradley Cooper, Matt Daemon, Emma Stone, and many other celebs, has opened up Rise Nation fitness club. It offers studio classes that use solely vertical climbers for exercise.
Walsh claims you can lose up to 600-800 calories in just 30 minutes of climbing.
How It Works
A vertical climber is a machine that mimics the action of climbing a steep vertical surface. It looks like a robotic ladder and feels like a gravity-defying treadmill.
The vertical climber stands on a sturdy base. It has a thin body that extends upward from the floor at almost a 90-degree angle.
Like a ladder, it has horizontal rungs where you place your hands and feet to simulate climbing. Unlike a ladder, the rungs on the left side move separately from the rungs on the right side. The upper and lower rungs on each side move in tandem. This allows you to shift your weight naturally between your limbs as you climb.
Vertical Climber vs. Stepper (Stair Climber)
These terms can be confusing, sometimes their are interchangeable but in most cases there are differences.
You can think of the difference between a vertical climber and stair climber similar to the difference between a staircase and a step ladder.
The stepper machine (sometimes called stair climber) stair climber doesn't work your upper body because its handlebars are static. This means that most of the workout concentrates on your lower body. You can also lean forward and rest some of your body weight on your motionless arms and shoulders.
The vertical climber, similar to a climbing a ladder involved both your arms and your legs. The handlebars move in sync with the leg rungs. This makes sure that your whole body is in perpetual motion the entire time you are using the machine. It also makes you carry your full body weight as you simulate your upward climb.
The vertical climber gives you a more intense and more efficient workout in the same amount of time. Minute per minute, you will burn more calories on a vertical climber than you would on a stair climber.
Energizes More Than Caffeine
Study by the University of Georgia found that people felt more energized after climbing the stairs for 10 minutes than they did drinking 50mg of caffeine.
Exercising on a vertical climber involves even more body mass than using a stair climber, so it's safe to assume that a vertical climber is just as effective if not more than stair climbing.
Versa Climber - The Machine That Started It All
The first vertical climbing machine was called the VersaClimber. A mechanical engineer invented it in the 1980s in the garage of his California home. It was first designed to bring the sport of climbing to a fixed, indoor location. Soon, even non-climbers were using the machine for its total body workout potential.
The VersaClimber gained mild popularity in the 80s in hardcore exercise circles. Left forgotten for many years, it went viral again in recent years when Lady Gaga talked about using it to prepare for her Super Bowl show.
LeBron James also posted a video using a VersaClimber after he won the 2016 NBA championship.
Today, many different brands that make vertical climbing machines. Each of these has its own slight twist on the original concept.
Which Muscles Does a Vertical Climber Target?
Many machines pride themselves as targeting both lower and upper body muscles, however, the vertical climber does a better job of intensely working multiple muscles at the same time.
Unlike some other machines, there is an actual sense that your muscles are working, rather than just moving your arms as you do on an elliptical for example.
The basic movement on the vertical climber targets these major muscles groups:
Upper Body - Back (Lattisimus) upper and lower, Traps, Chest (Pectoralis), Shoulders (Deltoids), Biceps, Triceps.
Arms - Your arms muscles get one hell of a workout, including your biceps, triceps, brachialis and your forearms.
Lower Body & Legs - Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Calves, Glutes.
You core muscles as well other minor muscles are also worked statically as stabilizing muscles.
If you don't want to work out your entire body, you can focus on specific muscle groups instead.
Want to target your lower body muscles only?
By using only the lower rungs and keeping your arms stationary, you can target your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
You can also target upper body muscles, like your torso, back, chest and arms, by varying your grip on the upper rungs.
If your vertical climber has adjustable resistance, you can set it to low resistance to get a light workout
For a more intense workout and muscle gain, you can add more resistance and go for a hard muscle-tearing session.
Using a vertical climber for strength training and muscle mass
You can turn the training from aerobic exercise, which focuses primarily on cardiovascular, to anaerobic workout which fatigues your muscles faster. For example, you can do an intense set of climbing with high resistance, followed by a short rest and repeat.
Total Body Home Workout with a Vertical Climber
The obvious advantage of any buying any cardio equipment for home is that you can exercise whenever you want, which is great.
But a vertical climber is more efficient than other exercise machines because you get a real intense full body workout at the same time as improving your cardiovascular health.
Take for example a treadmill, it's excellent for improving your health but it doesn't hit your lower body and upper body muscles as hard as a vertical climber does.
To exercise your entire body, make sure to use the upper and lower rungs together, the same way as you would climb a real leader.
Start with the lowest amount of resistance to get your body warmed up. Stretch your muscles out with long climbing strokes. Use the machine to extend and contract your arms and legs as much as possible.
Today, many different brands that make vertical climbing machines. Each of these has its own slight twist on the original concept.
Men's Health published a 10 minute vertical climber workout, although this workout uses the versa climber, you you can perform this workout at home using any vertical climber.
- If you want to shift the focus slightly to your upper body, stand upright and lean forward as you climb.
- To target more of your lower body muscles you can sit back into the climbing motion. Leaning back like this puts the focus on your legs and glutes.
- Alternate your grip on the upper rungs between overhand and underhand. This will target different muscle groups in your arms and torso to make sure you get that total body workout.
Vertical Climbers PROS & CONS
As you can see vertical climbers have many benefits, but as with everything in life, there are also some potential downsides:
Vertical Climber for Losing Weight
Vertical climbers are some of the most effective calorie burners available.
Working out 20 minutes on a vertical climber is about as effective as 40 minutes on an elliptical.
Even the mighty rowing machine, known for its calorie burning prowess, pales beside the efficiency of the vertical climber.
For example, you can burn 600-800 calories in just 30 minutes using this vertical climber workout published on Men's Journal.
This efficiency is due to a combination of linked factors:
The vertical climber engages more muscle groups than any other workout machine. Equally important is the high level of engagement of the muscles, your muscles are worked hard.
This means that more muscle acreage in your body becomes oxygen starved. The widespread oxygen famine in your body forces your heart to beat faster to keep up with the demand. The longer you can keep your heart beating at a fast rate, the more calories your body will burn.
If you are overweight or obese and are reading this chances are you in the right direction in shedding excess weight off. Just make sure you buy a vertical climber with a maximum weight capacity that can hold your weight.
The higher the weight capacity, the more stable the machine. Cheap models may have more precarious bases than the more expensive models. It’s hard to tip over a vertical climber, but even a bit of harmless rocking may throw off your groove. If you are a particularly sturdy user, buy a particularly sturdy machine.
General Fitness & Cardio or Hardcore Workouts - You Decide
You’ve already seen how the vertical climber gets more muscles involved, which leads to a higher average heart rate. Another way this machine beats out the cardio competition is in stroke adjustability.
There is no set range of motion for vertical climbing. You can adjust exercise bikes and ellipticals to go faster or slower, but the length of the stroke remains the same. The vertical climber allows you to perform both long and slow strokes.
Don't feel like going all in?
For a lighter workout use long strokes, they are great for warming up and increasing endurance. You will still burn fat and rip the benefits of exercising albeit not in the maximal capacity.
Want a more intense workout?
Use short fast strokes. This not only increases your heart rate significantly but also works your muscles harder. If your climber has adjustable resistance, setting it to a higher resistance level will make the exercise feel like a work set of a free weights exercise.
If you’re a fitness enthusiast looking for something new, the vertical climber has a specific combination of benefits that may appeal to you. Years of running on treadmills, using exercise bikes or ellipticals can get boring.
It's hard to find a single machine that extensively works both the upper body and lower body, all while improving your endurance.
If you are hardcore into fitness and need a fresh change, a vertical climber might be your ticket.
Tips for Beginners
- Start Slow - Pretend you’re climbing in slow motion for the first few sessions to make sure you get the form right. Proper climbing form is intuitive, but you still don’t want to allow your body to take any shortcuts. Flared elbows, for instance, can cause rotator cuff injuries down the line. As a beginner, you should ease into your training. Hit the showers before you reach the point of exhaustion.
- Take Time Off - You don't have to use the machine every day, especially in the beginning. You can start by using every second day before increasing the frequency. Your muscles need time to rest and rebuild after any strenuous workout. Vertical climbing is no exception.
- Use Regularly - Once a week is probably not enough for visible gains. Once you’ve found your vertical climbing groove, try to jump on every other day or at least three times a week.
- Listen to Your Body - If you can’t move the day after an intense vertical climb, try doing a little bit less next time. Any vigorous workout has the potential to dehydrate you. Take water breaks any time you feel parched. Muscle pain such as "muscle burn" is great, so does the delayed muscle pain you feel the following days, referred to as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness). However joint or ligament pain can be a sign that something is wrong in your body. If your body tells you something is wrong, avoid the impulse to push through it.
What Type of Vertical Climber to choose?
If you want to buy a vertical climber you can jump to our top picks here.
However, if you want to know the ins and outs of vertical climbers features, and what to look for this section is for you. Let's see what makes a good machine.
Types of Vertical Climbers
To keep the rungs moving in tandem, vertical climbers may use a system of cables, plastic rollers, or fixed pistons.
Rollers - This is what most vertical climbers use. These rollers (wheels) are what's moving up and down over the rungs. Some machines may use steel rollers, other user rollers made of plastic. Machines that use plastic rollers are cheaper, but the rollers tend to wear down, especially with heavy use or heavy users.
Cables - Machines that use cables provide a smoother flow than rollers. They transition more easily between the up and down motions. They also accumulate less wear over time.
Fixed Pistons - These are only found in the most expensive models, like the Versa Climber. Pistons are usually used only in commercial climbers since they last a lot longer than ones that use cables or rollers. These machines may also cost an arm and a leg and is
Most vertical climbers come with some range of adjustability that makes the climber fit your body type and be comfortable to use. It's not a hard rule but usually the more things you can adjust on the machine the better.
- Height Of Machine - You may adjust the max height of the climber to accommodate your height and the height of your workout space.
- Length of Stroke - Adjustable stroke length allows you to perform long, graceful strokes when you’re in the mood for stretching or endurance training and short, or short rapid strokes when you need some cardio.
- Handlebars - The handlebars may adjust to accommodate people with shorter or longer arms.
- Bottom Pedals - The pedals or bottom rungs position may adjust to accommodate users with shorter or longer legs.
- Resistance Level - This determines how hard or easy the exercise is. Some vertical climbers have a fixed resistance that is easy for all people to use. Other climbers allow you to select a hard resistance level which makes the exercise more intense. Setting a high resistance turns the exercise from an easy cardio workout into a strength training workout, doing work sets followed by rest.
Basic models will use your body weight as the sum total of their resistance. Better quality models may have 10 or 20 different resistance settings.
The most basic form of adjustable resistance comes in the form of removable bands with different tensile strength. Other models use hydraulic cylinders filled with oil that you can adjust to change the amount of pushback.
High-end models tend to come with magnetic resistance. Models with magnetic resistance are quieter and last longer.
Size and Footprint
Most home-use vertical climbers are about two to three feet wide and three to four feet long. The height is usually adjustable and may range from five feet to as much as eight feet tall. Smaller models also tend to have a lower maximum weight capacity.
Maximum Weight Capacity
The maximum weight capacity for a home-use vertical climber varies, the range is 240 to 350 lbs.
In most cases, you shouldn't have a problem using a climber even if you are above 350 pounds. Some users weighing 400 lbs have used some high range vertical climbers and reported no issues at all.
Manufacturers prefer to specify a lower maximum weight limit than the machine can actually take. Still, for safety reasons we don't recommend you buy a climber that has a max capacity lower than your weight. If you are over 350 lbs you might be better off buying other cardio machines.
Models with a basic LCD screen tend to monitor only the basics. This may include your time spent working out, your average speed, and a calorie burn estimate. Some models come with a fitness app to help you track your progress over time.
Heart Rate Monitor
This may disappoint you, but due to the nature of the climbing exercise, vertical climbers don't come with a built-in heart rate monitor.
You have to take your hands off the climber to grip the next level, similar to climbing a ladder. Since your grip is always interrupted there is no way to measure your heart rate.
But there's a better solution, you monitor your pulse using a chest strap heart rate monitor.
Chest strap based heart rate monitors are relatively inexpensive and are very accurate. Since they detect your heart rate from your chest, you get a constant uninterrupted heart rate reading without having to touch or hold anything, your hands are free for the climbing movement.
These HR meters can connect to iPhone or Android via Bluetooth, to not just record your heart rate, but also give you other interesting workout stats, like the number of calories burned, progress over time and more.
What's the Price? Should you get one?
You can buy an entry-level vertical climber for as low as $100. Home models vary in price from these $100 basic models to as much as $500 for models with more features.
The cheapest vertical climbers come with only a solid frame, non-adjustable rungs, and a plastic roller system. More expensive home models are adjustable and have more features. They may allow you to change grip height and width as well as increase or decrease resistance. They may also have a sturdier frame and a higher weight capacity.
Luxury models may come with an LCD monitor to log your speed, distance and the calories you burn. Some even have a small exercise bike attached to the back of the machine.
The highest-end commercial models are designed for heavy use. These may cost as much as $5000. High-end commercial models feature greater magnetic resistance, a bigger screen and more presets. Some have adjustable pedal straps or even a bracket where you can mount a seat.
So should you buy a vertical climber?
I’m not going to lie to you. Vertical climbers are tough. If you’re not used to regular exercise, you may have a difficult time getting used to this machine at first.
That being said, vertical climbers work. This is a machine that will give you one of the best aerobic workouts you can get at your home. It can push your endurance to the limit and strain almost every muscle in your body. If that’s what you want, this may be the machine for you.
MAXI CLIMBER (Classic & XL-1000)
Best Vertical Climber
We review here the Maxi Climber Classic and Maxi Climber XL-1000 side by side as they share common features.
Both the Classic and the XL-1000 earn our recommendation. However, they do have some key differences which we'll discuss in the review below.
The Maxi Climber is by far the most well known and popular vertical climber machine for home.
Released in 2014, the Maxi Climber was the first brand of climbers that focused on direct sales to consumers. Fast forward several years later, and in 2019, it is still the best-selling vertical climber on the market.
Maxi Climber CLASSIC- This is original "As Seen on TV" vertical climber that became the most popular vertical climber for home. It is a very affordable climber with basic features that can get the job done for most folks.
Maxi Climber XL-1000 - This is a new release and much-improved version of the classic. It is the company's top vertical climber so as you would expect it's more expensive than the Classic model. The XL has twelve adjustable difficulty levels, higher maximum weight capacity and is overall much more robust than not just the Maxi Climber Classic, but more than most vertical climbers.
MOST POPULAR VERTICAL CLIMBER FOR HOME
Last time we checked, the MaxiClimber had around 2500 customer reviews on Amazon. That's insane! Especially compared to most of the other vertical climbers which have about 100 customer reviews or so. It was pleasing to see the vast majority of these reviews are five stars.
The fact that it continues to sell so many units to this day makes us think that this machine is more than a gimmick. With such a sheer amount of positive reviews, it’s hard to believe that so many customers could be wrong.
Despite the Maxi Climber Classic narrow base and lightweight, the machine is quite stable. The base is wide enough and strong enough for the recommended weight capacity of 240 lbs. There should be no danger of the Maxi Climber tipping over.
You may notice a slight wobble, but this was usually only at fast speeds or if you weigh more than the maximal weight capacity of the machine.
The Maxi Climber may also wobble a bit if you set it up on a plush carpet. It is best used on a solid surface. If you are heavier than the recommended weight capacity of 240 lbs, a simple workaround you can do is to weigh down the base with a heavy object, which will prevent any rocking motion.
The XL-1000 maximum user is increased to 300 lbs so that model is more naturally more stable than the Classic.
QUICK & EASY TO ASSEMBLE
The Maxi Climber comes almost ready to use, there are just a few parts to connect.
Assembly time takes around 15 to 30 minutes. The machine comes with simple assembly instructions that are easy to follow and there's also a short video showing you how to set it up.
Two minute video showing easy setup of the Maxi Climber
EASY TO FOLD
To fold up your Maxi Climber, all you have to do is remove the pin from the floor crossbar. The crossbar will bend upward allowing the machine to collapse in half vertically. You can then reinsert the pin to keep it folded. It is easy to store the machine in an upright position in a closet or horizontally under the bed.
MAXI CLIMBER CLASSIC - SMALL & COMPACT
The Classic model is 36 inches long, 22 inches wide & 79 inches tall. It weighs 34 pounds. It is folding & has a maximum user weight capacity of 240 pounds.
At only 22 inches wide, the MaxiClimber was also the narrowest machine that we reviewed. At 36 inches long, it tied with three other vertical climbers for shortest length.
The Maxi Climber Classic is ideal for places where available space might be an issue.
MAXI CLIMBER XL-1000 - SLIGHTLY BIGGER
When fully extended, the XL-1000 is almost eight feet tall, which is about half a foot taller than the Classic version. It's also about half a foot wider than the Classic.
Although the Maxi Climber Classic has a sizable maximum weight capacity of 240 lbs, the machine weighs about as much as a backpack or a small dog
This machine is quite portable. If you have space constraints or would prefer to fold up and store your climber when you’re not using it, this is the machine for you.
The Maxi Climber is the lightest vertical climber that we reviewed. A couple of the other models weigh only a few pounds more, but most of them were at least 10 pounds heavier. Some other machines more than doubled the Maxi Climber’s weight.
The Maxi Climber XL weighs 49 pounds which is 15 pounds heavier than the Classic model, yet is still relatively lightweight for it increased weight capacity and extra features.
Maxi Climber Promotional Video
When people are looking to buy home workout equipment, one of the first things they are looking for is for the machine to be quiet.
The only noise the MaxiClimber makes is the low swooshing sound of the rollers moving up and down.
Although this machine isn’t 100% noiseless, it’s easy to watch TV or listen to music while you work out. It’s even quiet enough that you can hold a conversation while you’re climbing, although you may find yourself running out of breath.
GOOD FOR SHORT AND TALL USERS UP TO 6'6"
The max height limit of the Maxi Climber Classic is 6'2", but you may begin to feel slightly uncomfortable if you are over 6'1".
The Classic model is potentially uncomfortable for tall people and was one of the main complaints that people had about the original Maxi Climber.
The Maxi XL-1000 solves this problem with a maximum user height of 6'6", which is a full four inches taller than what the Classic model allows. Tall guys, now you don't have any excuse not to buy a vertical climber for your home gym.
MAXIMUM WEIGHT CAPACITY 240-300 LBS
Maxi Climber Classic - This machine is designed for use by people of average size. If you weigh slightly more than the maximum weight capacity of 240 pounds. You might still get away with using the machine, but you'd void the warranty.
XL-1000 - The company increased the maximum allowed user weight to 300 lbs. The 60 pounds increase in weight capacity makes this model ideal for the obese and heavy aiming for weight loss.
Maxi Climber Classic - This machine uses plastic rollers for the climbing motion.
Most climbers use rollers, whether plastic or metal, to provide a smooth up and down motion. The more high-end models tend to use hydraulic pistons, cables, or a chain and sprocket.
Plastic rollers may eventually wear out after extended repeated use, especially if when used by heavy people.
There's an easy workaround though, the lowest rollers experience a great deal of friction during climbing, but the highest rollers suffer almost no wear.
You could decrease roller wear by rotating the lower set of rollers with the higher set. It is an easy to do using a regular adjustable wrench and only takes a couple of minutes. If you use the machine frequently, we advice you do it every three months.
Maxi Climber XL-1000 - Instead of only plastic rollers, the XL has added a pair of bi-directional hydraulic pistons that makes the movement smoother and much more resistant to wear.
The new hydraulic pistons reinforce the roller system and rollers' weight-bearing load, making the machine last much longer. It also eliminates the need for regular greasing.
If you’re the kind of fitness freak who plans to spend way too many hours a day on your Maxi Climber, the XL will make sure you get your money’s worth.
Maxi Climber Classic - The pedals are quite comfortable and most would not have any issues. However, if you are part Bigfoot or wear shoes bigger than a size 11, your feet may not fit on the pedals. We should mention here that many real-life rock climbers recommended standing on your tiptoes, in which case you shouldn't have a problem.
Another thing to keep in mind with Classic model is that the foot pedals are studded to provide better grip. This helps ensure that there is less danger of falling off the climber, but it also makes the machine uncomfortable to use without shoes.
If you like working out barefoot, you may have to invest in extra padding for the foot pedals, but most people don't workout bare feet anyway.
Maxi Climber XL-1000 - The pedals here are much larger, they allow you to rest your whole foot on the pedal instead of only the tips. The new full-size pedals also come with straps for increased stability.
Instead of using studded pedals as the Classic model uses, the pedals of the XL-1000 are covered with non slip rubber texture. This not only keeps your feet from slipping, but also allows you to exercise barefoot with comfort.
Maxi Climber Classic - You can lower or raise the upper handles on your Maxi Climber, depending on your height.
The tallest height settings increase the length of the climbing stride.
While there is proper resistance setting to change, changing the height of the upper handles can double as a way to increase the difficulty of the exercise.
The lowest height settings allow for an easier workout, the highest height setting will make the exercise slightly more difficult.
However, this height adjustment isn't a reliable way to increase the difficulty that would satisfy fitness enthusiasts looking for high intensity or HIIT style training.
If you can work out at such an intensity you will hit and strengthen your muscles much more than in any aerobic exercise. If weight loss is your goal, that will accelerate fat loss. Climbing with high resistance can turn a vertical climber into a good tool for strength training that can also increase muscle mass.
The Maxi Climber Classic uses nothing more than your own body weight as resistance. For hardcore climbers, though, this may not be enough, so if you are looking for more intense workouts there, go for the Maxi Climber XL-1000.
ROBUSTNESS & FRAME
Maxi Climber Classic - The frame of the original Maxi Climber Classic is built with cold rolled steel. Cold rolled steel is a material that works well for light users. It has enough durability for light use, that's probably one of the reasons why it's rated for users up to 240 pounds.
Maxi XL-1000 - The new XL has a frame made from aluminum. Aluminum is a more customizable material than the steel used in the Classic model.
To give some extra perspective, commercial vertical climbers tend to have aluminum frames. Personal use models usually have steel frames. Aluminum commercial models, like the VersaClimber LX, tend to cost around $2000 - $4000.
We were positively surprised that the XL-1000 uses aluminum frame yet with a much affordable price tag compared to commercial models like the Versa Climber.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
The Maxi Climber stood the test of time and is still considered the best selling vertical climbers out there.
Which one to buy the Maxi Climber Classic or the XL-1000?
Maxi Climber Classic
This is a great vertical climber at a very affordable price. It should be adequate for most people.
Its potential downsides won't matter to most, the exceptions are if you are too tall (over 6'2") or too heavy (over 240 pounds).
It's also not the ideal machine for HIIT or hardcore workouts because its resistance is fixed and cannot be increased. You can make the exercise a bit harder though by adjusting the height level, but the difference isn't huge.
If you want a simple yet effective machine that is reliable and gets the job done we recommend the Maxi Climber Classic.
Maxi Climber XL-1000
The XL-1000 is Maxi's newest model and top model, in which they addressed all the limitations of the Classic model.
You should consider buying the XL-1000 in these cases:
- You are 6'2" or taller. We feel that even if you are just 6'1" the XL would be more comfortable for you.
- You weigh over 240 lbs, in which case while you can still get away with using the Classic Maxi Climber, the XL will feel much more durable and stable.
- You want to be able to control the intensity of the exercise, do intense sets or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts. You would only be able to do short intense sets using the XL-1000 due to its 12 levels of resistance.
There are other reasons for sure to favor the XL-1000 over the Classic, but we feel the three above are the most important key factors to consider.
The XL-1000 isn't a minor upgrade, it's a huge upgrade over the original, but this comes at a price, the XL-1000 is much more expensive. If you can afford the XL-1000, so hey why not? However, don't get discouraged if you can only afford the Classic, it's a great vertical climber in its own right.
Recently, the company also released the XL-800, which costs a bit less than the XL-1000 and has almost identical specs, but it doesn't include the hydraulic piston system.
RELIFE VERTICAL CLIMBER
The Relife Rebuid Your Life vertical climber is a budget climbing machine that for its comparatively low price, offers a surprising amount of value.
This climber combines two different mechanical systems to reduce friction in the up and down motion. The combination gives the machine a longer life than similar personal use models.
Although this climber has a rated maximum weight capacity of 260 lbs, people who weigh up to around 300 lbs have reported having no problems. Manufacturers usually state a lower weight capacity to keep it safe, but it seems the Relife climber is quite stable.
The Relife climber uses better mechanics by using a combination of slideways and cables.
The shoddy mechanics of other climbers on the market are the number one thing users of vertical climbers complain about. It seems Relife went the extra mile to improve the mechanics of this climber compared to other home vertical climbers on the market.
The Relife stays far away from cheap plastic rollers. Instead, this climber uses a dual mechanical system of slideways and cables. There are two chrome slideways on each side, or four in total. These slideways run on wear-resistant nylon bushings to smooth out the motion.
The movement is further reinforced by a system of pulleys hidden in the guts of the machine. This backup pulley system uses cables to help reduce friction in the slideways. The idea is that having two mechanical systems instead of one may help to extend the life of both.
If you plan to put in a lot of hours on your climber, this reinforced Relife vertical climber was built to last.
BEST VALUE FOR PRICE
The Relife “Rebuild Your Life” vertical climber has all the basic features you would expect in a personal use vertical climber. It's quite inexpensive for what you would expect paying.
It is sturdy, smooth, and durable. It is easy to assemble and easy to fold up when necessary.
In our opinion, all these things together make this the climber that will give you the best value for its price tag.
We’ve seen cheaper machines on the market, but these usually either use cheaper materials or they tend to run rough. We’ve also seen stronger and smoother machines, but these tend to cost at least double the price, or sometimes much more.
This climber comes with only five main parts. These include the main torso of the machine, the two-floor stabilizers, and the two vertical arm poles. It takes about 20 minutes to assemble.
FOLDS TO COMPACT SIZE
The Relife vertical climber weighs 44 pounds, it is 85 inches tall, 37 inches long, and 28 inches wide. This is a foldable climber than when folded takes only half its length.
ADJUSTABLE HEIGHT AND DIFFICULTY
The Relife has five different height settings. These also double as difficulty settings. Numbers one and two feel like climbing stairs, height three to five feel like climbing a mountain.
LARGE FOOT PEDALS
Most home use climbing machines only come with narrow foot pegs to balance on. The Relife climber includes two generously-sized foot pedals. These measure about five inches by four inches each. The extra inches help make your climbing sessions more comfortable and more stable.
One of our favorite things about the Relife is the plushy stationary handlebars. These are covered with copious amounts of high-density foam. They are also textured to make sure your hands don’t slip.
Most importantly, though, they are very, very soft. If you’re the kind of climber who likes to keep your hands comfortable while exercising, you’ll love these orange and black striped handlebars.
VERY STABLE DUE TO ANTI-SKID BASE
The stabilizing floor bars come with anti-skid covers on each tip. This helps to make sure the machine doesn’t move around, even with vigorous use.
FEW THINGS WE DID'T LIKE:
The up and down leg motion can be a little rough at first. Luckily a simple occasional lubing easily solves the problem.
Make sure you apply solid lubricating grease to your Relife, rather than liquid lubricating oil. Silicone grease seems to work best as a long term solution. You can apply it directly to the silver guide rails. This will make sure the nylon bushings slide up and down in a smooth, fluid motion.
BOTTOM PROTECTION ROD
The Relife comes with a protection rod below the slideways to cushion the impact caused by slamming your legs down while climbing. This bar may bend if you apply too much force.
Try to avoid clanging the pedals against the protection rod at the bottom of the climbing motion. The less force you apply to the bottom of the machine, the longer it will last.
If you are a forceful climber, you may have to reinforce the hose clamps at the tips of the slideways. This will help prevent damage to the protection rods.
TRICKY LCD BATTERY REPLACEMENT
There are quite a few negative reports about the time it takes to change the battery in the LCD monitor.
The battery of the LCD monitor lasts for a long time, however, if and when the battery wears out, you will have to unscrew the monitorProduct Name from the base to change it. If you’re handy with a screwdriver, this may not be a big issue for you.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
We chose both the Maxi Climber and the Relife vertical climber as our overall best vertical climbers. The Relife does not have the same reputation as the Maxi Climber because it is less popular and has been less time in the market.
The issues that we did find in the Relife are far from being deal breakers and are easy to solve.
The Relife vertical climber mechanism is more robust than most climbers, and with the five adjustable resistance levels, you can vary your workout from an easy one to a very challenging one.
MERAX VERTICAL CLIMBER
Highest Weight Capacity
The Merax is a heavy duty vertical climber that has the highest weight capacity of all the machines we reviewed. It can support a person who weighs to 350 lbs. To put this in perspective, most vertical climbers, have a maximum user weight of 240 to 300 pounds. Even machines that cost twice or three times its cost usually have a lower rated weight capacity.
It's not uncommon for home exercise equipment manufacturers to state blown up high weight capacity claims, only to have the machine feel wobbly and unsafe when heavy people use it.
The Merax rated user weight capacity isn't unfounded, there's a reason why it's a favorite vertical climber among big guys.
This climber is built to be sturdy. It is made from industrial grade steel. It has a square tube frame to ensure maximum stability. The Merax doesn't wobble, and if you have balance issues or a fear of falling, this vertical climber will give you peace of mind.
IDEAL FOR BOTH SHORT AND TALL PEOPLE
The Merax is designed to fit people people between 4'10" to 6'5".
The moveable handlebars extend well beyond seven feet while the stationary handlebars at the bottom are a full four feet off the ground. That's much higher than other comparable machines.
The greater leg extension should also make the exercise feel more comfortable for people with weak knees.
DURABLE MOTION MECHANISM
The Merax uses a cable and sprocket mechanism that guides the leg poles up and down on chrome sliders. This design is less likely to wear down than the plastic rollers used in similar climbers.
The screen on this machine is simple yet keeps track of four parameters: speed, distance climbed, calories burned, and your total workout time. .
Many inexpensive climbers don’t come with an LCD screen, and the ones that do have a monitor, usually track at most, your steps and the length of your workout.
FEW THINGS WE DID'T LIKE:
BIGGER THAN SOME OF THE OTHER CLIMBERS
The ability of the Merax to support users up to 350 lbs and its height adjustability that makes it comfortable to use for people of all heights come at a price. The Merax isn't a small machine.
When fully extended, the Merax is one of the tallest vertical climbers for home. It is 36 inches long and 28 inches wide, though it can fold up lengthwise from 36 to 16 inches when not in use. Its height is adjustable and at its largest height setting, the Merax is a massive 87 inches tall.
The considerably less space it takes when folded still makes its storage conveneint when not in use.
We feel the pedals on the Merax leave much to be desired. These square four by four inches are simple studded plastic square, that may feel small if you have big feet. Depending on what shoes you wear, they may feel a bit slippery. Despite that, the pedals should feel fine for most people.
MOTION MIGHT NOT BE SMOOTH IF YOU ARE A LIGHTWEIGHT
The sturdiness of this machine comes at a price. The Merax is designed for heavy people. Lighter users may find that the up and down motion may feel slightly rougher than other climbers.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
The Merax makes fine home exercise equipment and its vertical climber is no different.
However, if you weigh below 300 lbs, the Maxi Climber XL and the Maxi Climber Classic are a better value.
We feel the strength of the Merax vertical climber lies in its support for people who weigh up to 350 pounds. It's a fantastic heavy duty climber that won't disappoint big guys and gals.
CONQUER VERTICAL CLIMBER CARDIO
Ultra Low Budget
The Conquer is the cheapest vertical climber we’ve seen that is still worth the money.
At the time of writing this review, we found the Conquer for under $100. However, prices change all the time (check the current price on Amazon here).
It is the only climber we could find for about $100 that has similar specs as other budget climbers in the $150-$200 range.
GOOD WORKOUT WITHOUT SPENDING MUCH
If you want a vertical climber that costs as little as possible but won’t fall apart under your feet, the Conquer checks both boxes. The best thing about this machine is that it doesn't sacrifice quality despite its very low price tag.
You might think this climber is cheap due to inferior materials or poor structure, but surprisingly that is not the case. The reason why this vertical climber is so inexpensive is due to its minimalistic no-frills design.
This machine has eliminated anything not essential to the basic vertical climbing motion.
You won’t find any electronics or extras, there are no sliders or hydraulics. This machine comes with only the frame, the mechanism, and the handles/pegs. Nothing else.
RELIABLE MOTION USING CHAIN AND SPROCKET
The Conquer uses a chain and sprocket system that looks and acts a lot like a bicycle chain. The chain is thick, and the sprocket looks like it isn't going to fail.
For us, the most surprising thing about this budget machine is that the manufacturer didn’t skimp on the mechanics.
In general, vertical climbers are quite easy to assemble, but the Conquer takes it even a step further.
You only need to put a few pieces together, and you can get it ready to use in just 10 minutes!
This makes the conquer the quickest vertical climber to assemble.
There are also YouTube videos showing you how to set i up, it may take you longer to watch the videos than to put your climber together. They also have a few videos that talk about quick fixes for common problems reported by users.
THINNEST WHEN FOLDED
When folded, the Conquer has the thinnest frame of all the climber’s we’ve seen. We should mention that it only beats the other machines by a few inches in most cases.
If you need to store your climber in a limited space where a few inches make a difference, the Conquer may be the right machine for you.
SIZE AND WEIGHT
This machine weighs about 35 pounds and measures 36 inches long by 27 inches wide.
You can adjust its height from about 53 inches tall at its lowest setting to 85 inches tall at its highest. There are five different height settings, each separated by a little over four inches.You can adjust its height from about 53 inches tall at its lowest setting to 85 inches tall at its highest. There are five different height settings, each separated by a little over four inches.
FEW THINGS WE DID'T LIKE:
LOW USER WEIGHT CAPACITY
At a 220 lb of maximum user weight, the Conquer is among the vertical climbers with the lower weight capacity. The machine, however, seems stable enough to support you even if you weight up to 20 pounds more.
NO LCD SCREEN TO SEE WORKOUT STATS
We already mentioned this climber was made so affordable because it doesn't contain any bells and whistles. There's no LCD monitor, no timer, and no step counter of any kind.
If you don’t mind using a workout app or timer on your phone, this machine won’t annoy you with its lack of electronics.
WEAK FOOT PEGS
The foot pegs are not as robust as the rest of the machine, and they may break if you repeatedly slam your legs downward at the bottom of the motion.
Because the Conquer is a budget climber, it has no hydraulics to cushion the descent at the end of the motion.
If you want your foot pegs to last a long time, just don’t let them smash into the bottom of your machine when you are working out.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
You won't find any climber that costs so little yet with relatively small compromise. There is no LCD panel to see stats or anything else fancy.
Its built is beyond decent, particularly considering the ridiculously low price you can buy this vertical climber. It's not a machine for anyone looking to do super intense workouts, but its features are just enough for most folks.
TOTAL BODY 2 IN 1 MACHINE
Exercise Bike & Climber in One Machine
Now here's a vertical climber that is different from all the other climbers we reviewed here. It's really is two machines in one.
The '2-IN-1 Total Body' is a hybrid workout machine that is a stationary exercise bike combined with a vertical climber.
Get this: The official name of this machine is : "Best Choice Products 2 in 1 Total Body Vertical Climber Magnetic Exercise Bike Machine". If that isn't mouthful we don't know what is. However, surprisingly, that climber isn't nearly as cumbersome as its name.
VARIETY - CHOOSE IF YOU WANT TO PEDAL OR CLIMB
The main advantage of this machine is the variety you can add to your workout. It's a great machine (or should we say "machines") on its own, and a fantastic addition to a home gym.
If you’re the kind of person who gets bored quickly, it may help you to add a second exercise to your home routine with this climber combo.
Adding a cardio workout that allows you to remain seated can help you stay active while doing tasks that require your hands. This machine can let you keep exercising while you answer emails or catch up on some reading.
That is something that is very hard to do with a climbing motion but is easy when you are in a stationary seated position on an exercise bike.
The bike also comes with a display screen that tracks your speed, distance, time, calories burned, and scan.
PERFECT FOR A COUPLE WORKOUT
Another great thing about the Total Body climber is that two people can use it at once. This machine is designed to take the weight of two average people. The two sets of pedals are strategically placed so that you won’t bump into your partner’s legs. If you like working out with your spouse or a buddy, the 2-in-1 Total Body climber can give you cardio plus camaraderie for an affordable price.
EXERCISE BIKE WITH ADJUSTABLE TENSION
The bicycle part of the 2-in-1 comes with 8 levels of resistance. You can work out very lightly at resistance level one or go for level 8 if you are feeling ambitious.
The exercise bike uses magnetic resistance which is the preferred resistance type for stationary bikes and is quieter than other forms of friction-based resistance that some inexpensive exercise bikes use.
BIG FEATURES IN COMPACT SIZE
So don't be intimated, this machine is bigger, heavier, and more expensive than the other vertical climbers. That's totally expected considering the fact that you get two machines in one.
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the variety is worth it. The 2-in-1 measures 26 inches wide by 46 inches long. It is 90 inches tall and weighs 66 pounds.
This makes the machine longer than other vertical climbers. You can fold up this climber lengthwise when you aren’t using it.
The height of the climbing arms is adjustable as with other climbers.
The max user weight is a generous 330 pounds, which is a very high weight capacity, second only to the Merax climber which is 350 lb max.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
Buying one machine that is a vertical climber-exercise bike combo can be very appealing for variety.
You can alternate between climbing and pedaling in the same workout, or decide to exercise climbing on certain days and to cycle on others.
It's not the machine for those looking primarily for a hardcore climbing workout or a super intense pedaling on the bike. However, it can work well for those looking for variety.
The machine is priced very reasonably for what it gives, still cheaper than buying a vertical climber and an exercise bike separately.
WESLO STEPFIT CLIMBER
Adjustable Upper & Lower Body Resistance
The Stepfit Climber, made by Weslo, is a unique machine that looks and acts like a cross between a stair stepper and a vertical climber. We haven’t seen anything else like it on the market.
SEPARATE ADJUSTABLE RESISTANCE FOR UPPER AND LOWER BODY
Most vertical climbers do not have a direct way to adjust the resistance, instead, changing resistance is made by adjusting the level of the upper handles. The higher the upper hand grips are positioned, the longer the range of motion is, which lets you control the intensity of the exercise.
The Weslo Stepfit is unique because it has a separate tension adjustment for the top grip handles and as well as tension adjustment for the foot pedals.
You can adjust the upper and lower resistance levels independently on this machine. This allows you to focus on your arms while resting your legs or vice versa. You can also work on toning your upper body while gaining mass in your lower body or the other way around.
The foot pedals have 12 adjustable levels of resistance. They move using hydraulic pistons which makes the movement smoother and helps to reduce impacts to your knees and ankles.
The handlebars move via a pulley system that uses a metal cable. You can adjust the resistance using the silver dial on the front of the machine. This dial, labeled with a plus and minus sign, increases or decreases torque in the pulley.
If you like to customize your workouts to perfection, the Stepfit gives you a lot of flexibility.
WORKOUT STATS WITH EYE LEVEL LCD SCREEN
We don't know why, but most vertical climbers place their screens around the level of your waist which makes it nearly impossible to view during the workout.
The design of the Weslo Stepfit is much better because the screen is set at eye level, which makes it so much easier to check your workout stats without having to stop your workout.
The Weslo Stepfit display is also bigger than most other climber screens with better contrast Three large control buttons right below the screen let you make adjustments without interrupting your exercise.
If you prefer to use your phone while you work out, the Stepfit also has a device shelf right below the display panel, which allows you to keep your phone at eye level too, makes it easier to watch a show or youtube videos.
FEW THINGS WE DID'T LIKE:
NEEDS HIGH CEILING
You will need a ceiling that is at least eight feet high to fit your Stepfit. If you're tall, the manufacturer recommends at least 10-foot ceiling height to use the machine comfortably.
If your home has low ceilings, you might have to buy a different vertical climber.
Sometimes you can't get it all. Due to the design of the Stepfit, you can't fold this climber, so this isn't the climber to buy if you wish to store it away after each workout.
The machine is 90 inches tall, measures 25 inches by 36 inches on the ground, and weighs 75 pounds.
Because the Stepfit is more versatile than other vertical climbers and has separate tension controls, it didn't surprise us that it takes a little bit longer to assemble the Weslo Stepfit than it does other vertical climbers.
It might take you at least an hour, maybe two, and requires two people to assemble.
We weren't sure if to include the slightly more involved assembly of the machine as a downside.
Considering the other benefits of the Weslo this might be considered nitpicking, so don't let this scare you from getting the Weslo.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
This is not an entry-level vertical climber, which is why it is priced higher than budget climbers.
This Weslo Stepfit will be appealing for someone looking for full control over the intensity of the workout. With its independent tension control for the upper and lower body, the Weslo Stepfit gives you more training options.
BODY CHAMPS LEISA HART VERTICAL STEPPER CLIMBER
Great For Beginners
The Stepfit Climber, made by Weslo, is a unique machine that looks and acts like a cross between a stair stepper and a vertical climber. We haven’t seen anything else like it on the market.
SUPPORT RAILS FOR MORE STABILITY
The first addition we noticed that is aimed more towards beginners are the support rails.
Besides the sets of moving and stationary front handlebars, the Leisa Hart climber has support rails on both sides. These contoured side-bars give you extra stability. They also make it easier to catch yourself if you start to lose your balance.
The Leisa Hart climber is also wider than most climbers which adds extra stability, less wobbling and an overall feeling of safety during the workout.
VIDEOS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED
There is a workout video to help you get to know the machine and plan your routine. It even comes with a meal plan guide to help you eat healthier. So this isn't just a machine you are getting, it also gives you some basic tools to start a healthy lifestyle.
There is also an assembly video with detailed instructions on how to put the machine together.
Another great feature for beginners and pros alike is the bungee suspension system. Besides its cable pulley system, this machine has a set of bungee cords attached to the pedals. These cords provide extra resistance to the leg motion.
They also reduce the impact at the bottom of the motion to almost zero. Slamming your legs downward can wreak havoc on your knees and ankles. Instead, this machine slowly builds resistance as you come down. If you have joint issues, this vertical climber can help reduce your pain.
TRANSPORT WHEELS TO MOVE AROUND
Although this climber isn’t foldable, it comes with a set of transport wheels on the front base bar. These make it easier to move the machine around. When you don’t need the wheels, you can rotate the bar upwards to stop the climber from rolling around on its own.
FEW THINGS WE DID'T LIKE:
PLASTIC ROLLERS TEND TO WEAR
As usual with this kind of machine, its Achilles heel is its rollers. The plastic rollers in the pulley system tend to wear down over time and with too much friction. This climber is designed for light home use. If you plan to spend hours every day on the machine, you may want to get another vertical climber or consider a commercial grade model.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
If you’re new to vertical climbing or exercise, the support rails and extra stability of the machine will give you more confidence and a safer feeling during the exercise. The included meal plan and videos make it easier to start exercising even if you are a complete beginner.
VERSA CLIMBER LX
For Commercial Use
TRUE COMMERCIAL GRADE
The Versa Climber is a real commercial grade fitness machine, and thus it's priced accordingly. It's by far the most expensive vertical climber around. The Versa Climber is 20 to 30 times more expensive than other vertical climbers!
The machine is a real beast; it's bigger, rigid and heavy. Weighing in at 150 pounds, the LX is three times as heavy as a typical personal vertical climber.
It has a square floor footprint of 48 by 48 inches. At its tallest setting, the LX is 94 inches tall, highest of all vertical climbers.
Intended to be placed primarily in residence gyms and other places where multiple users are going to be using the machine regularly, don't expect the machine to be foldable. You can't fold this machine.
It has a frame made from double-welded steel to cut down on stress damage at its weakest points.
The mechanics and the frame are the most durable we've seen in a vertical climber.
The LX comes with a handful of redundant mechanical systems that help to reduce wear and tear on the moving pieces. These include:
- Two chain and sprocket systems, one for the arms and one for the legs
- Shafts supported by rollers, ball bearings, and slide bearings
- An adjustable hydraulic resistance system
- Rubber shock mounts to decrease mechanical stress caused by impacts
Because the Vera Climber was built to for light commercial applications, such as small private gyms, it was designed to be versatile to accommodate a wide range of individuals. It supports users weighing up to 350 pounds and ranging from 4'6" up to 6'5" tall, so ideal for short as well as tall people.
It has a minimum user height, as listed by the manufacturer, of four feet six inches, making it comfortable for both short and tall people.
VersaClimber’s LX model is adjustable across three different dimensions.
- You can adjust the hydraulic tension to resist at anywhere between zero and 500 pounds. The control knob for the hydraulic resistance is right below the digital display. Turn the knob clockwise to increase the resistance and counter-clockwise to decrease it.
- You can adjust the length of the climbing step to anywhere between one and 20 inches. The manual recommends that you start with a step of three or four inches as you get used to the machine. Most climbers will only use a maximum step of around 12 to 14 inches.
- You can adjust the position of the hand grips depending on your height. There are four height settings. Press the button at the end of the hand grips to remove and reinsert them. Try to position the grips at about your shoulder height.
The LX is considered a zero-impact machine.
The rubber shock mounts under the pedal shafts prevent joint stress to your body as well as mechanical stress to the machine. If even low-impact climbers have still been causing you joint pain, the LX zero impact should help solve that. The manual includes ways you can use the machine when recovering from existing conditions.
DIGITAL DISPLAY WITH CUSTOM MODES
This climber comes with a comprehensive module display. There are three different modes to help you customize your exercise routine.
The Standard Mode gives you all the regular feedback about your session including exercise time, feet per minute and calorie burn rate.
The Program Mode allows you to set goals for your workout. There are 15 programs you can use to help keep your session challenging and entertaining.
The Race Mode is my personal favorite. It allows you to compare your climb against an opponent’s in real time. If you’re competitive by nature, you’ll love being able to challenge a friend to a speed or endurance race.
FEW THINGS WE DID'T LIKE:
The LX is a quality piece of equipment, and it comes with a high price tag. If you’re crazy about climbing or if you like to work out at home, the price may be worth it to you. If not, a gym membership would be way cheaper.
The base price of this model, without adjustable resistance, is around 30 times more than a regular climber. The adjustable model costs about $1,000 more. Extra features, such as a heart rate monitor, can set you back even more.
The LX requires two people for assembly, takes a couple of hours and requires various types of wrenches, screwdrivers, and hex keys.
WHY WE RECOMMEND IT
The Versa Climber is a heavy duty machine that is excellent for environments where you want a fitness machine that is expected to be used for several hours a day and every day. It's great for small private gyms and community gyms.
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