Sometimes the most effective product at getting a specific job done is the least popular. When it comes to fitness, the gym will often be filled with treadmills, bikes and ellipticals doing full duty while other pieces of cardio workout equipment are standing in a corner looking lonely. A vertical climber is one of those machines for reasons unknown. If you want to get a fantastic cardio workout while toning your arms, legs and core in the shortest possible time, you can’t go wrong with one of these. The best vertical climber exercise machine will whip you into shape much faster than the any of the well known machines and the low impact form of exercise you get from it is an added bonus.
- 1 What is a Vertical Climber Exercise Machine?
- 2 What is the Best Vertical Climber for your Home?
- 3 Top Rated Best Vertical Climber Machine Options
What is a Vertical Climber Exercise Machine?
A vertical climber can also be thought of as a ladder climber exercise machine because that’s the motion you simulate when you use it. It’s also similar to rock climbing. It is a tower that typically leans to about 75 degrees, and this steep angle makes you work harder than when you’re walking at a slight incline on a treadmill or elliptical. Since you use hands and legs to pull you up, you get a thorough full body workout if you do it repetitively. It has foot pedals that you pump up and down and hand grips that you also move up and down. The only resistance offered is your own body weight, and you can increase the challenge by taking higher steps with longer arm movements or by speeding up your climbing. Doing just short steps for 10 minutes a day in the beginning is enough to make you pour with sweat and feel like jelly at the end. As you get fitter, you can increase the time and intensity of the workout.
If you’re not convinced that a vertical climber is more effective for losing weight and providing a good cardio workout, here’s a study published by the NCBI that shows that using a vertical climber fitness machine elicits a higher VO2max than treadmill running or rowing. VO2max is the maximum rate of oxygen consumption that occurs during cardio exercise. It is important that this rate is high because it is an accurate measure of cardio-respiratory fitness. The best way to achieve a high rate is to do interval training. While many treadmills come with features that make interval running convenient, a vertical climber is more efficient and there’s a much lower risk of damaging your joints.
What is the Best Vertical Climber for your Home?
While many gyms will have a vertical climber, those commercial models are very expensive and impractical for home use. They’re often too heavy and bulky to fit in a room and under a standard 8 foot ceiling. There are a few brands that make lighter and simpler versions for residential use, and if your budget doesn’t allow for the most famous brand that you find in most club gyms, VersaClimber, you can choose one of those. But how do you find the best vertical climber machine for your needs? These are the attributes to look for:
Adjustability: A climber can be used by people of different heights and weights as long as certain parts can be adjusted to suit you. Tall people should be able to move the hand grips up to a height that allows for proper arm extension so that the muscles are worked properly, while short people shouldn’t have to over-extend the arms to cause strain to the elbows, shoulders and wrists. A few models come with display monitors that show you stats like step counter, time elapsed, calories burned, etc. This should ideally be adjusted for height as well because if it is too low, you can see the display without leaning back, which is something you should not do lest you topple over! To allow for ergonomic foot movements, the footplates should also be adjustable.
Stability: Since a vertical climber stands at an incline of 75°, it is a tall machine. In fact, it looks a lot like a tall ladder. Many models only have a counterbalancing rail on the other side of the climber rail, so stability of the unit is very important, particularly when you increase the intensity of the workout. The heavier the unit is, the sturdier it will be, but there are a few options that come with side rails to provide a larger overall base to eliminate any possibility of you toppling over.
Ease of assembly: The cheapest models usually come pre-assembled and ready to go but a few will need at least some setting up, so detailed instructions should be provided for those and you might need a few of your own tools.
Size: The best space saving vertical stair climber can be folded and wheeled away on its own transport wheels, but if not, the important dimension to take note of is its height when it’s standing upright and open. Most residential climbers are made to fit under an 8 foot ceiling. If you choose a model with side rails, then you’ll also need more floor space for it.
Extras: Not all inexpensive climbers come with their own display module to help you track your workouts, so you might want to get yourself a separate fitness tracker if you want to be able to do that. If the module is included with the climber it will be quite basic and only show things like number of steps, time elapsed and calories burned.
Now that you know what to look for, let’s get on with choosing the best climber exercise machine for your home gym.
Top Rated Best Vertical Climber Machine Options
|Product||Rating (out of 5)||Max. User Capacity||Step Height||User height range||Dimensions (inches)||Price|
|H Consumer Versaclimber||4.8||350 lbs||1-20 inches||unknown||90 x 44 x 36||$$$$$|
|Maxi Climber Vertical Climber||4.1||240 lbs||1-25 inches||5'-5'10"||84 x 36 x 24||$$|
|Conquer Vertical Climber||3.9||220 lbs||about 1-14" inches||5'–6'2"||86 x 26 x 26||$|
|Merax Vertical Climber||4.2||330 lbs||1-18 Inches||5'–6'4"||86 x 41 x 26||$|
|Body Champ Cardio Climber||4.5||250 lbs||unknown||unknown||87 x 40.5 x 42||$$$|
|Ancheer Vertical Climber||4||220 lbs||unknown||unknown||85.8 x 46 x 26||$$|
VersaClimber H Consumer Model
If cost is not a factor and you only want the best, then get a Versaclimber. It is the best rated vertical climber and the brand you’ll find in club and sports training gyms everywhere. The lowest priced Versaclimber model is the H Consumer and it costs a little over $2000. This model is specifically designed for home use. The aluminum and steel frame is sturdier and heavier than the rest of the models mentioned in this list and can support up to 350 lbs of weight. The cable system is coated for silent operation. If you want to use it only for stepping and not for arm workouts, there are side rails to hold on to. The hand grips and foot pedals can each be adjusted to any of three settings for ergonomic comfort. Movement is very smooth and there are no jarring motions, which makes this great for low impact exercise.
While all the other models come with the standard step pattern, i.e. moving both limbs on one side in the same direction, the VersaClimber comes with the “cross crawl” or Contra-Lateral Movement Pattern, which is the same natural gait that you employ while crawling, walking and running. This means that while you right arm pulls down, your right leg moves up and your left arm moves up, while your left leg pushes down.
In addition to a variable step height and arm height of 1 to 20 inches, there are three digital modes to choose from – Standard, Program, and Race. Within these are multiple programs to choose from. These modes and programs are displayed on a digital module that is adjustable for height so that multiple people can use it and track their workouts. There are several stats that are displayed on it, including time, distance and calorie burn rate. If you also purchase the optional heart rate monitor, the display will also show your heart rate.
This climber is extremely stable and will fit under any ceiling that’s at least 8 feet high. Although you need a little bit more floor space than most of the other models because of the side rails, these don’t require that much more space and they do double duty as stabilizers. Unlike cheaper climbers, the VersaClimber requires assembly, so be prepared to spend some time doing this. However, the instructions are clear and detailed on the manufacturer’s website.
Maxi Climber Vertical Climber
With a stated maximum weight capacity of 240 lbs, the Maxi Climber Vertical Climber is a very beginner friendly option, especially if you are 5’10” or under. It is quite simple to operate and can offer an excellent workout for your legs and arms. The design is ergonomic, with non-stick grips and non-slip footplates. It is a one-size fits all type of machine that has an adjustable height setting for the arms, though it may not work for really short or tall individuals (less than 5 feet or more than 5′ 10″). You can step as high as 25 inches, though this is rarely achievable for most people. Those who are advanced users may find that the arm workout won’t be quite enough for them but beginners and intermediates will do fine. If you want to only do a lower body workout, there are two stationary handles to help you balance.
The inclusion of a personal work out timer that starts and stops when you do is a nice touch but for the fact that it is located too far down for it to be visible, and since you can’t lean back to see it without toppling over, it may as well be completely absent. The display also gives you a step and calorie counter.
Manufactured from cold-roiled steel, the Maxi Climber’s frame is quite sturdy. But it does have some stability issues on carpet and there might be slight wobbles if you weigh close to the maximum capacity of the machine. The noise levels are also a bit too loud, despite claims to the contrary from the manufacturer.
According to Maxi Climber reviews, assembly is child’s play since the machine ships pre-assembled. You don’t have to worry about special tools or additional parts or anything. The Maxi Climber is also surprisingly lightweight and easy to move around. Storage will not be a major headache, as it can be easily folded and stowed away discreetly in a closet or corner.
Conquer Vertical Climber Fitness Climbing Machine
Vertical climber machines cannot get any more affordable than this one from Conquer. It has a unique chain and sprocket mechanism for weight transfer from one pedal to the other, which sets it apart from the cable and pulley system used on most other machines in this category. According to the user manual, the maximum weight capacity of the Conquer vertical climber is 220 lbs, which is a bit on the lower side, but several users who were around 240 to 250 lbs have said that they used it just fine.
It should suit beginners who are home gym enthusiasts with its low impact but high-intensity workout sessions. It has the option for height adjustments and should suit individuals between 5 – 6 feet tall, and probably even those who are a couple of inches taller. As with the other models, your body weight is what produces the resistance during work outs.
With non-slip rubber pads on its legs, this vertical climber offers extra stability, even on carpeted floors. The stationary handles allow you to balance when only doing a lower body workout. As far as noise levels are concerned, the use of a chain and sprocket system makes it noisier than regular machines with the cable and pulley system. But the noise levels are not intolerable or anything.
The chains are made from plastic coated steel, and they can get worn out rather fast, especially the plastic coating. The machine arrives with pre assembled parts for easy assembly, but the instructions are inadequate for completion. Due to poorly written instructions, the assembly might take a while for users unfamiliar with these machines. Also, the downward landing of the pedals can feel a bit bumpy, which one user said was solved by adding a bit of foam to cushion the impact.
Thanks to a foldable design, this workout machine takes up very little storage space. The Conquer vertical climber does not come with any extras like timers or calorie counters, as it is one of the most affordable options around.
Merax Vertical Climber Exercise Climbing Machine
If you want a climber machine with extra weight and height capacity, the latest generation version of the Merax vertical climber may be a good choice. It has a maximum capacity of 330 lbs, which is higher than most other machines in its price range. You do get adjustable height settings with this machine, which should suit anybody with a height of 5′ – 6’5″ more. The machine can be stretched to a massive 7 feet. This climber is ideal for taller, bulkier individuals.
There are multiple hand grips, and the Merax is relatively steady on the whole, with minimal wobbling. For slight-build people, the machine is more cumbersome to move than other climbers but it can still be folded into a more compact package for storage after use.
The assembly is relatively easy with just six bolts to be fixed, but the poorly written instructions offer little to no assistance. The movement of the pedals is a bit stiff, all the more so if you are of a leaner/slighter build. This is because the lower height settings result in a lower incline. Taller people would use a steeper incline to raise the grips, and this is where climbing becomes smoother.
Though the metal parts in the Merax climber is made from durable steel, there is one area at the top where there is some plastic that can start wearing out due to the friction produced when intense climbing is done. The machine does not come with any extras, but that is understandable at the low asking price.
Body Champ Cardio Climber with Full Wraparound Stability Rails
For those who are worried about stability while using a vertical climber, the new Body Champ Cardio Climber is the solution. It comes with all of the necessary features along with stability rails curving around you so that you never feel like the machine will topple over even when you do high speed climbing. A bungee system ensures that there is no strain on your joints.
As long as you have a little bit more floor space, it also provides great value for money. A set of wheels on the front stand allow you to move the unit out of the way when you’re done.
There are six different height settings to accommodate most users, particularly for the very tall set. However, the maximum manufacturer stated height allowed is 250 lbs. There’s a display monitor that will show you step count, calories, time spent and r.p.m., and all these readings can also be shown in scan mode.
The Cardio Climber comes closest to the VersaClimber in terms of features but is a very affordable option. The fact that is has side rails for stability makes you feel extra secure while doing fast stepping.
Ancheer Vertical Climber Exercise Machine
Along with a vertical climber, this machine from Ancheer also incorporates a bike seat and pedals into its frame. The bike portion can be used for a good warm up session before using the climber. But the bike does not have any built-in resistance, which is entirely acceptable given the highly affordable price tag of this device and that it is only meant to warm up before using the vertical climber for intense exercise.
The stated weight capacity is slightly on the lower side at 220 lbs, though this should be okay for most individuals. Adjustable features are restricted to height settings, which are adequate for most people between 5 – 6 feet tall. The machine should fit into any room with a 7-foot high ceiling and can be folded into a compact form for easy storage after use.
The vertical climber does have a slight wobble during operation, but that should not be a major concern. On the whole, you will find it to be quite sturdy and stable. This machine comes with pre-assembled parts, so in theory it should be easy to put together, but the Ancheer comes with very poor instructions, so you can expect the product assembly to take an unnecessarily long time.
As an extra feature, you also get an LCD screen that tracks and displays a lot of factors like time, speed, calories burned, and distance covered. The Ancheer climber will make some noise, but it is quite tolerable. The overall build quality of the metal parts is not bad, though the same cannot be said about the plastic and foam bits. The foam covers on the handles, in particular, tend to fall off after regular usage.