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      December 16, 2017

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Best

Stair Climbers

  1. NordicTrack
  2. Precor

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Best Stair Climbers

Originally created in 1983, the stair climber is one of the oldest pieces of cardio equipment on the market. Using a stair climber - also known as a stair stepper - can be a great way to add a low-impact, calorie-burning workout to your fitness routine. On average, you can expect to burn up to 1,000 calories in a 60-minute session, depending on your weight, your overall fitness level, and the intensity level you set for your workout.

There are several kinds of stair climbers on the market. First, you may have seen the machine known as a “stairmill” at your local health club. It gives the impression of walking on an escalator, as the workout is delivered by a rotating staircase rather than pedals that you push up and down, and the intensity is changed by the speed of the stairs’ rotation. However, most stair climbers for home use do use those pedals; the intensity of the workout changes as you increase or decrease the resistance of the pedals themselves.

Continue reading below reviews

2017

Stair Climbers

5 stars
Bowflex

BOWFLEX Visit Site

Cost:

From $999 to $2,199

TopConsumerReviews.com Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award If you’ve ever seen a fitness infomercial, chances are good that you know the name Bowflex. Originally made famous for their home gym strength machines, Bowflex now carries a wide selection of other fitness equipment, including incline treadmills and 3 variants of the traditioinal stair climber.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $999-$2,199
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Variable Motion: No
  • Adjustable Stride: No
  • Resistance Levels: 8-16, depending on model
  • Maximum User Weight: 300 lbs.
  • Return Policy: 6 weeks, no restocking fees
  • Warranty: 1-3 years, depending on model
  • Shipping: Free

The stair stepper machines from Bowflex are more like a cross between a traditional stair stepper and an elliptical machine. Bowflex has three models to choose from: the MaxTrainer M3, M5, and M7. At the lower end of the spectrum, the M3 is the only stair climber in our review with a price tag of under $1000, making it the most affordable model on the market. Of course, an entry-level machine like the M3 will not have the bells and whistles you’d expect from a top-of-the-line model like the M7: where the M3 has only one pre-programmed workout setting and 8 resistance levels, the M7 has 11 workouts and 20 levels of resistance.

As you cross the $1,000 threshold, you’ll find that the features increase dramatically. Both the M5 and M7 have integrated contact grips for tracking your heart rate, although all three models do come with a chest strap as well. The two higher-end models also offer Bluetooth connectivity with several fitness apps, such as the Bowflex Max Trainer 2, MyFitnessPal, Google Fit, and Bowflex Connect.

If you need financing for your Bowflex stair climber, you can apply directly through Bowflex. At the time of our review, they were offering a plan charging no interest if paid in full within the first 18 months, subject to credit approval and with minimum monthly required payments. Shipping is also free.

Bowflex provides a three year warranty (one year on the lowest-priced stair climber) for all components. This lags some of the competition, who provide lifetime coverage of the frame and varying lengths of coverage for parts and labor. We recommend that you consider the additional protection plans offered by Bowflex, to extend your warranty coverage to a total of five years.

Overall, we give Bowflex high marks for providing stair climbers that are more affordable than many other retailers on the market. Combined with a comparably long return period, and interest-free financing for up to 18 months, Bowflex earns our top rating.

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4.5 stars
NordicTrack

NORDICTRACK Visit Site

Cost:

From $1,884 to $2,783

You might picture skiing-type machines when you think of NordicTrack. After those machines became popular in the 1980s, NordicTrack expanded its product line to include many types of fitness equipment, including strength machines, treadmills, rowing machines, and more.

NordicTrack offers three models of stair climbers: the Stride Trainer FS7i, FS5i, and FS9i. At the time of our review, the FS5i was out of stock.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $1,884-$2,783
  • Different Models: 3
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Variable Motion: Yes
  • Adjustable Stride: Yes, up to 38”
  • Resistance Levels: 24-26, depending on model
  • Maximum User Weight: 350-400 lbs., depending on model
  • Return Policy: 30 days, restocking fee of 10%
  • Warranty: Frame - Lifetime, Parts - 5 years, Labor - 2 years
  • Shipping: Free

What we think most customers will love about the NordicTrack steppers is the wide range of motion possible while using the machine. If you feel like stepping one day, getting an elliptical workout the next day, and having a more treadmill-style routine on the third day, the FreeStride Trainers can do that with an adjustable stride that allows for up-and-down steps or 38” long strides. Although the NordicTrack machines are slightly higher on the price spectrum, the versatility offered makes it worth the investment.

NordicTrack stair climbers also offer technology that isn’t found in most of their competitors’ equipment, particularly in the console. If you want to work out with a friend or even imagine yourself covering your favorite neighborhood walking route, the iFit-enabled FreeStride machines allow you to do just that - just be aware that you’ll need a separate iFit membership to access the most advanced features.

Your NordicTrack machine also comes with a wireless chest strap, to track your heart rate and provide that information directly to the console. Most fitness equipment, such as treadmills and exercise bikes, do not include the chest strap.

When comparing the three FreeStride models available, there are a few differences you should keep in mind in order to determine which one is the best fit for your needs. For example, the FS5i includes a tablet holder but not the 10% power-adjustable incline that the other two models have. If you want the ability to perform a workout using a decline, only the FS9i has that ability. The weight capacity also varies from 350-400 lbs., and the available resistance levels and pre-programmed workouts differ slightly across the models too.

With respect to their return policy and warranty coverage, NordicTrack’s offerings are relatively standard: within 30 days of purchase for a full refund (minus a 10% restocking fee), lifetime warranty on the frame, five years on parts, and two years for labor. As with most retailers of stair climbers, NordicTrack gives free shipping, and financing is available with a Fortiva retail credit account. You’ll have to go through the process of putting a stair climber in your online shopping cart and entering your information until you reach the payment page, in order to get to the screen that allows you to apply for that line of credit. Your rates will depend on your credit history; the sample interest rate given on that page was nearly 27%, and monthly payments were under $100.

Although it isn’t the least expensive stair climber available, the FreeStrider - in all of its varieties - is a great choice for your home gym or office. Because of its versatility in terms of range of motion and the advanced technology that keeps workouts from ever getting dull, the FreeStride Trainer by NordicTrack is an excellent stair climber.

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3.5 stars
Precor

PRECOR Visit Site

Cost:

From $5,999 to $12,395

For over three decades, Precor has been a part of the fitness equipment industry, manufacturing machines for personal and commercial use. They pride themselves on the innovation, attention to detail, and high-quality engineering behind every treadmill, elliptical machine, and stair climber they make.

All of Precor’s stair climbers are known as Adaptive Motion Trainers, and they offer four different models for purchase: the 813, 833, 835, and 885.

Equipment overview:

  • Price Range: $5,999-$12,395
  • Different Models: 4
  • Financing Available: No
  • Variable Motion: Yes
  • Adjustable Stride: Yes, up to 36”
  • Resistance Levels: 20
  • Maximum User Weight: 350
  • Return Policy: None
  • Warranty: Frame and Welds - Lifetime, Parts - 5-10 years (depending on model), Labor - 1 year
  • Shipping: $349

All of the Precor stair climbers give the impression of being more like an elliptical than a stepper: with variable stride length capabilities and the dual action of the upper-and-lower body components, the workout delivered is much more robust than a simple up-and-down motion with the legs. On the two higher-end models, the 835 and the 885, you also get the ability to change the stride height from 6.8 to 10 inches, to really increase the stepping motion of your workout.

We were surprised that, despite the high price tag, three of the AMT stair climbers do not offer much in the way of technology in the display. The console measures the basic stats of a workout - time elapsed, calories, burned, and so on - but not much more. In order to get a touchscreen console, you’ll have to spend over $12,000, and even then it doesn’t appear to connect to anything else: no TV, Bluetooth, or Google Maps. None of the models seem to have the ability to interact with popular fitness apps for tracking workouts over time, either.

You should also be aware that Precor has no satisfaction return policy. If your stair climber is defective, they will repair or replace it - but if you simply don’t like it, or it doesn’t fit into your workout space like you had imagined, you are out of luck. Most of their competitors at least allow a 30-day return period, usually with restocking fees, but Precor offers customers nothing in that regard.

The quality of the Precor stair climbers is excellent. The ability to easily vary both stride length and height is a great feature. Unfortunately, the extremely high price tag and lack of a satisfaction policy may present a challenge for many online shoppers.

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Continued from above

Also, you may find equipment that combines the motion of a stair climber with the stride patterns of an elliptical machine. These types of stair steppers tend to provide a more full-body workout, if you’re looking to combine upper- and lower-body toning while getting your cardio exercise.

As you use a stair climber, it’s important to remember a few tips in order to exercise safely and get the best possible workout. If your fitness level allows, you should try not to use the handrails as you step. This will help you burn more calories and improve your balance. Next, make sure that you are using your whole foot on the step/push, not just the balls of your feet - otherwise, it’ll mostly be your calves that get a workout. And, as with any exercise session, be sure that your shoes are firmly tied! Getting your laces tangled up in the machine is definitely a recipe for injuries!

When deciding which brand and style of stair climber to purchase, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Cost. What is the price range for the stair climbers offered by this retailer? Are the prices competitive with other stores?
  • Resistance Levels. Does the machine offer a wide range of resistance levels, to allow you to push yourself as your fitness improves?
  • Range of Motion. Do you prefer a traditional up-and-down stepping motion, or would you rather have a machine that allows for different foot patterns (up-and-down step as well as front-to-back elliptical)?
  • Return Policy. If your stair climber doesn’t measure up to your expectations, will the store allow you to return it for a refund? If so, will there be a restocking fee?
  • Warranty. If the motor fails or parts break, what will the retailer cover and for what length of time?

TopConsumerReviews has reviewed and ranked the best stair climbers available today. We hope these reviews help you choose the best stair climber for your home gym or office!

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