Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

SOLE Fitness Review

Wednesday, December 7th

2022 Stair Climber Reviews

SOLE Fitness Review 2 Star Rating

SOLE Fitness

2 Star Rating
  • Cost: $1,599.99
  • 20 levels of resistance
  • 30-day return policy
  • Lifetime warranty on frame
  • Free shipping

SOLE Fitness offers one stair climber, the CC81. It provides a full-body workout using not just the step pedals but also adjustable handlebars that can be incorporated into the exercise as desired.

Not enough features for the money

Even though the Cardio Climber is priced at $1,599.99, it doesn't have as many features as we expected. For example, the resistance is controlled through a knob dial, not electronically via the LCD display or on the handlebars. The machine also has the ability to display your heart rate, but you'll have to provide the chest strap to do so - and it doesn't integrate with, well, anything. No Bluetooth connection and speakers for playing music, no pairing with your Apple Watch or Fitbit, nothing. About the only perk is the tablet holder, letting you prop up your device and use it while you work out.

Watch the weight capacity

We found conflicting information on the SOLE site about this machine's user weight capacity: in one place it said up to 400 lbs but in another it was only 330. That's probably not going to be an issue either way for most people purchasing a stair climber, but we encourage prospective customers to reach out to the company for clarification prior to purchase if necessary.

Best Stair Climbers

Equipment overview:

  • Price: $1,599.99
  • Different Models: 1
  • Financing Available: Yes
  • Resistance Levels: 20
  • Maximum User Weight: 330 or 400 lbs.
  • Live/on-demand classes available: No
  • Return Policy: 30 days
  • Warranty: Lifetime on frame, 5 years on electronics/parts, 2 years on labor
  • Shipping: Free

Lots of complaints filed with the BBB

A big downside for us is SOLE Fitness' reputation. The company has an "F" with the Better Business Bureau, which is rarely something we can overlook. There were plenty of customer complaints registered there, and most of them described significant issues with SOLE's customer service post-purchase. While we are glad that this stair climber comes with a decent warranty, that won't do users any good if they can't actually get service when something stops working - and that's what the vast majority of SOLE's complaints say.

Choose a stair climber from a better brand

Our rating might be different if we could find praise specifically for the CC81 Cardio Climber. Unfortunately, SOLE doesn't let shoppers know what buyers think of their home fitness equipment. We found just over a dozen user reviews of this stepper on third-party sites, but that's not enough for us to be able to recommend buying it - especially with such a disappointing pattern of poor customer service from SOLE. We think you'll have a better overall experience with a stair climber from another retailer.

Where Can You Buy the Best Stair Climbers?

This essential piece of cardio equipment has been around for almost 40 years. Sometimes referred to as a "stair stepper" , these machines are a refreshing alternative to treadmills and exercise bikes while still delivering an excellent workout. Depending on your current level of fitness, your age and weight, and the resistance level you choose, you could burn a whopping 500 calories in just 30 minutes!

What kind of stair climber or stepper is right for you? There are several equipment styles to choose from. The one you see most often at fitness centers is called a "stairmill" : picture a rotating staircase that you climb almost like an escalator at the mall. The intensity of your workout is determined by the speed you set. These machines tend to be very large and can take up a lot of space in your home, but they offer the advantage of being extremely sturdy and often have a higher user weight capacity than other types of stair climbers.

The Best Stair Climbers Compare Stair Climbers Compare Stair Climber Reviews What are the best Stair Climbers Best Stair Climber Reviews

Stair Climber FAQ

A stair climber is a type of exercise equipment that uses either a rotating series of steps or pedals pushed up and down - imitating the motion you'd make when going up a staircase. The "stairmill" option is most commonly found in gyms and health clubs, while the pedal variety can be seen both in fitness centers and in home use.
Stair climbers are low-impact, delivering an intense workout that is gentler on the joints than running on a treadmill. It also doesn't have to be either-or: if you like to mix up your workouts and target different muscle groups, alternating between using a treadmill and a stair climber is a great option.
That will depend on the stair climber you choose. Most models have clearly-listed dimensions for both floor space and ceiling height requirements, so be sure to look at them carefully and map out the space in your home before making your purchase.
You can get a good-quality stair climber for just under $1,000. If you want a high-end model exactly like what you've seen at your local gym, expect a price tag upwards of $10,000.
The more resistance levels your stair climber has, the greater variety you'll be able to get in your workouts. If you have people of multiple heights who will use the machine - for example, maybe you're 4'11" and your roommate is 6'5" - you might want to choose a model with adjustable stride lengths. From there, you should consider how much tech you want it to have, like Bluetooth connectivity with fitness apps or heart rate monitoring through hand grips and/or a chest strap.
Most stair climber manufacturers aren't quite there yet. However, at least one company offers a separate membership to an online platform where you can get live workouts, exercise in real time with a friend, or stream videos to make your workout routine more interesting.
That depends on the manufacturer's policy. Some offer no returns at all, while others may give you 4-6 weeks to try it out. You may also have to pay restocking fees if you return your stair climber.
Yes. Most stair climbers have warranty coverage on the frame and welds, parts, and labor. The timeframes vary: you might get a lifetime warranty on the frame with one manufacturer, while another only covers the frame for three years. Read the warranty coverage and terms carefully before you buy a stair climber.
Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

The stair steppers you'll find most commonly in home use have pedals that you push up and down. As you increase the resistance in the pedals, your workout gets more challenging. There's a lot of variety within this type of stair machine too: you'll see full-body options that make it feel more like mountain climbing or using an elliptical machine, as well as super-compact designs that can be stored under a desk or bed.

Because stair climbers use a different motion pattern than walking or biking, there can be an adjustment period as you get comfortable with your new equipment. You can hang onto the handrails at first, to get your balance and become familiar with the machine, but eventually try to climb without them. You'll get a better workout! Also, remember to push with your whole foot and not just the ball of the foot, unless you want a calf-focused session. Finally, make sure that your shoes are firmly tied: you don't want your laces to get wrapped around the pedals or caught in the stairmill!

Which stair climber is right for you? There are so many options that it might be easy to feel overwhelmed. Keep these criteria in mind as you shop, and you'll soon find the one that's the best fit:

  • Price. What's your budget? How much will you pay for your stair stepper and any accessories you might want (like a floor mat to go underneath the machine)? Is delivery included?
  • Available Space. Where do you plan on using your stair climber? Do you have enough floor space and ceiling clearance for the machine you're considering?
  • Fitness Goals. The more features your stair stepper has, the greater variety you can incorporate into your workout routines. A simple machine is fine if you just need a basic cardio workout, but you should consider equipment with more resistance levels if you're trying to improve your endurance and strength over time.
  • Return Policy. If you don't love your stair climber once you get it set up, can you send it back? How long do you have to decide? Is there a restocking fee and/or return shipping costs to consider?
  • Reputation. What do people say about the stair climber? Is it durable? Did customers have a good experience with the customer service aspect of their purchase? Has the BBB given the retailer a good rating?

TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the top stair climbers on the market today. We're confident that this information will help you narrow down the options until you find the perfect addition to your home gym!

See the Best Stair Climber
The Best Reviews of Stair Climbers