Best Vertical Climber – Top picks for 2021

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In this review article I’ll be sharing my evaluation of the best vertical climbers on the market today, as well as a couple of inexpensive models that you may want be interested in if you’re on a tight budget.

I product-tested four vertical climbers in this review at sporting goods stores: the VersaClimber, the two MaxiClimbers, and the Sunny, but the fifth (& lowest-rated) model is only available online.

I’ll be going over all of their features and pros & cons individually, and hopefully this will help you decide if a vertical climber is right for your home gym.

These models allow you to enjoy climber machine benefits in your home, and can provide a cardio workout as good as any other exercise machine, if not better.

 

Here are the climber machines I’ll be reviewing

(You can click on their pics to check current prices, read reviews, etc.)

 

Top Pick:

VersaClimber H/HP   5.0⭐

Best Vertical Climber for home use, the VersaClimber H HP

 

The two MaxiClimber runner-ups:

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

And two inexpensive vertical climbers:

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

 

test tubes orange - heydayDo icon

 

Science resources included

As is my custom here on heydayDo, I will provide links to all of the relevant sports science & medical resources, clinical studies, and nutritional data used in this article.

 

 

Best Vertical Climber Reviews

Best Overall- VersaClimber H/HP

Summary: The best vertical climber on the planet now comes in a home fitness version, and this is it.

VersaClimber H - heydayDo image

(It is not available on Amazon, so its pics and product links go to Rogue Fitness, the very popular CrossFit and powerlifting website. It also sells on VersaClimber’s own site.)

 

This is the home model in VersaClimber’s product line, and their least expensive vertical climbing machine.

Due to its great quality, VersaClimber products are used in the homes of athletes, fitness models, actors, in sports performance gyms, and so on.

There are many other things to like about the VersaClimber, and a lot of cool features worth mentioning too.

I listed all the ones I could think of below.

 

What I like:

  • Best in class product design & manufacturing quality
  • Used by top athletes & professional sports organizations
  • Sports research studies proved it to provide superior cardio workouts
  • Excellent warranty: 3 years frame & electronics, 1 year free labor
  • Maximum weight capacity of 350 lb.
  • Hand grips & foot pedals are adjustable
  • Adjustable height of 1-20″ for steps and arm movements
  • Step & arm movement range of 20″ is way more than other climbers
  • Works for users of any height
  • Excellent workout monitor with multiple programming options
  • Also, an optional upgrade to an excellent heart monitor for 100 bucks
  • Monitor is easy-to-use and easy-to-read
  • Virtually silent while in use
  • Made in the USA, tough sturdy steel frame
  • Small floor space footprint for a world-class machine: 3′ x 4′
  • Easy assembly and very clear product manual (VersaClimber H Manual)

 

Possible issues for some:

* At around 2 grand, this will be too expensive for buyers on a budget.

* Some assembly required, though only wrenches are needed. I was told it’ll take an hour or two, depending on the person. As I said earlier, the manual is easy to follow, with photos included for each step of the way.

The workout monitor on the H model of the VersaClimber, the best vertical climber on the market

The LCD monitor of the VersaClimber H/HP

 

VersaClimber FAQ

Here are answers to a few common questions asked about the VersaClimber.

 

How much does a VersaClimber cost?

The commercial VersaClimbers used in fitness centers currently range in price from $3,000 – $6,000, and their home user version the H/HP  costs around $2,000.

 

Does a VersaClimber build muscle?

The VersaClimber has an excellent multi-level resistance system, which can be adjusted as needed to produce strength training results. You will be building your major muscle groups, primarily your back, shoulders, quads, butt, & arms.

Since you’re working them all at the same time, it’s not as effective a muscle builder as weight lifting, which concentrates on one muscle group at a time.

 

VersaClimber H Tech Specs:

  • User weight capacity: 350 lb.
  • Height: 7′ 6″
  • Weight: 65 lb.
  • Floor space req’d: 3′ x 4′

<< Check Info & Price on Rogue Fitness >>

 

green vertical climber icon

MaxiClimber

4.3   5,500+ reviews

Sale
Maxi Climber The Original Patented Vertical Climber, As Seen On TV -...
  • Versatile and easy-to-use climber that works for all fitness levels, with BONUS companion Fitness App.
  • Full-body workout, combines calorie burning cardio with muscle toning in one simple step.
  • Low impact workout, easy on the knees and ankles.
  • Saves time - No need to drive to the gym and use several machines.
  • Easy to set up, lightweight and height adjustable. Comes 90% pre-assembled, ready to use in minutes. And compact folding for an easy storage.

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is the top-selling vertical climber machine on the market today, and the most well-known of all the inexpensive vertical climbers.

As seen on TV indeed — Here’s one of the popular MaxiClimber commercials:

In fact, when you go shopping for a vertical climber, you’ll quickly notice how all of the other vertical climbers look very similar to the MaxiClimber. Of course they do, they just copied the MaxiClimber in one way or another, from its folding design to having adjustable height for different sized users, etc.

 

What I like:

MaxiClimber is the market leader and they’re the most-established of any of the cheap manufacturers. They make a good vertical climber for the price.

Buyer perks – Their website has lots of related resources and accessories related to the MaxiClimber.

Height adjustable

Lightweight, foldable, and portable

It has a workout timer that will stop & go when you do, as well as a calorie burn estimator and step counter.

It has a 1-year warranty

It ships almost completely assembled, only a couple of minor things for you to do before using.

MaxiClimber has a free app you can download to use on your phone. It has workouts and other stuff to get you engaged.

 

What’s not so good:

  • There are multiple reports of the roller breaking down or wearing out prematurely (some people call it a wheel, and it has plastic ball bearings).
  • Some users complained about the quality of the foot pedals (a fairly common gripe about any cheap vertical climber).

 

MaxiClimber Tech Specs:

  • User weight limit: 240 lb.
  • MaxiClimber Classic weight: 33 lb.
  • Dimensions:  79”(h) x 23”(w) x 36”(d)

 

green vertical climber icon

MaxiClimber XL-2000

4.2   1,100+ reviews

Sale
MaxiClimber XL-2000 Hydraulic Resistance Vertical Climber. Combines...
  • Next generation MaxiClimber with aluminum mainframe; redesigned with a long lasting roller mechanism for the most intense, smoothest and quietest...
  • Mobile device holder to follow the specially designed fitness routines on our FREE MaxiClimber fitness APP for IOS and ANDROID.
  • Bi-directional, 12-Level Hydraulic Resistance System for the ultimate Full-Body workout.
  • Compact, durable, lightweight and easy to assemble, with integrated rollers to move around the house and anti-sliding leveling mechanism for working...
  • Burn TWICE the calories per workout with High Intensity Interval Training routines (HIIT). You’ll experience a 40% increase in AFTERBURN, helping...

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Consider this the “XL” or “premium” version of the classic MaxiClimber, and it offers some noticeable and functional upgrades over the MaxiClimber classic.

It offers a smooth, quiet, and potentially more intense workout in a single package, and there are a few things to like about this newer and bigger MaxiClimber.

With its aluminum mainframe, it stands over 6 feet tall and can support up to 300 lb. It includes a bi-directional, 12-level hydraulic adjustable resistance system for a full-body muscle toning workout.

Differences between MaxiClimber XL-2000 and the original MaxiClimber

Compared to the original Maxi Climber, this one is bigger, more durable (at least theoretically), and packs in more workout options.

Also, the maximum weight allowed on the XL-2000 is sixty pounds greater than the MaxiClimber Classic (300 lb. vs. 240 lb.).

Definitely the biggest upgrade is the hydraulic resistance system. Having adjustable intensity makes a very noticeable difference in targeting your legs, core, and arms, and also makes this machine suitable for more intense HIIT workouts if you crank up the resistance level.

 

What I Like:

  • Multiple resistance levels 
  • Total Body Workout – Targets arms, back, and core – adjustable resistance is ideal for intense HIIT workouts, while still smooth enough for beginners and seniors.
  • Easy storage and portable – A breeze to move around house with rollers.
  • Durable – Aluminum mainframe can support up to 300 lb.
  • Easy Storage Assembly – Arrives 90% assembled and is easy to build from there.
  • Device Holder – For tracking workouts on free MaxiClimber app.

 

Possible Issues for Some

 Perhaps the most notable caveat is that this machine is twice as expensive as the Maxi Climber classic, and this is likely due to the hydraulic resistance system, and the stronger aluminum frame.

Additionally, some users have had trouble with MaxiClimber’s warranty and customer service, stating that Maxi Climber refused to honor the warranty on older products, and refused to replace defective parts. Luckily, based on the mostly positive user reviews, these issues seem few and far between.

 

Maxi Climber XL Tech Specs:

  • Maximum weight capacity: 300 lb.
  • Footprint: 41 (l) x 33” (w)
  • Height: 6 1/2 feet.
  • Intensity: Adjustable via hydraulic system.
  • Digital Monitor: No, use your phone & MaxiClimber app.

 

green vertical climber icon

Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper SF-1115

4.4 ⭐   1,600+ reviews

Sunny Health & Fitness Stair Stepper Exercise Equipment Step Machine...
  • CONVENIENT: Unlike other exercise equipment, this climbing stepper is simple in design and a real space saver. It is slim and lightweight so that you...
  • TRACK YOUR FITNESS: Easy to read and informative, you will be able to see your progress and meet new goals! LCD monitor tracks your calories, scan,...
  • DUAL HYDRAULIC: Heavy-duty hydraulic piston cylinders have easy-to-adjust incline settings from 1 to 12 to increase or decrease tempo
  • STABILITY: This sturdy climber machine supports weight up to 220lbs. The stepper contains patterned plates to prevent any possible slips
  • EASY STORAGE: When you’re not using it, the Climbing Stepper folds and stores in any corner or closet

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This workout machine is the highest-rated climber machine among the three cheap ones featured in this article. Too bad it’s not a ‘true’ vertical climber though, since it’s really just a stepper machine with the word “climbing” added to its name.

 

(Note: I see they’ve recently changed its name on Amazon, dropping the “Climbing” part and going with the brain-freezing “Stair Stepper Exercise Equipment Step Machine for Exercise SF-1115”. 😳

But it’s currently still a “Climbing Stepper” everywhere else, including on their own YouTube channel.)

It’s really a portable stepper

This ‘climbing’ stepper of theirs is just a nice portable step machine, because you don’t hold onto handles and move your arms like you do with real vertical climbers.

There’s just a stationary handlebar to hang onto while you’re stepping, and no climbing motion required from your upper body.

You can still get a decent cardio workout going though. The heavy-duty cylinders provide plenty of resistance for your legs.

I included this Sunny Climbing Stepper in this review because I figured a lot of you would come across it online when you searched for “best climber exercise machine” or something similar.

 

What I like:

The Sunny Stepper Climber is built as well or better than any of the inexpensive climbers you can find.

Easy to assemble & move – It’s a convenient space saver that’s slim & light, making it easy to stash anywhere.

This model from Sunny has the lowest amount of negative reviews (only 7%) among all the cheap climber machines available online. If there is an issue, Sunny’s customer service dept. in LA, CA is usually quick to resolve problems to your satisfaction.

It has adjustable intensity settings and will definitely give you a great leg & cardio workout – the hydraulic system makes the pedaling harder than other climbers. Some of this also has to do with the fact that there’s (unfortunately) no arm & shoulder energy helping you move.

Shipping free on Amazon.

 

Possible Issues for Some

* Since the pandemic, this SF-1115 Climber Stepper model sells out frequently I’ve noticed, both on Amazon and on Sunny’s own website.

* Not a true vertical climber – There’s no upper body exercise like you get with other climbing machines; it’s just a stepper.

* Relatively low user weight capacity – 220 lb. is lighter than the other vertical climbers featured in this article.

* I’m of the opinion that it would have higher owner ratings if it didn’t have the infrequent failure of its hydraulic pistons.

 

Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper Tech Specs:

  • Weight: 35 lb.
  • Max user weight: 220 lb.
  • Dimensions: 26” x 17” x 54”
  • Intensity is adjusted via the hydraulics
  • Easy to read digital monitor
  • Warranty: 6 months (180 days) on parts & 1 year on structural frame

 

green vertical climber icon

RELIFE Vertical Climber

4.1 ⭐ – 400+ reviews

Sale
RELIFE REBUILD YOUR LIFE Vertical Climber for Home Gym Folding...
  • 💪【Newer Version Climber】Step metal plate thickening, foot support rod is thickened, spare parts of grease and foam packaging prevents parts...
  • 💪【Four Metal Guide Rails】4 Metal guide rails supporting, make it more stable and durable. Weight Capability is 260 LBS.
  • 💪【Radian Design】Pedal have a little bit inclination, make the person's center of gravity close to the main, it is more stable when do exercise,...
  • 💪【5 Levels Adjustable】Different level have different effects, you can think of it as resistance. 1-2rd levels is jogging, 3-4th is running, the...
  • 💪【Folding Exercise Equipment】Adjustable design, you can put the climber in corner or under the bed. The folding size is 72*28*16.1 inch.

Last update on 2021-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This is a MaxiClimber copycat model imported from China with a nice design improvement over the original MaxiClimber Classic.

Unfortunately, poor manufacturing standards have resulted in a number of unhappy buyers which puts it below the best vertical climbers on the market.

 

There are lots of MaxiClimber lookalikes out there, and at first glance this appears to be just another one, though they did make a pretty significant design change in one respect.

So, what did they do?

 

The main thing RELIFE made differently than the MaxiClimber is that they did away with the plastic roller & plastic ball bearings that ride the pole while you’re moving up & down.

This was arguably the #1 complaint from unhappy MaxiClimber owners back in the day, whose climber machines broke down.

Copied the good stuff from MaxiClimber

Many of the MaxiClimber Classic’s positive features have been replicated here:

  • it’s a foldable vertical climber with a small space footprint;
  • doesn’t weigh much;
  • is height adjustable;
  • and ships mostly assembled.

 

What’s not so good:

Remember that it’s cheap for a reason.

* There are several unhappy buyers who had their vertical climber fall apart on them in one way or another.

* The digital display showing calories, workout time, & steps is hard to read.

* Some units have shipped with a dead battery in the counter display.

 

RELIFE Vertical Climber Tech Specs:

  • User weight limit: 260 lb.
  • RELIFE Vertical Climber weight: 43 lb.
  • Dimensions: 85”(h) x 28”(w) x 37”(d)

 

Woman vertically climbing rock, similar to vertical climber machines - heydayDo

A vertical climber can be thought of as a rock climbing exercise machine, in that its motion attempts to simulate the actions of someone scaling the rock face of a mountain. Here are answers to common questions asked about vertical climbers.

 

Do vertical climbers really work?

Consistent vertical climber workouts on a machine with quality resistance can support your weight loss goals. A few studies have clearly demonstrated how many more calories are burned during a vertical climber workout compared to an exercise bike, treadmill, rowing machine, etc.

A vertical climber workout also engages most of your major muscle groups very effectively, which can help you tone muscle and lose weight at the same time.

 

What muscles do vertical climbers work?

Vertical climbing will work all your major muscle groups in both your upper and lower body:

  • back
  • shoulders
  • arms
  • core
  • butt
  • quads
  • calves

It provides a great full body workout that combines resistance training and cardio, as you use your own body weight to provide the resistance as you step and climb.

 

Should I buy a vertical climber?

Depending on what you’re looking for in a cardio machine, a vertical climber is a great piece of home fitness equipment.

The best vertical climbers offer you the following benefits:

  • provide a full body workout;
  • burn more calories than other fitness machines;
  • low impact cardio with no stress to knees or joints;
  • perfect for HIIT;
  • save money & time working out at home;
  • very quiet when in use;
  • great for small spaces;
  • easy storage & portable.

 

Who makes the best vertical climbers?

The VersaClimber offers many more features for its users than any other vertical climber, and so it’s easy to consider it the best vertical climber on the market.

Most vertical climbers that you see for sale online are made with cheap materials and lack the sturdy construction of a VersaClimber. Its durable steel frame is built for thousands of hours of intense exercise, that’s why it comes with an excellent warranty.

 

Are vertical climbers bad for your knees?

Vertical climbers provide a very low impact workout, since your feet never touch the ground so your hips, knees, & ankles don’t ever bear your body weight. You’re strengthening the muscles around your knees without putting any stress on them whatsoever.

Thus, vertical climbers are good for your knees.

 

How many calories can you burn on a vertical climber?

A study compared the calories burned in twenty minutes on a VersaClimber versus a treadmill, swimming, and a spin bike.

Their results showed the vertical climber workout burned over three times the calories of the treadmill, and over three hundred calories per hour more than both swimming and the spin bike workout:

Calories burned comparison between a vertical climber and a treadmil, a spin bike, and swimming

 

Are vertical climbers good for seniors?

Almost anyone can begin a climber machine workout program, provided they have the balance & mobility to use the machine.

A well-designed vertical climber can be an ideal workout for many seniors, older people dealing with osteopenia or osteoporosis, and overweight people whose extra pounds are stressing the joints in their knees, ankles, & hips.

A vertical climber allows you to set the pace of your own workout, meaning it can be as low-intensity as you need.

Of course, as with any exercise machine, it’s going to depend on each person’s individual issues and capabilities.

 

purple vertical climber

 

How to Use a Vertical Climber

The vertical climber is a piece of cake to operate properly.

Once it’s assembled correctly, simply:

  • Adjust the height for your needs, if your climber machine has that option.
  • Put one of your hands on the fixed handle, and put your ‘same side’ foot on its pedal.
  • Stand on the vertical climber while putting your other side’s hand and foot on their handle and pedal, respectively.
  • Spend a couple of minutes getting used to the correct motion. Right hand moves up as left leg and foot press down. Left hand up as right leg & foot press down, and so on. Get your groove goin’.
  • Most climber exercise machines advise not going down to the very bottom of the motion, making sure you don’t come in contact with the machine (though the VersaClimber doesn’t mind).
  • After a couple of minutes of practice, you’ll have found a nice smooth motion that works for you.

That’s all there is to it.

 

A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Keep an upright posture parallel to your vertical climber, and don’t lean back.
  • Also, a hard level surface is advised; carpet is not ideal and area rugs are a definite no-no.
  • If you’d like to keep all your sweat off the floor below you, consider a quality mat designed for exercise equipment. I’m familiar with what’s available in stores, and wrote an evaluation of the better equipment mat products out there. You can read it here.

 

Here’s a MaxiClimber demo video

This is a very helpful MaxiClimber demonstration and workout video from Rosalie Brown:

 

Vertical Climber Beginner Workout Tips

Here are a few of things to keep in mind if you’re just starting out:

 

Warm up for a few minutes first

Always have a warm up session on your climber. Alternatively, you can do an active stretching routine.

Keep it nice and easy for a few minutes to get your body warm and your joints & muscles lubed before starting your main workout.

 

Be patient when you first begin

If you’re out of shape, it will likely take some time before you can continuously move on the vertical climber for more than a couple of minutes at a time.

Don’t get discouraged – good things take time.

 

Shoot for 12-15 minutes of active climbing

In the beginning, try to rack up at least 15 minutes’ worth of activity on the vertical climber, regardless of any rest periods you need to take in between sets.

 

You’ll get stronger in time

Over time you will build up the intensity of your workout by 1) increasing the amount of workout time you spend on the climber machine, and 2) increasing the speed of your climbing motion.

 

Keep track of your workouts

Start a journal/diary with your very first time on the vertical climber.

If you have fitness goals, being able to see how much you’ve improved and how far you’ve progressed will add encouragement & motivational fuel to your engine.

 

Woman climbing rock face - muscles used are similar to vertical climber machines

Wrapping up

Related articles here on heydayDo

The Benefits of Stepper Machine Exercise

Best Mini Stepper Review

 

I hope my vertical climber review article & its accompanying exercise guide is useful to you, and I wish you well on your fitness journey.

 

– greg

July 2021

 


About heydayDo

heydayDo author Greg Simon
Hi I’m Greg Simon. Fitness training & nutrition researching since 1982. Organic food & wine grower. Surfer. Congenital heart disease survivor (so far). Read more…
heydayDo is my “fitness after 50” website that’s about embracing the physically active lifestyle as we get older.
 
I write about the fitness and health research I’ve found concerning the quality of life benefits that exercise and good nutrition provide.
 
When I get curious about something, I’ll dig into whatever sports science & medical facts there are on the topic to learn what’s real & what’s only hype. I also post my experiences product-testing & evaluating home gym equipment & fitness supplements.
 
 It’s an information-sharing, personal opinion blog of mine.
 
So if you’re looking for medical or nutritional advice, please consult with your doctor or health professional for that, since heydayDo does not provide medical advice.