Ultimate Guide to Saddle Hunting Gear

Last updated on August 1st, 2023

From the outside looking in, saddle hunting can appear extremely complicated.

It’s not.

At its core, saddle hunters only need five pieces of gear to get started, all of which are relatively simple and straightforward. Yes, there are plenty of accessories available to simplify the process or keep you more comfortable in the tree, but most of those are not necessary initially.

In this article, I’ll break down the five key pieces of gear you’ll need to get started and what you can expect to pay for each.

Tree Saddle

The centerpiece of your saddle hunting gear is the saddle itself. The saddle dictates how comfortable you are in the tree, which ultimately determines how long you can hunt and remain still. That’s why it’s critical to spend time trying different hunting saddle models before you spend your hard-earned money.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, though, I should first explain what a hunting saddle is. A hunting saddle is like a rock climbing harness with a seat sewn into it. They typically have a waist strap, a strap around each leg, the seat material that supports your butt, and a bridge rope on the front that connects to the tether rope which then connects to the tree.

There are several different types of saddles being manufactured today, including a single panel, a two-panel, and a hybrid, pleated single panel. There are some other options out there, but most of the popular hunting saddles fall into one of the three categories above.

Expect to pay anywhere from $150 to over $400 for a good hunting saddle.

Our Top Pick
Latitude Classic 2

What we like:

  • Simple, single-panel design for ease of use
  • Metal free design to reduce weight and noise
  • Vertical Support Skeleton for better weight distribution 
  • Weighs just 20oz.
  • Made in the U.S.A.!

Saddle Hunting Ropes

Aside from the saddle, you’ll need a couple of ropes. One is your tether and the other is a lineman’s rope.


When saddle hunting, the tether rope is what goes around the tree once you’re at hunting height and fastens to the bridge rope on your saddle with a carabiner. It’s your lifeline in the tree.

Tethers are typically around 8 feet long and come in a couple of different diameters — a smaller 8mm or a larger 10-11mm (more on that below). The tether will have a loop on one end and a knot on the other, with a prussic knot that can be positioned anywhere on the rope as needed with a carabiner.

Expect to pay $40-80 for a good tether rope.

A photo of Tethrd's tether and lineman's ropes.

Lineman’s Rope

The second rope you’ll need is the lineman’s rope, which is very similar to the tether, but with two carabiners — one on the prussic knot like the tether and one on the loop end.

If you’ve ever used climbing sticks and a hang-on stand, then you’ve probably used a lineman’s rope. It goes around the tree, attaching to each side of your saddle with a carabiner to keep you connected to the tree so you can hang climbing sticks and a platform hands-free.

It may be tempting to save some cash and just have one rope that serves as both your lineman’s rope and tether. Don’t. With only one rope, you’ll have to remove your lineman’s rope at hunting height to fix it around the tree as your tether, meaning there will be a period of time when you’re not attached to the tree.

It’s not worth risking your life just to save a few bucks on a rope. Get yourself both a lineman’s rope and tether.

Expect to pay $40-80 for a good lineman’s rope.

Which Diameter Rope?

As I mentioned above, tethers and lineman’s ropes typically come in one of two diameters — around 8 mm and 10-11mm. Both offer similar in strength, but the smaller diameter rope saves a little weight and takes up less space in your pack.

If you plan to use a Ropeman 1 ascender, you will need to go with the larger diameter rope. If you go with the smaller rope, you can opt to use the Kong Duck rope clamp instead. Either size rope will get the job done, it’s just a matter of what works best for you and your setup.

Saddle Hunting Platform

As you hang in a tree from your saddle, you’ll want a place to rest your feet. That’s where a platform comes into play. Think of it as a very small hang-on stand minus the seat.

Saddle hunting platforms come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and weights. Which you ultimately choose depends on whether you’re more concerned about foot room and being able to move around or minimizing weight. You’ll also want to consider the design, finish, and grip of the platform to make sure it suits your needs.

Expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $300 for a quality saddle hunting platform.

Latitude Rebel SS Platform
  • Dimensions: 11.95 in X 13.29 in
  • Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Material 6061 Aluminum
  • Made in the USA

Climbing Sticks for Saddle Hunting

The fifth and final piece of equipment you need for saddle hunting is a way to get up the tree. While there are several options for this, including screw-in steps, strap-on steps, and even climbing spurs, the most popular options — and the only one I’d recommend for new saddle hunters — are climbing sticks.

If you think there’s an abundance of platform options out there, then you’ll really be overwhelmed by the number of climbing sticks on the market. And because there are so many options, I won’t even attempt to cover them in depth in this article. What I will do is tell you some of the key factors to consider when shopping for climbing sticks, and I’ll list a few of the most popular options below.

The main things to consider when choosing the right climbing sticks are weight, length, foot room on the step, and the method the sticks attach to the tree. If you’re the type who wants to shave every last ounce off the weight of your setup, expect to pay a premium for your climbing sticks.

Graphic of five of the nine climbing sticks discussed in the article.
Graphic of five of the nine climbing sticks discussed in the article.

Lighter = More Expensive

As far as length, you’ll need to decide if you want to go with two- or three- step sticks. The three-step sticks are going to be longer and weigh more, but you’ll be able to climb higher in the tree with less sticks. Longer sticks can be more awkward and cumbersome to pack into the woods, so keep that in mind when making your decision.

The size and shape of the steps can be important, particularly if you have a large foot. You’ll want to make sure you can climb the sticks without feeling like your foot could slip off at any minute. Safety is key when saddle hunting!

The last thing you’ll want to consider when choosing climbing sticks is the method in which the sticks attach to the tree. There are several options out there in this area, with some being much quicker, easier, and quieter than others.

Expect to pay $100 to $400+ for 3-4 climbing sticks.

Saddle Hunting Accessories

While you may only need the five items above to start saddle hunting, there are plenty of accessories that will make life easier for you. Some of them serve to keep your gear organized and accessible, while others make saddle hunting more comfortable than it would be without them.

Here are 10 accessories that will help you take your saddle hunting game to the next level.

For Climbing

Climbing up a tree is one of the most labor intensive and potentially dangerous aspects of saddle hunting. The right climbing accessories can make all the difference in terms of safety, efficiency, and ease of use. In this section, we’ll explore two common accessories used to ascend and descend the tree.

Ascender (Ropeman 1 or Kong Duck)

An ascender like the Ropeman 1 or Kong Duck, while not necessary, is a popular accessory for saddle hunting. It is a mechanical device that replaces the prusik knot on your tether and/or lineman’s rope. Unlike a prusik knot, it allows you to adjust your tether or lineman’s rope length quickly with just one hand as opposed to two.

Photo of the Ropeman 1 ascender on the left and the Kong Duck ascender on the right.

The Ropeman 1 is rated for ropes 10-13mm in diameter, while the Kong Duck will work on ropes from 8-13mm. So, if you plan on using smaller ropes to shave some weight and space in your pack, you’ll probably want to go with the Kong Duck. However, if you’re using standard 11mm ropes, you can save a few bucks with the Ropeman 1.

Climbing Stick Aiders

The second and last climbing accessory on our list is aiders for your climbing sticks. Aiders are small “ladders” made from rope, nylon webbing or cable, that attach to the bottom of your climbing stick, essentially extending the length of each stick. They typically have anywhere from one to four steps. 

Aiders are extremely light and affordable, making them a great alternative to buying extra climbing sticks. The downside is that because they are made of rope or nylon strapping, they aren’t as stable as a climbing stick. The more steps the aider has, the more likely it is to kick out from the tree while climbing, which can result in a fall. So keep that in mind as you choose which aiders to buy. 

A lot of saddle hunters will add a three- or four-step aider to their bottom stick, where if it were to kick out they wouldn’t fall far, and then use one- or two-step aiders on the rest of their sticks. Personally, I stick with one-step aiders on all my Tethrd One climbing sticks.

For Comfort

Once you’re up the tree, comfort becomes key. Being comfortable allows you to stay in your stand longer, increasing your chances of success. In this section, we’ll take a look at the different accessories you can use to stay comfortable during a long hunt.

Knee Pads or a Knee Cushion

A set of Tethrd knee pads used for staying comfortable while saddle hunting.

Most saddle hunters spend at least some of their time in the tree sitting, which typically means your knees are up against the tree, supporting some of your weight. If you have bony knees like I do, that means you’re going to get very uncomfortable very quickly. An easy fix is a good set of knee pads or a knee cushion.

The good news is that knee pads are readily available, fairly inexpensive, and most any pair will get the job done. Obviously some fit better and are more comfortable than others, but you don’t need anything fancy to get the job done. 

Some saddle hunters, myself included, don’t care about wearing knee pads. Knee pads have a tendency to shift around and the straps can wear on the back of your knee, causing discomfort. For me a better option is to strap a cheap foam hunting seat to the tree and lean my knees against that when I feel the urge to sit in my saddle. 

You can pick up those cheap foam seats, throw on a nylon strap long enough to reach around any tree you may hunt, and you’re ready to go.

Backband or Recliner

When it comes to saddle hunting comfort, you won’t spend a better $30 than on a backband or “recliner”. The backband is a really simple nylon strap that forms a loop. The loop hooks into the same carabiner as your saddle’s bridge rope, then goes around your body just under your arms. 

The portion of the strap that goes behind your back is padded, and there are adjusters on each side of the band so you can tailor it to your size and how far back you want to lean. 

The sole purpose of the backband or recliner is to provide support for your back while in the saddle. When a deer approaches and you’re ready to draw your bow (providing you’re bowhunting), you simply lean forward and the backband slips down on your body and out of the way.

For Organization

The author's saddle hunting setup in the tree.

Deer hunting requires a lot of gear, and keeping it all organized in the tree can be a challenge. There are several saddle hunting accessories that can make all the difference in terms of keeping your gear easily accessible and organized, including the three discussed below.

Gear Strap of Gear Holder

While you could get by without many of the accessories on our list, a gear strap or gear holder is an absolute necessity. You have to have a place to hang your hunting gear so it’s easily accessible to you in the tree, and a gear strap/hanger is your best option.

Most of these gear straps are constructed of a nylon strap that loops around the tree, with a series of loops sewn on the strap where you hang your gear using a variety of clip types. This is where I hang my rangefinder, grunt call during the pre rut and rut, binoculars, my backpack, and sometimes my bow. I say sometimes, because if I’m hunting an area that allows me to use a screw-in bow hanger, then that’s what I use. If not, I attach a hero clip to my gear strap and hang my bow on that.

Clips or Gear Ties 

There’s a wide variety of molle clips that will work with your gear strap, or the popular Nite Ize Gear Ties that will work to attach your gear to the gear strap. Get enough for all your gear, plus extras.

For your bow or gun, you’ll want something that can handle the weight. Many saddle hunters use a Heroclip for the task. There are certainly other options out there, but I haven’t found a better one. 

Saddle Gear Bags/Haulers 

Saddle gear bags or haulers are accessories that are used to transport equipment while hunting. They typically attach to the saddle and provide a convenient location to store and carry items that you use the most.

I have a gear bag on each side of my hunting saddle, and it’s where I keep my gear strap, pull rope for my bow, headlamp, bow release, and my rangefinder. Once I’m up in the tree and get my gear strap on the tree, and hang my rangefinder on the strap, I now have an empty pocket that I use to keep my cell phone easily accessible.

Final Thoughts

Saddle hunting can seem complicated and gear-intensive to someone just getting started, but it’s really not. Once you have your 5 key pieces of gear to get started — your saddle, tether, lineman’s rope, platform, and climbing sticks — there’s not a whole lot left you need. 

The seven accessories discussed here should make your life easier and your time in the tree more comfortable. And the good news is that most of the accessories discussed here are relatively inexpensive.

If you have a favorite saddle hunting accessory that we didn’t discuss above, we’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

About the Author

My name is Brian Grossman, and I'm a wildlife biologist, outdoor writer, and lifelong hunter and fisherman. Aside from my Christian faith and my family, my passions are bowhunting whitetails, turkey hunting, and fishing for anything that will bite! Thanks for visiting, and don't hesitate to reach out to me on social media if you need anything.

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