I use API Baby Grand Lites, Gorilla Silverbacks, Gorilla Kong XLSs, and Loc-on LEMs.
I would recommend the Gorilla XLS Silverback series (lighter aluminum than the Kong steel) that came out this year. The upgraded seats are very nice, far more comfortable, and the stands are very secure. I can sit in my XLSs all day long, dark to dark.
Treestep wise, I only use the Cranford EZY Rod Tree steps. Excellent threads on them and solid one piece construction. I have probably 150 of these steps.
As far as leaving stands, I tend to leave mine even on WMAs. Knock on wood I haven't had one stolen, but I did almost have a cam stolen this year. So it's up to you. Not all hunters are bad, I've had several hunters on my cams on a private piece and they've left my stand and cam alone all year. So I was pleasantly surprised about that. But I would recommend locking your stands up. I get keyed alike Master locks, then cables for each stand. Just be careful in terms of the areas you leave your stands. If alot of hunters are in that area, then I'd be less inclined to leave the stand.
If you plan on being more mobile, I'd use climbing sticks as opposed to tree steps. They are much easier to put up and take down. I use Lone Wolf climbing sticks for my stands. I have 4 sticks which get me up probably about 20 feet. I'd rather have 5 sticks though, so I use a few treesteps to get me up a little higher.
Ultimately if you are going to pack a stand/sticks or climber in and out every time, there is no easy way. If you are hunting close to the vehicle, that is probably the ticket. If you are going deep in the woods, I'd be more inclined to pack a hang on and steps and leave it locked up.
As far as climbers, most of the places I hunt are just not climber friendly. Too many branches and its hard enough to find the "right tree", nevermind finding one and then not being able to use a climber on it. Depends how high you hunt, alot of trees will offer 10-15 foot climbs, but I like to hunt around 25 or so. Higher you go, greater the chance you'll have to deal with branches.
Chippewa Wedge-locs for me they have several models. They have a strap/harness system that allow for removal of stand, but let's you leave the harness. You just slide stand in harness and it grabs hold. Very sturdy loc-ons. They range in weight from 8lbs. to 20lbs. I have like 12 harness and 4 of these stands. I have 2 ladders (1 @ 12" and a double @ 17') 2 climbers that I rarely use unless I plan to hunt more then 4 hours, they are more comfortable. I also use 2 blinds. They are nice when I take the kids, deer don't see them move and it keeps them warmer.
Definitely go with a climber. And I would NOT suggest leaving it overnight.
As for which model, I have a Buckshot Centershot. It's a little on the expensive side, but an extremely secure stand. The one downside I've seen lately is that after my 4th season with it, it's starting to creak a bit.
I moved up to a Summit Viper 4, last years model, bought it new for $140 (a steal).
Use to climb with a 10yr. old Loggy.
Can't compare the two. I actually enjoy climbing and going 20' again without worry. I even used the stand this year in NY at ground level because the seat is so comfortable. Even though its 20lbs. you'll love it.[up]
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