The 8 Best Stair Climbers of 2021

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Our Top Picks
"The dynamic climber boasts a unique stride that combines a vertical climbing motion with some horizontal extension."
"The affordable pick is small but sturdy, and its stability handlebars and non-slip pedals keep you balanced as you exercise."
Best Splurge:
Bowflex M8 at Amazon
"The sturdy machine is loaded with splurge-worthy features, like 20 different resistance levels and heart rate-tracking grips."
"Equipped with Bluetooth-compatible speakers and a touchscreen, it triples as a stair stepper, elliptical, and treadmill."
"The classic 2-in-1 machine can be used as a stair climber or an elliptical and features eight resistance levels for versatility."
"Ideal for small spaces, this option focuses on climbing rather than striding forward, which makes it more compact."
"A solid choice for small spaces, it folds up to a fraction of its size, making it incredibly easy to store between workouts."
"The compact option is easily transported from room to room and keeps you active, whether you're working or watching TV."

Looking for a way to build strength while working up a sweat? It may be worth adding a stair climber to your routine. A stair climber is a fitness machine that simulates the experience of walking (or running) up a flight of stairs. Most stair climbers come equipped with two pedals: As you press one pedal down, the other rises, keeping you in a continuous loop of stair-stepping.

Depending on your fitness goals, you can focus on increasing your stair climbing speed, work to tackle new resistance levels—or simply do both at the same time. 

Though simple in nature, stair climbers are capable of offering challenging and dynamic workouts—and that’s exactly what makes them such a great addition to an at-home fitness routine.

Here are the best stair climbers worth considering for your home gym or exercise space. 

Best Overall: Sunny Health & Fitness Cardio Climber

Pros
  • Dynamic

  • Works your arms and legs simultaneously

  • Built-in device holder

  • Built-in digital monitor

Cons
  • Bulky

  • Not foldable

The Sunny Health & Fitness Cardio Climber is a sturdy machine that would make a dynamic addition to any home gym. The climber boasts a unique stride that combines a vertical climbing motion with some horizontal extension. This leaves the machine feeling like a classic stair climber with a hint of an elliptical’s stride, giving you an incredibly dynamic workout.

The machine comes equipped with eight magnetic resistance levels, which make it easy to customize the intensity of your workouts. And the climber’s full-motion handlebars will keep your upper body engaged every time you work out. 

Size: 42 x 23 x 60.5 inches | Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Resistance Levels: Eight

Best Budget: Deco Home Exercise Step Machine

Deco Home Exercise Step Machine
Pros
  • Small space-friendly

  • Budget-friendly

  • Built-in LCD monitor

Cons
  • No added resistance

The Deco Home Exercise Step Machine is a small but sturdy climber designed to deliver a classic stair-stepping workout. Though the machine is relatively low-profile, its stability handlebars and non-slip pedals will help you stay balanced as you exercise, allowing you to focus on your workout. And since it boasts a small footprint, it’s a particularly great pick for small spaces.

The only downside? Unlike many other climbers, the Deco Home Exercise Step Machine offers no resistance levels to toggle through. So if you want to up the intensity of your workouts, you’ll have to focus on your speed—not your tension level. 

Size: 18 x 18 x 41.5 to 45.5 inches | Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Resistance Levels: None

Best Splurge: Bowflex Max Trainer M8

Bowflex Max M8 Trainer
Pros
  • High-tech

  • Dynamic

  • Relatively small space-friendly

  • Built-in device holder

  • Built-in display screen

Cons
  • A little bulky

  • Not foldable

  • Very expensive

  • Better with JRNY, a monthly membership program ($19.99/month)

The Bowflex M8 Max Trainer is a high-tech machine that combines the classic climb of a stair stepper with the smooth stride of an elliptical—giving you one incredibly dynamic workout. The sturdy machine is loaded with splurge-worthy features, like 20 different resistance levels and heart rate-tracking grips. And if you pair it with a JRNY membership ($19.99 a month), the machine will automatically adjust your workout settings for you, so you can stay challenged as you build strength over time.

Also nice? Though the machine is pretty robust, it doesn’t demand a ton of space. Its emphasis on vertical climbing makes it tall, rather than wide or long. So it’s a solid choice for smaller spaces. 

Size: 49 x 30.5 x 65.5 inches | Weight Capacity: 300 pounds | Resistance Levels: 20

Best High-Tech: NordicTrack FS10i Freestyle Trainer

NordicTrack FS10i Freestyle Trainer
Pros
  • High-tech

  • Three machines in one

  • Built-in device holder

  • Built-in touchscreen

Cons
  • Bulky

  • Not foldable

  • Very expensive

  • Better with iFit, a monthly membership program ($39/month)

The NordicTrack FS10i Freestyle Trainer is a splurge-worthy stair stepper that doubles as an elliptical—and triples as a treadmill. Where other machines combine a stair stepper’s climb with an elliptical’s stride to offer a dynamic workout, the NordicTrack FS10i Freestyle Trainer allows you to switch between three discrete workout modes. Simply change your stride, and the machine will automatically adjust—acting as a stair stepper, an elliptical, or a treadmill in any given moment.

Of course, the technology doesn’t stop there. The machine also comes equipped with a built-in fan, Bluetooth-compatible speakers, and an interactive touchscreen. And if you pair it with an iFit membership ($39 a month), you can enable interactive personal training and invite the machine to automatically adjust your settings every time you work out.

Size: 58.5 x 29.5 x 74 inches | Weight Capacity: 375 pounds | Resistance Levels: 24

Best 2-in-1: Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Stepper

Pros
  • Relatively small space-friendly

  • Two machines in one

  • Built-in device holder

  • Built-in digital monitor

Cons
  • A little bulky

  • Not foldable

The Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Stepper is a classic 2-in-1 machine. The stair climber doubles as an elliptical, allowing you to switch between two discrete workout modes any time you want to. The machine comes equipped with two sets of handlebars you can use to stay balanced as you switch from climbing to striding.

The stepper boasts eight resistance levels you can toggle through to up the intensity of your workouts, no matter which style of exercise you’re doing. Because the Body Power 2-in-1 Elliptical Stepper acts as two machines in one, it’s a great way to save space. And its compact footprint makes it an even small space-friendlier option. 

Size: 42 x 24 x 62 inches | Weight Capacity: 250 pounds | Resistance Levels: Eight

Best for Small Spaces: Maxi Climber The Original Patented Vertical Climber

Pros
  • Dynamic

  • Works your arms and legs simultaneously

  • Small space-friendly

  • Budget-friendly

  • Easy to set up

  • Foldable

  • Built-in monitor

Cons
  • No added resistance

The Maxi Climber Vertical Climber is an all-level stepping machine that won’t demand a ton of space in your home. Whereas other climbers focus more on stepping, this one emphasizes climbing—its sliding pedals and handles mimic the feeling of climbing on a rock wall.

This unique design makes it easy to work your upper body and lower body in equal measure. It also makes the machine a particularly great pick for small spaces, as most of its size comes from its height. 

Size: 36 x 27 x 79 inches | Weight Capacity: 240 pounds | Resistance Levels: None

Best Foldable: Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper

Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper
Pros
  • Small space-friendly

  • Budget-friendly

  • Foldable

  • Built-in monitor

Cons
  • No added resistance

The Stamina SpaceMate Folding Stepper is a low-profile stepper that’s sturdy, but small space-friendly. Though the stepper is small, its non-slip pedals will help you maintain your balance as you work out. The machine also comes equipped with foam-covered stability handlebars, which will make it even easier to stay stable and in control of your workouts.

The stepper’s compact footprint makes it a solid choice for small spaces. And even better: It folds up to a fraction of its size, making it incredibly easy to store between workouts. 

Size: 30.25 x 16.25 x 54.5 inches | Weight Capacity: 250 pounds | Resistance Levels: None

Best Portable: Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper

Pros
  • Works your upper and lower body simultaneously

  • Small space-friendly

  • Budget-friendly

  • Portable

  • Built-in monitor

Cons
  • No added resistance

  • Not a classic stair climber

The Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stepper is an under-desk stair climber that’s small enough to bring anywhere. The machine boasts a simple design: You’ll find two non-slip pedals you can use to simulate your favorite stair climber workouts, as well as two removable resistance bands you can use to challenge your upper body.

A built-in monitor makes the machine feel a little more robust, making it easy to track your step count, workout time, and more. Really, the compact machine gives you everything you need to log a stair-climbing workout while working—or while watching TV.

Size: 16 x 12.5 x 13.5 inches | Weight Capacity: 220 pounds | Resistance Levels: None

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a classic stair climber, the Sunny Health & Fitness Cardio Climber is an excellent pick. The machine focuses on a straightforward up-and-down stepping motion, with just enough horizontal extension to keep your strides feeling smooth. And since it boasts eight different resistance levels, you can easily use it for both cardio and strength training.

If you’d prefer a higher-tech option, the NordicTrack FS10i Freestyle Trainer is absolutely worth the splurge. The stair climber doubles as an elliptical and triples as a treadmill. And it’s loaded with high-tech features that will help you make your workouts more challenging, more dynamic—and maybe even more fun. 

What to Look for in a Stair Climber

Size

When shopping for a fitness machine, size is one of the first things you should look at—especially if you’re navigating a small space. So be sure to check the dimensions of a stair climber before buying.

Weight Capacity

Some fitness machines are stronger than others. So be sure to double-check the weight capacity (or the “maximum training load”) of a machine before buying it. And remember to factor in any weights you plan to wear or use while on the machine!

Resistance Levels

If you plan to use your stair climber for strength-training, make sure it boasts a range of resistance levels. (You can expect to find anywhere between 0 to 24 resistance levels, depending on the machine you’re eyeing.) Though you might start your stair climbing journey with zero resistance, you’ll likely want the option to increase your resistance level over time.

FAQs


What muscles does the stair stepper work?

Most stair climbing workouts focus on your lower body. So you can expect to feel your calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes being challenged. Some stair climbers also include moving handlebars, which you can use to challenge your upper body—more specifically your arms and your back—too. 

Is the stair stepper cardio?

Yes, the stair climber is primarily a cardio machine. But you can just as easily increase your resistance level to use it for strength-training, too. 

Why Trust Verywell Fit? 

As a seasoned health and fitness writer, Lindsey Lanquist understands how vital quality product recommendations can be. She is careful to recommend products that are reliable, comfortable, and genuinely well-reviewed by those who’ve tried them. 

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