The 8 Best Stair Climbers To Step Up Your Home Exercise Routine
It's no secret that taking the stairs is usually the healthier choice—but did you know climbing stairs daily could decrease your risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes1? Even short bouts of stair climbing have been shown to boost energy and relieve tension2. Today, this tried and true low-impact exercise is more accessible than ever, thanks to the best stair climbers for at-home workouts.
Whether you're physically opting for the stairs over an escalator or elevator, or using a stair climber machine at home or your local fitness studio, NASM-certified personal trainer Susane Pata agrees that the activity is a great low-impact exercise. "You can access the benefits of cardiorespiratory training as well as strength and stabilization training," she says.
Below, find our picks for the best stair climbers and learn everything you need to know about choosing the right machine for you.
The best stair climbers of 2023:
The best stair climbers of 2023:
What is a stair climber?
A stair climber is an exercise machine that continuously works the lower body and core muscles by facilitating an alternating stepping motion. Most offer a range of resistance levels so you can increase or decrease the intensity of your workout.
To use a stair climber, you'll go through the motion of climbing stairs one step at a time. "This alternating motion lends itself to unilateral training, which has a lot of benefit in and of itself," Pata explains. Unilateral training involves working one side of the body at a time and is beneficial for creating symmetrical strength in the body.
Some machines require you to lift your feet to step up on a moving platform that mimics a traditional staircase, while others allow your feet to stay planted on moving pedals. A few include resistance bands for an added upper-body workout, while others have a handlebar to maintain stability.
Pata says as long as you prioritize proper recovery, stair climbers can be used every day—but be mindful of the intensity. "Daily high-intensity levels of training are ill-advised," she elaborates. "Your body needs to recover after hard workouts, and if you do not allow for this, you run the risk of overtraining, fatigue, and possible injury." Her recommendation? If you want to use it daily, only operate a stair climber at light to moderate intensity for 30 to 60 minutes at a time. If you exercise on your stair climber at a high-intensity level, limit your sessions to no more than three times per week.
Who should use a stair climber?
Just about anyone who is capable of walking up the stairs can incorporate a stair climber into their routine. It's a great exercise method for weight loss, and for anyone seeking a low-impact option that decreases stress on the joints. Runners who want to boost strength and power in other areas will particularly benefit from stair climbing, says Pata.
Pata recommends that people with preexisting knee problems should avoid this workout, as it could aggravate knee pain. Also, those with health conditions, such as heart issues, should always receive clearance from their health care practitioner before adding a stair climber to their routine.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of a stair climber?
According to Pata, using a stair climber is beneficial for cardiovascular training and fitness. "The motion of climbing stairs mimics lunges, which strengthen the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps muscle, as well as building core strength." Because it works one leg at a time, stair climbing is a unilateral exercise. Pata says this can help prevent injury and improve performance.
Stair climbers have the added benefit of allowing you to control the intensity of your workout based on your individual needs and current strength level. "Light- to moderate-intensity relative to fitness level can be a great way to start a fitness regimen on the stair climber and a great way to lose weight over time," Pata adds. "Doing short bursts of fast stair climbing (safely) is an excellent way to condition the body for higher performance and big caloric burn."
Just know, you must stay attentive while using a stair climber to avoid making a misstep on the machine. On that note, Pata says to be cautious of going too fast to avoid taking a bad fall.
How we picked:
The number of positive customer reviews and ratings helped us determine which stair climbers were worth considering.
Fitness equipment can be expensive, so our list includes affordable stair climbers and more expensive options.
We considered the size and weight of these machines, to help you find one that won't take up too much space in your home.
Stair climbers come with a variety of features. We looked at the displays, designs, and multifunctionality of machines to pick out the best options. Some are foldable, some come with resistance bands, and others have high-tech displays to help you keep track of your progress and stats.
Our picks for the best stair climbers of 2023:
Best splurge: Bowflex Max Trainer
- High quality
- Interactive display
- Large range of resistance levels
- A bit bulky
- Not as portable as others
If you’re willing to splurge on a stair climber, this is a great option. It’s the closest quality to what you’d find in a fitness studio, with an interactive backlit display screen, a magnetic media rack for a tablet or smartphone, dynamic handles, and 20 resistance levels.
Although bulkier than many home-friendly stair climbers, the base of the machine is still small enough to fit in the corner of a room. Plus, the 300 pound weight capacity is higher than most options, which tend to max out at 250 pounds.
More than 1,600 Amazon shoppers have given this stair climber a five-star rating. Many say it’s worth the higher price tag, especially if you’re looking for a long-lasting piece of fitness equipment. One reviewer who says they “intensely dislike working out” writes, “I love that this is a fairly quiet machine and the fact that it takes up about 60 percent of the space that a true elliptical would.”
Best value: Sunny Health & Fitness Twisting Stair Stepper Machine
- Digital monitor
- Twisting steps
- No upper-body strength component
- Assembly required
This compact stair climber comes at a great value. The non-slip handlebars are adjustable to your preferred height, adding stability during your climb. An LED monitor displays step count, duration, and estimated calories burned. Plus, you can increase or decrease step height with a rotating knob on the machine.
What really sets this model apart is that it offers a twisting motion in addition to the standard up and down of climbing stairs, allowing you to work different muscles in the lower body while moving in a fluid motion.
More than 3,400 Amazon customers have given this stair climber a perfect five-star rating. Many note that it’s quiet, doesn’t take up much space, and makes for a great at-home workout. It’s “an excellent little piece to add to the health plan,” writes one reviewer. “I find it to be easy [and] low impact, but I feel the burn.”
Best vertical climber: MaxiClimber Vertical Climber
- Full-body workout
- Comes with fitness app
- Compact storage
- Hard on knees
- Small foot pedals
Slightly different from a standard stair climber, this vertical climbing machine works your upper body, core, and lower body using just your bodyweight as resistance. The settings are adjustable to fit your height, and the machine is foldable for easy storage. It also arrives almost fully assembled, so it shouldn’t take you too long to set it up.
The brand has an app to track your progress, access recipes, and interact with personal fitness coaches.
Thousands of Amazon shoppers enjoy using the vertical climber and it has garnered more than 5,800 five-star ratings. “I bought this thinking that it's a great piece of cheap equipment to have at home and affordable enough to replace after x amount of years,” one reviewer writes. “It's been five years, and still no need to replace. I love that it's light, doesn't require electrical power, and easy to store.
Best multipurpose: Body Power Elliptical Machine & Stair Stepper
- Elliptical and stair stepper
- LCD screen
- Assembly required
This machine offers a two-in-one workout, combining the circular motion of an elliptical and the up and down of a stair climber. It comes with large, angled foot pedals, front rollers for easy portability, a media shelf, and an LCD screen to keep track of your stats.
Control the stair climber’s eight resistance levels using a knob on the center of the machine. The dynamic handlebars move with your upper body as you pedal your feet, prompting a low-impact, full body motion.
Amazon shoppers give this stair climber 4.1 out of five stars overall, with many sharing positive experiences with the multipurpose fitness machine. One writes, “This machine's look and price caught my eye. It looks great and I love [that] I can relocate it anywhere in the room if I wanted to. The best part is that it’s cordless.”
Best portable: Sunny Health & Fitness Mini Stair Stepper
- Comes with resistance bands
- Requires balance
This mini stair stepper is Amazon’s number one bestselling step machine, and is listed for under $80. The compact piece of equipment can be easily stored away when it’s not in use, especially because it weighs just 15 pounds. You can adjust the intensity by increasing or decreasing your step height using a knob located on the base of the device.
While it’s certainly not a traditional stair climber, the little machine features two non-slip pedals and a small display to keep track of steps, time, and estimated calories burned. Plus, it comes with resistance bands which are a great way to pair the lower body stepping motion with arm, shoulder, back, and chest exercises.
This product has an impressive 17,000 five-star ratings and more than 2,700 five-star reviews. Its popularity is clear when reading through the reviews. “This stepper is exactly what I wanted—a small machine with simple mechanics at a value price,” writes one Amazon shopper.
Best quiet: Sportsroyals Stair Climber
- Comes with handlebar and resistance bands
- No assembly
- Non-adjustable resistance
- Narrow frame might not accommodate all body types
With a built-in handlebar for balanced and removable resistance bands for added resistance, this compact stair stepper requires no assembly. It has a shock-absorbing cushion on the base and hydraulic cylinders that make it quieter than many options—which Amazon reviewers can attest to. However, a few do point out that each step requires a twisting action, so if you’re looking for a standard stair stepper with an up and down motion, this model isn’t for you.
The machine has an LCD monitor for tracking steps, distance, time, and estimated calories burned, and its non-slip pedals are situated at a 38-degree angle to protect knees and ankles as you step. What’s more, there’s no assembly required.
With 4.4 out of five stars overall, the device is a winner among many Amazon shoppers. Reviewers say this “perfect” machine doesn’t squeak or creak and is “Worth every penny,” they said.
Best for small spaces: Nordic Lifting Mini Stepper & Stair Climber Machine
- Space-saving design
- Comes with an exercise guide and resistance bands
- Available in multiple colors
- Small range of motion
This space-saving option weighs just 16.5 pounds and is easy to move and store as needed.
While it doesn’t offer adjustable resistance, the machine comes with three sets of resistance bands and D-ring handles. With these attached to the base, you’ll get a full-body workout. This stair climber includes a small screen which displays your workout stats.
Many Amazon shoppers enjoy using this stair stepper at home and love how well it fits into small spaces. Some even say it’s ideal to use while working at a standing desk, and others praise the fact that it comes already assembled. One reviewer writes, “This is a great little piece of exercise equipment to have. It can fit almost anywhere but is very sturdy.”
Best foldable: Ancheer Vertical Climber
- Folds up for easy storage
- Full-body range of motion
- Adjustable height
- Small pedals
This vertical climber is meant to mimic the motion of climbing with your legs and your arms. Simply adjust it to fit your height and then get moving. When you’re not using the device, it folds up for easy storage.
Although it only uses body weight as resistance, you can keep track of your workout with a small monitor on the center of the machine, which displays time, speed, distance, and estimated calories burned.
Amazon shoppers agree that this basic vertical climber is a great value for the price. One five-star reviewer writes, “This machine gives you no choice but to flex your abs, your butt, your thighs, your biceps, and your lower back ALL at once…For $180, I’m pretty impressed.”
How to choose a stair climber.
When it comes to choosing a stair climber, you'll want to consider the price, size, and features of a machine. Your budget and floor plan will quickly narrow down your search. From there, think of what key features are important for you, such as resistance options, display screen capabilities, and upper-body exercise components.
Safety features are also important to consider, according to Pata. She recommends looking for a stair climber with handles, an emergency stop, and a slow starting cadence to avoid injury.
Are stair climbers worth it?
A stair climber is worth the investment if you plan to use it regularly. If this will be your main form of cardio, there's good reason to invest in an at-home machine.
How many minutes of stair climbing is a good workout?
Training for 30 to 60 minutes on a stair climber at a low to moderate intensity is a good workout, according to NASM-certified personal trainer Susane Pata.
Is it OK to climb stairs every day?
Yes, depending on the intensity of your training. While experts do not recommend high-intensity stair climbing every day, you can use the machine daily if working at a low to moderate intensity. Research shows daily stair climbing may decrease risk for metabolic syndrome.
Is climbing stairs better than squats?
"No exercise is better than the other—they each have their place," Pata says, explaining that while squats and climbing stairs are different movements, each helps strengthen muscles in the lower body and core. Stair climbing is more comparable to lunges, due to the leg position and movement, she notes.
When used regularly and correctly, stair climbers can boost your energy and strengthen the muscles in your lower body. If you do invest in a stair climber, be sure to talk with your physician about existing health conditions and prioritize rest and recovery in between workouts. Still not sure if this is the best home workout equipment for you? Check out our picks for the best at-home exercise bikes or the best treadmill brands.