SportmansGuide.com has the Hunters View Buddy Treestand advertised for under $80 bucks. I’ve got three of them already– I ordered another two. It has a 500 lb weight rating– perfect for me and one of the kids. When I’m hunting alone, it’s positively luxurious– all that room!
Walmart usually carries these. I’ll buy the 4 foot extension from Wally World as soon as they hit the stores. That will take it from 12 feet to 16. This is a fantastic stand at a terrific price. I’ll also buy some burlap camo to hang on the rail. First wrap a bit of pipe insulation for a padded rail, then the camo, then plastic wire ties to finish the job. I leave it up like that until season is over and then cut off the foam and burlap. I made the mistake of leaving it up one year and found the squirrels had shredded everything by Spring. That’s okay. The burlap now does double duty– in the stand in Fall, and Turkey blinds in the Spring.
If you’re going to leave these critters up, relax the straps a little, so that there is some give. I got one messed up due to a summer wind storm. When I got back to it at the end of summer, I had the top separated from the ladder by six inches. Yearly, I go up and inspect each stand. I brush off any rust and hit it with spray-on rust converter and then some Rustoleum in whatever color is handy– green, yellow, black, grey, whatever. The newer stands seem to have a better paint job than what Hunters View was putting on 5 years ago.
My only complaint on these buddy stands is that they do not lend themselves to an easy 1-man setup. Two grown men can make short work of it, but if it’s you and a kid, you might need help. This year, I’ll probably put up a climbing stick first, get up about 16 feet and then hang a sheave off the trunk. Then I can just hoist it into place.
Do most of the assembly at home or camp. Just leave the rail separate from the platform/seat. That way you have manageable pieces to carry in.
One other hint: I replace all the railing hardware with SAE threaded bolts and wingnuts. The wingnuts allow you to hand tighten all the shooting rail whenever necessary. These are the only pieces that ever come loose, and it’s a hassle. I also carry spares when I’m hunting. I’ve had to replace a couple on opening day.