Outdoors buddy Seth called the other day to tell me one of his 2 x 4 and cotton clothes line tree steps had broken on him while he was trying to ascend a very large oak tree that morning. Keep in mind that the steps, plans for which were once included in the National Bowhunter Education Foundation Bowhunter Education Course, are probably a minimum of 16 years old from when I taught him to climb trees for bowhunting. The following day I was perusing a local store for paracord to make a wrist sling, see DIY Wrist Sling for Your Bow, when I happened upon a set of three Gorilla Silver Back Predator climbing sticks for a price I couldn’t in good conscience pass up.
An old 2 x 4 and cotton clothes line tree step.
Once home I called Seth and offered them up. Seth is a very good soul often taking me out bowfishing all spring and summer, giving me lots of scrap wood for various projects and loaning me his Primos Double Bull Dark Horse blind even though I have two blinds in the basement. If he broke his neck climbing a tree who would do all these things? Anyway, I asked for one thing – I wanted to set them up and compare them to my Lone Wolf sticks for you, Mostly Archery readers. He agreed.
Specifications from their respective websites:
*Gorilla Silver Back Predator Sticks:
- Lightweight aluminum construction
- Extreme portability – each stick nests/locks to the other
- Steps conveniently fold up out of the way
- Cam buckle attachment strap
- Weight: 3.5 pounds each
- Rating: 250 pounds
- Length: 32 inches
- Step distance: 15 inches
- Steps per stick: 3
- Retail: About $119.00
*Lone Wolf Climbing Sticks:
- Stick Length: 32 inches
- Distance between steps: 15 inches
- Weight: 2.5 pounds per stick
- Fits 4-22″ tree
- Single tube design
- Reversible steps
- 350 pound rating
- Retail: About $129
As you can see there are a lot of similarities between the two sticks; both are 32 inches long, both have reversible steps spaced 15 inches apart, both are nesting (although via different methods) and both use cam buckles for attachment (also via different methods). However, there are some significant differences too; the Gorilla sticks weigh one pound more for a total of three extra pounds per set of three, the Gorilla sticks are rated at 250 pounds versus the Lone Wolf’s 350 pound rating which may be due to its composite design versus Lone Wolf’s single tube design and while Lone Wolf’s sticks will accommodate 4-22″ inch straight or crooked trees the Gorilla instructions indicate their product should be used on straight trees a minimum of 8″ in diameter.
Lone Wolf (left) and Gorilla Silver Back Predator (right) Climbing Sticks.
When holding them in my hands, side-by-side, the Gorilla sticks seemed more “substantial”. The stand-offs are longer and seem beefier, possibly cast versus machined, and the stick has a good overall feel to it. The Lone Wolf stick seems slim and compact.
We laid the sticks out side-by-side. In the photo above you see the Lone Wolf on the left and the Gorilla on the right. Note the versa-button on the Lone Wolf and the left/right ears on the Gorilla. These are for attaching the cam straps. The ears on the Gorilla sticks are open on both sides. We found the cam straps had a tendency to come right off the ears while being carried around or up the tree. I might duct tape or zip-tie the left ear closed to prevent this. In years of use with the Lone Wolf sticks I have never had a cam strap slip off the versa button.
The Lone Wolf sticks nest by matching up the v-shaped stand-offs to the next stick down and matching the Allen screw heads from the top of the lower stick to holes in the back of the upper stick. A strap and buckle on the bottom stick secures the three (or more) sticks together. One problem with this system is that it isn’t always easy to get the sticks nested together and one must make sure the stick with the strap is on the bottom of the stack. Once nested, though, they are quite stable and quiet. The Gorilla sticks nest by matching keyholes on the top of the lower stick to posts on the back of the upper stick. This mate-up was also not necessarily easy to accomplish and once accomplished was secure, but kind of “jiggly” as there was no other strap. However, this allows them to be stacked in any order. After a week’s worth of use Seth said the sticks, “…just come apart now.” One or more of the cam straps could be wrapped around the three sticks to possibly remedy this. I’m also curious to know if the slotted screw head on the post indicates it could be adjusted…
The hole in the back of the Lone Wolf stick and the Allen screw head on the front of the other stick (on the versa-button).
The keyhole on the front of the Gorilla stick.
The post on the back of the Gorilla stick.
Standard storage practice for the cam straps on the Lone Wolf sticks is to wrap them around the bottom stand off and then back up to the versa-button. This works well. I did this on the Gorilla sticks and it seemed to work well also. A stack of three Gorilla sticks was substantially taller than a stack of three Lone Wolf sticks although I didn’t measure the difference.
A stack of three Gorilla sticks was substantially taller than the same number of Lone Wolf sticks. Note the excess straps stowed along the bottom stand-offs on both sets.
We hung the sticks and functionally found no difference between the two. Both reached 12 feet without any stretching or contorting. The Gorilla’s ended up about 5-6 inches higher, but that was because I hung the bottom stick a little high and then Seth hung the top two sticks. I felt the Gorillas were a little more stable, but that could have been because Seth set them up with his weight and my little carcass wasn’t even a factor for them once set. One complaint I often hear about sticks with alternating steps is that the steps always end up on the wrong side. I’ve never had much trouble with this, but I am right handed and when using my standard four sticks I always start with the bottom step to the left. I think the important thing is finding a standard procedure and stick with it.
Three Lone Wolf climbing sticks mounted on an oak tree.
Three Gorilla Silver Back Predator climbing sticks mounted to the same oak tree.
Although a very serious Lone Wolf fan I was excited to see Gorilla come out with a competing product. I was disillusioned, though, when I saw the price. The way I looked at it was that for $10 more I could save three pounds and use the very proven Lone Wolf product. Also, the Lone Wolf Alpha and Alpha Assault stands are made with matching spots for packing their brand sticks which is quite nice. I’m not sure if Gorilla’s new HX series of stands has that feature. Had I found the Gorilla sticks for the price I found these for Seth or for the current advertised sale price of $89.99 at Cabela’s I might be using them now instead. I believe they are a quality, stable and safe alternative.
I know, I know, you are saying, “I want to see a comparison of the Lone Wolf sticks to the Muddy sticks.” I recently saw just such a comparison and I’ve asked the author to do a guest blog here on Mostly Archery. He was busy hunting at the time and we are attempting to get back together.
happy hunting, dv
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