5 Great Saddle Hunting Setups for Any Budget

One of the most common questions I see from people wanting to start saddle hunting is, “What saddle hunting setup should I buy?” Sometimes it’s accompanied by a budget, but many times it’s not.

I cringe every time I see this, because the avalanche of replies from mostly well-meaning saddle hunters likely leaves the original poster more confused and overwhelmed than when he/she started.

The authors complete saddle hunting setup laid out on a table.

The sheer number of saddle hunting products available these days is enough to make anyone’s head spin, but the best bet for someone new to the game is to keep it simple.

Get the basic setup you need to start, then as you develop a routine and get used to hunting from a saddle, you can then decide things like, what accessories you need and what gear you want to upgrade or modify.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few basic setups that will work for a new saddle hunter based on your budget. 

Keep in mind, saddle hunting gear is one of those “buy once, cry once” activities where it’s often best to get the highest quality gear you can afford up front to avoid having to upgrade in the near future. 

Saddle Hunting Setups Under $500

$500 seems to be the magic number for many would-be saddle hunters. Unfortunately, at that price point, your options are very limited for a full setup of new gear. But it’s not impossible. 

If I had to buy a whole new setup tomorrow, and my budget was $500, I would definitely go with the following:

XOP Sandlot Kit
(includes Mondo hybrid saddle, ropes and carabiners, and Edge platform)

XOP X2 Climbing Sticks (4)

With a $500 budget, you’d have enough money left over to pick up a few must-have accessories, like a gear strap, back band, and a cheap pack to carry everything in.

A second option at this price point, would be a full Hawk setup. Hawk catches a lot of flack from some more experienced saddle hunters, but the fact is, it gets the job done.  

Personally, I think you’re getting a much better platform and climbing sticks with the XOP package. You’re probably getting a better saddle as well, but I have not tested the two to be able to comment first-hand.

If you do decide on Hawk, though, here’s what the breakdown looks like.

Hawk Helium Hammock Saddle Kit
(includes saddle, ropes and carabiners)

Hawk Helium Climbing Sticks (four 20-inch sticks)

Hawk Helium Platform

Saddle Hunting Setups $500 to $700

A graphic featuring Tethrd's new GRIT Workhorse saddle hunting gear.

If you can afford to spend a little more money, you can really upgrade your saddle and probably get a better platform as well. So let’s take a look at what you can get for between $500 and $700.

You have a couple options in this mid price range. The first being Tethrd’s new GRIT Workhorse series that they recently introduced at the 2024 Archery Trade Association (ATA) show. 

The GRIT series is a retail-only product line marketed to new saddle hunters. So you’ll get quality gear from one of the most reputable companies in the saddle hunting space for just under $700. 

As I write this in February 2024, the GRIT series is not yet available, but should hit retailers this summer.

Workhorse Saddle Kit
(includes saddle, ropes and carabiners, and a back band)

~ $300.00
(available July 2024)

Workhorse Climbing Sticks (4)

~ $175.00
(available July 2024)

Workhorse Platform

Under $200.00
(available July 2024)

Another option in this price range would be to use the XOP Edge platform and X2 climbing sticks from our under $500 option, but pair them with a better quality saddle kit, like one from Tethrd, CRUZR, Latitude Outdoors, or some of the smaller saddle manufacturers like Buzzard Roost.

Saddle Hunting Setups $700 to $1,000

Closeup image of the Buzzard Roost saddle being worn by the author.
If you can afford a setup closer to $700, you can really upgrade your saddle to something premium like the Buzzard Roost two-panel saddle featured here.

If you can spend up to $1,000, you have a lot of options available to you. More than I can possibly cover in one article. You should be able to get about any saddle kit you want with any of the popular platforms. 

I’d figure $400 for the saddle kit and $200-300 for the platform. At the upper end of this budget, that leaves you $300 to $400 for a good set of climbing sticks. 

Here are a couple of options I would consider in this price range:

Tethrd UltraLock, CRUZR XC or Buzzard Roost Saddle Kit (will include saddle, ropes and carabiners)

~ $450.00

Latitude Carbon SS Climbing Sticks

CRUZR Seeker Platform

The Ultimate Starter Saddle Hunting Setup

If you’re not tied to a budget and can get whatever you want, congratulations! You’ll be able to get the best of the best, and will be somewhere in the $1,200 range for the basic setup.

This would be my go-to setup if I were starting from scratch with a wallet full of cash:

Tethrd UltraLock Saddle

Tethrd 8mm Tether and Lineman’s Ropes
with Carabiners

Tethrd One Climbing Sticks

Trophyline Onyx Platform

Note: Trophyline has launched a new HyperLite Series that includes climbing sticks and a platform that are made of a new material call Magnite, that is stronger and lighter than aluminum.

I’m extremely intrigued by the new line, but I’m not going to recommend it here until I’ve personally tested it. If it turns out to be as good as advertised, then I would consider placing the Trophyline platform and sticks on my “Ultimate Saddle Setup” list.

Guy holding the new Trophyline HyperLite climbing sticks and platform.
The new HyperLite series gear from Trophyline looks really promising for those who can afford the more high-end options.

Choosing the Right Saddle

While some platforms and climbing sticks are definitely better than others, ultimately it’s your choice of saddle that will determine your comfort and how much you enjoy saddle hunting.

So choose wisely. 

If possible, I would highly recommend trying a few different saddles prior to spending your hard-earned money to ensure you can stay comfortable in it for hours at a time. I think we will slowly start seeing more outdoor stores carry saddle hunting products to try, but until then, find someone local who saddle hunts and test their gear. 

Or, if that’s not an option, attend a hunting expo where some of the saddle manufacturers will be, like the Mobile Hunters Expo. That will go a long way in helping you narrow down your options so you start with something that’s going to make saddle hunting an enjoyable experience.


Why is saddle hunting gear so expensive?

Saddle hunting gear seems really expensive for what you get. A small platform that barely fits your feet is often more expensive than a nice hang-on stand three times the size. It seems crazy.

But most of these saddle hunting gear manufacturers are small companies producing their products locally in the U.S. And because they are in the U.S. and producing limited quantities, the costs are much higher than treestands mass-produced in China.
As the popularity of saddle hunting continues to grow, and these manufacturers become more efficient, I think you’ll see these prices level out a bit. Not that it will ever be cheap!

Am I better off buying a used saddle hunting setup?

One way to get more bang for your buck when it comes to saddle hunting gear is by buying used. Since most saddle hunters are gear junkies (myself included), we are always trying out new gear and seeking the latest, greatest equipment. 

That results in plenty of used gear being available to those just getting into the game. Saddle hunting Facebook groups and forums can be a great place to find used gear. Just make sure you are doing your due diligence when purchasing from a stranger. 

The best way is to join a saddle hunting Facebook group for your state, so you can find deals within driving distance. This eliminates the need for the seller to ship and greatly reduces any chance of getting scammed. It also gives you the opportunity to inspect the equipment so you can ensure it hasn’t been damaged or abused.

What if I decide I don’t like saddle hunting?

I’ve ran into very few people who gave saddle hunting a serious try and didn’t like it. But I guess it happens. The good news is there is a very strong market for used saddle hunting equipment.

So, if you do get started and decide it’s not for you, chances are you will be able to sell your equipment without losing too much of your investment. Another option would be to trade it for other hunting gear that interests you.

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