Safer, quieter, more comfortable, and easier to set up…the Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe Ladder Stand and StandZ Up ladder system sets the new benchmark in tree stand performance

by Heath Wood

As an avid deer hunter of more than 25 years, I have always held a fascination for the latest and greatest hunting industry innovations. Part of the fuel that keeps my obsession going is having the opportunity to field test the newest products. This is especially true when I find a product that is designed for the deer hunter that is not only effective but also innovative—something revolutionary and a game-changer.

It’s no secret that tree stand technology has climbed mountains over the past couple of decades. I recall in the mid-’90s spending time with my father as he worked in his shop, building climbing stands and ladder stands for friends and family members simply because the technology wasn’t there and the cost of new stands was more than it would cost him to could build a custom. Since then, tree stands have become much more affordable, to the point where you cannot buy the material for what you can purchase a quality manufactured stand.

As for technologies and innovations improving over the years, it is amazing where the stand industry is now compared to where it was just a couple decades ago. There are different shapes and sizes, functions, specific uses, and, most importantly, tree stands are safer than ever. With so many advancements, it’s easy to ask, “What’s left to improve?” I found out what when I received the 22-ft. Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe ladder stand from Primal Treestands. I discovered numerous never-before-seen innovations that truly make the process of hanging a tree stand easier, quicker, and safer than ever.

Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe Ladder Stand

The Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe ladder stand from Primal Treestands is a steel-constructed ladder stand that elevates the hunter 22 feet up the side of a tree (other size models are also available). The stand is made of rounded rectangular steel tubing with a textured finish. The sizeable platform measures 24 inches wide and 29 inches deep.

I really appreciate these dimensions because I feel more comfortable and relaxed when I have plenty of room for my feet. Another plus is the expansive Textilene seat. This is constructed of a soft, molded foam that is comfortable for long sits during prime hunting times. Rounding out the comfort and convenience features are an elevated footrest, padded armrest, and an adjustable shooting rail that works great with a rifle or a crossbow. It can also be adjusted to allow plenty of room for bowhunters using vertical bows.

Back Bone Stabilizer Truss System

I mentioned that innovation ranks high with Primal Treestands, and one innovation that adds strength and durability to an already well-built stand, plus makes the setup and hunting process safer and quieter, is the Back Bone Stabilizer Truss System. This system looks like a conventional stabilizer bar that is found on most ladder stands. The difference is that the Stabilizer Truss does not meet the tree. Instead, it helps hold a cable that stretches from the bottom of the foot platform to the bottom rung of the ladder. A turnbuckle tightens the cable system at the bottom of the cable. The cable is stretched in place while the ladder is still lying flat on the ground.

On my first attempt to put the stand in place, I did not have the cable stretched onto the truss. After I got the ladder in a horizontal position, I realized that the cable was slightly short. If the cable is not put into place first, you will have the same problem I did.

So, what does this feature do? When the cable applies pressure to the back of the Stabilizer Truss and then applies pressure to the ladder, slightly bowing the entire ladder, it eliminates noise when climbing as well as when in the stand hunting. By eliminating the traditional tree-to-ladder stabilizer bars, you can literally put the ladder stand against any tree, no matter the shape. The ability to place your stand in any tree is a tremendous advantage for getting your stand in the perfect location to make the best shot. You no longer must search for the perfect tree or compromise your location. The truss also maintains tension on the ladder, increasing the overall stability of the stand.

Primal Grip Jaw System

The second part of the two-part system is the Primal Grip Jaw. I love this feature! Typically, when hanging a traditional ladder stand, I take someone along with me to help. After standing up a ladder stand against a tree, I usually put a ratchet strap about halfway up the tree to secure the ladder. Next, I climb the ladder slowly while someone holds the bottom to prevent rocking back and forth until I got another strap around the bottom of the platform. Even though I always wear a safety harness when setting up a stand, I’m usually quite nervous until I got the strap secured. This is where the Primal Grip Jaw shines.

The jaw system is made up of two arms, or jaws, that extend outward before placing the ladder against a tree. The two jaws are attached by a strap. In the middle is another strap that extends from the jaws down to within reach when standing on the ground. An attached ratchet allows you to tighten the jaws securely around the tree—all while standing safely on the ground. With this jaw system, you can set up the stand by yourself without assistance. Once the jaw system is in place, the stand is then held into place by a ratchet strap that is placed around the bottom part of the foot platform similar to that of traditional stands. The BIG difference is the peace of mind that the stand is already secure and cannot rock back and forth. Of course, when I got the stand in place, I first secured my safety harness to the tree and then continued to put the provided ratchet strap into place.

StandZ Up Ladder Stand Aid

The next product to mention is the StandZ Up Ladder Stand Aid, also from Primal Treestands. The StandZ Up is sold separately and can be used to help stand up most ladder stands easier and much safer than without.

One of the biggest problems I have had in the past when hanging ladder stands occurs when hanging taller stands. When trying to stand up a stand against the tree, even when I had someone helping me, the weight of the top part of the stand makes the bottom of the ladder want to kick up. When the bottom kicks up, it makes you either fight vigorously to keep the stand upright or you lose the balance of the stand, resulting in the stand slamming back down over your head.

Using the StandZ Up was the most significant WOW factor of my review of these Primal Treestand products. The StandZ Up is a device that secures to the bottom of the tree before you raise the stand into place. The StandZ Up is also made up of robust steel. The top part of the device secures around the tree about 4 to 5 feet above the ground. Next, a bar slants down to the ground, where it tees from side to side. Along that tee is where you secure the bottom rung of your ladder. The rung secures by sliding into two U shaped slots that are secured by two hitch pins.

After the ladder is secured, you can then lift the stand upright and move it into place. This is a process you can do solo, but since I am a short guy, I had a buddy help me.

When using the StandZ Up, I could not help but compare it to the let-off of a compound bow. When drawing a bow, you can feel when it breaks over, and it then becomes easier to pull and hold at full draw. That is the way the StandZ Up works. Once we got the ladder moving upwards, it was as if it “broke over” and became effortless. From past experience with conventional stands, I couldn’t help but brace for the bottom of the ladder to kick out. Of course, that didn’t happen with the StandZ Up; it held securely in place, making the stand raising easy and safe.

After the tree stand is in place, simply lift on the bottom of the ladder to remove from the StandZ Up and then proceed to secure the Primal Grip Jaw system with provided straps.

Final Thoughts

Even though I had help standing up the Primal 22-ft Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe ladder stand, I would not be afraid to tackle this task by myself. When combined with the StandZ Up Ladder Aid, you discover an array of innovations and designs that scream simplicity for the stand-hanging process and safety for setup and use. Beyond the safety and sturdiness, it’s easy to see that the practical needs of the hunter are also addressed. The Backbone Stabilizer Truss system with the attached cable allows for a silent hunting experience, which can be crucial on those crisp cold mornings when everything wants to pop and squeak. Add the roomy and comfortable seat, expansive platform, and the shooting rail, and the Mac Daddy Xtra Wide Deluxe ladder stand makes for an enjoyable sit no matter how long the hunt.

For more info on these ladder stand systems or other tree stand innovations, visit the Primal Treestands website.

Author’s Note: Longtime friend and Mossy Oak Pro Staffer Cole Chatman assisted in the setup and review of this product.

Heath Wood has been published in many major hunting magazines, websites, and blogs for over the last 15 years. His favorite topics include deer, turkey, and predator hunting. Wood has also appeared on Bass Pro Shop's Outdoor World TV, Hunters Specialties' The Stuff of Legends and the popular DVD series Cuttin' and Struttin', as well as the NWTF's Turkey Call TV. Heath enjoys helping introduce newcomers to hunting.

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