Stair steppers are one of the most underrated pieces of equipment you can buy for your home gym. While every home gym typically has a bike or treadmill, very few have steppers. That’s a pity! The best stepper machines offer dynamic workouts that save you time, impact and space. They’re ergonomic, efficient, and affordable.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to all our favorite stair stepper machines on the market today! We’ve included a range of options for every lifestyle and every budget. Whether you’re looking for a full-size machine to go in your home gym or a compact setup to fit in your office, we’ve got you covered!
Read on to see all the models we currently recommend and to find out why these machines made our cut!
|Picture||Product Name||Weight Rating||Cost|
|Sunny Health & Fitness No. 045 Twister Stepper||250 lbs||$|
|Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper||220 lbs||$|
|Xiser Commercial Mini Stairmaster||400 lbs||$$|
|Bowflex TreadClimber TC10||300 lbs||$$$|
Best Stepper Machine Reviews (2019)
The Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper is the least expensive stepper machine we recommend at the moment. It’s extremely affordable, and shouldn’t cost you much more than $50, depending on sales and current prices. While it’s not rugged or challenging enough for the ambitious user, it’s an excellent first stepper machine for folks getting started on their fitness journey.
Most importantly, it offers a great workout for the casual user and newcomer to exercise. A lot of models at this price are either too jerky to use smoothly or to easy to actually burn fat.
Its unique pivoting motion helps build core muscles and open up the joints. It’s great for the thighs and glutes and provides strength-building performance without putting as much impact on your joints!
It includes resistance bands to help you train your upper body as well as your legs and core. If you don’t want to use them, you can remove them so they don’t get in the way. We love having so many options for such a low price.
While it’s by no means commercial-grade or anything close it it, this one’s built much better than other budget models. It features a steel frame and mostly metal components. It’s rated for up to 250 pounds–much more than others for the price.
You can make adjustments, which isn’t possible on most budget models. The Twister Stepper allows for adjustment of both the resistance level and the height of the step motion. That makes it a lot easier to tweak for your own fitness level and body measurements.
Where most other budget models are very bare-bones, this one includes a basic LCD monitor which tracks steps, workout time, and calories burned.
The monitor is nice if you don’t have any other way to keep track of your workouts, but a wearable device will be much more accurate in tracking calories.
You’re only supposed to use it for 15 minutes at a time. That’s true of most manual/hydraulic machines like this, though. They overheat after prolonged use, so it’s best to alternate your stepping with other exercises.
As you’d expect on such an inexpensive machine, the Sunny doesn’t have the best track record in the durability department. It’s better than other budget options, but still built quite cheaply and won’t last forever.
It definitely loses tension over time. This one won’t be the last stepper machine you ever buy.
While you can adjust the tension, it’s hard to get this one to a point where lighter people can work with it comfortably.
It can be problematic for folks with balance issues. If that’s you, check out the Climbing model in our next review!
Some users with back issues may find that the twisting motion isn’t good for their condition.
It’s only covered by a 90-day warranty.
This Sunny model, made by the same company as the Twister model above, is a great option for people who have a little more space but are still on a budget. It’s also an excellent alternative for folks who have balance issues or who simply aren’t too confident using a stepper machine without handlebars.
It has handlebars, which are fixed in place to give you better stability as you do your workouts. This is much better for anybody who finds it hard to remain stable on a compact model like the one above.
One benefit of having a larger machine is that the range of motion is greater than that on the Twister. The step height is slightly greater at the top end of the adjustments, so you feel more open in your movements. As with the Twister, you can adjust the resistance and the step height to suit your body and your fitness level.
It includes a similar monitor with basic workout tracking and a simple LCD display.
It folds neatly away for storage. We also appreciate that locking pins keep you safe when you’re setting it up. You never have to guess whether everything’s locked into place properly!
It’s only rated for 220 pounds, so heavier users shouldn’t consider this one. That’s actually the least of our recommendations!
As with the monitor on the Twister, the one on the Climbing model is very basic and not all that accurate when it comes to tracking calories. Use a wearable if you have one.
This one’s only covered by a 90-day warranty, like the Twister.
Just like with the cheaper Sunny model, the Climbing has poor quality control, lightweight construction and lackluster durability. As with the Twister, we don’t recommend this Climbing model for more than casual users.
This Xiser Commercial model is the best compact stepper machine we’ve ever reviewed. It’s quite pricey for its category, but it’s still a good deal cheaper than any full-size machine like the Bowflex below. We think it’s a great investment for folks who love stepper machines and want one for their home gym that they’ll never have to replace.
While this is certainly expensive, we think it’s an excellent investment for folks who are dedicated to their stepping and want the best thing short of a big, computerized machine. As long as you’re happy with the format, we think this is the last step trainer you ever need buy!
It’s quiet. Where most hydraulic models can get pretty squeaky in a hurry, especially over extended sessions, the Xciser is smooth and practically silent.
It’s ergonomic, with a full range of motion that means practically everyone can use it comfortably, without seeing any impact to speak of on their joints.
The smoothness of the pistons is really something special. There’s no jerkiness, hesitation, or inconsistency. You can get a great workout no matter your fitness level!
This thing is built like a tank, with extremely heavy-duty construction. It’s rated for users up to 400 pounds and has a stellar track record for reliability. No noise, no leaks, no problems whatsoever.
The Xciser is made in the USA with superb quality control–two things that are very rare on the fitness marketplace today. It’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
Even the best stepper we’ve found in this format isn’t as good as a full-size cardio machine which gives you a better range of motion and higher speeds. It can’t offer you quite as intense a workout for those reasons.
There’s no computer at all on this one. You’ll need to track your calories using a wearable device.
This Bowflex is the only full-size, fully-computerized stepper machine we recommend at the moment. It provides most of the same functionality you expect from a commercial machine at a much lower price. We also love the moving treads, which add a whole other element to your step workouts. It’s the best choice for folks who want to step every day and stay challenged!
It’s very affordable for what it is. Most full-size machines like this cost several thousand dollars, whereas this one comes in well under two grand. We think that’s a bargain, especially when you consider that it’s just as reliable as the pricier options.
It’s a very unique design. The TreadClimber combines an elliptical, a treadmill, and a stepper machine all in one package. That sounds gimmicky, but it’s very easy on the joints and has a low “perceived exertion”, which means that it’s easier to get an intense workout without feeling it.
You can also burn calories very efficiently. This one has been tested to show caloric burns up to 3.5x what you’d see on other cardio machines! Once you crank up to the maximum speed of 4.5 mph, you start to see results fast!
Careful shoppers will note that this is not the most recent TreadClimber model available. This one’s actually been on the market for quite some time. There’s a good reason why we’re recommending something old-school! It’s a lot more reliable than the updated models. Considering that it covers essentially the same functions, we don’t see any reason to pay more for something that may not be as reliable.
As with a lot of Bowflex products, this one doesn’t have a perfect track record when it comes to reliability. Having said that, it’s actually a good deal more reliable than the more recent versions of the TreadClimber.
Which of these stair stepper machines should you buy for your future workouts?
The Sunny Health & Fitness Twister Stepper is the least we think you can pay for a decent stepper machine. That’s why it’s our suggestion to buyers on a tight budget. It’s not as reliable or as ergonomic as our more expensive picks, but it’s great for the price. Get this if you’re looking for a first stepper machine, or if you’re only a very casual user. If you’re committed and want to make stepping a big part of your fitness routine, spend more!
The Sunny Folding Climbing Stepper is our budget alternative for those who don’t have great balance and want something with handlebars. It’s not as good as the Twister for engaging your upper body, but it’s a better choice for folks with mobility and stability issues.
The Xiser is the best choice if you want the ultimate mini, manual stepper machine. It doesn’t have many bells or whistles, but it has rock-solid build quality which is guaranteed to last as long as you want to keep using it. It’s expensive, but a worthy investment for those who use a stepper machine as part of their daily routine and want something that won’t break down or seize up.
Finally, we suggest the Bowflex to anyone who wants a full stair stepper machine with the bells and whistles you expect from a full-size piece of cardio equipment. It’s by far the best thing under $2000, and it’s a solid investment if you make sure to tack on an extended warranty policy. Don’t buy one of these unless you’re sure you’ll get your money’s worth, though!
Decide On Your Budget
Before you start considering any specific models, it’s a good idea to figure out how much you want to/can afford to spend on your new stair stepper machine. You can find these things available for anywhere between $50 and $5000.That’s a massive range, so take a second to think about how important a stepper machine will be to your fitness routine, and how much you can budget for your new one.
Manual stair stepper machines cost between $50 and $500. Plan to spend at least $1500 for a big, computerized machine like you’d see at a commercial gym. Thankfully, we don’t think you need to spend much more than that, since the $1500 are just as reliable as pricier options. We think it’s smarter to go with a less expensive machine and spend a few hundred on an extended warranty policy rather than dropping several grand on a machine that may not last as long as you’d expect!
Know Your Goals
As you’re comparing our recommendations, be sure to consider your fitness goals. What are you trying to achieve with your stepping routine? Do you want to burn fat? Build muscle? Work out daily? Weekly? Answering these questions will help you narrow down your options.
Know Your Space
Just as you’d do with any other piece of fitness equipment, be sure to consider your space before you buy a stepper machine. What do you actually have room for? Most folks choose mini stepper machines that fit easily under desks or other pieces of equipment. That way you don’t have to dedicate much space to your stepping routine. If you’ve got plenty of room, you might consider something with handlebars or a full upright machine. Be sure to measure your space, and check your measurements against the dimensions of any model you’re considering buying.
Now that you’ve had a look at all the models we’ve recommended in this guide, you’re ready to choose your new stair stepper machine! You can find out more about any of the models discussed here by clicking on the links in our reviews. That’s the easiest way to find current prices, complete dimensions, warranty details, and all that other good stuff.
Remember to visit our homepage to find the rest of our content, including plenty of buying guides to cover all your fitness and exercise needs. Thanks for reading and happy stepping!