By Alex Comstock
Today I did my first hang and hunt with my new Hawk Helium hang on stand and helium climbing sticks that I recently was lucky enough to get as an early Christmas present. I want to become a much more mobile hunter in the coming years, and what better way to break in the stand by hiking in over a mile in the snow on public land for a sit? With that being said, after breaking it in, I thought I would give a quick review on what I liked about the stand and sticks, and what I didn't like.
Hawk Helium Hang on Stand: Let's start out with the stand itself, and the positives that go with it. First of all, it is very well put together. This is the first actual nice stand I have owned, and it is easy to tell how much better put together it is than a cheap $30 stand from Menards. Simply put, I felt exponentially safer in the tree. Next, it is light. It is rated at 10lbs, with a 21" by 27" platform. It is small and compact enough to pack in easily, and is big enough to be comfortable when sitting in. Also, the seat is extremely comfortable. It is by far the most comfortable seat cushion I have ever sat on while being in a tree. Last, but not least, it gripped the tree very well. It was a quick setup, and was very sturdy while in use. What I like about this stand is it's price, as it retails at $129.
Now on to the negatives. I don't have much here, but one thing that I didn't like were the backpack straps. I had the sticks, a backpack, and camera gear all attached to the stand, giving it some solid weight, and the straps weren't the kindest on my shoulders. I will most likely buy some different backpack straps to use in place of the ones that come with the stand. The only other thing that I found somewhat difficult, was unclipping the treestand strap itself after the hunt. This could have been due to somewhat cold fingers, but nonetheless, it was a small negative.
Hawk Helium Climbing Sticks: Starting off once again with the positives, these climbing sticks were definitely an upgrade from anything I have ever used before. I have a 3 pack of climbing sticks, and that was able to get me roughly 16-17 feet off of the ground. This sticks were very light, just as the stand was, weighing in at 2.8lbs per stick (30" long). The sticks stack together very easily, making it simple to strap them to the stand to pack in. Another quality that I liked about these sticks was that there is a step on each side of the stick. I like to have my feet next to each other when physically hanging the stand, and having sticks that are staggered throws off my balance. Another cool feature was the fact that the steps can fold up, giving them a slim fit while packing in as well. A 3 pack of these sticks retails at $99.
Just as with the stand, there wasn't much I didn't like about the climbing sticks. If I had to highlight some negatives, there are only a couple things that I can think of. Due to the fact the steps can fold up, make sure you don't accidentally kick one up with your foot on the way up, and then have it be folded up when you climb down the tree. The only other thing would be the grips on top of each step where your feet and hands go. The grips are very grippy for your feet, but can be hard on your hands if you are not wearing gloves, if that makes sense.
Conclusion: The Hawk Helium stand and sticks is going to be a game changer with how I hunt. Being able to have a set dedicated to being mobile is quite nice. After using the setup once, I would recommend it to fellow hunters. I look forward to being able to put it to use more over the coming years.