Review: VersaClimber 108 HP

A full-body workout machine to take climbers higher in the off-season

Winter is coming. Now that school is in session, quick trips to the local crag might be out, but you need to stay in shape for mountaineering season and you're time-constrained. Enter your new best friend, the VersaClimber. If you've never heard of it, this machine combines lower and upper body exercise into a "natural" vertical climbing motion, sort of like a stair stepper that works legs and arms. Using it resembles ascending a really steep, non-technical peak or, even closer, climbing a ladder. We got our grubby paws on the 108 HP, one of VersaClimber's entry-level models that comes with a heart rate monitor (and by Polar, no less).

Getting the 108 HP back to GearFlogger HQ was a bit of a challenge, since shipping was extortionary. We solved it by piggybacking on a trip to SoCal and just checking the two boxes for free as baggage for the return flight. Once it was in the garage mahal, it took just an hour of interpreting slightly-confusing instructions (really, no parts diagram?) and bumbling, and there it stood.

The VersaClimber takes up very little space—certainly less than a treadmill—and, hey, no power cord! It's fairly light and easy to move around, but once you're on it and working, it's stable. And work you will. The 108 HP doesn't have adjustable resistance like some of the higher models, but it doesn't matter: Just vary your stroke length and speed for all the hurt you can handle.

The VersaClimber is much more versatile than a treadmill, too. You can vary the load between your arms and legs, pull or push from either end and either side, palms up or palms down, even target your quads for a nasty burn. The angle is just right, and the grips and pedals adjust to three positions, each to accomodate just about any height. The best part is that the psychology of climbing is ever-present as you track your vertical on the screen. With all that, the VersaClimber is the clear choice for the climber—or any athlete, for that matter—who requires a full-body workout in the off-season or the office.

To get an idea of how it works, here's a (n oddly hairless) guy using the VersaClimber to some crazy electro-rock music:

Hits: Awesome, full-body workout in a small space with no plug-in required.
Misses: No variable resistance on entry level models (108 H and HP).
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Buy It
($1,995 from VersaClimber)

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