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Evaluations : Jon E. Silks
Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Silks Tests The Greyback Hunter
By Jon Silks
Oct 2, 2005, 06:00

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To Field Evaluations by Jon Silks


Some years back I fell in love with the Ol’-Man make of treestands. They were super comfortable, quick climbers with all the right features. In fact there are four or five still in my active collection of stands. When I was informed that Gorilla had purchased the patent rights to the Ol-Man stand designs it made me happy to see them continue. The Gorilla stands are somewhat different though having added their own twist to a very good design. Join me as we thoroughly test this new offering from Gorilla.

 Basics

Gorilla’s new line of climbing stands, the Greyback, consists of four models to suit all bowhunters. Here we will look at the Deluxe Hunter.

The Greyback’s frame and main parts are constructed of lightweight aluminum for strength and durability. The entire system weighs in at 19 pounds, has a weight rating of 275 pounds and is TMA certified. The standing platform measuring 18” x 30” has a slip resistant mesh platform welded to its frame. Also part of the standing platform, and seat section as well, are the pivoting adjustment arms. These square and hollow tube structures are attached to the front part of the sections by rubber coated cables bolted at both ends and are attached to the back part of the stand on a pivoting axle. All of these bolted connections should be checked often to ensure your safety. The arms are also curved so that when pulled tight to the tree they still leave adequate room for all day comfort. A series of double holes, one on the top wall and one on the bottom, run the length of the arms to allow adjustability. One rubber-coated cable with square ends is used to attach each section to the tree. One orange square end of the cable remains secured in an adjustment arm by a d-ring snap pin while the other end is wrapped around the tree and inserted into the other adjustment arm. Once the best hole is found for the tree you have picked insert the pin through the lined up holes of the adjustment arm and square end. The square end is covered with a plastic/rubber sheath colored brightly in orange to assist with low light attachment. Unique 3-D teeth arranged in a V-shaped pattern are located at the back of the stand for solid seating of the stand. A web strap is attached to the grated platform to secure your feet for climbing. A steel buckle is sued to loosen and tighten the strap for a secure fit. Also attached to the platform arms is a two-piece retaining strap that has a steel buckle at one end and a matching easy connecting J-hook at the other. This strap is used once at your desired height to secure the section to the tree.

The 21 x 34” seating section of the Deluxe has the same biting teeth, pivoting adjustment arms, connection cable and retaining strap as the standing platform. The seating section is however basically a hollow frame with only a hammock-style net seat that spans from one side to the other. When stretched the net seat measures approximately 15” front to back. The front part of the frame, also known as the climbing bar, is padded and used to sit on when climbing. The Grey Back series uses the stand-up/sit down climbing method for scaling trees. An extra square tube channel is welded to the top of the frame for attachment of the padded Vantage Bar, which can be easily converted between a footrest and gun rest or taken off completely. Each end of the Vantage bar is secured in the receiving tube with detent pins and locking knobs. The Back packing straps with shoulder pads are also attached to the seating section. Both sections are dipped in Gorilla’s Timber Illuzion camo finish.

The pivoting arms on both the standing platform and seating section allow the Greyback Deluxe to be folded flat for comfortable and easy back packing. A bungee cord is used to hold the whole works together when packed.

A climbing treestand style full body safety harness is included with every Greyback.

 Testing

Each evaluation starts with a thorough check of the overall workmanship, mechanics and finish. The Greyback’s arms on both the climbing section and standing platform moved freely and quietly and the Vantage Bar, which can be adjusted from footrest to gun rest, was easily adjusted with the large plastic locking knobs threading in/out easily. When I first put one end of the cable into the arm section it was difficult to get the D-ring snap pin into the orange square end of the tree cable. What I found was that the square end is actually covered with an orange rubber sheath that can move somewhat obstructing the hole. I’m not sure if there is a better way to deal with this other than just checking it before each hunt. The finish on the Greyback is excellent with no blemishes or seams to be found anywhere – and it looks great. Overall workmanship was in order with only a few instances of weld spatter where the mesh standing platform was welded to the frame.

It would be beneficial if Gorilla produced a short, high-quality instructional video for assembly, use and packing. The manual they provide does a sufficient job and will get you through the process but will leave you guessing on a couple things.

After assembly and packing it was off to the woods for real-life testing. By the way, you will need to remove the backpack straps from the standing platform and attach them to the seat section. The folding arms of the Greyback allow it to pack into a low profile, which holds the weight of the stand close to your body and in turn makes long walks “back in” more comfortable. Once at the tree we had picked out for the occasion I unpacked the stand and went to work attaching it. The square end of the tree cable is a definite plus making it quite easy to line up the adjustment arm and cable end holes and inserting the d-ring snap pin. The length of the strap that connects the standing platform and seat section is a little short for my taste, not allowing enough separation between them for working around obstructions that may be at the base of a tree. I used two methods of climbing to see which I would prefer with this stand; one was to use the provided foot strap with attached bungee cord and the other was to simply place the toes of my boots under the adjustment arms. In the end it was the “strapped in” method that seemed easier and more efficient to me. Placing your toes under the adjustment arms also works well but it has one major draw back in that there is a chance that you could lose control of the standing platform and drop it. Not an impossible situation but certainly a pain 20 feet in the air!

When I first started climbing I reverted back to my Ol’-Man treestand days and tried to climb while sitting on the hammock-style net seat – not a good idea! My knees were banging off the cross brace and I’m only 5’8” – on a good day!! As I cursed this horrid design it dawned me – the instruction book expressly said not to climb that way, you are supposed to sit on the padded climbing bar. Maybe that is why they call it the “climbing bar”! Once I got a clue the whole process took on a whole new light. My daughter Rachel timed me from standing at the base of the tree with the Gorilla on my back to 20 feet in the air. The first few times it took me almost four minutes but later I had it down to less than three! Of course on an actual hunt I would take my time and try to stay dry and quiet.

At 20 feet I stopped and locked the stand in place using the retainer straps. The J-hook on one end of the retainer strap is rubberized to eliminate noise but the buckle is not. You must be careful with how you pack the buckle or it will clang around while walking to your stand and climbing. I then turned and sat down to see just how comfortable the Greyback was. After 30 minutes of sitting motionless I was still very comfortable and would imagine that the Greyback could easily be an “all day” stand given a few stretching breaks. Attach the footrest and it becomes even more comfortable! The curved pivoting arms on the deluxe also add to the comfort by providing extra room.

 
The next task was to shoot my bow into 3-D targets positioned at various distances and angles from the stand in order to evaluate clearance and sturdiness. If you take care to properly level and seat the stand on the tree it becomes quite solid even when standing on one of the outside corners. I could shoot freely in all directions from a standing position and to my left and back from a seated position. One of the aspects of this stand that I would like to see modified or removed is the climbing bar. I usually pick stands that have no enclosing structure to obstruct shots directly in front of the stand and at a steep angle. I realize that this bar provides a feeling of security for some and think it should remain as an option.

After climbing down to the base of the tree and stepping off, Rachel again timed me, this time to see how long it would take to detach the stand from the tree, pack it and put it on my back. It took a mere one minute and five seconds!

The Gorilla Greyback Deluxe is a serious contender in the battle for top climbing treestand. It has many useful features and few drawbacks. I particularly like the flat packing profile and the weight distribution it provides. Stands that have structures that stand off of your back tend to pull you backward and in the end stress muscles. Another feature that especially stands out is the hammock-style net seat. I have yet to find a seat that compares to this style in comfort. I look forward to see where Gorilla takes this new line and what new models may emerge over the next few years. For now, I am excited to have the Greyback in my active collection of stands and will certainly put it to good use!

For more information on this or any other Gorilla product, contact: http://www.gorillatreestands.com/

 

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