One is from a brand new company focused on technology and building a connected stepping device (STEPR) similar to Peloton. And the other is from the company that invented the category all the way back in the 80s (Stairmaster).
The StairMaster 4G – also called the 4G Gauntlet and the 4G StepMill – comes as a replacement for their earlier home-use compact stepmill, the StairMaster SM3.
But how does it fare against STEPR Stair Climber – the cool new kid on the block? This article delves into the specifics, comparing their designs, performance, features, and more to help potential buyers make an informed decision. Let’s start with the specs.
|Steps Per Minute
|24 to 162
|24 to 137
|Minimum Ceiling Height
|$5,999 to $12,399
Design and Footprint
The STEPR is designed with the home user in mind. Its compact footprint (42″ L x 27.5″ W) allows it to fit easily into home spaces like garages or basements. It also only requires a ceiling height of 8ft or more.
The StairMaster 4G StepMill takes up an extra foot of depth, with a footprint of 29″ W x 54″ L. Despite its larger size, it is still compatible with rooms that have an 8ft ceiling.
The STEPR is constructed with welded steel and molded ABS casing that’s well-built for home-use applications. Plus, it looks very sleek and modern.
The StairMaster 4G has a more robust design than STEPR, making it capable of not just home-use applications but also light commercial use. That extra robustness, though, comes with a notably heavier unit weight of 348 lbs compared to 286 lbs.
The 4G has a much more modern look than its predecessor, the SM3. However, it still has a bulkier look, making it appear less sleek than the STEPR.
Performance and Features
The STEPR makes an impact with a wide variety of on-demand classes and the innovative “Step Sync” feature (coming soon), which syncs your STEPR with the pace of the coach’s machine – If you can’t keep up, you can temper the pace while still keeping the same rhythm.
The highest-end version of the 4G (15” Embedded OpenHub console) comes with something called RunTV (by Precor). This gives access to running videos from a first-person perspective, but this isn’t the same as on-demand stepping-specific classes.
Both the STEPR and the 4G have access to entertainment options in the form of streaming apps – except for the base model of the 4G, which lacks a touchscreen interface.
The STEPR offers a range of 24 resistance levels and step speeds ranging from 24 to 137 steps per minute. The top speed should be fast enough for nearly every user. The only possible exception to this is advanced users on HIIT sprints, though I certainly haven’t found the need to go that fast.
The StairMaster 4G StepMill offers a higher level of performance overall, with 20 levels of step resistance and speed ranging from 24 to 162 steps per minute, providing a faster top speed than the STEPR. No user will need to go faster than that, especially considering the taller steps.
STEPR’s “Silent Step” feature refers to it being designed specifically for quiet operation compared to other stair climbers, which are notoriously loud. It is 77 decibels at the fastest speed, making it about as loud as an average treadmill.
The 4G will be louder at its top speed. This is largely a result of its larger size and higher max speed.
The STEPR has a short step height of 5.2″, which is closer to mimicking the experience of running up steps in a stadium rather than steps in a traditional stairwell. While it’s less challenging than taller steps, it’s accessible to more people. And you can still get a great workout.
That said, the 4G provides a considerable step height of 7″, which is notably higher than any other compact stepmill on the market – not just the STEPR. Still, it’s notably shorter than a commercial stepmill step, which is usually around 9” high. That’s the tradeoff when you go with any compact stepmill instead of a commercial unit.
The STEPR tracks heart rate using a wireless Bluetooth chest strap monitor. It does not have contact monitors in the handles. While a chest strap is more accurate and will track regardless of if you’re holding the handles, it’s not quite as convenient because you have to strap it around your torso.
STEPR has made one of their first priorities post-launch to work on integrating compatibility with Apple Watch (and other smartwatches) for heart rate tracking. Your watch will send data to the STEPR. This is more convenient than a chest strap if you own a smartwatch. I don’t have any reason to believe they won’t come out with it, but it’s not real until it’s actually available.
The StairMaster 4G Gauntlet on the other hand has both a wireless strap monitor as well as contact monitors in the handle grips – on all of its models.
In addition to that, the top-of-the-line 4G model (15” OpenHub) already has Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch compatibility, which allows for real-time data sharing using NFC. This is two-way sharing. So the console displays data from your watch on the console, and your smartwatch app is able to collect and save data from the workout (e.g. step count).
The high-end version of the 4G also comes with a personal cooling fan, which is a pretty cool feature (pun intended) that’s most commonly seen on commercial equipment. This is something the STEPR lacks, though I’d argue how important it is.
Connectivity and User Interface
The STEPR has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB-C connectivity built into its 27″ 1080p rotating touchscreen console. The only connection it’s lacking is HDMI so you can’t mirror your device.
The STEPR touchscreen also has dual speakers on both the front and rear, providing sufficiently loud and clear audio whether you’re stepping on it or doing resistance band behind the unit.
The StairMaster 4G Gauntlet StepMill has three different console options, catering to different budgets and user preferences. The options include a basic 10” LCD display, a 10” touchscreen, and a 15” touchscreen. Each console comes with different features, with the higher-end consoles coming with more advanced features.
All the 4G models have WiFi, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, and front-facing speakers. The 15” OpenHub model also includes HDMI to mirror content from your phone onto the touchscreen.
Durability and Safety Features
I have no worries about STEPR’s frame and chassis build quality for in-home use. To increase longevity, the STEPR has metal covers inside the chassis to protect the electronic components from sweat. On top of that, there’s a lip around the top surface of the chassis to prevent sweat from sliding down and into the stairs.
Its safety features include manual emergency stop buttons, non-slip stairs, auto-sensing emergency stop features if you jump or fall off or if something approaches the base of the stairs.
The StairMaster 4G StepMill has a more heavy-duty build quality overall, allowing it to be used in light commercial settings rather than just in-home settings. I would’ve liked to have seen more sweat management design features like a raised lip around the top of the chassis; though the top surface does at least angle downward slightly to divert sweat off the sides.
As far as safety features go, it matches the STEPR, with textured stairs, emergency killswitch buttons, and a safety-stop sensor.
Price and Warranty
The STEPR retails for $4,999, which reflects its high-quality features. The warranty includes a default 10-year frame warranty, a 2-year parts warranty, and 1-year labor warranty. However, you can STEPR’s 36-month extended warranty for free if you use code KING. This is a $259.99 value and entails longer and more comprehensive coverage for parts and labor.
If you want an even longer extended warranty, STEPR also offers the following:
Depending on the console option, the 4G StepMill ranges from $5,999 to $12,399.
The 4G has a more impressive default warranty, including a whopping 10 years on both the frame and parts as well as 3 years for labor.
Which should you pick? Here are my thoughts:
- If you like the idea of on-demand classes with “Step Sync” technology (coming soon), a smaller footprint, standard entertainment options, and quieter operation, the STEPR Stair Climber is a better pick.
- If you value a higher step height and an overall beefier build quality but don’t care for the truly connected experience, the StairMaster 4G is a better fit.
Price is another consideration. The STEPR available at a fixed price of $4,999. Whereas, the 4G StepMill price starts at $5,999 for the basic non-touchscreen model and shoots up all the way to $12,399 for the 15” touchscreen console.
If you’ve decided that either of these impressive compact stepmills are right for your home gym, use the links below:
- Buy the STEPR Stair Climber — Remember that code KING gets you a free 36-month extended warranty (Tip: add the warranty to the cart before using the code).
- Buy the StairMaster 4G Gauntlet StepMill
If you still need help deciding which compact stair climber to buy for your home gym, check out my other guides here: