I have used a Summit Viper climber for the last 8-9 years and love it. I have not used any other climbers, so I don't have anything to compare, but the Viper is a very comfortable stand for all day sitting. The seat height is adjustable to accomodate gun and bow hunting. Its cable attachment to the tree is quiet, quick, and solid.
A DVD comes with the stand that does a great job of showing how to use the climber in a safe manner. Practice with the stand at low level until you feel comfortable using it. I use the climbing rope/harness religiously and I've never felt unsafe while climbing or at height. A cinch strap is supplied to hold the two sections nested together for transport and then used to hold the seat section tight to the tree at height. Also, a section of rope connects the two sections while using to prevent the bottom section from dropping away from you.
The previous posts answered your question about trimming limbs; do it preseason if you can to prevent noise/odors but have a folding saw/pruner handy for those times you decide to climb a new tree. I have certain trees that I continue to use each year that I clean-up preseason if new sprouts pop out.
Pine and sweet gum trees are prevalent where I hunt and I prefer the sweetgum over the pine. Both are soft wood trees and are weak if undersized ( I climb ones 18"-22" wide at base ) but generally straight and fairly free of limbs to climbing height. The pine bark is loud and flakes off so you have to be careful to completely "seat" the teeth of the climber for a good hold; thats why I like the sweet gum. Its bark is textured and the teeth of the stand dig in easily.
Which ever climber you decide to buy just make sure to be safe and follow the instructions. Good luck!
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