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Sole CC81 Cardio Climber Review

Quick Take

Looking for a low impact, total-body workout machine that doesn’t take up too much space? Queue, the vertical climber. A vertical climber will engage your core and major muscle groups to deliver a full-body workout. As these machines have become more popular, there are now quite a few variations on the market. The Sole CC81 is a bit of an anomaly in the climber category. It fuses elements of an elliptical machine with a more traditional climber to deliver an all-in-one workout. It’s our top vertical climber for 2020 because of its stellar combination of adjustability, durability, and additional features. At 59″ long by 31″ wide, the Sole CC81 is not a small machine when compared to other vertical climbers. It also doesn’t fold for storage after workouts like some other models on the market. This is because it’s essentially a hybrid machine, acting as both an elliptical and a climber in one. Given the quality and sturdiness of it, we think this sacrifice is totally worth it.


Hybrid Machine
Easy Adjustability
Sturdy Construction


Doesn't Fold
Quite Large For Climber

Key Features and Benefits of the Sole CC81

  • Total-Body Workout — Vertical climbers in general are ideal for delivering full-body workouts. The Sole CC81 Cardio Climber takes this a step further by adding elliptical machine elements into the mix, offering 20 levels of resistance from a 25-pound flywheel. As you engage your whole body through the different resistance levels—pulling and pushing your arms as well as stepping with your legs— you will get a well-rounded workout that challenges your whole body.
  • Adjustability As well as allowing for different heights, the Sole CC81’s multi-adjustable hand grips allow you to target different muscle groups. Not only can you alter the handlebars through 4 different height settings, you can also swap the way the handlebars are facing. To engage your triceps and biceps, have the handles facing forwards. To focus on your deltoids, adjust the handles so they are facing outwards. This adds a whole new dimension to your upper-body workouts. The oversized pedals are much like you would find on an elliptical machine, allowing for different (and very comfortable) foot positioning. Work on your calves by placing the balls of your feet on the pedals, or stand on your midfoot to focus on your quadriceps.
  • Compact (For A Hybrid) — At 59″ long by 31″ wide, the Sole CC81 is not small for a vertical climber. But when you take into consideration that it is an elliptical machine too, then it is a compact model. It does not fold, like many other vertical climbers on the market. However, not every elliptical machine does either, so this isn’t really an issue if you remember that it is really between these categories. It has the benefits of both, and we wouldn’t expect such a sturdy machine to fold up after use anyway.
  • Programming — The Sole CC81 Cardio Climber has a variety of workouts built in. There are 6 standard programs as well as 2 custom and 2 heart programs. You can view all your essential workout data on the Sole CC81’s 5” by 3” LCD display. Bluetooth connectivity allows you to transfer your workout data via Bluetooth from the CC81 to your smart device. You can track your exercise data with the help of the free Sole app, or transfer it to your favorite fitness apps such as Fitbit, Record, or Apple Health. As well as pulse grips, there’s also the option to monitor your heart rate wirelessly (chest strap included). There’s also a practical tablet mount for you to dock your device and watch training videos or TV shows while you’re torching calories.
  • Sturdy — The high-grade, welded steel frame is super sturdy. The fact that it is backed by lifetime warranty shows Sole’s confidence in the durability of the machine. You won’t rock or sway even during your most intense workouts. The Sole CC81 weighs 265 lbs. and can hold up to 400 lbs.

The Sole CC81 Versus The MaxiClimber

Our next best-rated climber for 2020 is the MaxiClimber. The Sole CC81 and MaxiClimber—although very differently designed machines—have some similarities. Both deliver full body workouts by nature of their design. Both are adjustable and provide versatile workouts as they have moving handlebars allowing for various hand positions, as well as different height settings. Both have textured pedals which allow you to use different parts of your feet to engage different lower-body muscles (although they are a different shape, with the CC18’s being more like elliptical foot pedals and the MaxiClimber’s being more like bicycle pedals). Given their solid steel construction, both models are sturdy and feel stable even during high-intensity training. The similarities verge on the fact that they are both solid, adjustable vertical climbers. The resemblances stop there really. These are just different machines at heart.


The first difference you will probably notice is the price. They are in completely different categories in this regard: the MaxiClimber comes in at around $200, and the Sole CC18 is usually $1,599. Another big difference between the machines is their size and storage options. The MaxiClimber is just 36″ long by 25″ wide, and has an easily foldable frame. It’s a lightweight and compact machine that would suit almost any home workout space. Given that, it can only hold up to 249 lbs. The heftier CC18 has a 400-pound weight capacity. Another contrast is the resistance. While the CC18 has a variety of resistance levels (1-20) from a 25-pound flywheel, the MaxiClimber has no additional, adjustable resistance built in. Users work against their own bodyweight as the resistance. The models also differ when it comes to tech. The Sole CC18 has a variety of built-in programming, wireless-heart rate monitoring capability, Bluetooth connectivity for fitness app integration and more. The MaxiClimber is basically just a solid mechanical machine: you won’t get much data, or any programming or extras thrown in. There is a digital calorie and step counter that allows you to see precisely how long and hard you exercised, but that’s it. Given this, it comes at a much, much cheaper price than the CC18.


As always, you get what you pay for. The Sole CC18 is a thoroughly engaging machine that allows for a variety of workouts. As an elliptical machine and a vertical climber in one, you’ll essentially be adding two machines to your home gym with one purchase. Its resistance levels in combination with the variety of movements it can accommodate and the built-in programming allows you to build a strength building and cardio program that you will actually look forward to. As with any fitness machine, you get what you put out on the Sole CC18. If you work hard to engage all your major muscle groups each time you hop on, you’ll be sure to see impressive results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What muscles does a vertical climber target?
A: The vertical climber can target muscles from your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves with proper form technique.
Q: Does the Sole CC81 Cardio Climber burn belly fat?
A: Yes, the Sole CC81 Cardio Climber can help to burn fat including belly fat. The more muscles you engage, the more calories your body will burn.

Rating: 85%


Product Type

Vertical Climber


Sole Fitness CC81 Cardio Climber

Overall Rating

85 %

Maximum Weight Capacity

400 pounds





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