Best for Most Big Wall Applications
The Yates Big Wall ladder stood out for its comfort and ease of use, especially on steep terrain. It is pretty expensive ($45 for 6 steps and $50 for 7 steps) but its durability means you won't wear it out. Chris McNamara uses the 6 step but you might want the 7 step for hard aid. The Metolius 8 Step Ladder was another great option if you don't mind it missing the spreader bar. It scored up there with the Yates and is $11 less expensive.
Best for Free Climbing Walls
For a wall with a lot of free climbing such as The Nose or Salathe or Lurking fear, we prefer the optimal comfort-to-weight ratio as well as the affordable price of the Metolius Alpine.
Best Budget Aider
For value, you can't beat the Fish Smart Aiders at only $47 a pair. Chris Mac did his first handful of walls with them and liked them until he started preferring aiders with more reinforced steps and more top-stepping options. Also, if you climb with four aiders (which we strongly discourage), using four of these is going to be one of your lightest options and save you more than $100 over any other four-aider setup.
If You Prefer an Etrier-Style
We like the Metolius 5 Step ($36). Chris Mac did most of his El Cap ascents with these and loves them, except for the fact that they blow out after awhile. He usually uses the 4 Step but always takes the 5 Step on hard aid such as Reticent Wall. The Metolius gets our Best Buy Award because it is very high scoring while being one of the least expensive products we tested. If you prefer ladder style, the Metolius 8 Step Ladder would get the Best Buy award.