Steppers and Stairmasters are fine for cross-training.  BUT, performing an actual stairs workout at home or high school stadium provides superior results.  You can discuss your personal thoughts in this forum.

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All of the pros that I've met will tell you that the stairmaster is worthless because it minimizes the amount of energy in stepping that you exert. You're better off finding a tall building and walking up the flights of stairs with a weighted pack if you can manage.
Right now I'm lucky to have a great ~60ft stairset in a public park nearby to train on, but in previous living arrangements I'd primarily train in the gym with the step mill as my primary workout (but also mixing in you know, long runs, weight training, and occasionally a big hike on the weekends when I have time).

Yes you are lucky to have access to stairs.  Step mills are great for HIIT training.  Stairs rival for ascending strength and endurance as well as stability and surefootedness for descending.  Eva check out the elevation calculator for stairs.

Or if you live somewhere with a lot of hills like I do. Like you said Eva, with a weighted pack. I read somewhere that the best way to get ready for hiking is to go hiking.

I don't totally disagree with that.  90% of the people I work with that require training for hikes and treks don't have access to hiking trails with elevation changes.  Many of them unfortunately have paved trails and streets as their only option; obviously not optimal.  In those cases they train horizontally by walking lots of miles and vertically using stairs; there are other strategies but in the context of this post....


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