The 6 Best Escape Ladders

Updated May 27, 2018 by Quincy Miller

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We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Don't wait for a fire to endanger your family or employees. Installing one of these escape ladders in your home or workplace is both exceedingly simple and very cost-effective (and is quite possibly required by the fire code). We've ranked the top options here by safety, ease of use, and overall value, including both portable and permanently-installed models. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best escape ladder on Amazon.

6. Hausse Retractable

The Hausse Retractable uses hooks to attach to your sill, eliminating the need for a permanent installation. When not in use, it can live underneath a bed or in a closet, so you won't have to look at it every day, while still having it within arm's reach.
  • deploys very quickly
  • has a relatively small footprint
  • several sharp edges to beware of
Brand Hausse
Model pending
Weight 11.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

5. ResQLadder FL50SL

The 50-foot ResQLadder FL50SL has more than enough length for safe egress from windows as high as five or six stories above the ground, so it's the one to buy if you're in a tall building and you aren't sure which window may be your exit.
  • perfect for hotels or apartments
  • unravels quickly
  • heavy and difficult to move
Brand Res-Q-ladder
Model FL50SL
Weight 38.8 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. First Alert EL53W-2 Three-Story

The First Alert EL53W-2 Three-Story is a great option for families in larger homes or for low-rise apartment dwellers. It's also a must-have for offices that are several stories tall. It works for all types of windows, so your safety won't depend on your building.
  • tested to a 1125 pound capacity
  • dupont cordura nylon strapping
  • fits 6-13-inch windows
Brand First Alert
Model EL53W-2
Weight 19.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. Kidde KL-2S Two-Story

For any two-level, single-family residence, the Kidde KL-2S Two-Story is an absolute essential. It's very easy to use even by youngsters or by older residents, and everyone can appreciate the fact that it's affordably priced.
  • white hooks easy to find at night
  • anti-slip coating on rungs
  • no assembly necessary
Brand Kidde
Model 468093
Weight 9 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. X-IT 2 Story

The X-IT 2 Story secures to the window sill, and can work with installations of any size or type. It comes with a storage bag to keep it from getting in your way when it's not needed, and the instructions are sewn onto the bag, reducing the likelihood of user error.
  • can be deployed by children
  • weighs less than 6 pounds
  • comfortable even on bare feet
Brand x-it products
Model pending
Weight 6 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Werner ESC220

The Werner ESC220 can support up to 1,200 pounds at once, and 400 pounds per rung, so your entire family can scramble to safety simultaneously if need be. Even better, the rungs are flat, with anti-slip grooves, so you'll be able to climb down quickly and safely.
  • blends in well with most decor
  • instructions are very helpful
  • can be reused as often as necessary
Brand Werner
Model ESC220
Weight 16.1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

It's Good To Be Standoffish

Escape ladders hook onto the area of wall below your windowsill with two curved pieces of metal. That curvature utilizes the strength of the wall itself to support the ladder, kind of like the grappling hook. What hangs over and out of the windowsill are the rope ladders of old, but modernly updated with rungs supported by chain or sturdy nylon straps to ensure higher weight capacity. The last missing element are the standoffs.

We don't mean standoff as in a room full of actors pointing guns at one another; rather, small rubber pegged feet that not only keep the ladder from scratching the side of your home's exterior, but they also keep it from swinging uncontrollably once you're climbing down it.

Standoffs exist to create space between the rungs of the ladder and the wall, increasing the stability of the ladder itself, decreasing the amount of damage done to your siding, and, most importantly, giving you enough room to climb down without injury.

Drill, Baby, Drill!

I used to love fire drills. The long, tedious school day, indiscernible from the days before it, indicative of the days to come, could sometimes drag on endlessly. Then you'd hear it: that piercing, shrill alarm. Almost without thought your body would rise and head toward an exit, in an orderly line, of course.

Once outside, in the fresh, clean air, away from textbooks and chalkboards, away from droning teachers and looming bullies, there was the hint of freedom. Fire drills serve two important purposes. First, they train the body to act without interference from the mind. Second, they break up the monotony of quotidian suburbia.

Choosing the right ladder will make your drilling process that much nicer, as deployment and resetting will be easier, and the climb down less frightening. The first thing to consider, however, is how much ladder you actually need. Every ladder on our list can be purchased in a variety of lengths to suit the needs of your home. Count the stories up to your highest window, then buy a ladder that goes one higher.

Trust me, the last thing you want to do is buy a two story ladder today, only to move into a three story home next year and have to replace it. Also, take a look at the weight of each ladder and its relative ease of use. If you mean for a child to deploy it for themselves, make sure they can handle it.

England To The Rescue

In the late 1700s, an Englishman by the name of Daniel Maseres invented the first fire escape of any recognizable kind. Though you may picture a device more medieval than practical, they were actually window-deployed ladders, just like the ones we're discussing today.

The superintendent of the Royal Society for the Protection of Life from Fire improved on the idea, and the english fire escape was on its way. The US wouldn't have an official patent on a fire escape system until nearly 100 years later.

As cities grew, building codes demanded that construction include metal fire escapes, which led to a decline in the need for the deploying ladders of our page. But since the end of the Second World War, suburban sprawl has spiraled out of control, and individual homes require no such escapes in their building codes, leaving the escape routes up to the homeowner.

Thanks in large part to that sprawl, and also due to the increased flammability of housing materials and furniture manufactured overseas, these ladders are more important than ever.


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Last updated on May 27, 2018 by Quincy Miller

Quincy is a writer who was born in Texas, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue his life-long dream of someday writing a second page to one of his screenplays.


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