I think it depends how many tress youre planting affects tube/cage selection. If you're planting 10 trees, cages win easily, but if you're planting 100 trees, tubes are more practical.
We've gotten pretty proficient getting hardwood bare root seedlings going in tubes. KBC (dibble) bar, tube and 1/2" conduit. We're probably in the 80% range for leaf out when planted in spring, and maybe 60% survive over the first winter.I agree 100%, but if only three out of those one hundred survive, then I've spend a bunch of time and $ thinking that I'm growing trees when in fact I'm growing fodder for mice. Overall, my experience has been that caged trees survive at nearly 100%, when they're planted correctly. It's more work at the start, and without knowing outcomes it sure feels harder to justify. But man do I wish that I'd done it differently.
Of course, that's my property, right across the street from a suburban park and thick as a jungle. it could be very different somewhere else. Interestingly though, the choke cherry in my backyard that's in a cage is doing stellar, but the one in a tube is spindly and bending horribly because it is top heavy above the tube. That's my "controlled" experiment, with an n of one.
Tree tubes in east texas are:
microwave ovens in summer,fireant condos,field mice cover,wasp nest magnets,raccoon attraction(in search of wasps),fungus breeding ground,weed tubes, and small bird traps/graveyards
aside from above, a great product........