Lightweight, Sturdy, Inexpensive Tripod to Take Along on Hikes

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by ed_vatza, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. I am looking for, well, a lightweight yet sturdy tripod to take along on hikes.
    I'd like it to either be able to fit in a backpack or to be attached to lumbar
    pack without having it stick out too much if at all. So I'd like it collapsible
    to something in the 12" to 18" range (at most). Heaviest combo on it would be a
    Canon Rebel XT with a 70-300mm USM IS lens. And I am 6'2" tall. Ideally, I'd
    like to spend somewhere around $100 +/-. Am I looking for something that does
    not exist? One tripod my local camera shop suggested is the Manfrotto 785B. Any
    comments? Suggestions?
  2. I was looking for one, for my recent trip to India. Longest lens I carried with me was 100 mm Macro. After mountin my Eos 500N with 100 mm macro on 785B, I did not feel comfortable. The tripod has very thin legs. Finally I took the Bogen / Montrotto 3001 legset.
    - Ramana
  3. lightweight, sturdy, and inexpensive,... do these three words really occur in the same sentence?

    i don't know really how much the gitzo 1220 costs, didn't find it at some of the usual online shops, but it's quite light, and quite stable.

    best of luck...
  4. Well the 1228 is lightweight and sturdy. That's two out of three!
  5. You can't get all three: You can get inexpensive and lightweight, or inexpensive and sturdy, or sturdy and lightweight. The first one I'd say something like the Bogen 3001. The second, maybe the 3221 or the modern equivalent. For the third I think the Gitzo 1228 carbon fiber mountaineer. The third one is a GREAT tripod, but it's probably over $500.
  6. les


    "lightweight, sturdy, and inexpensive"...pick any two.

    I do not know what qualifies as "lightweight" in your books - probably something around 4.5 pounds (or 2kg). I had good experience with SLIK Sherpa series - something like 200R or 250R model, is reasonably rigid, reasonably light (about 2kg with including the head), reasonably cheap (around $100-120). There are models in the Sherpa series with 3 or 4 leg segments - the 4-segment legs give you collapsed length of about 22". The quality is very good for the money, so you might try it.
  7. les


    BTW, in the shop I compared the SLIK with BOGEN 3001 and I ended up with SLIK. I did bring the camera and the lenses to the shop and tried them on both tripods, giving light whacks to the camera and to the legs of the tripod to check vibration. I also checked the overall stiffness of the setup - and basically could tell no difference between these two.
  8. Feisol 3402N = $165 + shipping.

    lightweight, inexpensive, sturdy enough
  9. Lightweight, inexpensive, sturdy, are contradictory terms when describing a tripod, and though some manufacturers advertise their wares as such you are in for disappointment if you believe them. For years in Alaska outback I used a hiking staff with a screw in the head that would fit the tripod socket on the camera and that sufficed for the greater part of my efforts. A Leica table top tripod can be held against a tree, rock, or other firm surface to steady the camera. I believe you will find this more satisfactory than lugging around a device that is inadequate for the task at hand.
  10. If you can compromise on the height, many otherwise flimsy tripods start to be better when you do not extend the thinnest leg sections (and centre column). This is especially important with the four section tripods that fold into much more convenient size.
  11. I'm eyeing off a Silk Sprint Pro to take hiking. I think it is a bit lighter and less stable that many already suggested but see if it fits you needs. You may want to add a quick release plate or replace the head altogether.
  12. I've been there, and the thing about not having all three is true, no doubt. I compromised on sturdy. My Cullmann 5400 is light and inexpensive but you wouldn't call it sturdy. However, I rigged a hook to the bottom of the centre column and when I set it up I don't have it fully extended and I hang my rucksack on the hook. This makes a lot of difference. I don't think it would work for a 300mm lens but you could apply the idea to a bigger tripod anyway.
  13. WOW! As a newbie to both serious photography and I didn't quite know what to expect when I posted my question. Thanks for all the suggestions.

    As I sort of intimated in my original post, I wasn't sure that all three (lightweight, sturdy and relatively inexpensive) could be found in the same tripod. From what you all have said, the answer is pretty much no. That said, let me reframe the question. I still want to stay around the $100 (preferred) to $150 (max) price tag. Since I want this tripod primarily for hiking (but yes I will use it elsewhere for now as well), I feel it is imperitive that it be lightweight and compact. Ideally, I would like it to weigh in at less than 3 pounds and 2 pounds would be great. I would also like it pack down to somewhere in the 12" to 16" range. So at this point, I am looking for a compact, lightweight tripod for say $125.

    Sturdiness is relative. I am not looking for rock solid in a hurricane but it has got to be able to handle a Canon Rebel XT with a 70-300mm lens under normal conditions. Obviously, I don't want the tripod to topple under the weight of the camera and lens. If it is a help, I will be taking this tripod on some local hikes but am primarily thinking about it for next year's trips to Monterey/Big Sur and Yosemite as well as Acadia.

    I will check out your recommendations. Also, I have had a friend suggest I look at the Velbon Ultra Luxi and Ultra Maxis. Any thoughts on those tripods as well?
  14. I have a Velbon UltraMaxi (not sure which version, they have a few, but I have the smallest and lightest there is). I unscrewed the longer part of the centre column and left it at home to reduce the weight further and to prevent me from using it. The ball head that comes with it is not the best one, so a better ball head is a good buy. It is quite okay if the thinnest leg sections are not extended but then it only comes up to hip level. I have a Gitzo 1098 for the times when I need something sturdier but still don't want to carry a proper tripod. It is much better than the Velbon but also heavier and 2-3 times the price.
  15. If you want to fit into a pack I gather what sort of bag? If you want it for hikes its not bad but if its a daypack for like away from hikes, you need to find out how tall it allows. Mine is a daypack off my travel pack and its height allow is 40cm. My G1228 is 50cm. You also have to think about if you are going to unscrew/screw the ballhead on and off all the time or not or are you gonna get a even shorter tripod so with the ballhead it fits in your pack. You may get away with a slightly taller if you put the tripod diagnonallly but that may not be so nice when you won't be using your pack's space as best as you can .......

    For myself I think the 12xx series is good, but 11xx series and the 10xx is noticeably shorter. But its outside of your price and given you height you may not like chest height tripods or waist height.

    One other thing is why not just get a tripod strap when you have a small bag. For eliminating the weight but of course not the length of the tripod. Is you can pull the centre column out and buy a shorter column that is barely long enof to fit in.

    Hey Ikka, how you pull the centre pole out, what did yo replace it with? I think the G1228 if you pull it out you cannot hook the cam so you need a shorter stubby centre pole or what right?
  16. On 2nd thought you may find it ok to pack a tripod inside of your hiking pack but for a daypack its just too hard. For hiking I would just strap it to the back or side of your pack.

    For daypacks many of mine is 40cm maybe a bit more if you place the tripod diagonal. Still there is the ballhead rotation unit thingy. That is like 10cm height or a bit less if you find a smaller one. From all the carbon fiber Gitzo's they are all longer than 50cm when folded down or if you can accept a chest height one its 46cm folded down and there is (1) the traveller series where one leg or what folds back 180 deg I think to save room that is 41cm. But still if you attach the ball head on top it will be 10cm on top of it .. that far exceeds any day packs.

    So I think hiking pack is fine, for daypacks use a tripod strap or a camera backpack which has a tripod hook on it.
  17. For in-house or studio work nothing less than a heavy pedestal (Linhof used to make a dandy one) is totally satisfactory, even for a 35mm camera, particularly if long lenses are used. For field work when the distance from civilized amenities is not a consideration the heaviest tripod you can comfortably carry will yeild better images. When I use longer lenses (135mm,up) I mount the lens on the tripod and let it support the camera. If you are hiking far enough away from the comforts of home and must carry your bed and food on your back for several days at a time, an adapted hiking staff and minipod is the most practical solution.
  18. with a Manfrotto 785B or Slik Sprint Pro tripod on an E-P1 with telephoto lens (such as 70-300; equiv. 140-600), because the tripod is in 2lb range, with a longer lens such as this, will vibration dampening be as effective or is better to upgrade in a heavier/sturdier tripod, eg. Bogen 3021.will add lbs to travel/hikes though.
    I'd like a Ball with Pan or both. What are best suggestible tripod/head combos? $100-$300ish (Ball for wildlife, action shots) Pan to do panoramas/landscapes. Also, macro close ups. Those are main.
  19. To get all three of your conditions is impossible. Even the gitzo's lightweight small tripods are actually not all that stable at full leg extension....don't even consider extending the center column on and "lightweight tripod". Galen Rowell. noted nature photographer, used a Gitzo....I forget the model number, however it is no longer made, so a substitute of one of the newer lightweigthts is in order anyhow....anyhow, even with a great tripod like the gitzo, Galen never extended the center column, and never extended the last set of flimsy leg extentions....I think his tripod was a four section leg model. This made his tripod extremely short. But he this article I read about all this in....that he was usually able to find a suitable rock to raise the tripod up upon.
    As noted above, Gitzo is not inexpensive.
    I bought the Slik Sprint Pro and do the same thing Galen did. Never raise the center column, and never extend the fourth flimsy leg extension. This results in a surprisingly steady tripod. Albiet short. I too am 6'2" and have always bought a tripod I could stand up straight and looked thru the finder......but those are god awfully heavy. Putting my Slik Sprint Pro on a rock, fallen tree trunk, or in the city on trash cans, short walls around shrub arangements, etc..................does work out pretty well. And if I remove the head, it actually fits in a day pack. With the head still on, I have to mount it outside of the day pack. But with a full sized hiking pack you should have no problem storing it inside with the head still on it.
    You sometimes do have to compromise on the angle you shoot at.....altho that didn't seem to stop Galen Rowell But at least you don't get exhaustingly tired from carrying a monster tripod around all day.....and to the point that you don't even feel like shooting anymore because you're so tired from lugging the thing.
  20. which will be a better buy, between slik sprint pro or manfrotto 785B? or if using a longer telephoto lens 200-600mm, best to upgrade, heavier tripod? 3lb, 4lb, 5lb, (is this still within hikable comfort carrying) such as Bogen 3021 or Bogen 190?
    what happens when you do raise center column on sprint pro? does this go from 50 to 64"? what's minimum packing height with ball head on? you said this won't fit within daypack? (or backpack?) larger backpacks are 30"+.

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