Tripod recommendations?
February 28, 2008 12:05 PM   Subscribe

I need a recommendation for a small tripod to be used on an extended backpacking trip.

I'm planning on taking a year long backpacking trip around the world starting late this year. My DSLR will be going with me.

Right now I have this Joby tripod, which worked ok during my trip to Hawaii last fall, but based on that experience I'd like something that extends out to at least 24", and the flexible legs on the Joby are more hokey than useful.

Ideally the new tripod will:
- be no longer than 12" packed up (excluding the ball head if I get one)
- weigh less than 1.5 lbs
- extend out to at least 24" as I mentioned

I dug through adorama's myriad tripod listings, but the prices vary significantly and I'm largely clueless as to what works well and is worth the money.

The monopod option is out, I think. I want the tripod for long exposures (in the 3 to 60 second range) and my VR lens buys me almost as many extra stops as a monopod would anyway.
posted by MillMan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have used an UltraPod and an UltraPod II for years, and love them. They don't extend to 24", but the ones that I have all have a velcro strap and v-shaped leg that allows you to securely strap it onto a light pole, tree branch, fence, etc. and essentially create a much taller, and stable, tripod. It is way better than the Joby tripod, which really is more gimmicky than useful.
posted by The World Famous at 12:33 PM on February 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

TWF: $15 and 4 ounces is tough to beat even with it being a tabletop tripod. Thanks for the suggestion.
posted by MillMan at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2008

I think the Velbon Ultra Maxi SF just about meets your requirements.
(it's towards the middle of the page)

I have one of these. It's quite small and light. It's sturdier than any other travel tripod I've come across. The collapsing mechanism utilized in the legs is quite clever and makes it possible for it to collapse to such a small size. It extends to 48" which makes it more usable than most travel tripods.

It has a sturdy built-in ballhead which might be difficult to remove. It doesn't have a detachable base plate, but otherwise it works well.

It isn't too expensive (~$100), especially compared to high end carbon fiber tripods that can run $500 or more.

I also have both UltraPods, but the Velbon is a real tripod. The only limitation for me has been the maximum height.
posted by spindling at 12:46 PM on February 28, 2008

I have the Velbon Ultra Maxi as well. Great tripod, but if you intend to use it with a digital SLR, I recommend bringing a bag to weigh it down with, as it's a little lightweight.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:56 PM on February 28, 2008

I have this great Slik mini that seems to meet those needs, but it appears the new Slik are either bigger, or much smaller.

Actually, it looks like they call it the Slik Compact now. It's pretty tiny, but comes pretty close to real tripod size when you need it. These guys are in the $50 range.
posted by advicepig at 1:31 PM on February 28, 2008

You might want to look into a Cullmann Magic tripod. I had one as my first tripod. They have ball heads with quick release plates, can be converted into a monopod and extend to 57" or so. And the best part, they fold up flat and small.

The only caveat is that they are not incredibly sturdy, so they are not good for holding heavy gear. (Max weight 2.5lbs) I replaced mine because it wouldn't hold up my Canon 20D with L lenses on it.
posted by geeky at 1:59 PM on February 28, 2008

I really recommend that you pick up an UltraPod and play with it for a while. It is a great tripod for such situations and weighs essentially nothing. Anything that has to extend much beyond the UltraPod's stubby legs will have to have some heft to be sturdy enough to be useful. If you must, this Kowa might fit the bill, although I have not used one.
posted by caddis at 2:14 PM on February 28, 2008

might i suggest the gorrilapod? it doesn't meet your criteria but it might meet your needs. worked excellent on my trip to Australia a couple of years ago.

there are a few choices in size; pick the one correct for your camera
posted by phritosan at 3:24 PM on February 28, 2008

bah, ignore me; i linked your 'hokey' tripod
posted by phritosan at 3:25 PM on February 28, 2008

phritosan: heh, no problem. Thanks for the responses everyone.
posted by MillMan at 4:30 PM on February 28, 2008

The Gitzo GT-530 is arguably the best option for you, but at $335 you have to really want it. And you still have to get a head for it.

It weighs .8 pounds, is 12.2 inches when collapsed, and 22 inches when expanded:

Gitzo's page on it

Gitzo's are hand made in Italy and built out of carbon fiber.....but absurdly expensive.

The Velbon's aren't bad, I have borrowed one and found it frustrating if you have a DSLR with even a moderate telephoto lens. The Gitzo supports 6.6 lbs, and is the sturdiest thing you'll find.

...but it is $335.

In other words, eek!
posted by ztdavis at 7:03 PM on February 28, 2008

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