Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

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skatchkins
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Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by skatchkins » Aug 28 2017 5:44 pm

20170805_182953.jpg
My tripod weighs as much as my 2 person tent. I'm not going to spend 3x the amount just to shave 1.5lbs with a carbon fiber model. Given that Noel and I were already looking at graduating to trekking poles for our upcoming trip, I thought maybe I could rig something up. An REI visit confirmed that I should be shopping on Amazon. I picked up our two set of poles for $36/pair (Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Trekking Poles).

My first thought was just to wrap my flexible Joby tripod somehow around the poles but I wanted something stable and very easy to set up/take down. While trying to figure out the head situation, I did find someone online who attempted with machined aluminium what I was trying to do. I don't have access to all of that stuff so I looked around at what I did have. I tried wood at first. The light stuff I had broke during prototyping. Next step was asking Noel if we could retire our plastic cutting board. She agreed so I copied the angles I had figured out that my regular tripod legs use. I did this just by holding the drill alongside the legs to come close to the tripod angles. I drilled the holes next to each other to allow clearance for the ballhead to rotate down for portrait photos.
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I went with a Joby Ballhead ($25) tripod attachment for the mount.

After being satisfied with the strength and angles, I cut the plastic cutting board down then smoothed the cut down using the ol' concrete patio method.
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I had been all prepared to actually thread the cutting board holes so the poles could thread on (with the pole provided snow basket mounts) but it was not at all necessary. The angles kept everything in place and that would have been overkill and more time consuming in the field. I could actually one hand move the tripod around if I kept tension on a couple legs.

It took a lot for me to leave the trusty tripod at home but the new contraption performed awesome. The pole handles gripped the ground well on rock or dirt, even at odd angles. And adjustments were just as quick as using a regular tripod. If you have only two trekking poles, a free woods stick would work just fine for the third leg.
IMG_20170814_115922_495.jpg
End result: https://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=661636
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design

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chumley
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by chumley » Aug 28 2017 6:17 pm

Way to go Mikegyver! :)

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JoelHazelton
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by JoelHazelton » Aug 28 2017 10:03 pm

Nice and innovative! Looks like it would work well for solid, steady surfaces. Appears it could be tricky in creeks. Then again, since I got my sweet, solid RRS setup (which weighs as much as 3 of my 2-person tents :lol: ), I no longer have an outlet for violent rage, so maybe I could benefit from one of these. :-k
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chumley
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by chumley » Aug 28 2017 10:22 pm

JoelHazelton wrote:I no longer have an outlet for violent rage
I've never heard you screaming obscenities from half a mile away! :lol:

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Thoreau
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by Thoreau » Aug 28 2017 10:26 pm

Massive credit for ingenuity. :app:

I've thought about some of the lighter tripod options over the years, but always end up 'upgrading' to something bigger/heavier instead. Just can't bring myself to put L glass on anything less, even if my backpack causes pain. Still using an old Manfrotto 055MF3 (probably one of their earlier carbon models) that's built like a tank. Recently slapped the ever-so-not-lightweight Manfrotto MHXPRO-BHQ2 (say that ten times fast) ball head on there to make it even more rock solid. Weights a metric ton all together, but it's not like the camera, lenses, cigars, bourbon, gadgets, guns, etc. that I'm already carrying are that light either =)

So worth it though...
IMG_2492.jpg

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skatchkins
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by skatchkins » Aug 29 2017 8:43 am

JoelHazelton wrote:Nice and innovative! Looks like it would work well for solid, steady surfaces. Appears it could be tricky in creeks.
I imagine it depends on the grippiness of the handles. I used it with some different configs out there, one leg short, slanted overlooks, a couple times in the water, etc. It's oddly sturdy as long as, like a real tripod, you spread the legs out. The only thing I wouldn't trust it with is storm chasing wind situations for possible shake factor.

I have more of the board left if you want to swing by and drill some holes.
Last edited by skatchkins on Aug 29 2017 11:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
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SuperstitionGuy
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by SuperstitionGuy » Aug 29 2017 9:08 am

I love your innovative spirit but this was the best one and we are looking forward to seeing another photo set of it. https://hikearizona.com/photo.php?ZIP=579445
A man's body may grow old, but inside his spirit can still be as young and restless as ever.
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outdoor_lover
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by outdoor_lover » Aug 29 2017 11:38 am

skatchkins wrote:I have more of the board left if you want to swing by and drill some holes.
Keep that thought... I might just have to pay you a Visit! lol
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"

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CannondaleKid
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by CannondaleKid » Aug 29 2017 1:48 pm

@skatchkins
After all the creative tinkering I'm curious how much did the tripod weigh?

I had been looking into a lightweight tripod for a while but was put off by some of the ridiculous prices. So instead of searching for the lightest I leaned toward for the cheapest and found one for $8.99 on Amazon. And the best part, it weighs in at only 12 oz!
41" Portable Travel Lightweight Aluminum Tripod with Smartphone Mount and Bag

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skatchkins
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by skatchkins » Aug 29 2017 2:11 pm

@CannondaleKid
Good question.
So the ballhead, camera plate and cutting board come in at .4 lbs (6.4oz)
The rest would depend on what trekking poles are used and you could argue that you would have those on you anyway.

Three of our poles weigh 1.4 lbs (22.4oz). So total tripod would be 1 lb and 12.8oz that handled the 3 lb 6D and 17-40f/4L with ease.

*sidenote: my usual never-fail tripod is just a Dolica Proline ($50-$70)
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design

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chumley
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by chumley » Aug 29 2017 2:21 pm

@skatchkins
You should have just drilled the holes into your cookpot and mounted the ballhead to that. You would have saved the cutting board, and a tipot is much lighter anyway. As a bonus, it would still be round and hold water just as efficiently as it does now anyway! :D
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skatchkins
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by skatchkins » Aug 29 2017 2:58 pm

@chumley
Would have probably hit my camera with a rock instead then.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
Armchair Crisis Design

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outdoor_lover
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Re: Lightweight backpacking tripod solution

Post by outdoor_lover » Aug 29 2017 8:08 pm

skatchkins wrote:Would have probably hit my camera with a rock instead then.
Sounds like you need to take some Throwing Lessons from our Fearless Leader... (Wish I knew how to find that Video!) @joebartels
Last edited by joebartels on Aug 29 2017 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: fixed issue of missing award winning video
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"

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