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Last updated: May 28, 2021
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Do you enjoy bird watching, wildlife photography, or stargazing? If you appreciate the beauty of nature, having the right kind of equipment can make your experience even more special. An important thing people tend to overlook is the usefulness of a tripod.
Apart from a good spotting scope, you need a reliable and stable tripod that complements the rest of your equipment. With so many options available on the market, it’s not easy to buy the best spotting scope tripod. Not just any tripod can do the job, and an unstable or non-portable tripod can relatively impair your watching experience. Especially for those who travel frequently and carry their gear with them, a compact and durable tripod is a must-have.
To aid your buying decision, we carefully considered features like material, maximum load, and weight of the tripods because they determine the durability, sturdiness, and ease of transportation. We also took into account the head, leg sections, and height so that you can pick a tripod that compliments your scope.
This tripod is best known for its heavy-duty legs that offer great durability and stability, making it a reliable product. The 3-way pan head of this full-size tripod is adjustable, providing an excellent viewing experience from different angles. The universal mount feature head is perfect with objective lens diameters of 44mm to 70mm. But you can go up to 80mm and enjoy smooth movement.
You can adjust the legs individually at 3 different angles, making it super stable for all kinds of uneven ground. The height of this tripod is adjustable from 18.3” to 61”, making it user-friendly. Since this tripod has an excellent maximum weight capacity of 11 lbs., it requires a stable, strong, and heavy base. The aluminum construction makes it durable and resistant to corrosion and weather damage. It weighs 5.5lbs., making it travel-friendly and portable.
What are our favorite features? This tripod is excellent for taking along on hikes. Due to its compact size, lightweight, and durable construction, it can resist corrosion. The rubber tipped legs allow added stability on uneven and rocky surfaces, and the titanium coating makes them water-resistant.
What could be better? This tripod is a great pick, apart from some tiny shortcomings. It takes longer than other tripods to set up, and the light construction of this tripod can make it wobble under harsh winds.
The Carson TF-300 is a budget-friendly yet high-quality pick. This tripod is popular for its travel-friendliness. Next, this compact tripod weighs only 3.5 lbs., making it a great option for adventure-loving individuals who enjoy wildlife viewing while hunting, hiking, and biking because you can easily fit it into your backpack. The maximum height of this tripod is 62.6”, but the supported load is not specified.
The 3-way tilting pan head of this tripod can rotate 360 degrees, making for a highly user-friendly tripod that enhances your viewing experience. The three-section adjustable legs of this tripod are equipped with snap locks that allow secure height adjustment. On top of that, the aluminum construction of this tripod makes it durable and sturdy.
What are its best features? This tripod is popular for its portability, compact dimensions, and light weight. Oher additional features also contribute to its popularity. It has a center column that extends with a geared elevator, which is handy and allows quick and precise movement.
It is excellent for traveling and hunting, with a bottom hook that can hold your backpack and can be used for the additional weight for increased stability. The two bull-eye bubble levels for secure propelling, retractable spike legs, and a carry handle are other amazing features.
What could be improved? One drawback of this tripod is that it is lightweight and can be shaky and wobbly under strong winds, making it unsuitable for heavy gear.
The Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 is an extremely sturdy and weather-resistant tripod, with its 100% carbon fiber construction that enables rigidity and stability. The carbon fiber material of this tripod allows the 4 section legs to absorb any vibration, offering an extremely stable base that holds scopes and other equipment securely. The 4 legs can further be adjusted at different angles, adapting to uneven grounds and allowing added stability on rough terrains.
The pan tilted head of this tripod has a 3/8”-20 stud. The minimum height of this tripod is 3.5”, ensuring that it is small and fits easily in your travel bag. Also, you can adjust it to a maximum height of 63”, allowing for a wide and long viewing range that makes this tripod user-friendly.
The legs have an ergonomic locking system, with a quick power lock that allows fast height extension with a one-hand opening. It weighs 4.4 lbs. and supports up to 15.4 lbs of equipment securely.
Why is it special? We like this tripod for its several unique features, such as the built-in rotating bubble level and leg angling selectors for easy adjustment. It is equipped with a 90-degree center column that enables a quick one-finger operation.
It works wonderfully, with a highly flexible vertical to a horizontal position, making it perfect for wildlife photography. The material has a wide range of working temperatures that makes this tripod functional in harsh weather conditions.
What are the flaws? The only downside of this tripod is that it is slightly more expensive than other options. Still, the outstanding and unique features make it worth every penny.
This tripod is a great pick for medium scopes that weigh up to 10 lbs. The 3-way pan head of this tripod supports them and allows easy and smooth maneuvering. Also, it secures snuggly, preventing loose and wobbly gear. The minimum height of this tripod is 23.9”, and it can be extended up to 67.1” high, allowing for the perfect elevation for bird watching and wildlife viewing.
The flip-lock legs can be splayed to adjust them to various ground levels, offering stability. The heavy-duty construction of the Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod PRO-2 with anodized aluminum allows weather resistance and durability. Thus, this product is a long-lasting investment.
What do we love it for? The flip lever leg locks make it extremely stable, with added support from the non-slip rubber feet. You can get more balance from the excellent weight hook feature, and the quick-release plate makes it simple to adjust and use. On top of that, the carry bag that it comes in allows safe and easy traveling. It is easy to set up, helping you save time.
What were we disappointed with? Even though this is a sturdy and stable tripod, the weight can make it difficult to carry around while backpacking and hiking.
You can use this 2-in-1 device as a tripod or as a monopod. The Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod is a user-friendly tool, which has 3 easily adjustable legs that can be reduced to a minimum height of 22.6” and extended to 66”.
It comes with a universal ball head design, with 2 locks for secure mounting as well as a quick-release mounting plate for fast and easy gear mounting, making it perfect for photography and video making. It weighs only 3.25 lbs. but holds up approximately 33 lbs. of load, making for a super tough and sturdy tripod.
The innovative carbon fiber tube construction of this tripod with high-temperature curing gives it a durable structure.
What makes it special? Our favorite feature of this tripod is the monopod feature that allows for versatile usage. It also has a bubble level that makes it extra stable on uneven ground, and the quick-release leg locking allows for convenient usage. It’s lightweight, and the carry bag that it comes with makes it easily portable and safe for traveling.
What cons did we find? One con of this tripod is that it doesn’t come with a manufacturer’s warranty.
This lightweight spotting scope tripod is an excellent alternative to heavier options, especially for backpacking and hiking. Since this tripod is intended for sitting down and crouching positions and shorter hikes, the height here is smaller, starting from 14.8″ and going to 53.8″ when it’s fully extended. It weighs a mere 2.1 lbs., which is extremely easy to pack in your carry bag and have it with you while hiking or trekking.
The maximum load capacity of this small tripod is 5 lbs., which is suitable for small and lightweight scopes. The anodized aluminum construction makes the 4 section legs of this tripod lightweight and dust-proof, which is great for hiking. Next, you can adjust the legs separately, making for a user-friendly product that considerably improves your viewing experience.
The removable center allows the legs to be splayed horizontally, which is great for hunting and shooting. It has a ball head, which is easy to adjust and scan.
What are our favorite features? We like this tripod for its lightweight, compact dimensions and high stability. The sturdy construction and rubber feet allow for wobble-free setting on uneven grounds. Other great features that make this tripod stand out are its quick-release plate and lever leg locks that allow for greater flexibility and stability. It comes with a carrying case, making it even more portable and travel-friendly.
What could be better? It does not support heavy scopes at all. The short height of this tripod is meant for crouching positions, which may result in knee strain after some time.
The Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker Tripod is a compact model that you can adjust to a full length. It has a minimum length of 18.9”, which allows you to carry it along on your adventures. Also, you can extend it to 70.5”, allowing for a wider and farther view. This lightweight tripod can support up to 8.8 lbs. of maximum load with its 3.94 lbs. construction.
You can adjust the 4-section legs to make your tripod stable on uneven terrains. The aluminum construction makes it light but sturdy and durable. It has a 2-way fluid pan head equipped with a quick-release plate, which makes it easy to mount any gear onto the head in no time.
What do we love it for? The lock lever allows for quick and easy height adjustment, saving you time and energy. The quick-release plate on the pan head makes this gear excellent for wildlife observation. Also, the retractable balance hook at the center of the tripod allows extra stability, along with the rubber feet that prevent slipping on wet and sloppy grounds. The carry bag with shoulder straps makes it travel-friendly.
What were we disappointed with? One down side of this tripod is that it is not compatible with binoculars.
If you are looking for a tripod that will be with you on your wildlife adventures for a long time, this durable model from BARSKA will be your holy grail. With its sturdy solid aluminum construction, this tripod is unbeatable when it comes to harsh weather conditions, corrosion, and timely wear and tear. Despite the tough materials, the innovative construction makes this tripod lightweight and easy to carry around on mountains and difficult hikes.
It weighs only 3.8 lbs. but supports up to 8.8 lbs. of gear. The versatile design of this tripod allows its 3-section legs to be compact but sturdy, with rubber feet that ensure stability and prevent the tripod from slipping on slick and muddy grounds. The adjustable legs enable a height of 26.6″ – 63.4″.
What makes it stand out? apart from its sturdiness and durability, The outstanding feature of this tripod is the ease of use that lets users adjust the height and angle of their gear quickly. It is equipped with innovative features like a leveling bubble and accessory hook that allow added stability even on rocky grounds. They prevent the tripod from wobbling under heavy scopes and strong winds. Also, the carry bag that this tripod comes with makes it easier to take with you on adventures.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? A downside of this tripod is that the high-quality construction and excellent features come at a high price.
This extremely versatile tripod is not just great for spotting scopes but is a wildlife photographer’s “dream come true”. With its light weight of 3.25 lbs. and a minimum height of 13.8”, this tripod is ideal for backpackers and frequent travelers. The sturdy and tough carbon fiber construction makes this tripod support up to 33 lbs. worth of gear, which is phenomenal for a lightweight model.
The height can be extended up to 60”, making this tripod a great option for higher hikes. On top of that, the sturdy 5-level legs of this tripod have a twist-lock locking system that you can adjust easily. The ball head of this tripod has a quick-release plate, which allows quick and easy mounting, saving some time.
What stands out? One of our favorite things about this tripod is that it comes with a spare quick-release plate, in case you lose one while on the move. It has several other excellent features that make it stand out in the pool of other tripods in the market, such as the hook for extra balance and temperature-resistance. Also, this tripod can be converted into a full-size monopod. It comes with a carry bag and has a 45-day money-back period and a 1-year warranty.
What cons did we manage to find? People, especially photographers, would prefer a flip locking system because it is more convenient.
The Bushnell Titanium Tripod is popular for its maximum height of 63”. This model lets you stand to your full head when bird watching because its height doesn’t require you to hunch forward or crouch down. Thus, this helps reduce fatigue and muscle strain. The minimum height of this tripod is 23.6”, which might make it a challenge to carry on difficult hikes.
It weighs not much at 3.5 lbs and can support a maximum load of up to 26.5 lbs. Also, it allows maximum stability and lets you use this tripod for heavy gear. The titanium alloy construction makes this tripod unbeatable when it comes to durability and sturdiness, resisting harsh weather, and placing it on uneven ground.
The three-position leg angling adjustments allow excellent stability and low setting without losing balance. The three-way pan head of this tripod can be adjusted to all orientations smoothly and with ease.
What stands out? This model is on our list of the best spotting scope tripods because it is extremely balanced and durable. It offers great features, like a gearless reversible center column at a great price for such a high-quality tripod. Also, it also with a lifetime warranty.
What cons did we manage to find? Unfortunately, a few users received it with some screws missing, so the quality control here is questionable.
Things to Consider
People who go on frequent wild adventures know that nature can be unpredictable, and it’s better to be prepared than getting rained on, quite literally. A tripod is a tool with high utility when it comes to ensuring the perfect viewing experience. It can not only support a spotting scope but also works great for hunters and photographers, letting them place their guns and cameras at the perfect angle. A tripod can really either make or break your bird watching adventures. Therefore, it is an important step to buy a reliable tripod that compliments the rest of your gear.
Reasons to get a spotting scope tripod
When you are doing activities out in the wild that requires precision, concentration, and specific orientations that one cannot achieve simply by hand support, a tripod comes in handy.
A tripod has three main functions. First, it keeps your gear securely mounted, whether we are talking about spotting scopes, telescopes, or cameras. The second function is to keep the base stable, so you don’t miss your targets. Outdoor surfaces, especially terrains out in the mountains and jungles, tend to be uneven. Luckily, a tripod can beat this issue by adapting to the ground with its adjustable legs, offering a stable base. Finally, a tripod provides excellent angles and orientations that you can set your gear on, with high precision and limited effort. Setting up a tripod is simple and easy.
Most tripods are easily portable and can be carried along on adventures to make your trips even more fun! On top of that, tripods fall on the relatively more affordable side and make for a wonderful present for your bird watcher friends as well!
How to get the best spotting scope tripod?
In order to find the best spotting scope tripod, you need to carefully consider a number of features. First and foremost is to decide how and where you plan to use a tripod and for what kind of gear. This helps you narrow down the types of tripods you can consider – compact or full-sized.
You need to look for the material of the tripod and whether it can withstand harsh weather. Also, check the legs and their adjustment options so you can manipulate the height and find more stable settings. Don’t forget about its head, which is perhaps the most important part because it determines what kinds of and how big or heavy scopes can be mounted on to the tripod safely. Finally, consider the weight, dimensions, sturdy frame, and user/travel-friendliness.
Tripods come with several types of heads that you can choose from according to your preferences. The two most common types of tripod heads are a pan head and a ball head.
A pan head is also known as a tilt head, and it can move across two independent axes, letting you tilt it up and down or move it to have a better field view. Pan heads allow easier and more straightforward adjustments, along with high gear stability. For example, the Bushnell 784030 Advanced Tripod comes with a 3-way pan/tilt head and universal mount.
Ball heads are excellent for angling because they can be freely rotated in all directions, giving you an unlimited range of motion. They allow you to adjust your gear precisely with your line of sight, and the Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod is a great option here with a universal ball head.
Min and max height
The minimum and maximum heights of tripods depend on their model. A tabletop tripod will be short because it is mounted on top of a table for shooting and aiming. Tripods allow usage in multiple positions, from prone, crouched, bent, seated, or standing up, and you can extend the height accordingly.
The maximum height of a tripod is important to consider, especially if you plan on using straight spotting scope because it should be placed higher.
It also depends on the user’s height because constant crouching can result in backaches and sore muscles. The minimum height is important as well, especially when it comes to portability and ease of traveling because smaller tripods, like the Carson TF-300, can easily fit in your backpack.
The most commonly used materials for tripod construction are aluminum and carbon fiber. Aluminum tripods are durable products that can withstand harsh weather. Since aluminum is a popular material, the overall price of your tripod shouldn’t be high. Aluminum tripods tend to withstand severe stresses and bending. But they can get uncomfortably cold on chilly days, making them difficult to handle without gloves on.
On the other hand, carbon fiber tripods come with countless advantages but at a hefty price. These tripods are stiff and lightweight, making them great for traveling. Carbon fiber tripods have lower thermal conductivity, keeping your tripod from getting cold. They have a better shock and vibration absorption than aluminum, making them even more stable. The Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 is a fantastic option made of carbon fiber. Unfortunately, the downside of this material is that it tends to shatter under severe stress. Therefore, following the maximum load capacity requirements is crucial.
Leg locks and sections
Tripods usually have three or four legs, and all of them are retractable for ease of use. Three-leg tripods collapse easily and fit into carrying bags, allowing more portability. Next, tripods that come with leg locks are secure and stable. Therefore, they allow a better grip on the ground, preventing collapse.
Tripods that come with rubber feet tend to be more stable and sturdier because they prevent slipping on different terrains and muddy grounds, giving better support on rocky mountain ranges and wet weather conditions. Three and four-leg tripods come with height adjustment options, having a minimum and maximum height for user-friendliness and flexibility. Some options, like the ZOMEI Z699C, can be used as a monopod, thanks to the removable legs.
Max load capacity
The maximum load capacity of a tripod is a crucial consideration, and it depends on the type of gear you have. Lightweight tripods usually have a lower capacity, suitable for smaller and lighter gear. These tripods tend to wobble and even can shatter if a greater load or a heavier gear is mounted on to them.
Heavier tripods are intended for heavyweight gear, with a higher weight capacity, and tend to be sturdier in their construction. The maximum load should be considered in accordance with the weight of your spotting scope and other devices like cameras that you intend to use the tripod for.
If you are an adventurer who frequently goes out into the wilderness with a backpack and camping gear, the weight of your spotting scope tripod has to be high up on the priority list. For people who like easy portability, a lightweight tripod, like the Vortex Optics High Country Tripod HC-2, is the way to go because it is easy to take with you, and you don’t have to carry around heavy gear on already exhausting terrains.
As for the drawbacks, lightweight tripods tend to be less stable and may wobble under strong winds. Heavy tripods, although difficult to carry, make for an extremely sturdy and stable base to mount heavy gear. Some compact tripods are lightweight but support higher loads, which makes them the best of both worlds.
What else can be important?
Some tripods have excellent extra features that make them go from good to unbeatable. A bubble level is a useful tool that enables you to determine how straight your tripod is set. It lets you check if the tripod is sitting perpendicular to the ground by aligning the bubble to the center of the tripod.
A weight hook is also important because it can carry your essentials and make up for the lack of weight, providing a more balanced and less wobbly tripod setting. Tripods that come with carrying bags are great for traveling because they can be easily transported and carried on trips. Some carry bags even have shoulder straps for easy carrying.
The price of tripods is influenced by a number of factors. One is the materials and construction. Aluminum tripods are relatively less pricey as compared to carbon fiber ones. Other factors that affect price are size, weight payload, and extra features that improve the user-friendliness of the tripod, like a quick-release plate, a monopod option, and a bubble level.
It is fairly simple to set up a tripod if you just follow the instructions manual they come with. People like to have a stable and balanced base for scopes, rifles, and cameras, which is why some tripods come with extra user-friendly features that allow greater balance. Tripods that come with a bubble level are easy to set up, with a straight base that is perpendicular to the ground.
Some tripods have a weight hook in the center that you can use to ensure proper balance. It prevents the tripod from wobbling and tipping over during strong winds or on uneven grounds. Look for tripods that have rubber feet to ensure it won’t slip.
Tripods made from high-quality materials are extremely durable and long-lasting. Aluminum tripods, especially those made from anodized aluminum, are sturdy, offering great protection against water, dust, and weather damage.
Carbon fiber tripods are another durable pick that has the strength to withstand harsh conditions, like extreme winter, heavy rain, and scorching heat. For a long-lasting and durable tripod, make sure to look for the type of construction and the warranties they offer because these features translate directly to quality.
Spotting scope tripods are versatile tools that you can use for several activities and types of gears. Apart from spotting scopes, you can mount video cameras, DSLRs, and other types of video and photo recorders on the head of a tripod to be used for wildlife photography and cinematography.
Some people use tripods for hunting to get a stable base and better angling. You can mount your hunting rifles on a tripod and angle them according to your aim for a better shooting experience. Tripods also work great for telescopes, in case you like stargazing better than bird watching.
A spotting scope tripod is an essential part of bird watching and wildlife observing gear, coming in different weight, size, and material options. We swear by the performance and excellent user experience of all the products on our list. If we have to pick our top three recommendations, they would be the following.
Our top pick is the Bushnell 784030 Advanced Tripod due to its overall outstanding performance and features like light and compact dimensions, rubber-tipped legs for stability, its durable and sturdy construction, as well as its wonderful height range.
The runner-up on our list for the best spotting scope tripods is the Carson TF-300, which offers portability with lightweight and compact design, durable construction, and stability at an amazingly affordable price.
Finally, we have the Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 with its excellent extra features and high-end properties, like sturdy construction, great adjustability, and weather resistance.