Glassing with a cheap tripod?

grfox92

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I am hunting mules in Wyoming next fall and am putting together my gear list. I am on a budget and need a lot of stuff so I am saving where ever I can.

I am a bowhunter fromt he east and have never owned a decent pair of binoculars. I am pretty set on getting the Maven C.1's in 10x42, as I have heard they blow just about anything in that price range out of the water.

I have a cheap no name tripod that came with a camcorder years ago. It is only 2 pounds and can be adjusted tall enough to stand up and glass with, and compacts down to about 18".

What are the downfalls of a cheap tripod and what are the benefits of guys changing out heads on quality tripods?

I am guessing any tripod is better then no tripod at all, but again its all new to me and I am looking to learn anything I can to be best prepared.

Thanks

Gary
 

dotman

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I would say use it, only downfall is it breaks but that’s not a hunt ending item. Put your money into binos, boots, pack, shelter, sleep system, clothing etc.

Yes it’ll be better then nothing and if it breaks, oh well, just make sure you pack it out and toss it in the trash.
 

AK Shane

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I've been using a $40 Velbon compact tripod for 10 years. I've packed it over more mountains than I can count and have never had any problems. I keep thinking that one day it will break and I'll upgrade but it just keeps on going. I would have upgraded long ago but can't find anything of less or equal weight.
 

flinginairos

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Like others have said, worst that can happen is it breaks. If you can swing $80 the OBO carbon fiber tripod from eBay is pretty dang nice. I just got one and took most of the leg sections out for a sitting tripod and it weighs just over a pound. Comes with a nice ball head as well. Good luck!


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Hall256

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Like Dotman said above, it should be a low priority. Make a list of the gear you absolutely need and work your way down the list. If you eventually get the essential gear and you have some money left over than upgrade, but you will be fine with what you have.

If you do decide to upgrade check out the classified section here, there is usually one for sale.

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WyoBowhunter21

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Use it. I have a cheaper tripod that I really have learned to love. It weighs the same as some of the higher priced once’s with some modifications. My philosophy has always been to upgrade my optics and than spend any “extra” money on other stuff. So if I had $3000 for my hunt I would get a really good set of 10x42s (at the minimum), and a spotter. The vanguard spotter is really good for the price. Of course this all depends on what your looking for in a Mulie. If you want to count points or tell a 140” from a 170”, you will want really good optics.
 

mfllood3800

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The real question is: Is it cheap or inexpensive?

A cheap gear item that is still quality is inexpensive.
A piece of crap item that is also cheap is a cheap item- and usually not worth hauling in on your back.

I have skimped on certain items and still do.
lol
Items that maybe aren't the Name brand others use, but are still quality enough to work for me.
Items like - Trekking poles (mine are only $60) but work great
- Rav power battery pack ( at half the cost of dark energy but twice the mah)

There are some things you can still hunt with and be ok

I used cheap Walmart type Manfrotto tripod/head ($80) as well as some of the low end Vortex ones.
They were fine for me.
But I slowly upgraded, for personal reasons of where weight was saved, and use of item was more favorable to my liking.

I would never take cheap quality in, but I certainly take less expensive items in.
 
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grfox92

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I don't think the tripod is a piece of junk it's just a No Name tripod. The head is definitely not fluid, its some type of plastic ball. Not sure if it's even possible to upgrade that head but either way I think it will be okay.

If I can upgrade the head does anybody have any recommendations for something that wouldn't break the bank?

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realunlucky

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I don't think the tripod is a piece of junk it's just a No Name tripod. The head is definitely not fluid, its some type of plastic ball. Not sure if it's even possible to upgrade that head but either way I think it will be okay.

If I can upgrade the head does anybody have any recommendations for something that wouldn't break the bank?

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Someone I respect once told me if he had to choose between a quality tripod head or a spotter he would choose the tripod head because a scope is useless without it.
Anyway for binoculars you can get by with a ton of options if your planning to run a spotter I'd go with a quality pan head. Depending on your budget I like the befree fuild pan head for 100$ it'll run anything you put on it.

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WyoBowhunter21

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I don't think the tripod is a piece of junk it's just a No Name tripod. The head is definitely not fluid, its some type of plastic ball. Not sure if it's even possible to upgrade that head but either way I think it will be okay.

If I can upgrade the head does anybody have any recommendations for something that wouldn't break the bank?

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Take a look at the vanguard PH-111. I like the head and the price. It’s not an outdoorsman a by any means but to me it works for intended purpose.
 

rayporter

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a rickety tripod can drive you nuts.

set it up on a windy day [cause you will use it in the wind] and look through it all day.
 

Jimbob

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Went hiking this summer and brought a cheap little travel tripod, I didn't even have a way to attach my binos to it (outdoorsmans stud was in the mail). When I set-uo campo up on a ridge I had a few mountain goats to watch and let me tell you was that little tripod ever nice. I could just sit back and rest my binos on the ball head and it was nice and steady. It was a little wobbly and annoyinh yto have to hold the binos but it was night and day difference from just freehanding the binos.

Moral of the story, a crappy tripod is way better than no tripod.

Since this time I have picked up a high quality tripod and a fluid head. The rigidity of the tripod and the smoothness of the head makes a huge difference.

no tripod < crappy tripod and head < great tripod and head
 
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grfox92

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The rigidity of the tripod and the smoothness of the head makes a hug difference.

This is kind of what I was asking about the benefits of a good tripod. I could see with a high power Spotter the smoothness could mean all the difference.

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Napperm4

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This is kind of what I was asking about the benefits of a good tripod. I could see with a high power Spotter the smoothness could mean all the difference.

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Sure it’s nice having a super steady tripod but in my experience it’s like most things in the optic world on a cost / performance basis - at some point you’re paying a lot for minor performance upgrades.

I hunt some incredibly windy country for deer seasons (60mph+ winds are normal) so no tripod nor my truck with window mount are going to be steady.

For my back country / mountain hunts wind is a bit less extreme but still gets up to 30-35 mph quite often.

I’ve learned to adapt my glassing techniques and opted to save some money on my tripod / Head set up. My main criteria is something I can rely on not to fall apart on a pack hunt while being lightweight.

I’ve used some really cheap tripods and heads myself but so far my favourite Nigeria combo has been the vortex ss tripod. I switch between the ball head and a Vanguard pv 111 (bought a couple used on here for a really good price).

Now what I mean by adapting my tripod glassing strategy is that I primarily use my binos for the scanning work (swaro 10x30 or Vortex 15x50) and only use the spotters to verify or count tines etc meaning I don’t scan with it. Just lock the head where I found something in the binos and switch out the optic. I could see wanting more in a head / legs if I was trying to take video or using my spotter as my primary scanning tool.

Based on my personal experience I wouldn’t want to pack the cheapest tripod out there (sloppy locks, head wanders and couldn’t hold the weight of my 85mm spotter) but there is no real need to break the bank either. With the vortex / Vanguard combo I’ve never felt ill equipped for digiscoping pictures or using my spotters on full zoom not when glassing (especially sitting / kneeling using the weight hook on the legs) with the stock ballhead.

I wouldn’t say that any tripod > no tripod. When it came to the super cheapies I had better luck resting my optics on my pack, a branch, trekking pole etc with the added benefit of not packing an unreliable or broken tripod around for days.


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donrleonard

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Like others have said, worst that can happen is it breaks. If you can swing $80 the OBO carbon fiber tripod from eBay is pretty dang nice. I just got one and took most of the leg sections out for a sitting tripod and it weighs just over a pound. Comes with a nice ball head as well. Good luck!


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Hey there. Just following up on this tripod. Which one do you have? Is it hard to remove/replace the legs? Never thought of this solution.
 

Sccritterkiller

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The wind goes hard into the paint in WY...It will work but it will be a PIA in the wind...I ran vortex with outdoorsmen head for a few years...it worked until the wind picked up..you could still use it but the bouncing around made long glassing sessions work. Couldn't use my 65mm spotter at all in the wind on that set up.
 

thewileyone

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Cheap tripods work but sometimes they’ll fail and you’ll drop your glass. I’ve seen it. To me it’s not worth the chance.


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