I think one of the most underrated or overlooked pieces of gear in a kit is not only your tripod legs, but your tripod head. After investing in awesome optics, without a good tripod/head combo it’s hard to see the max potential of your optics. Based in Arizona, Outdoorsmans is well known for their tripod legs, heads, window mounts and other outdoor gear. At the 2017 Sheep Show, I had the opportunity to get my hands on the Outdoorsmans Pan Head (link here). I was very impressed with it and arranged for a Rokslide review.
The first few things I found while playing with it on the showroom floor was how solid and well-built it was. The pan and tilt were butter smooth with no play in the head even with the tension screws looser. My uses for this head are for regular glassing, but I also needed it to handle digiscoping and be easy to use self-filming in the backcountry. Coming in at 11 ounces and small in size, I was really excited to get it out and see how it handled heavy glass.
Various optics tested on the Outdoorsmans Pan Head
Once back in Cody, I mounted the Pan Head on my Slik 634 tripod, then attached my Swarovski 80mm ATS spotting scope. I found the pan and tilt were very smooth. There was no extra play when panning/tilting or when the tension screws were locked down. Glassing in a grid was noticeably easier than other heads I’ve used.
The Real Test
Next was my ultimate test… the big 95mm Swarovski ATX with a digiscoping camera on it. The previous heads I’ve used have had trouble locking solid, so once you get on an animal and put your digiscope kit on the eye piece, the extra weight causes the objective lens to rise and you have to find the animal again. I understand this is to be expected with extra weight on the back end, so this was a good test for the head. I was very happy with the outcome; the head locks very solid and there was a slight amount of rise but the animal never left the frame. Giant step up from the other heads.
The Outdoorsman Pan Head handled both the Swarovski ATS 80mm and ATX 95mm well
Next, I put my Sony A7 on to see the ease of use while trying to self-film, mostly with one hand, and again the head proved itself. The grease that they use does make the head a true fluid head, something that I really wanted to have. Most other heads I have used don’t have consistent fluid motion, meaning the tension feels loose sometimes and tighter other times in the same motion. Not the case with the Pan Head, it is a true steady fluid motion.
One of the most asked questions we get on the Rokslide forum about these heads is if they are worth the cash. In my opinion if you are relying on your glass a lot, it is absolutely worth it and I will be buying one myself. These heads are well-made, lock down solid, are lightweight and offer a low profile. Checking around, their resale value tends to stay high as well. For me, the Outdoorsman Pan Head has been a night and day difference upgrade from the other heads I’ve been using. I’ll be using this head for many hunts to come.
Here is a video I did on the Outdoorsmans Pan Head’s features and benefits: Video Review
You can ask Jordan questions or discuss this article here