What To Look For In A Spotting Scope Tripod?

tripod on mountain

You might want to check our guide on how to select a best spotting scope before you start considering tripods for it.

So what is a tripod? Simply put, it is a three-legged stand.

When it comes to spotting scopes, a tripod is a necessity since they are more powerful than binoculars and rifle scopes; so every shake, tremor, and breath moves the scope drastically. Trying to use a spotting scope without one is like watching a movie that someone filmed while sprinting.

It allows you to stabilize the system and eliminates the majority of human error. It also offers a platform for people to set their scopes into play and divert their attention to another tool. This is valuable for hunters, shooters, artists, and photographers.

Finding the right tripod is an important factor in effectively using a spotting scope.

 

First, Pay Attention To These

camera on tripod

When you are shopping, you may run into terms you’re not familiar with. You may also not even know what to look for in general. We’ve come up with a few factors you should always consider when purchasing a tripod.

 

What Exactly Are You Getting?

Tripods are available for a wide variety of equipment. This includes still cameras, video cameras, firearms and of course spotting scopes.

Most high-end tripods have interchangeable heads and legs that are sold separately. It’s important to pay attention if you are just getting legs or getting an entire kit. Make sure the head of the unit is compatible with your gear.

 

What Do The Numbers Say?

Specifications and features will let you know the important information like the tripod’s weight and maximum height, not to mention how much weight it is capable of holding.

The tripod’s carrying capacity is an essential factor to consider, especially if you plan to practice digiscoping. You have to factor in the weight of both the camera and the spotting scope.

Height

Height is important for individual use. Some people plan to stand while using their spotting scope and others plan to be sitting, or lying down; pay special attention to this so you can tailor-fit it with your purpose of getting one in the first place.

Weight

Weight-wise, a heavy tripod is going to be difficult to carry up and down mountains if that is your goal. Understand that the tripod, spotting scope, and other gear may start to slow you down and tire you out quickly.

 

Nr.1 Thing To Avoid

Like any product, there are good and crappy tripods out there. It is one of those apparatus where  “you get what you pay for” is applicable.

Cheaply Priced

If you are going for a low-cost tripod, there are a few things you should be aware of.

The heads of economical tripods are often not removable and made from plastic. These can break easily, and once it cracks the entire tripod most likely needs to be tossed. The first thing to usually go is its locking system. This means stability becomes a major issue over time.

tripod ball head
Ball head

If the head cracks and breaks it could send your expensive spotting scope and possibly your camera crashing to the ground too.

Cheap tripods are rarely strong enough to support the weight of a spotting scope; and if you’ll use it for digiscoping, the camera would add up to the weight. The tripod’s instability can cause tremors to affect the picture you get through the spotting scope.

 

Factors Based on Purpose

hunter with spotting scope on tripod

Hunting

Hunting has a few specialized requirements for their spotting scope tripods. Most hunters need a quiet, no rattling tripod. Scopes need to be quickly set up and taken down. Lever locks are the route to go when it comes to speed.

Weight is a major consideration since most hunters prefer to travel light as it keeps them agile and quiet. Height comes in as a consideration depending on your style of hunting and varies on the hunting matrix.

Hunters can get away with using a two-way head that allows them to scan up and down, and left to right.

 

Birding

Birders benefit from the ability to quickly set up their tripod and get their scope into action. They will certainly benefit from lever locks over twist collars. A ball head that allows quick and easy transitions in different directions will be convenient.

This way, they can track birds as they fly, land, and take off.

A stationary birder who sets up and watches on just one area will benefit from a tripod that they can use while standing. Those who hump and hike probably want a lighter tripod that they can use in a kneeling or sitting position.

Weight and height are broadly based on how the birder plans to spot.

 

Shooting

Shooters who use spotting scopes often shoot in a stable position where they sit or stand. In either position, a short compact tripod is the way to go. Often known as table top tripods, these short but stout tripods are purposely built for shooters.

A good shooter’s tripod has knobs for adjusting both elevation and windage.

 

Digiscoping

Regardless of what exactly you are doing with your spotting scope and tripod, there are certain factors to consider if you plan on digiscoping.

Obviously, the tripod needs to be strong enough to resist the weight of the camera, mount, and spotting scope. You may also decide to go with the stronger and more secure twist collar locks, though they are slower but more secure. A tripod head with a bubble level may also be desired to get that perfect angle.

 

Don’t Trip

Tripods are an important aspect of using a spotting scope. I can make suggestions all day, but I advise you to go forth and ask yourself the real questions. Decide how you plan to use it and go from there. Just make sure you understand your tripod’s specifications before you press the buy button.

 

Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes

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