Optics tripod? What's good these days for bins and spotting scopes?

Sid Post

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I just got a 50mm and an 86mm spotting scope and I'm shopping for an older Zeiss 15x60 or a similar set of binoculars with the Meopta Meostar 15x56 looking like a good option at the moment.

Tripod threads on this site for optics seem to be pretty old and out of date with most being rifle related. Being able to mount a HOG SADDLE to an appropriate tripod would be nice but, I also don't want one too heavy or big to throw in a travel bag for a car or airplane trip.

I'm not sold on carbon fiber legs for durability and cost reasons but, they are an option. I'm also initially thinking 3-sections but, realize 4 may be needed for airline transport. I'm 5'6" so, the tripod doesn't need to go super tall but my friend is 6'2". The little 50mm spotting scope is basically half a bin but, the 86mm is a lot longer so stability issues are probably close to those of a rifle. Head weight needs to be at least 4Kg capable with 5.5Kg being better for rifles with suppressors but, thermal scopes do get heavy. What I don't want is a tripod built for a 10# rifle and 5# thermal scope for a 2.5# or 4# set of binoculars or spotting scopes.

What is good these days at various price points? I want quality without breaking the bank so, cheap Chinese knockoffs are not attractive but, a $500 professional video tripod isn't realistic either. What is a good sub-$200 option or a ~$350 option and what does the higher cost get me? Heads and attachments are an open question at the moment and I'm thinking a simple screw base isn't viable, even for my DSLR.

TIA,
Sid
 

Idaholandho

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The SLIK Pro series of carbon fiber tripods seem to be good value for your money. They have some various leg options in the $250-$400 price range. Don't have much experience with good fluid heads other than the Outdoorsman I picked up on Black Friday.
Agree with this 100%. I am sold on carbon fiber and waited for a deal on Euro Optics(I think) for the Manfrotto carbon fiber. I like the quick leg release system far better. You will def save some money with the SLIK which are nice but, check out the specs prior to purchase.
I bought an aluminum set first and at the end of the day knew I screwed up and bought the carbon fiber and haven't looked back.
PSA - Always make sure to pay attention to the weight rating of the set you buy and that they support the weight of your rifle/optic.
 

Sid Post

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How do the Really Right Stuff tripods rate? Overbuilt for optics? Good or bad for pan and tilt with a spotting scope?
 

brcfo_outdoors

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How do the Really Right Stuff tripods rate? Overbuilt for optics? Good or bad for pan and tilt with a spotting scope?

They certainly rate higher than your stated price point. RRS makes good stuff, but they know it, and you will pay handsomely for it. Its hard to say universally if a company has overbuilt tripods, because they make different sized and designs to handle different loads. Look at the weight ratings for the individual tripods to find something in your target area. I can tell you right now RRS on the low end is going to be $800+ without a head for a #25 rating, which is probably overkill for your optics. RRS makes good ball heads but expect to pay a few hundred dollars more. If you are glassing then fluid/video heads are easier to smoothly manipulate, but RRS doesn't make any at a consumer price point that I am aware of.
 

Sid Post

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I stopped by their website and saw some info on a new tripod which looked appropriate but, pricing wasn't listed.

I was hoping they were a bit more like SLIK and Manfrotto with consumer, prosumer, and professional levels of tripods with corresponding price points, though not really expecting to find the ~$150 options. In the past though, when I looked at Right Stuff tripods I did get a bit of sticker shock with tripods far above what I needed at the time.
 

middleofnowhere

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I currently own a Kramer Designs Granite Peak Tripod. It is super light weight and good for lighter optics If you are backpack hunting. I also own a really right stuff with the anvil head, there are not enough words to praise this tripod. I have used Outdoorsmans aluminum tripods and of course the commie knock-offs.

A lot of guys buy the Chinese carbon tripods and the Siriu VA5 head gets raves. Personally I decided I wanted to spend as little money in China so these were not options for me.

How you attach your binos and spotter to the tripod are important. I chose to use ARCA, it’s fairly standard and locks in positively. I put an arca plate on my rifle and have an arca plate on my Outdoorsman adapter. A “hog” saddle is expensive and then switching from rifle to optics seems like it is a pain.

Whether you go ball head or fluid head is also important. If you are going to mount a rifle, I think ball head is best. Outdoorsman’s fluid head would also be beefy enough to put a rifle on it. Personally I wouldn’t trust a plastic VA5 head with a rifle or expensive optic but a lot of guys do.

How you glass with a pan head vs. a ball head is different. With a ball head, I move my optic and then use the full field of view to scan the area. Moving a panhead with my eyes in the glass, you can sometimes feel motion sickness.

I don’t own it yet, but the new Really Right Stuff Ascend tripod with the integrated head seems to check all the boxes, but it’s expensive. It will do everything:rifle rest, backpackable and hold the largest optic if needed.

 

willfrye027

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SLIK would do the trick for you.

the “6” series is very lightweight, ideal as a backpacking tripod. A little short to glass standing and certainly not very stable fully extended.

the “7” series is beefier. I carry mine on day hunts...it’s 4lbs and change with a sirui video head. Pretty ideal for nice stable glassing. Robust enough to shoot off.

the “8” series would be good if you wanted to use it for shooting more, and you didn’t plan to carry it very far.

overall great quality and pretty affordable has been my experience with slik.
 

sp6x6

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I got outdoorsmans way back when,thought it was spendy then.But best part of my kit.I run bino spotter camera,lazer.on it
 

Montucky Roamer

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I got outdoorsmans way back when,thought it was spendy then.But best part of my kit.I run bino spotter camera,lazer.on it
This! Wish I bought the outdoorsman's first and been done. I have the manfrotto carbon tripod....it quivers in the wind which really gets old. Nothing I can tighten. Tried outdoorsman's with their pan head at same time, rock solid. Buy once, cry once.
The siuri va-5 pan head I have is awesome however. And a great , affordable option actually smoother than the outdoorsman's but a bit heavier. What binos do you run? Get the bino stud and adapter from outdoorsman's also. Binos on tripod are phenomenal.
All the rrs gear is top notch also.
 
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