Best Tripod For Spotting Scope In 2019
Many people are using their spotting scopes by hand or struggle to support them with rocks, sticks, or whatever they come across while being outdoors. If you’ve been at your wit’s end while facing this issue, it’s time to get a tripod.
If you’re looking for the best tripod for spotting scope, you’ve come to the right place.
We’re going to discuss what types of tripods for spotting scopes are out there, what makes the best tripod for spotting scope, and, of course, we’ve handpicked 10 of the highest-value models straight from the catalogs of the biggest names in the industry. Without any further ado, let’s get straight to it.
Types Of Spotting Scope For Tripods
There are several different types of tripods you can mount a spotting scope on, so before we get to the best spotting scope tripod reviews, let’s break down all the different types. This will allow you to gain better understanding of what you need for your scoping.
Essentially, tabletop tripods are the simplest, most straightforward tabletop type. Although they do come in all shapes and sizes, they’re usually very petite and seldom reach the size beyond a mere foot.
Tripods are perfect for hobbyists as they’re usually very inexpensive, but they’re also perfect for travelling shooters and birdwatchers as they are as compact as can possibly be. Additionally, tabletop tripods are commonly sold in kits, coming with previously attached pieces (which are also often inseparable). This might be a bit of a problem for people who own several kits and like to Frankenstein their tripods.
Some people think that simply because this type of tripod is small that it’s also the flimsiest type. That’s not necessarily the case. There are many durable tabletop tripods, such as for example the RetiCAM’s model which you can check out in our review below.
Overall, this type of tripod is decently reliable, although it imposes a number of limitations simply because it’s very small.
Basically, even a tabletop tripod can be labelled as ‘compact’ in most cases (because they’re easily transportable), but there’s a huge difference between these two categories of tripods.
First of all, a compact tripod is not necessarily smaller than a full-sized one. It just comes outfitted with special features that allow you to easily assemble or disassemble it and carry it around with you.
These tripods are commonly lightweight, but that’s not their main characteristic. The main feature of a compact tripod is easy assembly process. In most cases, a compact tripod will come supplied with special hardware pieces which afford it a superior level of compactness.
For example, Geekoto’s tripod model is 58-inch long, which is several times more in comparison to tabletop tripods. However, it packs a removable monopod and a set of quick-release flip locks which make setting it up a breeze. There are dozens and dozens of similar models within the same price range, which goes to show that compact tripods can also be synonymous with budget type tripods.
The main difference between a travel tripod and a compact tripod is in their weight. Namely, professionals usually don’t care too much about their tripod’s weight as they’re usually not hauling a lot of other heavy items (excluding tripod gear and accessories) with them. A traveller, on the other hand, is usually quite encumbered.
A travel tripod will commonly share the same (and in some cases even identical) features that are commonly outfitted to a compact tripod (easy assembly) or even the tabletop tripod (small size). Ideally, a travel tripod will offer a fine balance between the two categories in order to provide the biggest benefits to the user.
Travel tripods come in all sorts of sizes so that travellers can pick the one that fits them the most, but if there’s a universal rule about this type of tripod, it’s that they’re always exceptionally light in terms of weight.
Arguably, this is the least useful type of tripods, which is the reason why we didn’t include one in our review. However, since it belongs to the same family of spotting scope gear, we’ve decided to mention it.
A monopod is basically a tripod that comes supplied with just one leg. It can be as tall as a full-size tripod, and in some cases it can even be as stable as one, but they’re much lighter than most models and they require minimal setup.
Monopods are generally used by wildlife photographers who sport spotting scopes with huge lenses. According to the laws of physics, the heavier the object that is being supported is, the more stable the support ‘pillar’ is. In that sense, monopods are generally very reliable. However, they offer the least bit of versatility and impose plenty of limitations because the shooter/photographer can’t move away from the camera at any time.
The main benefits of monopods are that it’s incredibly light, remarkably easy to use, and it requires little, and in some cases no setup at all.
Basic Tripods (hobbyist’s tripod)
This is not a conventional type of a tripod per se, but since there are many models in the budget section that possess the same characteristics, we can draw a line between them and label them as ‘basic’.
In essence, basic tripods are the least versatile type after the monopods. They’re either shorter than full-size tripods (but longer than tabletop models), they could be heavier than average, or they could simply feature inseparable pieces.
The reason why we’ve decided to categorize them is because you should be aware of such models unless you’re purposefully searching for your first tripod and don’t want to invest too much in it. These tripods generally don’t offer any type of benefits aside of simply allowing you to partake in scoping and that they’re substantially cheaper than other models.
There are all kinds of specialized tripods, including custom ones which are built after a professional’s specifications for them alone. However, since it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact number of custom made tripods, let’s talk about the two types that are the most widely used.
First we have tripods with suction cups instead of actual legs. They’re actually not so great for spotting scopes as much as they are perfect for photographers who shoot their pictures while driving.
The suction cups make them useless in almost any outdoor setting as they have a hard time attaching to certain objects. They’re can easily be mounted to glass surfaces, which makes them ideal for drivers. A perfect example of a suction cup tripod is Fat Gecko’s model, which is fairly affordable so you might want to check it out.
The second sub-category of specialized tripods includes flexible-leg tripods. For instance, GorillaPod’s tripod comes supplied with absurdly flexible legs which can easily wrap around tree branches or poles. They can be bent into virtually any shape, which makes them useful in certain scenarios.
Things To Consider Before Buying Best Spotting Scope Tripod For The Money
There are all kinds and all sorts of types of tripods you can use for your spotting scope, and here are the factors that make them different from one another:
There’s a huge difference between a budget and a high-end tripod, but more importantly, some people just don’t want to invest a fortune in a tripod. Before you even start inspecting the features of a tripod you like, decide your budget. For example, a beginner hunter is most likely to spend the bulk of his (or her) budget on a good rifle, so budget scopes are generally a good idea in this case.
• Durability/Build quality
Tripods are usually made of thin, lightweight metal alloys, which is just one of the reasons why you need to value durability over their compactness and weight. It’s usually smarter to get a heavier tripod that can withstand a couple of years of use than getting a flimsy one which is easy to carry around, but which will eventually break after a couple of months.
Alternatively, if you’re not using your spotting scope too often and if your storage economy is tight, getting a flimsier tripod could do the trick if it’s at least more compact. Fortunately, most tripod models are made of aluminum which is fairly robust and durable.
• Intended Use
The reason why there are different types of tripods is because each category is meant for different purposes. If you’re a travelling photographer, you’re obviously going to need a traveling tripod. On another hand, professionals and more experienced photographers and hunters (for example) need a more well-rounded solution, the one which offers little compromise between durability, size, and weight.
• Size And Weight
Tripods come in various sizes, ranging from tabletops to full-sized ones. The bigger the tripod is, the broader your options are. However, bigger tripods usually weigh more, so it’s always best to think ahead. Travellers usually go for more compact solutions whereas hobbyists can go with either one. People whose profession is based around using a tripod every day need a tripod with specific setup.
10 Top Best Tripod For Spotting Scope Reviews
1. Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Series
Let’s open up the best spotting scope tripod reviews with one of the finest scope models you could get for the buck – the Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod. It’s a perfect tripod for basically every possible scenario, as it’s fairly big, once folded it’s quite compact, and it rocks a sturdy build.
First of all, the legs of this tripod were anodized for additional protection, but even without it, the construction is very robust. The head packs a 3-way quick release system for faster and easier setup while the feet of this tripod feature rubber supports. In addition to that, this tripod also features a balance hook which further contributes to the overall stability.
Furthermore, there are flip lever locks which allow for ultra fast setup and adjustments of height. It can extend up to 67 inches and fold down to some 24,6 inches, which basically means that it’s a full-sized tripod with benefits of a compact one. It barely weighs 1,44 pounds, which means that it’s ultra light and compact as well.
What’s more, the Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod comes with a few complementary accessories. The bundle features a neat little carry case, a 3-way head, and a quick release plate. With these, you’ll be able to further customize it and adapt it to any situation.
The only downside of this tripod is that it costs a bit more than average. However, due to the fact that it provides so many benefits, it’s quite worth the buck.
2. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminium Tripod
If you’re really into tripods, photography and spotting scopes, you’ve certainly heard about Vanguard tripods. Their flagship models are VEO and Alta and they’ve received numerous updates and upgrades over the past couple of years.
This particular model is the Alta Pro 263AB 100 – it’s not Vanguard’s latest edition, but it’s certainly one of the best versions of the Alta tripod model. In comparison to our previous pick (Vortex Optics Pro GT) it’s a bit smaller, although it’s incredibly robust and reliable.
The Alta Pro 263AB 100 comes supplied with adjustable aluminium legs (which can be adjusted across different angles up to 80 degrees), which means that this tripod is best suited for photography from lower angles.
In terms of how convenient it is to use it, the Alta Pro 263AB 100 packs quick-flip locks as well as rubber feet supplied with a set of retractable spikes. The SBH 100 ball on top of it can rotate up to 360 degrees and packs a quick-release QS 39 plate.
That’s not all, as this tripod also features the MACC system (multi angle central column) which affords additional flexibility, making it suitable for all purposes and all possible situations. Additionally, the ISSL system (instant swivel stop and lock) makes the column ultra stable at all times. When extended, the Alta Pro 263AB 100 is 68 inches big, and folded it’s only 28,2 inches big.
It is a bit heavier in comparison to Vortex Optics Pro GT, weighing about 5.4 pounds, but its unparalleled durability more than compensates for it. Last, but not least, the Alta Pro 263AB 100 is slightly less expensive than our top pick (the Pro GT), although it’s far from being cheap per se.
3. AmazonBasics 60-inch Lightweight Tripod With Bag
Next up is AmazonBasics’ 60-inch tripod. In a nutshell, this is a plain, inexpensive tripod that does the job quite well. It was made by a brand that mainly manufactures ‘plain’ products, so this tripod is easy to use, it’s decently light, but it doesn’t particularly excel in any other field of performance.
First of all, it weighs 3 pounds, which means it’s heavier than Vortex Optics’ model and that it’s lighter than the Vanguard’s model. If folded it’s really small, being only 25 inches in size. However, it can retract up to 60 inches if need be.
It’s pretty versatile for a budget model as it packs 2 integrated bubble-view levels, as well as a 3-way head which allows you to use it in tilting and swivelling motions. It rocks a quick release plate which ensures rapid transitions between your shots, so it’s equally good for casual birdwatchers and professional photographers.
There are no real drawbacks to AmazonBasics’ tripod. It’s decently light, it’s quite versatile, and its foundation is pretty stable. Moreover, it’s a budget model which performs way better than most similarly priced tripods. We recommend it to people who have just taken up their hobbies and who are looking for an inexpensive solution.
4. Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker Tripod
Celestron’s 82050, or the TrailSeeker is a mid-priced tripod which brings plenty of benefits onboard. It’s ultra durable, it’s quite big, and the bundle comes supplied with several complementary features, such as the carry case and the shoulder strap.
Firstly, the Trail Seeker is quite light, weighing only 4 pounds. Of course, most of the tripods we’ve seen so far are a bit lighter, but it’s still far from being heavy. It packs a robust aluminium construction and it was clearly built to last.
One of the best things about this tripod is the fact that it can hunker down to 18.9 inches of height and extend up to 70.5. This makes it suitable for taking pictures or setting up scopes at various heights and angles, so it’s equally good for a casual photographer as it is for a seasoned professional shooter.
All things considered, it’s a decently affordable tripod which comes with a gratis carry case and a strap. Performance wise, it does the job quite well and it’s certainly valuable for the money.
5. Zomei Compact Light Weight Travel Portable Aluminium Camera Tripod
The Zomei Z818 has quite a reputation among professional photographers. It offers a superb balance between sturdiness and compactness as it’s made from heavy-duty magnesium aluminium material. It’s safe to say that everyone who’s ever used it started to love it as it offers premium performance for the least bit of cash possible.
In essence, the Z818 is a budget model which is by all means an exception from the notion that lower end models usually don’t perform so well.
It features a head with a quick-release plate which allows you to snatch the camera away from it in seconds, but it also features removable legs, so it can even be used as a plain monopod (which we do not recommend if you intend to mount a spotting scope on it).
Additionally, the Zomei Z818 packs a column hook which can hold up some extra weight, enhancing the stability of the tripod substantially. In summary, the Zomei’s Z818’s main benefits are affordability and durability, and those two seldom come in the same sentence in this price range. It holds an incredible value for the cash, especially if we compare it to similarly priced models.
6. Bushnell 784030 Advanced Tripod
We are looking at Bushnell’s 784030 advanced tripod, a full-sized tripod which comes supplied with exceptionally durable legs, a 3-way tilt head, padded foam leg-cushions, and a superbly stable center column.
Essentially, if you’re looking for your first tripod, you might want to check out more affordable options, as this one is best used by experienced photographers, birdwatchers, or shooters. Its customization potential is huge, as it comes equipped with individually adjustable leg heights and angles, and adjustable center with tension control.
Basically, it’s not as easy to use as some more affordable (simpler) models, but once you do get a hang of it, there’s no limit to what you can do with it.
The legs of this tripod are made of premium-quality aluminium alloy, and each leg features foam cushion pads that allow you to use it in exceptionally hot and cold weather conditions. This makes it perfect for the incoming winter, but this particular feature is equally efficient during the exceptionally humid summer days as well.
It’s relatively light, weighing 5.5 pounds. Even though almost all of our previous picks are lighter, this one is not heavy by definition. Furthermore, it’s decently compact as it can fold down to the size of 26 inches. Speaking of which, its minimum height is 18.3 inches while its maximum height is 61 inches.
7. Geekoto 58” Ultra Compact Lightweight Aluminium Tripod With 360-Degree Panorama
Geekoto’s 58-inch tripod is a perfect mid-priced solution for people who are looking for a quality spotting scope tripod. In fact, it might be the best spotting scope tripod for the money as it offers all the benefits a boutique model would, only in a bit smaller amount.
First of all, Geekoto’s tripod is fairly light, weighing only 2.8 pounds. It’s also decently compact as it can fold down to 14.5 inches, which means that it can easily be stuffed away in a backpack, not to mention larger luggage pieces if you intend to travel with it.
The legs can be adjusted at three different levels, allowing you to scope or take photos from various angles. Alternatively, you can even remove the legs altogether and use it as a monopod, just unscrew the central axis gear and the tripod converts into a 58-inch monopod.
Its ball-head can swivel up to 360 degrees, meaning that you can easily shoot panoramas with it. Moreover, the quick and easy setup makes it suitable for people who have barely any experience with tripods.
In summary, Geekoto’s 58-inch tripod is exceptionally light, it packs a durable build considering its weight, its head is of premium quality, and it also affords you the benefit of using it as a monopod. The only thing people don’t like so much about it is the quick-release plate being made of plastic. It’s not flimsy per se, but you should invest extra care while handling it.
8. Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod
Here we have the Mactrem’s PT55 travel camera tripod. It resembles a couple of our earlier picks in terms of design, mainly because of its size, but there are still a couple of differences that helped it deserve this spot.
First of all, this The PT55 is built like a brick wall. Its construction is comprised of premium quality aluminium alloy materials, and all the hardware pieces sport heavy-duty plastic.
Let’s take a step back, the main flaw of Geekoto’s model is that its quick-release plate was made of plastic, which made many people to believe it’s flimsier than it should be. The PT55’s hardware is made of a bit more robust materials which can withstand more abuse.
The PT55 tripod is sufficiently light, weighing 2.6 pounds and having the maximum load of 11 pounds. That’s pretty convenient for any sort of scope, regardless of size. However, if you’re using heavier cameras, you might want to consider some other model.
Mactrem’s PT55 features a 360-degree swivelling head, which allows it to snap panorama pictures if a camera is mounted, but in case you’re using a scope, you can monitor the entire area around you without needing to re-adjust the head every now and then.
The legs of the PT55 feature four section locks which will hold the tripod in place regardless of the situation. This particular feature is very useful if you intend to use it in potentially hazardous and exceptionally rough environments.
In conclusion, the Mactrem’s PT55 is a cheap tripod that offers the benefits of higher-end models. Superb durability, high versatility, convenient features, lightweight construction – what’s more to like?
9. RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod
In truth, RetiCAM’s model might be the best tabletop tripod for spotting scope on the market. Not only is it very affordable, but it’s durable, versatile, and it comes outfitted with exceptionally convenient features.
Despite its petite design, the RetiCAM’s tripod is surprisingly sturdy. It’s made of premium quality aluminium which can endure years of use before giving in. What speaks volumes about its sturdiness is the fact that it weighs 1.5 pounds despite being only 20 inches in size (retracted size). Its maximum load limit is 6 pounds, which makes it ideal for spotting scopes, and not so great for bigger cameras.
Furthermore, this little tripod is packed with convenience features. It sports a 3-way tilt head, a quick-release mounting plate, a bubble level, the extendable centre column, quick-snap leg-locks, and rubber feet.
The stability of this tripod is impeccable, and if you manage to secure it properly, it will not move even if an earthquake hits.
In addition to being one of the finest tabletop tripods that money can buy, this model is also one of the Amazon’s choices in the ‘table tripod’ category simply due to its versatility and affordability. Best of all – there are no actual flaws or drawbacks to its name. The only ‘potential’ drawback is that it’s not compatible with larger and medium-sized cameras, but since we’re talking about spotting scope tripods, that’s clearly not an issue at all.
10. AmazonBasics Pistol Grip Camera Travel Tripod With Bag
We’re closing the curtain down with another AmazonBasics tripod called the Pistol Grip Tripod. It’s substantially different from the first AmazonBasics tripod model we’ve reviewed in terms of features, specs, and price.
The first model was only 60 inches big when retracted while this one can extend up to 72.6. On the downside, the first AmazonBasics tripod weighs only 3 pounds while this one weighs 7 pounds. Although it’s not exactly lightweight, it’s certainly not heavy. It’s just a bit less compact than most models.
Its pistol grip feature allows you to easily position your spotting scope and makes using it even easier. The swivelling limit of the pistol grip feature is 90 degrees, though.
There are plenty of features onboard, including leg locks, quick-release mounting plate, as well as built-in level adjustments. This entire system was built for convenience and to help you use your spotting scope in the most straightforward way possible.
What’s more, you’ll even get a complementary carrying case, completely free of charge. The Pistol Grip tripod belongs to the medium price point category, and it’s certainly more versatile than the ‘basic’ model, so if you’re looking for an upgrade, this might do the trick.
Due to the fact that there are so many great brands with such vast catalogs, it’s incredibly hard to label a model as the ‘best tripod for spotting scope’. However, there are some that are genuinely superior in all aspects of performance.
Our top pick, as well as our top recommendation for you is Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod.
In all fairness, it doesn’t much better for the money. Not only is this model made by one of the biggest brands in the industry, but it’s also the most durable, the most versatile tripod in its price range. The features it comes supplied with are exceptional, and its reliability is unparalleled. It is slightly more expensive than average, so we advise you to start saving up.