If you clicked on this article, it’s clear you’re looking for the right tripod for your spotting scope. In this article, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about tripods. We’re going to present everything you need to know to make an informed decision on the best tripod for your needs.
First, you need to know exactly what you’re looking for. Second, you need to know your budget for a new tripod. And third, you need to read everything so you can make a final decision on the tripod you need. If you understand this, continue reading this review article.
Disclosure: Sooke Outdoors, as an Amazon Associate, earns commissions on qualified purchases. This informative review article may contain affiliate links. Commission and earnings support our work. This means we may receive a commission if you purchase items from links embedded in the articles.
Below is a quick overview of my choice for the best tripods for individual outdoor activities. This will be one of our official best spotting scope tripod reviews of 2020. I’ll share brief details on their features, benefits, uses, and more.
Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Kit
The Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Kit is my number #1 choice for the best full-size tripod for spotting scopes. It has an incredibly smooth vertical and horizontal adjustment. I found it help me track my targets efficiently when I’m hunting.
The tripod has a very stable and secure base even during bad weather conditions. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining or slippery, rubber footing keeps the tripod in place.
The aluminum legs on this tripod keep it’s extremely durable but lightweight. If you’re planning to carry this tripod for a long period of time, you won’t have to worry about it being too heavy. In my opinion, the Vortex Optics Pro GT is the best spotting scope tripod for hunting.
ZOMEi Z818 Lightweight DSLR Tripod
The ZOMEi Z818 Lightweight DSLR tripod suits a broad range of spotting scopes. The tripod itself holds up to 33lbs. You can use pretty much any spotting scope on this tripod. This tripod is a professional-grade product.
It’s easy to set up and you don’t need any tools to get started. All you have to do is screw your spotting scope in place and you’re ready to rock n rock. Plus, it has the ability to turn into a monopod which is a cool feature.
The ZOMEi Z818 Lightweight DSLR tripod gives you a height range of 18″ to 65″ inches. This tripod measures 18″ which is why it’s my choice for the best compact tripod for spotting scope activities. In addition to what I just mentioned, the tripod has the ability to remove its legs, pan, and head.
Vanguard Alta 264AO
The Vanguard Alta 264AO is another full-size tripod. Unlike the first choice, it’s a tripod designed for heavy spotting scopes. It can manage up to 11lbs. The minimum height can go down to is 25″ inches and extends up to 70″ inches on full extension.
The Panhead, depending on the time, can be smooth as butter or jerky as a jammed doorknob. The feet on the tripod are pretty stable. Lastly, the tripod comes with a decent carrying case. Ultimately, it’s a great tripod for your spotting scope. I found this spotting scope to be the best spotting scope tripod for birding.
Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top Tripod
The Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top tripod is my choice for the best tabletop tripod for spotting scope activities. The tripod weighs less than a pound. It’s small enough to fit your pocket. It measures at 9.8″ inches when fully extended.
Even though the tripod is small, it’s sturdy and secure. In addition, the non-slip feet further its security and stability. You’ll never have an issue with the tripod woggling during use.
The 2-way pan head rotates 360 degrees. Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top Tripod is the most reliable, stable, and lightweight spotting scope tripod on the market right now
What is a spotting scope tripod?
A spotting scope tripod is a stabilizing three-legged stand designed to secure and stabilize your spotting scope. The tripod is designed to keep your spotting scope stable so you can see clear, focused images. This helps birders see birds, this helps hunters see their catch, and this helps target shooters see their targets.
Humans are naturally shakey which is why a tripod is useful. They’re very popular amongst photographers, birders, and target shooters. Tripods prevent vibrational instability, especially at t high magnification levels.
Tripods aren’t all created the same though. Stock tripods aren’t always the best options for a specific spotting scope. There are many factors to be considered when buying a spotting scope tripod. Later in this article, they’ll be discussed in greater detail so please read on.
3 Types of spotting scope tripods
Just like spotting scopes, spotting scope tripods come in all shapes and sizes. But, there are 3 main categories they all fit into though. To find the best spotting scope tripod for your needs though, you need to consider which categories your needs fall into. Below, I’ll list the 3 main categories of spotting scope tripods.
1. Tabletop tripod (aka a shooter’s tripod)
A tabletop tripod for spotting scope activities is also known as the shooter’s tripod within the spotting scope community. The name gives away what type of tripod this sucker is. It’s a smaller tripod designed to be used on a table-top or shooting bench.
Out of the main 3, they’re the smallest. They measure between 8″ and 18″ inches depending on which model. Unfortunately, with tabletop tripods, you can only extend the tripod with the central column. Plus, some tripods actually don’t include this feature so be careful.
You may be asking “why?” It’s due to the fact, most tripods have very narrow legs and limited weight capacity. I recommend using a tabletop with lighter spotting scopes.
2. Compact tripod
The compact tripod is the middle brother of the tripod family. They’re larger than a tabletop tripod but smaller than a full-size tripod. These tripods are pretty portable as well. You can use them while you sit on a chair. In my opinion, compact spotting scope tripods are perfect for mountain hunters and/or backpackers.
If you’re planning to use your spotting scope for scoping that doesn’t exceed 70mm or for a digital-point camera, this type of tripod would be my recommendation.
3. Full-size tripod
A full-size spotting scope tripod is a tripod that will allow you to use your binoculars, (DSLR or SLR) camera, or spotting scope as you stand. This is the tallest tripod of them all. Even though they’re the tallest tripod, it doesn’t mean they support the most weight. That comes down to the model of tripod you decide to purchase.
When you’re deciding on a tripod, factor in the weight load of the tripod and the weight of the spotting scope. This will not only save you time but also money. As a general rule, if you stumble across, plastic-based tripods, they tend to be suited for lightweight spotting scopes.
A standardized full-size tripod has an extension of 26″ to 57″ inches. With the central column factored in, they can extend up to 72″ inches. So, if you’re looking for a tripod for activities that demand you to stand, get a full-size tripod.
Things to consider before buying
There are going to be two types of materials you’re going to find in the majority of spotting scope tripods on the market. This is due to many reasons which will be explained further in this section. The two materials are going to be the following:
We’re going to mention the advantages and disadvantages of each of the materials. The truth is carbon-fiber tripods are extremely lightweight compared to aluminum tripods. But, with carbon-fiber tripods, they’re more likely to break. Aluminum tripods have a higher level of durability which is why they’re a little bit more popular than carbon-fiber tripods.
Users bought carbon-fiber tripods due to their weight. They’re much lighter than an aluminum tripod. Obviously, if you know you’re going to be carrying around a lot of weight while you’re outdoors, this is going to be a factor for you. While carbon-fiber tripods are less durable, they may be an option for you. If you’re more stationary than an aluminum tripod may be the best option.
Plus, carbon-fiber tripods are not only usually heavier but they cost more. People seek out carbon-fiber tripods for the lightness but you also want to stay budget-friendly. Plus, they’re better equipped to handle vibrations. And with heavy vibrations, this disturbs the focus and clarity of your spotting scope even more so at high levels of magnifications.
Furthermore, you don’t want to go too lightweight. If you go too light, it could compromise a few necessary functionalities of your scope. If you get a tripod that’s too light, it sacrifices stability and sturdiness. Unless it’s a table tripod, avoid all full-size and compact tripods under 1.4 lbs. If you do, you put your spotting spot in danger of falling.
Lastly, remember to stay within your budget. You don’t need to go outside of it to get a decent tripod. The only things you should consider when deciding around a carbon fiber vs aluminum spotting scope tripod is cost, lightness, functionality.
You have to ask yourself how and where you’re going to use your tripod. This will ultimately help you determine what type of tripod you’ll need. For example, target-shooters who need a tripod for their shooting bench or tabletop, they’ll require a tabletop tripod.
If you are going to be standing most of the time, you may want to look into getting a full-size tripod. There are many other things like lightness, material, and budget to consider as well.
Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Kit
For the money, the Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Kit is the best out there right now. It’s a super reliable and super sturdy tripod. It’s great for all optics ranging from 60-90. The pan head is easy to scan and adjust on the fly.
If you’re a hunter, this is a must-have. It’s a pretty tough tripod for the outdoors. One thing you can count on is its fast deployment. If you’re looking for something with a higher price tag, don’t bother. The Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Kit is all you need. Plus, you can’t beat the fact it has a lifetime warranty.
- The tripod is a very sturdy tripod for hunting.
- Includes a lifetime warranty.
- The balance hook provides stability enhancement during difficult weather conditions.
- Tripod is extremely durable.
- It’s not the best for 80mm spotting scoping but perfect for 65mm.
- Little on the heavier side.
Hands down if you if you’re looking for the best hunting tripod for spotting scope activities it’s the Vortex Optics Pro GT. It’s incredibly sturdy for outdoor activities. Plus, it’s durable to the highest degree.
If you’re a hunter, you know things get pretty messy. Sometimes the weather doesn’t go your way at times. This tripod will hold up during any bad weather conditions. Plus, it’s extremely reliable. This is why the Vortex Optics Pro GT is the best spotting scope tripod for hunting, in my opinion.
ZOMEi Z818 Lightweight DSLR Tripod
The tripod comes with a headcover so you don’t damage the head of the tripod. The ball head is pretty decent and smooth. If you’re a photographer, you can also use this tripod for a panorama view. The quick-release mechanism with an anti-fallout design.
- It has a very glossy finish overall.
- A lot of detachable parts to this tripod.
- The leg locks are spring loaders that help bring the tripod into position.
- You can get pretty smooth pans with this tripod.
- The user manual is extremely basic and the translations could be better.
- In certain positions, it can’t support a certain amount of weight.
- Some of the edges on the device need some work.
Once again, The ZOMEi Z818 Lightweight DSLR Tripod is a great compact aluminum tripod for the money. You can turn this tripod into a monopod if you desire. The tripod comes with rubber feet.
Personally, the user guide isn’t that great for a lot of reasons. The manual just covers general information but nothing in-depth. The stock case included is pretty good. You won’t be disappointed. This tripod measures 18″ and is extremely sturdy which is why it’s my choice for the best compact tripod for spotting scope activities.
Vanguard Alta 264AO
Having a reliable tripod can make or break an outing. Especially for birding, it can be crucial to get the perfect vire or shoot. The Vanguard Alta 264AO is a sturdy tripod that will withstand the worst conditions. You don’t have to worry about it woggling on you or collapsing.
The Vanguard Alta 264AO is a decently priced tripod. I found this tripod to be the best tripod for bird spotting for all the reasons I’m going to discuss below.
- The quality is just higher level altogether.
- All of the parts are completely durable.
- The legs have a foam padding which you don’t find a lot.
- It’s really good for tall individuals.
- The tripod is really good for photography, birding, and more.
- Has bottom hooks for your bag.
- Reports of being a little too heavy for trail packing.
This tripod has a lot of good features that many tripods don’t have. It’s versatile, pretty light, and has great flexibility. Since there’s a newer version, it’s been reduced on the price. If money is an issue, I’d get the Vanguard Alta 264AO. I found this spotting scope to be the best spotting scope tripod for birding.
Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top Tripod
The Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top Tripod overall is a very solid feeling tripod. It has a pretty wide base for a tabletop tripod. Even though it’s pretty cheap, it doesn’t feel like a throwaway item.
The rubberized feet make the tripod hold in place when in use. It has 2 points of motion within the tripod. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a ball head but other than that, it’s a decent table-top tripod.
- The tripod is really good for small, closed spaces.
- Stable base.
- It has an adjustable shaff.
- Extremely budget-friendly.
- It can’t handle a heavy spotting scope.
- You can install a ball head on the tripod.
The Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top tripod is my choice for the best tabletop tripod for spotting scope activities. The post is subject to change due to testing out other tabletop tripods. And before I forget, the Vanguard comes with a 2-year warranty.
In conclusion, there’s a lot to look at when you’re looking for a tripod for scoping. There are 3 types of spotting scope tripods you have to choose from. Understand which tripod will fit your needs the best. Once that’s figured out, consider things like material, intended use, and your budget. If you can figure these out, you’ll make an informed decision on your next purchase.
There’s a lot of tripods we recommended in this article. The Vortex Optics Pro GT is the best spotting scope tripod for hunting. The ZOMEi Z818 Lightweight DSLR Tripod was our choice for the best compact tripod for the money. And finally, the Vanguard Alta 264AO was our choice for the best birding scope tripod and the Vanguard VS-82 Table-Top tripod was my choice for the best tabletop tripod.
Right now, I’m testing out a few other tripods so this post is subject to change. Hopefully, this article was helpful in your search for the best tripods for spotting scope activities.