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Alpine Tripod   -   2012/04/28Viewed 175 times this month, last update: 2012/04/29

The hiker/photographer's dilema: Leave the heavy tripod behind, and have imperfect pictures, or lug the tripod around all day, get better pictures, and possibly a back-ache.

My solution: The "Alpine Tripod". I removed the original legs from my Manfrotto tripod, and machined three adapters, which allow me to screw three trekking Poles into the tripod head for legs. This allows me to reduce the overall weight of the tripod from 7 pounds to 3 pounds, and move some of the weight from my back to my arms when hiking. The trekking pole legs aren't as solid as the original, but this setup is far superior to a monopod or no camera mount at all.

Being lathe-less myself (regrettably), I tried to get my local metal supply house to machine the parts for me. They couldn't but my local "hackerspace", 23b has a nice lathe they let me use, and Chris even gave me a great tutorial!

The Alpine Tripod with it's trekking pole legs, adapters and Manfrotto head.

A close up of the head, showing the adapters.

The adapters. Aluminum cylinders machined down to 1.164", drilled out in the back to acommodate the head bolts, and tapped for 1/4x20 for the trekking pole bolts. (This is the standard camera mount thread.)

The first test of the Alpine Tripod was on a hike into the Devils Playground, in the Mojave Desert. It's still clumsy digging out the camera, assembling the tripod, etc. but it always will be. Just a lot of gear. However, having trekking poles, a monopod and a tripod available is fantastic. All the long-range shots from this trip were made with the tripod, and the hawk's nest was using one of the monopods.
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See also: April 28th, 2012 - Devils Playground, August, 2012 - Sierra Backpacking


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