DIY Hiking Pole Tripod system

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DIY Hiking Pole Tripod system

Postby keithy » Sun 04 Oct, 2020 2:02 pm

I thought I might share this as I am writing a new review on some carbon fiber hiking poles.

I usually carry a small tripod, like the Gorillapod tripod, but there are times when there are no trees around or you need to get the camera a little higher off the ground. Since 2013 I also walk with two hiking poles, and I now also use hiking poles for my tents.

Back in 2013 I tried making some adapters but they really needed a third pole to make a secure tripod. There was Brian Green's Trail Pix kit on kickstarter, and on BPL there were a few great suggestions, and including the one in this thread https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/92134/ that uses one pole and 3 staked guy lines.

I experimented with the 3 staked guy lines option and one pole, but found that the setup took longer than I could with a two poles, a single guy line staked out in two places. I use the slidey tension knot I mentioned earlier viewtopic.php?f=15&t=22358 to adjust the guy lines.

I've been using this DIY tripod system for the past 2 years with both a DSLR and more commonly with my compact camera, as well as a phone.

Initially I had used a shorter length of cordage, much like the guys from outdoorgearlabs showed in their video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7-xttpj5PU I found that going down one side wasn't the most steady with a larger camera. I've used my 2.5mm guylines from my tent, and I found the longer cordage looped around and with two lines down is much more secure, especially with a larger camera.

I pretty much looked to see what I was already carrying, and if I could make a tripod using that. So the minimum I use is the following:

  • Octopus tripod 167g
  • A silicone band (originally for attaching a torch to a bicycle handle bar) 7.4g
  • A length of paracord 20g (2.5mm guyline is way lighter, but I always carry paracord).
  • Two mini stakes 15g

DIY Hiking Pole Tripod.jpg
stuff I use
DIY Hiking Pole Tripod.jpg (131.72 KiB) Viewed 8045 times

On softer ground I use tent stakes, on rocky ground, I loop the cordage around a rock as an anchor.

Also, while I like the original Joby Gorillapods, but my Gorillapod 1K lasted about 2 years before one of the legs segment plastic cracked and wouldn't hold the weight of cameras. I tried various fixes, but nothing worked well.

I picked up a $20 copy version at one of the camera shops on Elizabeth Street, with a quick release 1/4" tripod adapter plate and that one has been going strong since 2012.

This is what my setup looks like. Not the prettiest, but the setup takes me under a minute from extending the poles to staking it out. The two legs of my hiking poles give the height, and the guy lines give the stability. The max height I get is around the 1.25 to 1.35m mark, I usually set it up around the vertical 1.2m mark.

DIY Tripod detail.jpg
detail of what's going on up top. I twist the legs of the octopus tripod around the handles, but it is secured by the silicone band
DIY Tripod detail.jpg (212.5 KiB) Viewed 8045 times

DIY Hiking Pole Tripod 1.jpg
DIY Hiking Pole Tripod 1.jpg (199.37 KiB) Viewed 8045 times

DIY Hiking Pole Tripod 2.jpg
DIY Hiking Pole Tripod 2.jpg (149.48 KiB) Viewed 8045 times

DIY Tripod Tree Siesta.jpg
I said go on ahead I'm taking some photos. Came back and they are having a siesta
DIY Tripod Tree Siesta.jpg (179.7 KiB) Viewed 8045 times
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Re: DIY Hiking Pole Tripod system

Postby sixtworoo » Sun 04 Oct, 2020 6:55 pm

This is such a great idea! I have been scouring the internet for DYI solutions and this is bar fare the most robust as far as I can tell. I will certainly be trying it out.

Nice creativity!

How stable is it?
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Re: DIY Hiking Pole Tripod system

Postby keithy » Sun 04 Oct, 2020 8:23 pm

It's really stable. You can see how haphazardly I loop the cordage around the poles in my pictures. As long as they grip around part ofof the poles - in my case the octopus tripod - and don't slip down and you have them staked out taut, it is rock solid.

Previously I'd loop the cordage through both poles' wrist straps as well as around the handles, but I've been using this system for about two years without fail. The tension from the pegged out cord keeps it in place. If the ground is too hard or rocky, I've looped the cord over heavy rock.

If using a heavier DSLR, it can get a bit shakey if it's very windy, since my poles are under 170g each. But I have set it up to take long exposure shots with my compact camera quite nicely.

Showed it to the mate who hiked with me down in Patagonia, and initially he wasn't sure about it, but came around after seeing how quickly I could set it up, and how stable it was.

I do try to use two of the silicone bands at once just for redundancy, in case one snaps, but I've gotten away with one band. Alternatively you could use a velcro strap (like those cable keepers) to hold the mini tripod to the handles.

I've also got one of those mini tripods with a velcro strap built in (like the Ultrapod) but I found those to be less flexible than a Gorillapod type tripod.

I also prefer doing this with the handles up and pointy ends in the ground, as opposed to other ideas there the pointy ends go up and the handles are on the ground. I experimented with this when coming up with my system, and found I preferred the pointy ends sticking into the ground for more stability.
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Re: DIY Hiking Pole Tripod system

Postby sixtworoo » Mon 05 Oct, 2020 5:55 pm

keithy wrote:It's really stable. You can see how haphazardly I loop the cordage around the poles in my pictures. As long as they grip around part ofof the poles - in my case the octopus tripod - and don't slip down and you have them staked out taut, it is rock solid.

Previously I'd loop the cordage through both poles' wrist straps as well as around the handles, but I've been using this system for about two years without fail. The tension from the pegged out cord keeps it in place. If the ground is too hard or rocky, I've looped the cord over heavy rock.

If using a heavier DSLR, it can get a bit shakey if it's very windy, since my poles are under 170g each. But I have set it up to take long exposure shots with my compact camera quite nicely.

Showed it to the mate who hiked with me down in Patagonia, and initially he wasn't sure about it, but came around after seeing how quickly I could set it up, and how stable it was.

I do try to use two of the silicone bands at once just for redundancy, in case one snaps, but I've gotten away with one band. Alternatively you could use a velcro strap (like those cable keepers) to hold the mini tripod to the handles.

I've also got one of those mini tripods with a velcro strap built in (like the Ultrapod) but I found those to be less flexible than a Gorillapod type tripod.

I also prefer doing this with the handles up and pointy ends in the ground, as opposed to other ideas there the pointy ends go up and the handles are on the ground. I experimented with this when coming up with my system, and found I preferred the pointy ends sticking into the ground for more stability.


Cheers, super useful stuff!
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