Before I get into the specific top spotting scope tripods, let’s look at a few basic factors that you should look over before you start shopping around.
The 2 materials that make up the majority of the spotting scope tripods on the market are the following:
Each has its benefits and disadvantages. Carbon-fiber tripods, while a great option due to their lightweight weight in comparison to aluminum tripods are more likely to break whereas aluminum tripods tend to last much longer and have higher durability. People shy away from aluminum tripods because they believe that they are too heavy to be carried. This is simply not the case because not all aluminum tripods are heavy and you can find lightweight aluminum tripods that can support heavier weights without weighing you down.
Carbon-fiber tripods are also much more expensive (with a few exceptions) but provide that lightweight feel that some may seek when carrying heavier gear for a long time. While lightweight is an important feature to look for, it’s important to not go too lightweight because it can compromise on a few necessary functionalities, such as stability and sturdiness. It’s best to avoid all tripods that weight less than 1.5 lb/0.68 kg because it’s simply way too light and your tripod will end up wobbling too much even with the lightest spotting scope. I primarily use aluminum tripods since I do believe that they are ideal with spotting scopes since they can feel extra secure and stable on different grounds but I also know outdoor enthusiasts who prefer the feel of carbon-fiber tripods. My guide provides you with several options so you can choose from aluminum and carbon-fiber tripods.
To conclude, there are several advantages to carbon-fiber tripods and aluminum tripods – firstly, the former can hold an extremely heavy amount of gear without making your tripod feel wobbly or shaky and it’s remarkably lightweight. Secondly, carbon-fiber tripods are better equipped at handling and absorbing vibrations that could potentially disturb the focus and clarity of your spotting scope (this is especially important at higher magnifications). An aluminum tripod is excellent at staying grounded and stable, which is beneficial for windier days. Contrary to beliefs, not all aluminum tripods are built heavy and bulky. Cost is another factor that you may have to consider when purchasing a carbon-fiber vs aluminum spotting scope tripod.
The 2 types of heads are the most common for spotting scope tripods are the following:
Choosing between the 2 heads mentioned above is primarily a personal preference depending on what you’re using your tripod for. Ballhead tripods are great for photography, but unfortunately, they lack the proper functionality for glassing. This is because you need precise and smooth movements for smooth glassing and panning. Ballheads can create movements that go in all directions and this can be difficult to control and to stay on track. This is what panhead tripods are useful for since they can provide those smooth movements without any skipping (which is desirable for glassing). They’re also much easier to use when scanning the landscape (at least in my personal experience, but this may not be the case for you and you may like the ballhead system). I’ve made sure to include excellent ballhead tripods so you’re sure to find something that may be of interest to you.
Additionally, you can purchase the tripod and the head separately, although it could cost you a lot of money (close to a 1,000$ or more in some cases). I recommend complete tripods in this guide just to make it simpler and more affordable for you but if you’re very specific about your tripod’s leg and head type, rather than purchasing them separately might be the right solution for you. Although, it’s not necessary. Keep in mind, however, that scopes with higher magnification and larger objectives require durable tripod heads, which can be costly but will ensure your equipment from moving.
You can use your spotting scope tripod from a prone, crouched, seated, or standing position. The maximum height of a spotting scope tripod is important, especially if you’re using a straight spotting scope (you may be able to get away with a shorter tripod if you’re using an angled spotting scope). You want to get yourself a spotting scope tripod with a maximum height that is comfortable for you, so you don’t end up crouching for several hours, which is not only extremely uncomfortable but not great for your back’s health.