Deciding on a tripod can be a very difficult experience for hikers looking to shed weight and bulk from their packs. Some just come to grips with the fact that exposures requiring a tripod will have to go down as missed opportunities. I was in this group for a long while, and would kick myself with every missed starry night, illuminated tent, and campsite landscape. My aversion to a heavy or cumbersome tripod was put to rest when I found the Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Tripod. Yes, you give up a ton of the adjustable features of a standard tripod, as well as a kit quick-release, but what you drop in size and weight more than makes up for it. I’ve been using this tripod for a two and a half years now. With usage on multiple treks and travels in 13 countries, I have an intimate knowledge of what it does well and where it falls short.
The Pedco UltraPod II is perfect for stuffing into a pack, folding up like a knife into a 7 inch 4 oz blade. The rubberized tips have gripped on all kinds or rock, wood, sand, and grass, and the sturdy legs (glass-filled Nylon and aluminum threaded components) stay put for long exposures. A Velcro strap comes attached to a leg when you purchase this tripod. This can be used to attach your camera to poles and other surfaces. I removed this Velcro as soon as I bought it, as my camera setup just isn’t light enough for me to feel confident in using this. For a GoPro, or something of that size, it would be perfect.
What I’ve really liked about this camera tripod is the ball and socket mount adjustment. Without being able to adjust the height of the legs, you’ll have to get creative with surfaces to create the desired photograph you have in mind. At a campsite or on the trail, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything that’s actually flat. This is where the ball and socket really comes in to play. After getting the tripod secured and balanced, it’s really easy to dial in the ball and socket to target your desired photograph.
Attaching your camera to this tripod is a breeze as you can grip it like a screwdriver and screw it in to you camera. I’ve also used a 3rd party quick release on occasion where I’ll need to switch back and forth in quick succession. Controlling the roll, pitch, and yaw of your camera is a breeze once you’ve used it for a short while.
The major downside is the short legs of the tripod, but for this size, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. You just have to get very creative with where you place it, and hope to have surfaces to work with. In many situations, I have found nothing to prop my tripod up on, and thus, have grown very fond of the “from the floor” perspective. The most important thing is that this has opened up a whole new world of photography for me while camping and hiking, without having to lug around a large piece of gear. For me, that makes it a more than worthwhile purchase for less than $20!
Note: My current camera setup is a Sony a6000 with a Sony 10-18mm lens. Last year I used this same tripod with a Canon T3i and Canon 10-22mm lens. I had no problem with the weight of either camera being supported by this tripod.
Here are a few shots I took using this tripod in Joshua Tree last month: