Hey, Everybody. Welcome to Episode 6 of Sport Optics Northwest’s podcast. This week we’re going to be talking about tripods and heads.
Before we jump into our tripod conversation, we want to address one question from last week on our conversation about MOA and MILS.
I’m glad we got this question, because this is something I was wanting to ask too.
Q: How do I tell the difference? (To add on to that, could you hand someone a scope and tell them it is MOA when it’s MILS and would they really know?
JD: Most people won’t be able to tell even by looking through the scope. When buying a scope it will say on the box if it is MOA or MILS. MOA is slightly more precise so the spacing will be greater in a MIL scope than an MOA scope. Meaning the hash marks will be further apart.
Tripods & Heads for Hunting
To start this week’s topic, let’s talk about configuration.
Travis: When you’re purchasing your hunting setup, what are all the elements/parts you’ll need to purchase?
JD: Tripod, Head, and Mounts
Binoculars or spotting scopes are attached to a tripod the same way via a plate. There are basically two sizes, one ⅜ or ¼ which just requires a reducer.
Heads are typically a ball head or fluid head. A fluid head will have an arm that extends for you to move back and forth. A ball head requires you to use the spotter or binos as you move.
Travis: Let’s have you list out the combos you like the most, and then we can walk through each’s pro/cons list?
- Slik 634 and 624 with a Benro S2 head.
- Sirui A-1205 with a VA-5 fluid head.
- The Sirui A1205 comes with the Y11 Ball head and I swap it out for the VA-5 fluid head. Sirui tripod legs can fold 180 degrees vertically.
Travis: Okay, so pros/cons for each setup?
- Slik 634 and 624 with a Benro S2 head.
- The 634 goes to standing height for people under 6ft tall so it is a little longer when compacted but it also goes higher when extended which can be beneficial when glassing in tall grass or vegetation.
- The Slik 624 is only use able when sitting so it doesn’t extend to standing height but it is more compact which is nice for saving room in your pack. The downside is when you have something obstructing your view you’re limited on your height.
- Sirui A-1205 with a VA-5 fluid head. Goes to standing height and really compact for a tripod that goes to standing height. This is the best combo I’ve used. It is very light at under 4lbs with the head. The head is incredibly smooth and locks down really well. A a lot of tripods have wiggle room when locking them down. You really have to figure out which way it moves when you’re locking down and be slightly off the target in order to lock down exactly where you want.
Hunting Tripod Construction
Travis: Okay, so let’s break each of these options down a little more, can you talk through the actual construction of each Tripod?
Hunting Tripod Materials
Aluminum: Not a huge fan of Aluminum but if I’m going to use one it would be the Sirui T004. MAP is $189.99 so it is a much lower price point than most carbon tripods.
Carbon: Sirui A-1205 twist lock. I used to stay away from twist lock because of the time it took to open and close them but these are a ¼ turn so it’s really quick. If someone is set on using snap locks then I’d go with the Slik 634.
Hunting Tripod Leg Types
Standing height is variable based on if you’re using a straight or angled spotting scope. I’m 5’9” and with an angled spotting scope and the legs of the tripods we’re talking about I have to stand on my tippy toes when they’re fully extended to see through the spotter.
Snap lock vs twist lock is just preference. I think the twist lock are more durable but previously didn’t like them because of the time it took to set up and take down of some of the models I used in the past. The Sirui’s are just a quarter turn so it’s quick and easy.
Best tripod for Scouting vs Best Tripod for Hunting
Travis: Is there a better option for scouting vs hunting?
Same. I may go with a shorter tripod when scouting because I’m more likely to just be sitting in one spot looking over a lot of country so the Slik 624 or Sirui compact carbon with a ball head.
Travis: How do you use a tripod when hunting?
JD: I hear a lot of people say they don’t need a tripod for hunting because they hunt with binoculars.
Any time I stop to glass I mount my binos to a tripod. It makes a huge difference in the amount of game you see because of the reduced shaking. Putting them on a tripod forces you to slow down and pick apart an area so you can effectively grid a hillside. I also use a tripod for my spotting scope once I’ve spotting something I want to get a better look at. I’ve also used mine as a shooting rest with binos or a spotting scope mounted. Sometimes because of a steep angle or cross canyon shot it can be helpful to use as a rest in a pinch.
Travis: Any last consideration or recommendations for folks looking for a new tripod setup?
JD: Try using a tripod with binoculars mounted. Tripods are like most things, you get what you pay for. If you know you’re going to buy one, save your money and get the best one you can afford.
Thanks for all the information, JD.
To everyone listening, please post any questions you have from today’s episode on the Sport Optics NW Facebook page, Instagram Account, or email them directly to JD and we’ll cover them at the start of the next episode.
Thanks for tuning in.