How I Lightened My Tripod Using Trekking Poles

Halfway through my latest trip, I broke my tripod.  Using higher ISOs and my best hand-holding technique, I still got through the trip. But now I had a broken tripod and no immediate desire to spend $$$ for a new one.  What to do. Being of the belief that it’s cool to make lemonade when handed a lemon, I decided to get creative. Here’s what I did:

Step one:  Took a trip to Home Depot and walked up and down the aisles until I found this part in the electrical section.  The part is normally used to couple 1/2″ Electric Metalic Tube to Flexible Metalic Conduit but it also works great for our use here.

Step two: Got out the hacksaw and cut off two of the three legs of my Slik Sprint Pro II  tripod, leaving just enough leg to fit the tips of my trekking poles.

Step three: Unscrewed the nuts from the two couplings and discarded the metal rings inside.

Step four:  Fitted the smaller ends of the couplings into the two open ends of tripod tubing.  It’s a snug fit, so I used a rubber mallet.  Using an adjustable wrench I turned the fitting clockwise a bit to get an even tighter fit.  Later I used Superglue for a more permanent bond.  JB Weld would have been better, but I had none at hand. Hikers cannibalizing other tripods may have to be creative here, to ensure a good fit.

Step five: Unscrewed the bottom tube of each trekking pole and slid the nut face down over the top of the tube until it was resting on top of the protrusion at the tip of the pole.

Step six: Put the trekking poles back together.

Step seven: Placed the tips of the trekking poles into the couplings.  Hand screwed each nut onto  the coupling.

Step eight:  Extended the intact leg of the tripod fully.

Step nine: Extended each trekking pole to match the length of the intact leg.  Memorized the length of the poles.  On my Pacerpoles, the middle section was set to “mark set A, and the upper pole was set to “9”.

Step ten: Snapped on my Canon Rebel DSLR.  I found the new tripod to be secure, stable, and functional.

Step eleven: Since I don’t want to install the nuts on the trekking poles each time I use the tripod, I had to find a way of keeping them from rattling around while the poles were in use as trekking poles.  What I came up with was using ponytail holders looped around each pole four times and snugged under the nuts like packing washers.  Each nut is kept securely out of the way by being wedged against the joint above it.

Step twelve:  So that I don’t have to assemble the tripod for each use, I plan to use the original tripod as a monopod during the day and attach the trekking poles to make a tripod for the slower shutter speeds of the golden hours in the evening and early morning.


8 thoughts on “How I Lightened My Tripod Using Trekking Poles

  1. Thanks, Fraser. I came home from my latest trip puzzling over the broken tripod and found that my evaporative cooler was broken as well. While working with compression fittings, the idea occurred to me. Then it was just a matter of working out the details.

    • Zed, thanks. The tripod should be getting a good workout within the next couple of weeks. I’ll let you know how it all works out…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    • Sam, great to see you visiting here. Thanks. I’m hoping that other hikers will try the idea, work their own variations, and improve on it.

    • Roger, welcome back. I’m happy to hear that you made it back safely from your long walk.

      Since this post, I’ve have a chance to use the tripod in the field and am happy to report that it performed well. It’s great to have a full-sized tripod along at a reasonable weight.

      I know that you have photos to post and tales to tell at Nielsen Brown Outdoors, so I’ll be checking back frequently.

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