Tripods are used for a lot of different optical equipment: cameras, telescopes, spotting scopes, and much more. If you own a spotting scope you need a tripod. A tripod is a three-legged stable base that will not only carry the weight for you, but it will also give you a much more visually appealing viewing experience. The instrument will be much more stable which results in smooth and focused visuals at extremely high magnification. The rotating head also makes the viewing experience a lot more smooth, and it will allow you to screen an area a lot quicker than if you had the spotting scope in your hands.
Spotting scopes are fairly heavy and therefore you'll need a strong, durable and stable base to support your expensive equipment. Therefore we strongly advise against using the clunky, low-quality tripods that come bundled with some spotting scope.
There are thousands of models on the market. Some of them are great, some are mediocre and some are terrible. They come in different sizes, types and with a lot of different features. The market is not transparent, and for the average consumer, it's impossible to navigate this market and find the model that will live up to his needs. Therefore we've created this buying guide for you. We're here to help you find the perfect spotting scopes for the needs for the budget you have. In total, we've measured and reviewed over 91 tripods, and below we've compiled our top 5 picks for you to see.
|Vortex Optics PRO-2 GT||Full-size||6.0 lbs.||4.6/5||$$$$
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|Bushnell Advanced 784030||Full-size||5.5 lbs.||4.5/5||$$$
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|Carson TF-300||Compact||4.1 lbs.||4.0/5||$$
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|ALPEN Micro 705||Tabletop||2.4 lbs.||4.0/5||$$
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|AmazonBasics 60-Inch||Full-size||3.0 lbs.||4.4/5||$
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At the top of the list, we have the Vortex Optics PRO-2 GT. It's such a high-quality tripod. It's our go-to and we've been using it for years without any problems. With a maximum load capacity of 10 pounds, it can handle all spotting scopes which is nice. The really good thing about this tripod is its tilt head. The tilt head is amazing. It's super durable whilst still providing the smoothest moving from side to side that we've ever seen.
Being covered by Vortex's full-time warranty this tripod will be at your disposal for life. What's really cool about this tripod is that it suits almost everyone. The hunter, the hiker, the bird watcher, and more. This is because it's perfect for using while sitting down, but it can also be used while standing up. This is all possible thanks to its height spanning from 24 inches to 67 inches.
There's almost only good things to say about this tripod. It has to be said that the quick-release lever is made out of mediocre plastic quality which is a shame, but it's not been a problem for us so far. The tripod is also in the higher price range. But for this price, you're getting a good bang for your buck when investing in this tripod.
The Bushnell Advanced 784030 tripod is sneaking up on the 2nd place and with good reason. This tripod is extremely durable and sturdy. It won't budge when you've placed it which is also because of its weight. It's not a lightweight tripod, but it's not the heaviest tripod either. It's overall a great tripod that will last for decades, and you will definitely love bringing this tripod with you on your adventures. It goes well for birding, hunting and much more.
This tripod can be used while sitting down but also while standing up thanks to its extendability from 18 inches to 61 inches. This makes it very versatile as you can use it for a lot of different things.
The price point for this tripod is great and very appealing, and if you're on a budget we recommend that you get this one instead of a budget option, as this one will be a long term investment that you will enjoy using.
We really miss a quick release feature on this tripod. That would move it to the #1 spot.
This tripod is the definition of bang for the buck. It's a rather cheap tripod but whilst still being a quality product. The build quality is surprisingly good. When working with this product in your hands you can feel how durable and sturdy it is, which is not normal for this price point. This is what makes it the best bang for the buck.
It's also worth mentioning that this tripod only weighs a total of 3.2 pounds. That's around half of our #1 pick. This compact tripod is perfect for hunters and hikers that want to put this into their backpack.
We've heard from some people that have been using this tripod for a few years that it's not as durable as it feels and that it can break after a while. Another mini annoyance with this product is that it's a bit wobbly. This is due to the fact that it's not a very heavy tripod and for that reason it has a harder time getting a good grip on the ground below.
If you're looking for a lightweight tripod for a decent price, and you don't need to be able to stand up and use the tripod, then you've found a good potential option for you. This tripod is extremely lightweight and compact which makes it perfect for the traveler and bird viewer. But note that its max height is 16 inches which mean that you have to sit down while using it.
It's also not the most durable pick on the market, but luckily it comes with a lifetime warranty so if something breaks you're okay. However, ALPEN is not known for having great customer service, so don't expect too much from them.
The tripod is also rather wobbly, but that's mainly because of the fact that it's lightweight and therefore there's not a lot of weight stabilizing it. The reason this tripod deserves a spot on our top 5 picks is because of the fact that it's so lightweight while being sold at a low price.
This lightweight full-size tripod from AmazonBasics is a best seller on Amazon. And with good reason: it's a really cheap product that everyone can afford.
The downside is that this tripod is not made out of the best materials. This means that it's not super durable, and it's likely to break after a few months to a few years of usage. When it breaks there's no lifetime warranty. You read that right. This is one of the few tripod providers that do not offer a lifetime warranty.
This is an okay purchase if you're on a really strict and low budget, but if you have a bit more to spare then you should aim for a tripod that will last a lot longer and that you won't have to replace like this one.
If you're just getting into spotting scoping this is a good tripod to start out with, but as you get better it's worth looking into a higher quality tripod with more and better features.
There are three types of tripods. Tabletop, Full-size and Compact tripods. The type you pick should be suited for the way you typically use your scope.
Tabletops are the smallest kinds of tripods you can find. They're also called shooter's tripods. They're not very tall, but that doesn't matter as they're designed to stand on a table or a shooting bench. Their height range from around 10 inches up to 18 inches. They usually don't have telescoping legs - but usually, you can extend them by using an extendable central column.
You should get this kind of tripod if you plan on always placing your tripod on a table or a shooting bench. If this is not the case we recommend that you check out the other types below.
These tripods are so tall that they can be used while standing up. When fully extended they can reach heights up to 55 inches or more usually. You want to make sure that you don't overload your full-size tripod as some of them are made out a poor kind of plastic. Therefore we recommend that you get a solid tripod that can handle a good amount of weights. Also, make sure that you don't put too much of your own weight onto this tripod.
These tripods are suited long-range scopes. But note that it's important to buy a quality one if you're buying one since there are a lot of poor quality full-sized tripods out there. Check our reviews above for some high-quality ones.
These are generally bigger than table-top tripods, but they're also usable while the user is sitting in a chair. They're suited for hunters and backpackers because of their lightweight and portability. These tripods are generally best for spotting scopes smaller than 80mm. If you have a big spotting scope we recommend that you check out the "full-size" tripod type.
A lot of spotting scope manufacturers have started bundling tripods with their spotting scopes. Throughout the years we've tested & reviewed over hundreds of spotting scopes. We've also tested the tripods that came with them, and for the most part, we were very disappointed with them. Yes, they are usually made of aluminum - but not the good kind that's known for its durability. These complimentary tripods are usually not very durable, do not last very long, and they tend to be flimsy and unreliable. So instead of buying a bundle with a spotting scope, we've actually found that you get more bang for your buck if you buy them separately.
A tripod consists of two main parts:
The head is located atop its three legs. Almost all tripods on the market come with a useful and functional head, and therefore you shouldn't have to think too much about it. There are different kinds of heads: ball heads, pistol grips, tilt heads, etc. You should note that some of the bigger scopes with higher magnification levels and large objective lenses require bigger tripod heads, which are more expensive, and they don't always come with the tripod by default.
The leg set
To support the spotting scope and the head we have the three legs aka. the leg set.
The high-end leg sets are usually made out of carbon fiber or metal. Carbon fiber is suited for users who hike and travel a lot because:
There are some reasons why you should consider aluminum:
You're going to be moving your spotting scope around quite a bit on the head when using your spotting scope. Therefore it's important that you get a tripod with a head with a smooth tilting and rotating mechanism. Tripods with a fluid head are usually the best ones you can get. They operate using a smart, hydraulic system that provides an excellent and stable user experience, and most importantly they will work for decades.
Rotate mechanism, right size, fluid head, durable
When it comes to warranty you want to buy a tripod that comes with a lifetime warranty. Great news for you is that most tripods actually come with a lifetime warranty. However, there are some of the cheaper models that are not covered by a lifetime warranty but rather a 1-year warranty. Take for example the tripods that are produced by Amazon.
You should only consider picking a tripod without a lifetime warranty if you're on a very tight budget. Play smart: buy a great, high-quality tripod with a lifetime warranty and you'll have that scope by your side for life.
There are thousands of tripods to choose from, but after narrowing the list down to the strongest top 5 picks right now it should be a lot easier for you to make up your mind. As of right now, the best tripod for spotting scopes is the Vortex Optics PRO-2 GT. But new tripods are constantly introduced with new features, and we keep testing them so you'll see that our site is regularly updated.
There is generally a correlation between price and quality when it comes to tripods. But there are also some great bargains that you can choose to buy if you're looking to get a lot of bang for your buck.
Remember that window mounts are also a great way to mount your spotting scope. With a window mount, you can sit down in a vehicle while looking at animals or nature.
If you haven't bought a spotting scope yet we highly recommend our guide which can be found here.