How to Choose the Best Spotting Scope Tripod

Anthony Cote
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Spotting scopes have changed the way we look at wildlife, for better and for worse.

In many instances, they’ve taught us to have a more civilised, less voyeuristic attitude. In most cases, they’ve given us a reason to conserve endangered animals and protected lands.

On the other hand, they’ve also caused a lot of disgrace and caused many animals to lose their natural fear and start approaching people which often leads to them being killed by poachers.

That being said, spotting scopes have become more popular, cheaper and lighter weight as well as more compact.

As a result of smaller, more compact, lightweight and easily transportable spotting scopes, a new problem has arisen — that of rucksack backpacks becoming top heavy and forcing us to prop them up against a tree or something else which is not exactly a comfortable or convenient experience.

Therefore, you might want to start looking into a good spotting scope tripod to eliminate this problem once and for all.

NameCategoryProduct
Vortex Optics Pro GT TripodBest OverallVortex Optics Pro GT Tripod
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight TripodBudget PickAmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod
TYCKA Rangers 56” Compact Travel TripodUpgrade PickTYCKA Rangers 56” Compact Travel Tripod

1. Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod

Our rating: 9 / 10

Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod

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Pros:

  • Durable, high-quality aluminum construction
  • Highly adjustable legs
  • Can be detached from its mount
  • Rubber feet for stability
  • Includes a compass
  • Made from waterproof material

A model that can be used with almost any spotting scope, the Vortex Optics Pro GT still is a very specialized tripod. You can use it with spotting and spotting scopes alike, straight or angled. It also works with some of the more obscure binocular mounts. It is very adjustable and can be adapted to fit different heights as well as different angles.

The tripod folds and unfolds very easily. This is achieved by rotating the legs, so it doesn't require spreading or locking. The legs fold under in a way that makes the tripod very easily stored.

The legs can also be detached from the head of the tripod, which allows for mounting the head to a different surface. The included compass attaches directly to the head with a magnet, so you can quickly set the scope up for astronomy or birding.

2. AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod

Our rating: 9 / 10

AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod

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3. TYCKA Rangers 56” Compact Travel Tripod

Our rating: 8 / 10

TYCKA Rangers 56” Compact Travel Tripod

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Pros:

  • Easily folds and unfolds
  • Lightweight
  • Stable platform
  • Reasonably priced
  • Quality materials
  • Easy to adjust
  • Reasonably well packaged and in working condition upon arrival
  • Gives crisp and clear pictures
  • Leg locks are fairly easy to unlock
  • Angles can be changed very easily

The TYCKA Ranger 56 tripod is a bargain for the price when it comes to styography. When you first receive the legs, you may be skeptical about how sturdy they really are. However, once you assemble it and lock the components in place, you will see that this tripod is actually very sturdy and well built. For the most part, the assembly is easy to follow and only takes about 15 minutes. You will need one Allen wrench and two standard wrenches for the entire assembly.

4. Vanguard VS-82 Table Top Tripod

Our rating: 8 / 10

Vanguard VS-82 Table Top Tripod

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Pros:

  • Includes a convenient carrying case
  • Can adjust to the perfect angle to improve viewing
  • Ideal tripod for small trinkets
  • It doesn’t take up much table space

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have any mechanism to prevent the legs from coming undone
  • Not as stable as heavier tripods

This inexpensive Vanguard table-top tripod is one of the best leg supports out there for small telescopes, cameras, and similar equipment.

This tripod can be set up in less than a minute depending on the situation. Although it’s made from lightweight materials to be as portable as possible, the tripod is surprisingly sturdy and extremely functional.

At its lowest height, the Vanguard table-top tripod measures 4 ’. When fully extended, it stands at 31.5”. So, you can easily use this anywhere from bleachers to campgrounds.

5. Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

Our rating: 5 / 10

Pedco UltraPod II Lightweight Camera Tripod

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Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Ideal for a camera or a spotting scope
  • Quality materials and compact design
  • Easy to collapse and open quickly

Cons:

  • Not very sturdy
  • Tripod platform is small

What sets the Pedco UltraPod II apart is its lightweight build, which is great for those who are always on the go with limited storage options. The camera tripod monopod is made of high-strength aluminum alloy which makes it lightweight, yet sturdy enough to hold a digital camcorder and a spotting scope.

The materials used for the tripod’s legs are made out of T6 aluminum alloy, which is aircraft-grade material that’s lightweight and extremely durable. The top of the tripod features a foam handle so you can easily hold it.

One of the things that we really appreciate about this camera tripod is that it’s foldable and collapsible. To collapse the tripod, you have to twist the upper casing until you hear a click. Turn the bottom part of the casing and the legs will fold up. It’s easy to open the tripod back up.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best spotting scope tripod?

There are two primary types of spotting scope tripods:

  • tabletop tripods
  • field tripods

Tabletop tripods are designed to sit on anything flat. They can be set up on a condo railing, set between two chairs, or any number of inventive ways to make sure they stay in place.

Field tripods are heavier and more stable. These are for when you are going to be in the field a lot and need something that will hold your heavy spotting scope steady.

How do I choose a spotting scope?

The first thing to know about spotting scopes is that there are two basic types: handheld and mounted. A handheld spotting scope works like a small pair of binoculars. You hold it up to your eye and look through the viewfinder. A mounted spotting scope is the opposite. It's mounted on a tripod so you can look through the larger scope without having to hold anything.

You will be able to see a lot more detail through a mounted scope, but handhelds usually work better for viewing moving animals. The view can be more difficult to steady on a moving target with a mounted scope but mounted scopes usually get you a wider view of your surroundings.

Mounted scopes are also better for situations where you won't have a steady hand and grabbing a tripod to look through a handheld could put you in danger.

Can I use a camera tripod for a spotting scope?

While many spotting scopes are small and lightweight, some are still a bit too heavy to hand hold for extended periods of time. If you plan on doing a lot of birding or hunting that requires you to be outside for long periods of time, then you may want to look at investing in a good spotting scope tripod.

This tripod attaches directly to most spotting scopes and provides a stable platform for you to rest your scope and hands. This helps to take stress and weight off of you hands, allowing you to keep the scope steady for longer periods of time; which allows you to see more detail.

Personally, I prefer a simple Gorillapod tripod. It's inexpensive, portable, and easy to use. You can find a full review of several popular tripods here: Five Versatile Tripods For Your Tripod Spotting Scope.

How do you mount a tripod to a spotting scope?

You would be surprised how many spotting scopes do not include a tripod at all! If that's the case with you, it's easy to get a tripod online since they are pretty common.

If your scope does have a tripod and you don't want to buy a full new setup, then look for a tripod head that includes an adaptor plate or mounting bracket that is compatible with the mounting screw on your scope.

When buying a spotting scope, you should also consider the type of tripod that your scope will be mounted on. Sturdy tripods are a must for scopes like these. They can get heavy and tripods aren't usually all that sturdy. Look for a tripod that has a center column (swings up and down) and preferably some type of extension option (like a center column with a column extender or a larger diameter center column) so there is plenty of room for adding your scope.

Conclusion

As you make your buying decision, we want to help you narrow these choices down as much as possible. Spotting scope tripods, as simple as they may seem, have many variables that need to be taken into consideration. Remember that the quality of the tripod plays a large role in how well the spotting scope is able to perform. A high quality tripod may cost more than your spotting scope, especially if you buy a high end model, but it will pay off in the long run. It would be worth it to spend a little extra on something that will last you forever, rather than buying a cheap model that will break on you.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Vortex Optics Pro GT TripodBest OverallVortex Optics Pro GT Tripod
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight TripodBudget PickAmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod
TYCKA Rangers 56” Compact Travel TripodUpgrade PickTYCKA Rangers 56” Compact Travel Tripod