You can spend a lot of money to get the best quality spotting scope available, but if you don’t have a tripod of equal quality, it won’t do you much good. There are many tripods in stores today, but how do you know which one is best for your spotting experience?
We have reviewed quite a few tripods and put together a list of our favorites, at different price points, to help you find the one that is perfect for your needs.
|Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Series|
|Bushnell 784030 Advanced Spotting Scope Tripod|
(Best for Hunting)
|AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod|
(Best for the Money)
|RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod|
(Best Tabletop Tripod)
|Orion 5378 Paragon HD-F2 Heavy Duty Tripod||8 lbs||4.30/5|
The Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Series has sturdy, anodized legs with rubber feet that lock into place with quick flip lever leg locks. It has a three-way quick-release panning and tilt head that adjusts effortlessly to give you the best view once you get the tension handle set correctly. It is challenging to get the tension set at precisely the right spot, but once there, it is easy to use.
Sometimes you may have a heavy wind that will cause the tripod to wobble a bit. This model has a balance hook that hangs in the center of the legs to add weight for additional stability when it’s needed. The stability of the Vortex Optics Pro GT, paired with how easy it is to use, makes this the best spotting scope tripod for birding. It even comes with a convenient carrying case to take it with you wherever you need to go.
RELATED READS: Which spotting scope performs best for birding?
The Bushnell 784030 Advanced Spotting Scope Tripod is a full-sized tripod that can be used for spotting scopes, binoculars, camcorders, or SLR cameras. It has three durable aluminum legs that can be individually adjusted for both height, and the angle the leg is set to. Each leg is covered with padded foam cushions to keep the legs from getting too hot or too cold in extreme weather situations. It would be nice, though, if there were quick-release latches on the legs for quicker tear-down.
This tripod also has a three-way pan/tilt head, and a slicing center column complete with tension control to keep your scope steady, making it the best spotting scope tripod for hunting. The Bushnell 784030 is heavy-duty to give you the stability you need, but this also makes it heavy to carry around.
The AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod has legs that can be adjusted to different heights, and rubber feet to hold it securely wherever you set it. It’s lightweight, making it easy to take with you on your travels, but it also becomes top-heavy when you attach equipment to it.
It has a quick release mounting plate. The two built-in bubble levels will help get your equipment as level as possible, so the three-way panning and tilt head will work efficiently. No matter how level you get the tripod, your camera mount doesn’t seat exactly level, which can make the head difficult to rotate.
This tripod is compatible with most video, digital, or still cameras, and scopes. Its versatility makes this the best spotting scope tripod available for the money you pay for it.
The RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod is the best tabletop spotting scope tripod due to its many features. It is for use with any device that has the standard ¼ tripod mount. The body is made of durable, yet lightweight, aluminum. It includes a three-way panning/tilt head, quick-snap leg locks and a quick-release mounting plate for faster set-up and teardown, a bubble level, an expandable center column when you need extra height, and non-slip rubber feet to hold it securely in place. All this comes in a convenient carrying bag to make taking it with you easy.
There are a few issues that make this tripod more challenging to use. Even with the bubble level, it’s nearly impossible to get it 100% level. If that isn’t irritating enough, the center column doesn’t have a lock, so there’s nothing to keep it from drifting down slowly under your equipment’s weight.
There also isn’t a balance hook to add some weight to this tripod to give it better balance. The top panhead is only attached on one side. The other side is “floating,” which allows more play than what’s needed to make this tripod sturdy enough to handle large spotting scopes or cameras.
The Orion 5378 Paragon HD-F2 Heavy Duty Tripod has a heavy-duty and adjustable frame, and light aluminum legs that adapt to any terrain. The legs are tri-braced to help center it for better stability.
This tripod has spiked feet to keep it from moving around under your equipment’s weight. There are also lever leg locks to keep the legs in place, but they tend to slide down slowly, no matter how tight the locks are.
The Orion 5378 has a two-way pan head with tension adjustment controls to provide you with smooth and controlled motion. There are a couple of issues with the head, though. The latch that attaches your scope to the tripod isn’t secure. It flops around enough that it may result in your equipment falling off the tripod. Make sure all your tension and locking knobs are as tight as possible.
Another issue is the pan head. It doesn’t lock snugly into place and will wobble under the weight of your equipment. This does affect your sightline, but it is possible to hold it steady for a better view.
The Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker Tripod has an adjustable and sturdy aluminum frame. The legs have four sections to allow it to be compact. Its size, along with the convenient carrying case and shoulder strap, makes it effortless to take wherever you need it. We found that it isn’t as sturdy as we expected it to be, so be aware of the terrain you set it on. Make sure it’s sitting squarely on the ground.
This tripod has a convenient quick-release plate to make teardown fast and easy, but it is too loose. Setup isn’t as straightforward as teardown, either. The pan/tilt tension knob is poorly placed. The lever that connects your spotting scope to the tripod is located on the side of the two-way pan head, instead of in the center like most are. The location makes it tricky to turn to get the head to lock and hold your aim exactly where you want it.
The main issue we had with this tripod is that it isn’t compatible with other tripod adapters. If this is the only tripod you have, and you don’t have other adapters to use, this won’t be an issue for you, though.
The Gosky Heavy Duty Adjustable Table Top Tripod has an aluminum frame with “heavy-duty metal tripod and mount.” We found that it sits steadily on its non-slip rubber feet, but the actual construction of the tripod is cheap and can be broken easily. It also doesn’t adjust to be very tall, so you’re limited in what you can use it for.
Though this tripod is equipped to handle any standard ¼ tripod mounts, the scope base and the mounting pad don’t fit together squarely, so the mount is too weak to use with larger, more robust equipment. The handle that is used to pivot the head is awkwardly placed, so making adjustments is tricky from either side.
The BARSKA Deluxe Tripod is a compact tripod that has extendable legs with rubber feet to hold it securely in place. BARSKA claims that this tripod is made of durable materials, but the mount and the adjustment knobs are all made of plastic and won’t take much to break.
This tripod has a two-way fluid head to aid in getting the best sightline, but it doesn’t move as smoothly as it could, so getting the perfect angle is difficult. The head shakes slightly under any significant weight, so it can’t be left unattended, even for a minute.
The BARSKA does have a quick-release platform to make teardown a breeze, but it isn’t very tall. It is actually too short for an average-height person to use comfortably.
Most high-end tripods have heads and legs that are sold separately, so the head can be changed to handle a variety of equipment. Each piece of equipment uses a specific head, so be sure that the one you purchase is compatible with your gear.
It’s essential to know how much your gear weighs if you’re planning on taking it to places that require a long hike. You need to know the weight of your tripod, your spotting scope, and your camera. More weight will slow you down and wear you out faster. It’s also crucial to know how much weight your tripod itself can carry.
Some people use spotting scopes while standing. Others use them while sitting or lying on the ground. Make sure the scope you buy will work best in the capacity in which you’ll be using it.
Panning: All tripods come with legs that stay in a spread-out stance to hold the tripod firmly in place without wavering around. The heads are meant to move around to give you the best sightline when tracking. The best way to make any movement with your scope is to use a tangent arm. They allow adjustments to be made to the head without touching the scope.
Quick-release plate: The quick-release plate is a plate on the tripod that allows you to attach your scope to the tripod head securely. It usually has a screw in the center that the scope will tighten down on to hold it in place.
Center post height: You can adjust the height of your spotting scope by raising the center post. Doing so will decrease the scope’s stability, though, allowing it to have some wobble. Using an angled degree scope allows you to keep your center of gravity lower than a straight one will.
Leg height: The best way to raise your scope is to increase the leg height. Most tripod legs come in three sections, but there are some available that have four. Four sections allow the tripod to collapse smaller, but they take longer to set up and tear down.
The legs on a tripod open up to give the base a more extensive, steady footprint. When setting the legs of your tripod, remember that not all ground is level. It is crucial that each leg can be adjusted independently, both in height and the angle the leg is set at.
Quality: Some people will spend the money to buy a high-quality spotting scope but then skimp on the tripod. Quality matters. A quality tripod will handle the weight of the equipment attached to it efficiently, without any give or wobble. It will hold its position without needing readjustment.
We have told you how imperative it is that you have a quality tripod that will hold all your equipment efficiently. We then went out and reviewed many tripods to find ones that fit the bill. You know what to look for in a tripod. Now it’s time to narrow your choices down until you find the one that meets your needs, and your preferences, best. Here’s a quick recap of our favorites. This should hopefully give you a good starting point.
1. Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Series – Top Pick
2. Bushnell 784030 Advanced Spotting Scope Tripod – Best for Hunting
3. AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod – Best for the Money
4. RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod – The Best Tabletop Spotting Scope Tripod
5. Orion 5378 Paragon HD-F2 Heavy Duty Tripod
6. Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker Tripod
7. Gosky Heavy Duty Adjustable Table Top Tripod
8. BARSKA Deluxe Tripod
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