Buiding My Perfect Backcountry Tripod

IntrepidXJ

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Jan 17, 2012
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Over the past few years I've been using a Manfrotto tripod setup that has really begun to frustrate me while using. It is finally time to upgrade. On Friday I received my new ballhead (the new legs are supposed to be her eon Tuesday, so I'll update this thread when they get here and I can try them out) and I got to try it out this weekend....I like it a lot better than my previous setup.

I went with the Acratech GP-s ballhead. What I like about this ballhead is the open design of the ball, which makes keeping it clean and working smoothly a breeze...especially since it will constantly be in contact with sand and dust in the desert.....no grease required. The ball itself has a lot of movement compared other ballheads on the market. The knobs are coated in rubber and all of them are different shapes so they are easy to operate. This thing is light and well-made....everything operates smoothly....and it will easily support 25lbs.

Some other features that aren't as important to me, but might come in handy on occasion are the panning base, the ability to function as a gimball head and as a leveling panoramic head. Lots of features in a small and light package.

http://acratech.net/product.php?productid=76



The last feature of the ballhead I was looking for was that it uses the Acra-Swiss mounting system. After dealing with the loose fitting Manfrotto plates for the past few years, it's nice to use a place system that locks the camera down tight! I also wanted to be able to use this Really Right Stuff L-Bracket.

No more flopping my camera 90 degrees into the notch and throwing the balance of my tripod off-center......now I can just flip the camera on it's side and still have it centered over the tripod. I used it this weekend and it worked great!

http://reallyrightstuff.com/Product...c=B5D2-L:-L-plate-for-Canon-5D-Mark-II&key=it



I'll update this thread in a few days when I get my new tripod legs, but so far things are coming together nicely. Just adding the new ballhead and L-bracket to my old Manfrotto legs has made the setup noticeably better and less frustrating for me.

Of course, right now this is in the trial and error phase to get things the way I want.....so I may make changes in the future.
 

barl0w

I slay white dragons, adventure, and take photos
Joined
Jan 20, 2012
Messages
163
And with that title I was naive enough to think that you were fabricating your own tripod! Haha!

Sounds like a killer setup. This is definitely one area that I haven't put much money into, and probably should.
 

IntrepidXJ

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Jan 17, 2012
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And with that title I was naive enough to think that you were fabricating your own tripod! Haha!

Sounds like a killer setup. This is definitely one area that I haven't put much money into, and probably should.

I don't think I'd be up for fabricating a tripod! That would be a lot of work.
 

IntrepidXJ

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Well, my new tripod legs came today and they are awesome! I can't wait to really try them out in the field. It's taller, lighter and folds up smaller than my Manfrotto!

I ended up going with the Feisol Tournament Tripod CT-3442 Rapid. I was originally looking at Gitzo's, but a lot of my friends are using the Feisol and they all love it. It also has a feature or two that the Gitzo's I was looking at didn't...plus the price was a bit nicer ;)

http://www.feisol.net/feisol-tournament-tripod-ct3442-rapid-p-31.html



This thing extends to 54.33" without the center column. I did buy the center column kit, but don't plan to use it in the backcountry to save on weight (plus, tripods are more stable without using the center column anyways). Speaking of weight.....this thing is light. Without the center column this tripod weighs in at 2.3lbs.

My old Manfrotto had the lever locks on the legs, which I thought I would like when I bought it. Turns out that they ended up being a source of frustration whenever I was in a hurry to get my tripod setup. I definitely wanted twist locks on my new setup so that I could quickly loosen all three of them at once and extend the legs quickly. I was just testing that out and it works very well....much faster than the levers.

The big reason I went with Feisol over Gitzo is because the legs on this tripod fold 180 degrees back over the head. Not only does this help protect the ball head in the slot canyons, but it also allows the tripod to fold down much smaller since the head is not sticking up on one end.

I'll update this thread with my real world impressions of the setup once I get some chances to thoroughly test it out.
 

HomerJ

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Jan 19, 2012
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IntrepidXJ

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Jan 17, 2012
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I haven't really used it in the backcountry yet, but the few times I have used it so far, I am really liking it. I love the new ballhead!

I rarely carried my old tripod around before because I didn't like dealing with it, but I can definitely see myself carrying this one around almost anywhere....it's that light!
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,927
I haven't really used it in the backcountry yet, but the few times I have used it so far, I am really liking it. I love the new ballhead!

I rarely carried my old tripod around before because I didn't like dealing with it, but I can definitely see myself carrying this one around almost anywhere....it's that light!

What was your old setup?
 

Archbishop

Make ready. Go forward!
Joined
Jan 21, 2012
Messages
202
Oh come on! No one is going to snicker or make a 5th grade boy reply about the "sweet legs." comment?
 

IntrepidXJ

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Jan 17, 2012
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Just an update on this one since I've been using this setup for a few months now....it's working out great for me. I absolutely love the ballhead with the L-bracket. I've also taken it on both of my backpacking trips so far and it packs nicely on the side of my pack and really doesn't add too much weight.
 

Duke

Mountain Carver
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Feb 19, 2012
Messages
382
Holy schnitzel! It seems like some of you guys are rolling in the chips! I clicked on the link, saw the price on that thing and dropped one.
 

gnwatts

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May 19, 2012
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I have the Feisol Tournament also, with my big ol' Bogen 3047 head (almost weighs more than the tripod!). Light weight, sturdy, it is a great piece of equipment. I have had problems with the leg adjustment rings though, over time dust (or sand) gets in there and makes it difficult to extend the legs. I am going to take them apart and clean them, I will let you know how that goes.
 

DAA

Member
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Jun 14, 2012
Messages
715
That ball head looks WAY cool Randy. I hadn't ever seen that one. I've been using Feisol CT-3441T legs for about a year now and have nothing but good things to say about them. No complaints about the Markins Q3T ball head I've been using with them either, but I think I may have liked your Acratech even more had I known about it.

After a year of being carried on my daypack and thrown around in the back of my Jeep, the Markins functions perfectly but looks like azz - all scratched and scarred, probably couldn't get enough for it to be worth selling, so I'll probably stay with it. And the 1 series legs fold up really tight and light around the Q3T. But if I ever get a chance to fondle your Acratech, who knows what might happen :D.

gnwatts - I took my Feisol legs apart for cleaning a couple months ago, easy-easy and they were back to silky like new smooth after.

- DAA
 
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