The best tripod for spotting scopes consists of a 3-prong design that will give you a stable base for your spotting scope. A stable base allows you to easily and smoothly sight birds, providing focused, smooth images of your target even when your spotting scope has been cranked up to the maximum magnification. Using a tripod with your spotting scope can help to prevent instability caused by vibration or an unsteady, shaking hand.
I’ve reviewed several of the best-selling models of tripods designed specifically for spotting scopes, and have narrowed it down to the top six models on the market.
Each of these spotting scopes has something special to offer, whether it’s a lightweight, versatile design, higher than average magnification, or a beginner-friendly design that’s perfect for new birders. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that will list some of the similarities and differences between each of these models, so it will be easier for you to narrow down your choices and choose a model that will match your skill level, meet your birding needs, and one that works with your budget.
Spotting Scope Tripods Comparison Chart
|AmazonBasics 60-Inch Tripod||6 pounds||Aluminum||Full size|
|Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod||10 pounds||Aluminum||Full size|
|RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod||6 pounds||Aluminum||Tabletop|
|Gosky Tripod||5.5 pounds||Aluminum||Full size|
|Vanguard Alta Pro 264AB Tripod||5.5 pounds||Aluminum||Full size|
|Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod||3.35 pounds||Carbon Fiber||Full size|
Best Overall-AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod
This lightweight model by Amazon Basics is an essential piece of equipment and definitely something you want to include on your list of birdwatching equipment. This model is loaded with some great features and offers a very adjustable design, complete with rubber feet that are designed to improve traction and stability. It’s also offered at a low price, so it’s perfect for the birder on a budget.
The fast-folding action, combined with the quick-release plate will allow you to quickly set up or break down your birding gear, while the versatile mount works with most models of budget spotting scopes, which is a huge plus for the birder with plenty of gear. Overall, this model comes with all the right features that you’ll need for your next birding adventure, and then some.
Most Durable-Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod Series
This model by Vortex Optics earned high marks for both ease of use and durability. It features the type of lightweight design that you’ll need if you’re hiking out to your birding destination. It also comes with a quick-release plate for faster attachment and detachment. It comes equipped with a versatile head design that allows for three-way pan and tilt, so you’ll be able to track birds in flight, easily.
It also offers a max load capacity of ten pounds, so you can use it for other equipment, aside from a spotting scope, such as a camcorder, or digital camera. The included balance hook allows you to place a weight on the hook in order to improve stabilization during use. The legs are highly adjustable and can extend up to sixty-seven inches, which is a huge plus for taller users. Overall, this model earned high marks in several areas, making it a great choice for birders of all skill levels.
Best Tabletop Tripod-RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod
This is a compact model that’s classified as a tabletop tripod. It works best on a waist-high, flat surface, but its compact, lightweight design makes it a great choice if you’re hiking through the backcountry, to your birding destination. The legs are highly adjustable and built tough. Since it weighs in at just one and a half pounds, you definitely won’t have to worry about this tripod adding too much weight to your pack.
Despite its smaller size, it’s incredibly stable and provides an excellent base for your spotting scope. It’s also highly adjustable, so it’s perfect for beginners. Overall, this versatile mini-tripod is a great buy for the birder who’s planning a long trip through the backcountry and in search of a lightweight tripod that’s built tough.
Highly Portable-Gosky Travel Portable Tripod for Spotting Scopes
If you’re trying to sight birds that fly at dusk, then you need to use a tripod that can provide a stable base for your spotting scope. This model by Gosky delivers, offering a highly adjustable design and a head mount that also works with DSLR cameras, camcorders, binoculars, and GoPro cameras. The fast-folding design makes the tripod easy to break down and setup, while the higher than average load capacity allows you to use this tripod for a wide range of optical gear.
Made from anodized aluminum, you know this model is built tough and designed to last, weighing in at just five and a half pounds. If you’re looking for a tripod that’s highly portable and beginner-friendly, then take a closer look at this latest tripod by Gosky.
Highly Adjustable-Vanguard Alta Pro 264AB 100 Aluminum Tripod
This latest model by Vanguard is highly adjustable, beginner-friendly, and features four-section aluminum legs that can be adjusted based on terrain type and the size of the user. The tripod’s feet are made out of thick rubber and come complete with retractable spikes that help to improve stability and traction on difficult terrain.
This model can be used for spotting scopes, photography, filming, and much more. Built tough and featuring a lightweight design that allows you to easily haul it to your favorite birding spot, this tripod is a must-have for the serious birder in search of a model they can really rely on.
Best Carbon Fiber Tripod-Neewer Camera Tripod and Monopod
While there’s no doubt that tripods that are made out of aluminum are both tough and lightweight, tripods that are made out of carbon fiber can offer impressive durability, at a lighter weight design that makes them highly portable and perfect for long hikes. But not only is this model by Neewer made out of carbon fiber, but it also features a unique design that allows you to turn this tripod into a monopod if you’re heading out to a particularly challenging birding spot and you don’t have much room to set up.
While the monopod isn’t as stable as a tripod, it will definitely come in handy in tight spaces. In tripod form, the legs are highly adjustable, so this is a great model for taller birders. The head mount is very versatile and can be used for GoPro gear, camcorders, digital cameras, and birding binoculars.
Spotting Scope Tripods Buyer’s Guide
It’s important to note that not all tripods will be compatible with your particular spotting scope. In most cases, a safer bet would be to choose a tripod made by the same manufacturer as your spotting scope.
Additionally, other factors that will come into play that will indicate whether or not a tripod will be compatible. This can include your height, and the weight of the scope.
When you’re shopping around for a new model, you’ll come across a few different designs. These designs consist of:
This style of tripod is also referred to as a mini-tripod, but it’s more commonly known as a tabletop tripod. Models in this category are perfect for shooting on a table, bench, or any other type of flat stable surface. Often, they will measure in between 6 to 20 inches in height, depending on the particular model and the manufacturer.
Many of these models do not come equipped with telescoping legs, which can have a major impact on their adjustability. Basically, these tripods can only be adjusted via an extendable central column. Because of their limitations in terms of leg span, and their limited weight load capacity this type of tripod is a better choice for small spaces and should not be used with heavier spotting scopes.
This type of tripod is much larger than the tabletop variety and its highly portable design makes it a great choice for birdwatchers, backpackers, and hunters. If you don’t need a spotting scope for a digital camera then this style of tripod will work the best for you.
Also referred to as full size, the standard tripod allows the user to attach their camera, spotting scope, or binoculars and use them while standing. However, just because it’s described as a full-size model doesn’t mean it will be compatible with heavier spotting scopes. Because of this, you must pay close attention to each particular model’s weight limit capacity.
Essentially, tripods that are made out of plastic are best suited for lightweight spotting scopes and can be used to help stabilize them.
Before you rush out and buy the first affordable tripod you find you’ll need to take into consideration why you need the tripod in the first place. As an example, if you plan on birding at your local park and setting up on one of the benches, then a tabletop model will be a great choice. If you plan on hiking on difficult terrain and mountain ranges then they’re going to want to go with a full-sized model. If you’re hiding in the brush, then a compact model will be right up your alley.
Choose a model that comes equipped with a smooth rotating head and tilting mechanism especially if you’re a beginner and don’t have much experience attaching your spotting scope to a tripod. These more beginner-friendly designs come equipped with an Innovative hydraulic system that makes them easier to adjust and more stable.
Most models of tripods will work with a wide range of equipment including digital cameras, video cameras, binoculars, and of course, spotting scopes. The most versatile model also comes equipped with interchangeable heads and legs. If you’re looking for ultimate versatility then pay close attention to the spec sheet.
Some tripods will come with all the gear you need, including head attachments, while others will only come with adjustable legs. If a model you choose comes with a head mount, then it’s important to pay close attention to its compatibility and determine whether or not it will work with your spotting scope before you hit that buy now button.
Most birders can agree that a model that comes with a quick-release plate is ideal, since a quick release plate will allow you to easily and quickly attach or detach a spotting scope.
If you’re sighting birds in the backcountry then this type of fast-working feature is a must, especially if you want to track a bird and learn more about its hunting habits, habitat, and behaviors. If you end up with a model that requires you to manually unscrew your scope from the device, then it will be very limiting in terms of what you can see and where you can go.
Pay close attention to a product’s weight, max height, and overall portability. You’ll also want to learn more about its load capacity, and adjustability. Basically, the tripod should be able to easily support the weight of your spotting scope. If you end up with a model that can’t support the weight of your scope, then it can make the tripod useless, since it will not be able to work as a stable base for your scope.
Most models of spotting scopes that you come across will be made out of either carbon fiber or aluminum. Each type of material comes with its own pros and cons. While carbon fiber models feature a lightweight design compared to models made out of aluminum, they’re not quite as durable. Aluminum tripods are incredibly strong, although slightly heavier than carbon fiber models which can be a big deal-breaker if you have a long trek ahead of you.
However, not all tripods made out of aluminum are heavy, so you should be able to find a lightweight model made out of this material that’s designed to support a heavier scope.
Carbon Fiber Versus Aluminum
Models made out of carbon fiber tend to be pricier, however, they provide the type of lightweight design that many birders need when they’re carrying a lot of heavy gear. In the end, a tripod’s weight is an important feature to pay attention to you don’t want to end up with a model that’s too light because it can compromise its stability, functionality, and sturdiness.
Avoid buying one that weighs less than 1 and 1/2 pounds. Any lighter than this and it will be difficult to stabilize your scope which can begin to wobble during use. Most pro birders end up using aluminum models since they provide the extra stability and security regardless of terrain type.
To sum it up, carbon fiber models can handle heavier gear without shaking and they feature a very lightweight design. However, they’re better suited for absorbing and handling vibration that can potentially disrupt clarity and focus.
Aluminum models are a great choice when it comes to stability and remaining grounded, which is a huge plus on windy days. Many birders mistakenly believed that models made out of aluminum are too bulky and heavy, but there are lightweight models out there if you do your research.
In terms of cost, aluminum is often more affordable than carbon fiber which will be a huge plus for the birder on a tight budget.
There are many types of heads for tripods designed for spotting scopes. The main types include pan head and ball head. When it comes to choosing between these styles it’s usually a matter of personal preference and what you’re using your tripod for.
Ball head styles offer the proper functionality for glassing but they tend to be a better choice for photography. For glassing, you need a head that can handle smooth and precise movements when panning. This type of head also tends to create movements that will go in every direction which can make it difficult to control.
Pan heads are often a better choice since they offer smoother movements with no skipping, which makes them more desirable for glassing. Additionally, the style of head is much easier to use if you’re scanning a landscape. Some models of tripods will allow you to purchase a head separately so you can upgrade if you don’t like the stock head that comes with your tripod. However, if you’re a beginner you’ll want to stick with a stock tripod head which is often a more affordable and simpler option.
An adjustable tripod can be used in standing, seated, crouched, or prone positions. Its max height is important especially if you’re using a standard spotting scope. Make sure you choose a model that comes equipped with a max height that you feel comfortable with so you don’t end up having to hunch over you’re spotting scope for several hours on end.
Again, adjustability and versatility will play a major role in the model that you choose. When you’re birding, you need a tripod that will allow you to keep the center post low. The center post can be raised to increase the height of the tripod. However, when it’s raised too high it will decrease the tripod’s stability. Typically, birders will commonly use 45° scopes. This will allow for a significantly lower tripod height. Models that come equipped with a crank-style center post should be avoided, however, a center post that’s removable will make a tripod highly portable, which is a huge plus for any birder.
Investing in a good tripod is just as important as using the best spotting scope for birding. However, it’s pretty common for a birder to invest hundreds of dollars in the right scope and skimp on the quality of the tripod. If you end up buying the cheapest tripod on the market you’ll find that it’s wobbly, shaky, performance will have a major negative impact on your birding experience.
Unfortunately, new birders don’t realize just how valuable a stable tripod is and how it can improve their scope’s performance. So, instead of shopping around based on price, look for a model that has a reputation for stability, adjustability, and versatility.
The Right Tripod for Birding
If you normally spend several hours in the brush sighting birds with your spotting scope, and you don’t have a tripod to provide a stable base, then this can quickly become uncomfortable. It can also be increasingly difficult to maintain a stable image, especially if you’ve been struggling to hold up your spotting scope after many hours remaining still and hoping to catch sight of that rare bird.
If you’re looking for a new tripod specifically for birding, then you want a highly portable lightweight model that features a fast-folding and quick release action. Obviously, it must be stable and able to handle difficult terrain. It should also allow you to position your scope in a variety of angles, fluidly and quickly in order to follow the bird’s movements and flight.
Most birders tend to hide in the brush and not remain in open spaces, in order to improve their chances of sighting birds and getting an in-depth look at their behavior and normal activities. Because of this, a compact model may be more up your alley. However full-size models are more versatile and known for their stability. You’ll need to search for one that’s highly adjustable so you can shorten or lengthen the legs based on where you’re birding for the day.
When you’re shopping around for the best spotting scope for tripods, make sure you pay close attention to the details and take your time. Ensure that the model you’re choosing comes equipped with all the accessories and features you need for birding. It should also be beginner-friendly, lightweight, portable, and easy to set up. The models of tripods I’ve chosen are versatile and come loaded with many beginner-friendly features. I hope my guide and my in-depth reviews will make it a little easier for you to choose a model that will perfectly suit your birding needs and your budget.