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06-06-2011, 09:26 AM   #1
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Hiking Monopod

I found the following related but dated thread:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/20982-mon...ing-stick.html

I'm interested in a monopod used for hiking or, perhaps it's better a hiking pole that can be used as a monopod since it'll get much more use hiking than photographing.

There are several designs including a basic pole with screw to attach a camera directly. These include:
Mountainsmith Trekker FX Hiking Pole / Monopod 11-9100-01 B&H
Amazon.com: LEKI Sierra SAS (Soft Anti-Shock) Trekking Pole: Sports & Outdoors

These both seem sturdy and capable enough and are fairly low cost. However, neither includes a head so a separate one must be purchased to make it useful in anything other than a horizontal format.

Leki also has another system due out in July 2011, but I've not seen this system demonstrated and I'm unsure how it works, but it appears similar to the above.

Photo Alu Speedlock (18/16/14) - T6332098 - Trekking Poles -- LEKI USA
And then there are the Trekpods:
Lightweight, Travel Monopod Tripod Combination | TrekPods | Trek-Tech

These seem a bit pricey for the Go! and the XL, but the Trekpod II can be had for a decent price.

Interesting that at BH it shows most models as discontinued:

trekpod

I couldn't find any mention of this at the Trek-Tech site. However, prices do seem to be reduced, even at the manufacturer's site.

This design seems to perform decently, but I've read concerns about the quality of construction and there have been reported instances of the included Magmount head breaking. That bit is a bit disconcerting as I'd rather not have my camera take a fall.


06-06-2011, 09:48 AM   #2
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I own this one and have been using it for several years. It's lightweight and has served me well.
Promaster

I had also purchased this one from REI several years before I got the Promaster version. After I got the Promaster version I 'discovered' that this one had a removable head too and doubles as a monopod for hiking. I've used this backpacking in the Sierra and recommend it too.
REI Hiker Shock Light Staff - Free Shipping for Members at REI.com
06-06-2011, 10:43 AM   #3
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My view on a hiking stick is you dont want something with any threat of collapsing.

A walking stick you have a little wiggle room as you only will be using for basic balancing.

Hiking is more intensive and the stick will take more stress then walking.

I would look for a one piece device if you will find yourself hiking more then walking.

Of course it depends I guess more on the terrain you will be visiting then the wording of hike.

A solid piece of wood (think German/European) finished etc with a modified (DIY) top may suffice.

I just wouldnt feel safe using a segmented staff to support myself and backpack on a terrain intensive hike.
06-06-2011, 11:04 AM   #4
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Aknot - I've been hiking / backpacking since 1972. For many years several trusty sticks have been my friends on hikes and backpack trips. In 2006 I got the REI waking stick to try them out. I'm a convert now. Both of my poles (I only use one at a time), support my >200lb weight and a 40-60lb pack. They provide just the right bit of stability I need on the trail after 6 years of use, are going strong. I like the fact that they have a small amount of shock absorption and I can vary the length depending on going uphill or downhill etc. The fact that I can mount a camera on them is a plus which when hiking I've used from time to time. A week ago, I mounted my K-5 with a DA21 on the top of my hiking pole to get a self timer picture of my hiking group. Worked just fine.

06-06-2011, 11:30 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
Aknot - I've been hiking / backpacking since 1972. For many years several trusty sticks have been my friends on hikes and backpack trips. In 2006 I got the REI waking stick to try them out. I'm a convert now. Both of my poles (I only use one at a time), support my >200lb weight and a 40-60lb pack. They provide just the right bit of stability I need on the trail after 6 years of use, are going strong. I like the fact that they have a small amount of shock absorption and I can vary the length depending on going uphill or downhill etc. The fact that I can mount a camera on them is a plus which when hiking I've used from time to time. A week ago, I mounted my K-5 with a DA21 on the top of my hiking pole to get a self timer picture of my hiking group. Worked just fine.
Paint me paranoid.... I just couldnt afford (both monetary and from my wife!) something to happen if I knew I could have avoided it with those regards.

My hiking is regulated to well walked wooded paths with little variations unless I go out of my way. I have however misclicked in fastening a leg on a tripod and on a monopod once. While nothing happened adversely to the lamp or gear it has always made me second think using the monopod as a support device in excess of my camera.

Expierence wins out over paranoia though. So what I say is just my opnion based on paranoia....
06-06-2011, 11:58 AM   #6
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Aknot, I've had concerns about hiking poles/monopod collapsing and that's why I think it's safe to mostly eliminate a photography monopod to double as a hiking pole since it isn't designed as robustly to handle the pounding. In the thread I linked above it was mentioned how some monopods used as hiking poles weren't secure or just wore out. Also, I've considered the solid pole, but I'd rather have the ability to pack it easily and bring it on a plane with me. I think the collapsible hiking pole is fairly standard and rugged these days. Leki specializes in this and they don't make a single solid pole as far as I can tell; they're all collapsible.

blackcloudbrew, thanks for the interesting suggestions and insight. Do you use a different head or just shoot horizontal? If you do use a head do you remove it for hiking or leave it on?

QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew:
A week ago, I mounted my K-5 with a DA21 on the top of my hiking pole to get a self timer picture of my hiking group.
I'm not sure I understand. Was this self standing? If so, how?
06-07-2011, 04:39 AM   #7
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My advice is this:

1-get a light, ideally carbon monopod. You want to save all the weigth you can

2-Get one with a removable head, preferably ball, and get a head that is light also (I often carry the camera and ballhead in my backpack, and just use the monopod as a walking stick, then quickly screw everything on the monopod to take pictures)

3-get a monopod with sturdy leg locks

4-get one with both rubber and a spiked shoe

5- don't overpay

I'm not familiar with your selection, I know I'm using a Dynatran (now discontinued, apparently) carbon monopod that I got for 50$ including a (strong, reliable, but too heavy) head. The head is now on my tripod, and I got a lightweigth head on my monopod. And I love that system.

06-07-2011, 01:20 PM   #8
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Unfortunately, the design goals for a good trekking pole and a good monopod are very different.

A good monopod is ROCK SOLID with no flex/vibration when locked up, and is designed to take a constant but fairly low load (the camera's weight - 10-20 pounds at absolute most) without much need to absorb shocks.

A good trekking pole is light weight and needs to absorb shocks via in-pole shock absorbers and a bit of give/flex of the pole material itself, and take a heavy load without collapse, such as a hiker pole-planting as they glide over rocks. I have put the majority of my body weight on my Leki Sierra without any hesitation, and I've subjected it to some pretty significant shocks. (It DOES have a shock absorber after all!). However - as a long-lens monopod, the flex and bounce of the Leki makes it worse than handholding. It might work well for long-shutter wide angle shots, but it's awful for telephoto work, I tried it once with a Tamron 70-300, and I think even once with my Bigma, and the lens just bounced up and down way too much as the pole flexed.

Edit: A cheap-ass $10 Targus monopod is significantly more stable than the Leki Sierra photo pole. However, as a trekking pole, the Sierra is awesome, and in that way alone it's a great photographic accessory in that it helps you and your camera get to where they need to be.
06-07-2011, 05:25 PM   #9
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I use an Ultrapod II strapped to one of the Trekking poles I am already carrying. I'm not a fan of the ball mount it uses, but it works and adds very little weight.

Mine is Minolta branded, so I only paid about ten bucks for it at someone's clearance sale.
06-08-2011, 08:38 AM   #10
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I've used a telescoping 2-section Trek stick for over two decades. The same one! No shock absorption, no carbon fibres, just the basic breakdown stick. Removable wood ball head and rubber foot; stashable in checked luggage. I am taller than the stick, so I add a short extension pipe to bring the cam up to my eye level. All simple and solid enough.

Last edited by RioRico; 06-13-2011 at 06:48 PM.
06-08-2011, 08:26 PM   #11
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I've used this brand for about 12 years. I have a Sherlock and Sherlock Travel and don't use them much for hiking these days (knee surgery again) but still I find them handy for a walk in the woods. I actually use the Sherlock as a cane when completely collapsed and a small ball head attached. The Travel stays in my car.
06-09-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the replies. Especially the comments on specific products and experience.

bdery and Entropy. In light of both your comments I wonder then if a version of the Trekpod is a good solution. They've no shock absorption and already come with a ball head. How essential is shock absorption to a hiking pole?


QuoteOriginally posted by Ubuntu Quote
I use an Ultrapod II strapped to one of the Trekking poles I am already carrying. I'm not a fan of the ball mount it uses, but it works and adds very little weight.

Mine is Minolta branded, so I only paid about ten bucks for it at someone's clearance sale.
This is a very interesting idea. I already have an Ultrapod II. I'm with you on the ball mount. I really would prefer a quick release plate. Thanks for the suggestion.

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I've used a telescoping 2-section Trek pod for over two decades. The same one! No shock absorption, no carbon fibres, just the basic breakdown stick. Removable ball head and rubber foot; stashable in checked luggage. I am taller than the stick, so I add a short extension pipe to bring the cam up to my eye level. All simple and solid enough.
Two decades! That's a pretty good endorsement for its durability. I'd like to be able take it on carry one luggage and I noticed the two pole model use the "Magmount Star" and the three pole uses the "Magmount Pro". The "Pro" version is significantly lighter (.127 kg vs .073 kg) and I wonder if it is less robust and therefore more prone to breaking.

QuoteOriginally posted by WJW Quote
I've used this brand for about 12 years. I have a Sherlock and Sherlock Travel and don't use them much for hiking these days (knee surgery again) but still I find them handy for a walk in the woods. I actually use the Sherlock as a cane when completely collapsed and a small ball head attached. The Travel stays in my car.
Thanks for the suggestion WJW. These don't, afaik, have any shock absorption and may be a good solution.
06-13-2011, 07:27 AM   #13
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How essential shock absorption is to a hiking pole is a matter of personal preference - It's more about comfort than durability.

However even poles without shock absorbers (I can lock my Leki to disable the shocks, for example) often have some amount of flex to absorb some shocks. The Sherlock might have similar flex.

The Trekpod is, of course, designed with photo first and hiking second, so may be less flexy than some of the hiking-first poles.

Also, while the flexing of the Sierra is awful at 250mm+, it may be fine for use for wider-angle shots.
06-13-2011, 05:00 PM   #14
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For a walking stick I would think you would want solid one piece construction.

Why don't you make your own? Find a nice sturdy stick of the proper height, spend a dollar at the hardware store to buy the right size double threaded lag bolt and then walk and shoot.

A drill, maybe a saw and a pair of vice grip type pliers are all the tools you will need.
06-15-2011, 10:26 PM   #15
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I own a Trekpod, one of the older ones that doesn't telescope down to small size but stays hiking stick length at it's shortest. I like it as I can put my full weight on it if I need to without worry of it collapsing. The lower section opens up to a tripod but it's kind of shaky but on level ground and not in a strong wind, it does the job.
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