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Hiking Pole Tripod for Ultimate "Lightweight Carry" with the Nikon ED50

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Old Monday 11th April 2016, 20:17   #1
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Hiking Pole Tripod for Ultimate "Lightweight Carry" with the Nikon ED50

If you carry the featherweight Nikon ED50 spotting scope and hike with companions who use the increasingly popular adjustable hiking poles on your outings, you may want to consider additional weight savings by using a hiking pole tripod rather than carrying a standard tripod to mount your scope. See the following post from March 30, 2015 in the “Tripod” section. ( )

The small Nikon ED50a is ideal to use on this tripod. An improvement developed since that older post was made is to use a “triangle stick” about 50 cm long rather than the short 6” one described. This adds little extra weight (1.1 oz), but allows taller adjustment similar to a photo tripod with a central column. The longer triangle stick raises the mini ball head position enough to allow use of the straight-through version of the Nikon ED50 and permits viewing with mounted binoculars while standing. Height adjustment is just a matter of pulling the friction-held triangle stick up or down as needed for eye-level viewing. Using this longer triangle stick allows practical use of the shorter hiking poles that extend to a maximum of 130 or 140 cm, though the longer 145 cm ones are still more versatile. While a tilt and pan tripod head might be preferred for bigger scopes, the little ED50 or regular size binoculars (with an “L” bracket) work well with just the minimalist Giotto mini ball head.

In the year since my first hiking pole tripod post, I’ve come to prefer using two of the “stretchier” or weaker 10” bungee cords rather than just one strong one. It is simple to apply two wraps of a single bungee cord around the three grips, spread the pole “tripod legs”, insert the triangular stick, and then apply the second 10” bungee over the set grips. This gives just as secure a hold as a single stronger bungee cord, but is much easier to apply and remove if you have cold or weak hands. See attached photos:

Photo #5: Hiking pole tripod with Nikon ED50 on long triangle stick
Photo #6: A hiking pole tripod having adapter-mounted binoculars brought up to eye level on the long triangular stick.

Since my wife and I use hiking poles anyway, with the Nikon ED50, three adapted eyepieces (20, 12, and 8 mm FL), mini ball head, long triangle stick and two 10” bungee cords in the pack, we’re always ready to set up a nice spotting scope-tripod rig along the trail when bird or wildlife views present themselves. Besides the hiking poles, the total carry weight of the Nikon ED50a scope and all the other things listed above is only 2.03 pounds (920g). This small load even opens possibilities for backpackers, for whom a small standard spotting scope and even the lightest carbon fiber tripod would amount to an intolerable addition to pack weight. Enjoy! -Bill
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