A backpacking tripod
Over the past 6 months I have done a lot of walking on beaches and a lot of carrying of equipment to enable me to observe the migratory shorebirds that come to the Broome area. The beaches are emptying out now as the shorebirds have set off on their migration into the northern hemisphere to breed. The local shorebirds will soon be breeding and I will continue to load up and walk our beautiful beaches watching their breeding progress from a distance. It is essential here to carry a minimum of two litres of water when you are outside for a couple of hours due to the heat and then I pack the other essentials. I always carry the telescope, tripod and camera with a large board to note any observations. I choose not to carry a stool and because I am not able to sit on the sand due to the heat I have chosen to use a backpack with a flap that opens up to sit on. Sometimes I can’t sit on that if the sand is too hot and I have to wait for the tide to drop to sit on the damp sand.
I have the perfect tripod for this situation and it actually comes with some interesting history. Just prior to a trip to Hong Kong in May 1992 we came across this particular tripod in a birding magazine and I can’t remember exactly which one and it may well no longer be published. In those days Hong Kong was under British rule and we flew into the old Kai Tak airport and stayed with some friends. We spent almost all of our holiday in the various nature reserves around the mainland and islands and three quarters of Hong Kong was actually rural and mostly pristine. It was far from the shopping holiday that many people took in the 1990’s. We only had one item we were hoping to buy and that was a tripod we had seen in a magazine. It took some researching to find the distributor for the tripod that we wanted and we had no internet to help us in those days. We succeeded in finding where we needed to go and it was an unlikely address, but we succeeded in finding and purchasing the tripod.
The tripod is perfect in every way because it is lightweight and folds completely flat. It always causes an interest if you put it in your hand baggage when it goes through the X-ray machine! You can only imagine what it looks like as it goes through! It is always questioned and explained and there is much fascination by security. You can use the tripod for a telescope or a camera and it is obviously a lot more stable when it is at its shortest rather than at its tallest. Due to the fact that I am writing in the field I prefer to sit and have a board on my lap to record my observations. It can be used as a monopod, though that is a function I do not use very often.
Backpacking tripod set up for sitting
I wondered recently if this tripod was still available. We don’t need a new one, because this one has nothing wrong with it even though it is 22 years old. I was thinking of other people that might walk long distances and need something that packed easily into a backpack and was still suitable. Well, I looked it up and now it is quite easy to find things compared to 1992. Sure enough, the German company Cullmann is still producing this fine tripod! All of the information on the MAGIC Tripod magically appears when you click here!!
We actually own a second Cullmann tripod that is taller and we purchased in 1994. It is able to go ridiculously tall in case you are inside a bird-hide and you need it outside and the ground is lower than inside! This tripod is ideal, but we made one adaptation to make it more comfortable for walking with it balanced on one shoulder. We made a trip to the plumbing shop where we purchased a length of plumbing insulation and cut it into three and covered the legs. This is so much more comfortable when you are carrying a tripod for some distance and cheap and easy to implement.
Second tripod with plumbing insulation on legs
No doubt there are many good tripods out there, but the two Cullmann tripods that we have owned all of these years have not needed replacing. Maybe when they do need replacing I will let them know that I wrote about their tripods on this website and see what they say! If they offered me one I would happily look after it for them and test it in the field for over 20 years!