A scope (or spotting scope) is a portable telescope that provides great magnification and can be hand held while in use.
For the best results and in order to get a steadier, more stable view, a tripod should be used to mount the scope on.
Scopes are great for bird watchers and hunters, and just those generally interested in watching nature (Source).
If you want or need to stay focused on one spot, a tripod is a necessity. When choosing a tripod, you’ll want one that is stable, easy to adjust, and easy to set up.
In this guide, we will look at five of the best scope tripods available today.
Best Spotting Scope Tripods 2018
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Spotting Scope Tripods 2018
- 2 1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 – Best Overall
- 3 2. Dolica GX600B200 Proline – Best for Stability
- 4 3. RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod – Best Tabletop Tripod
- 5 4. AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod – Best For a Budget
- 6 5. Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker – Best for Height Adjustments
- 7 What You Need To Know Before Buying a Scope Tripod
- 8 Our Final Take
|Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100|
|Dolica GX600B200 Proline|
|RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod|
|AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod|
|Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker|
1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 – Best OverallThe Alta Pro is one of the most flexible tripods in the world, with amazing versatility and top-notch stability.
The legs are an aluminum alloy and measure 26mm. Built in 3 sections, they can adjust to 25, 50, and 80-degree angles. There are easy-release buttons for quick set-up. This enables the tripod to reach some extremely low angles.
Stability is ensured with a sure footing, and the Alta Pro includes spiked rubber feet to get a good grip on any surface you place it on.
This stability is further enhanced by the Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (ISSL) System, which securely repositions the central hexagon-shaped column in one simple movement. The Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC) system allows the central column to move from zero to 180° angles in various positions.
On top, a smooth moving ball head rotates through 360 degrees, and includes a quick release plate to get your scope on and off at speed. Bubble levels ensure that your viewing angle is level. Overall, this is an outstanding tripod, with good stability and the ability to hold a load of up to 15.4 pounds, making it suitable for even large scopes.
2. Dolica GX600B200 Proline – Best for StabilityThe Dolica GX600B200 is quite light at only 3.5lbs, making it very portable.
The Anodized Aluminum Alloy (AAA) and Plastic Polymer Composite (PPC) construction of the tripod make it both light and extremely strong, so like the Alta Pro, it can support a load of up to 15lbs. The included ball head features a quick release plate allowing the quick connection and removal of your scope, which makes set-up and pack down a breeze.
The tripod has NBR foam grips to help the user maintain a tight grip, even in extreme weather conditions. Even when the weather is subzero, or even extremely hot, the grips will allow you to comfortably hold the tripod without freezing or burning your hands.
The GX600 tripod has four level positioning, allowing it to be set up anywhere from extremely low to high, with each leg individually adjustable. The bottom of the legs have interchangeable spikes and rubber feet, allowing a good grip on almost any surface.
The dangling hook can be used for a counter weight, or reversed to mount the scope underneath the tripod, allowing for very low level viewing.
3. RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod – Best Tabletop TripodThe RetiCAM MT-01 is a tabletop tripod that works in just the same way as the other larger tripods in this list, but doesn’t extend as far.
It is very light-weight and extremely portable, while at the same time offering features that many smaller tripods do not. For example, it can be extended to 19 inches, which is larger than most. A pan and tilt head and handle are included allowing for smooth tracking, and the quick release plate lets you attach and remove a scope quickly.
The aluminum legs are built in 3 sections, and are locked in place with flip locks. The center column is geared, and can be quickly cranked to different heights if needed. Also includes a bubble level to make sure your scope is at the right angle.
4. AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod – Best For a BudgetWeighing only 3lbs, this tripod is very lightweight and therefore easily transportable. The downside to this is that the maximum load it can support is 6.6lbs, so make sure to check the weight of your scope before attaching it to this tripod.
The legs are fitted with rubber feet, and extend easily. They are secured in place with flip locks, and the height can be further adjusted with a geared center post that can be fully cranked to give a maximum height of 60 inches.
Two built-in bubble levels display when the tripod is level – one shows when the base is level, the other shows when the plate is level. The plate itself is quick-release, allowing for the simple removal of a scope.
A carry bag with a zip is included to allow simple transport of the tripod.
5. Celestron 82050 TrailSeeker – Best for Height AdjustmentsThe Celestron TrailSeeker has been designed to be stable, lightweight, and easy to configure. Weighing in at just under 4lbs, it certainly is lightweight – and it’s quite strong too, being able to hold almost 9lbs. This is half as much again as the AmazonBasics tripod, but nowhere near as much as the Alta Pro.
The legs are made of aluminum and divided into 4 sections, each lockable with a lever lock. The angle of the legs is also adjustable, allowing stability even on very uneven surfaces.
Two of the legs include padded wraps, designed to be used as per the NBR grips on the Dolica model – helping to keep your fingers from freezing when handling the tripod in cold weather.
The bottom of the legs have rubber feet to help keep the tripod steady on wet surfaces.
By moving the center column up and down, a maximum height of 70.5 inches can be attained. A counterweight hook hangs from the bottom of this column, allow extra stability in difficult conditions. The hook is retractable and will not get in the way when not in use.
On top of the center column is a a two-way pan head unit with a single handle. When the desired position is achieved, a single knob locks the head in place. A quick release plate is included to make attaching and removing a scope simplicity itself, while two bubble levels ensure both the base and the plate are level.
A carry case with a shoulder strap is included to help with transporting the tripod to your destination.
What You Need To Know Before Buying a Scope Tripod
You can use a scope in any way you choose, including holding it in your hand. However, some scopes can be quite bulky or heavy, and so you will be unable to hold them steady.
Because of the extreme magnification, any small shake will be greatly amplified, and the only way to guarantee a shake-free experience is by using a tripod.
Can You Use a Standard Camera Tripod?
It is possible to use scopes with standard camera tripods, but most scopes weigh more than a camera does. The best scope tripod will be stronger than a camera tripod to ensure stability.
Always compare the maximum weight supported by a tripod against the weight of your scope, as mounting equipment that is too heavy may damage the tripod or cause a collapse that will damage the equipment too.
How Big Is a Tripod?
Tripods are designed to pack down into a small space in order to be easily portable. Some tripods expand to only 1 or 2 feet in height, while other can approach 6 feet.
The size you choose will depend on your particular application – for example, if you want to mount the scope on the tripod and use it on a table, the shorter models will work well. If you are in the middle of the woods, a taller tripod will most likely suit you better as there may be very few flat surfaces around.
How Do You Change the Viewing Angle?
Depending on the tripod, there will be knobs or handles to twist that allow simple adjustments to be made, such as rotating the scope side to side. There are also options that allow the scope to be tilted, aiding your viewing position if you are using an angled scope.
How Is the Scope Attached To or Removed From The Tripod?
The mounting point is usually a standard ¼ inch mounting bolt, that screws into the underside of the scope. To remove the scope, it is either unscrewed, or in the event of a quick release plate being fitted, it is released by the press of a button.
A quick release plate will just clip back into position to reattach the scope to the tripod.
How Does The Tripod Remain Stable on Uneven Ground?
Tripods will usually have rubberized feet to prevent slipping. These feet sometimes take the shape of balls, enabling a non-slip grip on a greater angle of ground.
Alternatively, some tripod feet can be replaced with (or include retractable) spikes to anchor the tripod in softer ground. Each leg can often be individually adjusted in height, making for a very firm platform on which to secure your scope.
Does The Tripod Need a Hook?
Some tripods feature a hook hanging below the main stand. This can be used in two ways:
- To allow the user to attach a weight in order to further stabilize the tripod. In many cases, this isn’t necessary, but it’s a useful optional extra to have should the need ever arise.
- To hold accessories for the scope. Again, a useful option, should you need quick access.
Is a Tripod Bag a Necessity?
When folded down, most tripods can be tightened up to prevent them from trying to extend themselves again. A bag will help keep a tripod in the collapsed position, making it easier to handle. It will also protect the tripod from inclement weather conditions, and so is a worthwhile accessory.
Our Final Take
The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 tops our list due to its relatively light weight, strength, stability, and the ease with which adjustments can be made. All the tripods have great features, but the 263AB puts everything together in one neat package.
The AmazonBasics model is one to look at if you are on a budget or just starting to explore the world of scopes. It’s basic and rudimentary, but will stabilize the view through your scope nicely.
The RetiCAM Tabletop Tripod also deserves an honorable mention for its specific use – it’s the only tripod on the list for use on a table. If you are scoping from a table and need to take notes, it’s an ideal tripod to use.
What will you use a scope tripod for? Comment below!