Sunpak Quantaray QSX 2001 TripodWith all of the cool new gear available each year, it seems that the bulk of my backpacking equipment only remains in my pack for 2-3 years at best before it gets replaced with a newer and improved version. With that being said, I recently went through my gear list and noticed one piece of equipment in particular that has remained on my gear list longer than any other piece of equipment – my tripod. I have spent many, many years looking for the perfect tripod for backpacking hunting; one that has the perfect tradeoff between weight and stability. Although I haven’t found the holy grail of all backcountry tripods, I have found one that works pretty dang good for the type of hardcore backcountry hunting that I do. Ironically, the number one question I have been getting when checking my emails lately is “what tripod are you using on your backpack hunts.” I can say this; most guys are shocked by my answer! It is not constructed with state of the art lightweight carbon, nor does it cost $300. It is a Sunpak Quantaray QSX 2001 aluminum tripod that can be purchased for $20-$30 bucks! Heck, at that price, a guy could afford to buy one every year, but trust me, there is no need to. I can’t honestly remember how many years this tripod has been a permanent fixture in my pack, but I can tell you this, it has been close to ten years and it still performs as good as new. In a world where products seem to be discontinued on a fairly consistent basis, the fact that the tripod is even still available for purchase today is a true testimony of its great design and value. [caption id="attachment_35" align="alignnone" width="640"] My tripod and spotting scope combo is so slick, that I often have guests stop by my camp to take check it out. On this particular night, a red fox came in to get a close-up view.[/caption] The QSX 2001 was originally designed to be used with lightweight photography cameras, but because of its ability to support heavier loads, it crosses over as an effective spotting scope and small video camera tripod. It is a very compact, 3-section tripod that only weighs 37 oz and with the legs fully extended, stands 40 inches tall. The quick release leg locks make the necessary height adjustments a breeze and the legs have rubber tips which keep them from slipping on rocks or making unwanted noise while setting up. The center column also lifts and locks in place for fine tuning the height adjustment and stretches the total height of the tripod out to 50 inches. Folded, the tripod shrinks down to under 20 inches and attaches nicely to the side of any backpack that has side compression straps. The quick release mounting plate, which stays attached to your spotting scope, allows for the very fast attachment or removal of a spotting scope during hurried situations. [caption id="attachment_36" align="alignnone" width="640"] A close-up of the panhead and quick release mounting plate.[/caption] The panhead is a little on the weak side, but this is to be expected with such a light and inexpensive tripod. With heavier 80 mm spotting scopes, the head is not super stable and will gradually drift downward. Constant readjustments are necessary at times to keep the scope’s field of view on any particular piece of terrain. The tripod is definitely much better suited for 60 mm or smaller spotting scopes. Although the head is a little weak and is not super smooth when panning, it is a tradeoff that I am willing to accept for such a light and compact tripod.
|Overall Design:||The tripod is compact, lightweight and has a good weight/stability ratio. The quick release mounting plate and leg locks make easy to set up in hurried situations.|
|Durability:||The fact that I have used the same tripod for nearly ten years says it all!|
|Appearance:||A very nice looking and well thought out tripod.|
|Improvements:||I wish the tripod was available in darker colors – such as black. A little smoother panhead would be nice as well.|
|Cost/Contact:||$20-$30 and can be found on most online camera stores on the web.|