Most long-range hunters and bird watchers prefer using spotting scopes over binoculars, and there’re several great reasons for this.
Spotting scopes, unlike binoculars, allow you to get a clear, level shot, and with a greater level of magnification.
But the catch with any spotting scope is vibrational instability; hold a spotting scope in your hands and try to use it at any decent zoom level, and you’ll see how shaky your image will be.
The shake comes from your hand, and it’s perfectly natural since your hands are rarely absolutely still-they move ever so slightly to the beat of your heart if nothing else.
Accidental bumps or even windy conditions can also cause the instrument vibration, ultimately affecting the overall image quality, whether photographing or observing.
Of course, you might kneel or take a prone position to steady your spotting scope. But what about before it’s time to take the shot?
This is where a tripod for spotting scope comes in.
A well-built tripod minimizes the spotting scope’s vibrations, including those with a higher magnification of 60X and beyond.
These clever contraptions also offer a stable platform to attach your spotting scope so you can enjoy smooth and focused visuals even at high magnification levels.
However, not all tripods are created equal, and you can’t just use any cheap tripod. I know it’s tempting to use the freebie tripod bundled with your spotting scope, but as a seasoned bird watcher, I can tell you for free that it won’t cut it.
Some of the freebie tripods for spotting scopes are flimsy, offering unsteady mounts, which may not be sufficient to counter the vibration and instability of your spotting scope.
But the good news is we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide, reviewing the top 5 tripods for spotting scopes in the market.
We’ve also included a handy buying guide to help with the selection process.
Table of Contents
The Best Tripods for Spotting Scopes For The Money
#1 AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Topping our list of the best tripods for spotting scopes is a lightweight and practical offering from Amazon.
Amazon Basic doesn’t come with the bells and whistles of some of the premium models, but it has everything you would need to mount to spotting scope successfully.
It’s not flashy either, but a beginner-friendly option with a super-fast set up and break down process.
But is AmazonBasics alongside its features the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
Weight and Weight Capacity
Amazon Basic is a lightweight option, weighing a measly 3 pounds, making it perfect for bird watchers who hike for several miles to their favorite birding spot.
If you also don’t want to struggle to haul your tripod from your car to your observing point, this tripod can also be a wonderful option.
Despite the lightweight design, this tripod can handle weights of up to six and a half pounds, so it will handle even the largest spotting scopes.
Build Quality and Durability
Amazon Basics employs hard plastic and aluminum for improved durability.
In particular, aluminum is sturdy, rust-resistant and lightweight, a great design choice for those who prefer taking their sightseeing to the rugged terrains.
The legs on AmazonBasics are practical, allowing you to extend them from 20 inches up to 48 inches. Using the leg lock release mechanisms, you’ll also find adjusting the height of the legs is fast and smooth.
While still on the adjustability, it’s possible to crank up the center post to 60 inches, a perfect feature for taller users.
The small ball joints on the feet offer a stable base regardless of the type of terrain the tripod is placed on.
However, we feel the built-in bubbles on the legs offer a far better depiction of the overall stability.
While the bubbles aren’t much of a benefit when using a spotting scope, they might be handy when using the tripod with a still or digital camera.
For the ultimate versatility and ease of use, Amazon Basic comes with a basic crank up height adjustment, making it possible to achieve your desired height.
A small protruding handle allows you to make basic adjustment motions, while the large knob lets you pan the area.
On the other hand, the small wingnut on the center of the post lets you tilt the scope 90 degrees to the right.
The adjustment capabilities on this tripod are limitless and will allow you to tailor the height performance of the AmazonBasics according to your needs.
The lightweight design, along with a quick-release mounting plate, makes setting up and breaking down this tripod a cinch.
Additionally, the tripod comes along with a storage bag for packing and storing your gear.
#2 Vortex Optics Pro GT Tripod - Most Durable
Vortex Optics GT is among the durable tripods for spotting scopes, offering a reliable performance and one that can handle any weather condition.
Like the AmazonBasics, Vortex sports, and aluminum construction for strength and lightness. However, it offers a better than average max weight capacity of ten pounds, a huge plus for bird watchers with heavy equipment.
Features and Benefits
Weight and Weight Capacity
Vortex Optics weighs six pounds, double the weight of the AmazonBasics. Still, the weight is far from hefty, meaning it’s easier to haul the tripod long distances without feeling fatigued.
The biggest draw is the higher weight capacity. The tripod can support a weight of up to 10 pounds, making it versatile on the types of spotting scopes it can handle.
The tough aluminum construction promotes durability and sturdiness on the Vortex Tripod.
It will take any punishment from Mother Nature, and more importantly, it’ll serve you for long, letting you use the tripod for several seasons.
The anodized aluminum legs on the Vortex extend to 67 inches, which is pretty impressive.
Additionally, each of the legs comes with a 3-section extension, thus offering the ultimate flexibility and ease of use.
Adjusting the legs on this tripod is a doodle as you simply need to flip the leg lever to unlock and slide out the leg to your desired length.
The three-way pan and tilt head make it easier for users to track the action on the ground and the sky.
The head increases the tripod’s overall versatility as it allows users to easily and quickly adjust the viewing angle.
More importantly, controlling the tilt and pan action is a cinch and can be done with a single hand.
Unfortunately, both the pan and tilt only have a single lever, which is difficult to get used to. Of course, this feature makes it easier for beginners to operate the tripod, but seasoned birders will struggle with the limitation.
The balance hook comes in handy when birding in windy conditions or inclement weather.
By hanging the weight from the balance hook, it’s easier to stabilize the tripod, eliminating the shaking and wobbling during use.
#3 Vanguard Alta 264AO Tripod - Best for The Money
Third on our list of the best tripods for spotting scopes is the Vanguard Alta, which we feel offers value for your money.
Thanks to the feature and price combination, it’s a particularly fantastic option for those on a budget.
And like the other tripods we’ve reviewed, Vanguard is a pragmatic option, one to elevate your overall observing experience.
Features and Benefits
Weight and Weight Capacity
Vanguard is ultra-lightweight equipment, weighing a measly 4 pounds.
It’s not the lightest on our list, but it’s still a perfect option for the backpackers as it won’t fatigue you even when hauling long distances.
However, the biggest draw with this option is the 11-pound weight capacity-the highest we’ve seen so far.
With such a huge weight capacity, the tripod offers a practical solution for holding even the heaviest of your spotting scopes.
The aluminum alloy construction not only promotes a lightweight design but enhances the overall sturdiness of the tripod.
Vanguard is a rugged option, easily shrugging off any abuse in the wild. Additionally, the construction isn’t easily compromised by elements, so the tripod will last you for several seasons without compromising its integrity.
Another draw for the Vanguard is the overall adjustability.
For instance, the 26 mm alloyed legs can be set to 25-degree, 50-degree, and 80-degree angles to allow extreme photography ability even at low angles.
Secondly, the pan head offers a 360-degree panning ability allowing you to capture your entire surrounding with ease.
Finally, the tripod features an adjustable height setting, allowing you to extend the tripod up to 70.13 inches, perfect for the taller guys.
It doesn’t make a quality tripod if it can’t guarantee stability, and the Vanguard doesn’t fail in this department.
First, the tripod has a bubble level, a mechanism helping you understand whether the tripod is on level ground or not.
The rubber feet also help with stability, making the tripod more effective on any surface, while the flip legs lock the tripod into place.
Ease of Use
The all-weather handgrip foam is a brilliant addition to the Vanguard, allowing you to use the tripod effectively in any weather conditions.
It’s also possible to adjust the tripod’s legs independently, so it’s easier to set the kit more effectively, even on uneven ground.
#4 Sirui W-2204 Waterproof Carbon Fiber Tripod - Premium Option
Surui W-2204 is our premium pick, and the unique thing with this tripod is it offers maximum height with no need for an extended center column.
Like all other tripods from Sirui’s W series, this tripod is an inspiring option for those who need a super-lightweight, low-vibration, and stable tripod.
But is the Sirui, alongside its features, the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
Carbon Fiber Tripod
Surui W-2204 is uniquely different in the overall construction, departing from the all too common aluminum.
The benefits of carbon construction are evident in weight and weight capacity. Surui W-2204 is still a lightweight product, and weighing approximately 4 pounds, hauling this tripod should be a cinch.
Another benefit of carbon fiber construction is the generous weight capacity of 39.7 pounds.
However, the greatest benefit is the overall ruggedness; the carbon frame is ultra-sturdy, easily absorbing the shock and shake, allowing you to use the tripod like a champ.
The Surui W-2204 is quite a sturdy option, and it has several features to help with that.
The leg angle locking mechanism, for starters, locks the legs automatically when folding down, making the tripod a total joy to use.
On the other hand, the three rock-solid stainless steel metal spikes and three rubber feet hold the tripod firmly on the soft and uneven ground.
Finally, the aluminum head support plate and set screw offer the perfect way to secure the tripod’s head while allowing you to switch from different angles swiftly.
Another fantastic feature on the Surui W-2204 is the adjustable center column, letting you adjust and split the spotting scope,
And the best part with the column is you can easily adjust it to your choice position. You can either increase the height or even take ground-level shots-whatever you prefer.
Surui W-2204 features waterproof twist locks with rubber grips to promote waterproofness and dustproof-ness.
This way, dust, water, and other elements won’t have access to the specially sealed legs, and you can easily disassemble the leg for maintenance.
As a tripod, Surui W-2204 does a fantastic job of keeping your spotters safe during the rainy days as it can easily transform into a monopod with a hand strap.
#5 Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod - Best Carbon Tripod
Our final review product is yet another carbon-fiber creation.
Like the Sirui, the Newer Carbon Fiber Tripod is a lightweight option, featuring an innovative, durable design, making the tripod versatile and compatible with a range of camcorders, spotting scopes, Go Pro Gera, and DSLR.
Features and Benefits
The carbon fiber construction delivers a lightweight yet sturdy tripod.
Specifically, this option weighs a measly 3.4 pounds, yet, it has a generous weight capacity of over 26 pounds.
More importantly, the carbon build is quite sturdy, shrugging off any abuse melted by the rugged outdoors.
The overall design also helps with minimizing the vibrations.
For instance, the tripod offers a stable base, keeping the spotting scope still for the picture-perfect shot.
Additionally, the legs are extendable, and once you achieve your desired height, you can easily twist and lock them into place.
Overall, the Neweer Tripod feels solid and without much flex.
Another features birders will enjoy is the maximum height adjustment of 66 inches,
The extra height is perfect for the taller guys who don’t want to hunch over their spotting scope for several hours.
However, we’ve an issue with the extra inches; when folded, the tripod is around 18 inches long, meaning it’s challenging to haul as it sticks out of your travel pack.
Did I mention Neweer tripod converts to a monopod?
Although a monopod sacrifices stability for ease of use, it’s still an awesome gadget, as it increases the overall versatility and functionality of this tripod.
A monopod might also come in handy if you plan to take your sightseeing in an environment thick with brush.
Additionally, the monopod is lightweight; weighing just a pound, transporting and hauling it should be a breeze.
Best Tripods for Spotting Scopes Buying Guide
In the section below, we shall look at everything you need to know about purchasing a tripod for your spotting scope.
But before I share the tips with you, let’s first look at the different types of tripods for spotting scopes.
Types of Tripods for Spotting Scopes
The three types of tripods for spotting scopes are:
Table Top Tripod
The table tripods are also known as Shooter’s Tripod, and as their name suggests, they’re used on platforms like shooting bench or a table.
They’re quite small in terms of height as they typically measure between 8 to 18 inches.
The tabletop tripods also lack telescoping legs, thus limiting their range to adjust.
Generally, the top table tripods are limited to hold any substantial scope but are ideal to use in prone and sitting positions.
Compact tripods are much larger in height than the tabletop options, and because of their size, they can’t be used on a table.
However, they’re perfect to use while in a sitting position, crouched or even standing, depending on your height.
However, the compact tripods are lighter and compact than the full-size tripods, so backpackers and hikers will love this option for its portability.
Full-size tripods extend from 25 to 60 inches and can stretch up to 72 inches, so they’re the perfect option for those preferring to use their spotting scope while standing.
The full-size options are also heavy-duty options and will easily handle even the heaviest of the spotting scopes.
Their biggest drawback is bulkiness, meaning they’re not as portable as the compact tripod.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tripod for Spotting Scope
Now that we know the different types of spotting scopes let’s look at the critical factors to consider in your next tripod purchase.
The two common materials used for tripods are;
Carbon-fiber option is a lightweight option, suitable for the backpackers who need to haul their tripods for long distances. Unfortunately, they’re expensive and more prone to break than aluminum.
Aluminum, on the other hand, is also lighter, but not as the carbon-fiber option. Their biggest draw is their strength, as they can support heavier weights without breaking down.
While the light is good, you should steer away from the ultra-light tripods as they compromise overall performance.
For instance, tripods weighing less than 1.5 pounds are way too light, and your tripod will end up wobbling too much.
The two common types of heads for tripods for spotting scopes are:
Choosing between the two is a matter of personal preference, depending on what you plan to use your tripod for.
The ball head is versatile as they offer a nearly unlimited range of motion, giving you the freedom to adjust their line of sight.
They’re perfect for photography, but they lack the proper functionality for glassing.
Panheads, also known as tilt heads, offer smooth movements without skipping, which is desirable for glassing.
Whether you’ll be using your spotting scope seated, crouching, or in a standing position, the best tripod should be easy to use.
It should feature a center column to help with adjusting the spotting scope by multiple inches.
If you’re not comfortable crouching and prefer standing, pick an option that works well with your height.
The best tripod for spotting scope should offer a stable platform to attach your scope.
Pick a tripod with sturdy legs, capable of extending with ease and those that can lock into place.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
We’ve offered you a comprehensive review of the best tripods for spotting scopes, and if you feel you’re still unsure of what product to pick, we would recommend the AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod.
Sure, AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod has the lowest weight capacity on our list.
But weight capacity isn’t the only determining factor when choosing a tripod.
We feel AmazonBasic has more to offer, especially considering it’s from a reputable brand.
And when it comes to the performance, it doesn’t fail either, as it’s lightweight enough for portability, yet it has a decent weight capacity, enough to hold the average spotting scopes.
The overall build quality is also done to perfection, without compromising on the durability or performance.
Finally, the tripod is an inexpensive purchase, coming at a budget-friendly price.
Unless you’re looking to mount a heavy and bulky spotting scope, we will choose the AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod.