Depending what you shoot and how versatile you want your tripod, Gorilla pods are good for hiking. I have one that will hold about 6lbs. I've set them on rocks, logs and wrapped the legs around tree branches. They weigh less than a pound. I use it with a shutter release. They cost about $50.
A monopod or a table-top tripod.
While the table-top tripod might not be as flexible (pun intended) as a Gorillapod, a good one (I use Manfrotto, Leica is also supposed to be a very good one) can be much more stable, if you're in an area offering some kind of off-ground support (stone walls, boulders, tree stumps, etc).
Just for fun, I mounted my Pentax 6x7 on the Manfrotto: it looked absurd but was steady...
M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa
Four tripods and not one serves the purpose? I suggest a savings plan whereby sufficient funds are reserved to satisfy the CF want...lest a sixth or seventh tripod arrive.
I've been using a Gitzo Series 0 Carbon 6x tripod over the course of many miles and remain pleased. It weighs 1.5 lbs and supports a conservative 11 lbs.
Gorillapods are OK on a very temporary basis but nothing you'll want to crawl around for a day of shooting. Tall grass, weeds, snow and topogrophy limit the usefulness. Crouching/kneeling on sharp rock/gravel/mud/broken glass, etc. gets old. Get off the floor, man!
Look into the Slik Sprint pro series. Ive had one of years without problems.
Right, the cheap tripods sometimes make false economy. I've read good reviews about Feisol.
Originally Posted by Aja B
I used to backpack with a 6 lb Star D, a gold standard of stability and height. I replaced it with a sleek Linhof, which I lost then as a budget move replaced with an older 3 lb 9 oz aluminum Linhof. If not for a few years prosperity, I would still be using the Linhof, it's stable and not too hard to carry.
But I did get a chance to buy a Gitzo G1027 and put a small leitz ballhead (the one with grooves cut into the ball) as a topper for it. At 1 lb 15 oz, I can carry it in one hand like a soda bottle without fatigue, or strap it to the daypack and not even feel it.
The new Gitzo's have a channel lock so the legs don't untwist wrong. It's a rotten annoyance that you want to unlock a leg and the relatively loose segment above or below rotates.
Maybe you will find someone who wants to dump the old version for the newer series.
The lighter-than-required tripod has cost me some shots, but I have no excuse since there is a hook and I could have hung a bag of rocks from it.
To sum up, look for something around or under 2 pounds. 3 pounds is excessive unless you shoot 4x5.
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Try to find a used Bogen 3033. They are somewhat big, but they don't weigh a lot, and they are very quick to set up due to the flip tabs used for leg extension, and the fact that all three legs come out together in one movement. They are not the all-out best choice for large format in terms of stability, but they do have struts, and they do the job just fine. They are a good compromise between the solidity of a 3036 or 3051 and the light weight of a strutless model like a 3021. They should also be quite cheap: $100 to $150 in good condition with a head.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
Speaking of cheap tripods and false economy. Is there any chance the cheap 'carbon fiber' tripods are actually just plastic tubes? How would you tell the difference?
Go not to the elves for counsel, for they will say both yes and no.
I have a velbon that works fine without the ball head it takes a moment to aim. Where I go you have to take a bear canister. I carry some cord and suspend it from the center of the tripod with rocks in with my food. This stabilizes the whole structure from wind. And with a cable release. It takes a while to setup but gets easier. You just carry the light tripod and use available (and some disposable) weights to get rigidity.