Western hunting has changed over the years.  Optic advancements have allowed hunters to glass up animals from long distances.  However, to be effective at glassing long distance, it is essential that the hunter use a tripod.  Similar to optic advancements, tripods have also seen many improvements over the past several years.  The introduction of carbon fiber tripods have had huge impact, but are they truly better than aluminum tripods?

Aluminum Tripod

I have used an aluminum tripod for many years.  My tripod of choice was the Vortex GT Pro.  That specific tripod isn’t in production anymore, but Vortex has recently released the High Country II, which is a similar tripod.  I’ve loved my aluminum tripod, and it has worked flawlessly over the years.

Pros

The main reason they came out with carbon fiber tripods was due to weight reduction, but is lightweight always better?  For anyone that has glassed in the wind, a heavier tripod is much more stable.  Since the aluminum tripods are a touch heavier than the carbon fiber tripods, it does seam to be more stable.  Especially in the legs.

The head on a tripod is just as important as the tripod itself.  I have found that aluminum tripods allow for more robust heads to be utilized.  Manfrotto, one of the most popular tripod brands, makes my favorite tripod mount head.  It is extremely solid and fluid, and it allows you to pan easily across a mountainside.

Cons

As stated in the pros section, an aluminum tripod is a touch heavier than the carbon fiber tripods.  When you’re backpacking or doing a hike of any distance, it is much nicer to use a lighter tripod.

Metal gets very cold when the temperature drops.  So, holding onto an aluminum tripod all day can make your hands cold.  This obviously can be easily fixed, but it is significant when you have to open and close your tripod without gloves

Carbon Fiber

I recently upgraded my tripod to the Vortex Ridgeview tripod.  I absolutely love this tripod and am so glad that I made the move to carbon fiber.  It has some new upgrades like twist lock legs and a new head, which make this tripod much better.  The carbon fiber definitely steals the show though with this new tripod.

Pros

The weight of this tripod stands out over the aluminum tripod I have been using.  It is so easy to throw in my pack and head out.  I don’t even notice the added weight to my pack.  I love not having to carry the extra weight whether I’m walking 7 miles into the backcountry, or just walking to the top of a ridge to glass.  Vortex has also introduced another backpacking carbon fiber tripod that is even lighter and smaller.  It is the Vortex Summit II tripod.  Check out our video on this tripod here.

Looks are something that impacts what we buy and what we don’t.  I love the look of carbon fiber!  My Vortex tripod looks so cool with the spiral carbon fiber layers in the legs.

Cons

I’ve really only found one flaw with carbon fiber, and that is the stability, or lack thereof, that comes with a lightweight tripod.  Luckily, my tripod comes with a counterweight hook, which allows me to add weight to the tripod once I’m in position.  I carry a small bag that I can fill with rocks, and that allows me to stabilize the tripod while glassing.


So, which tripod is best?  Honestly, it depends on how you use them.  Both aluminum and carbon fiber are strong and durable.  If you’re looking for a lightweight and fairly stable tripod, go with the carbon fiber.  If weight isn’t a factor, I would have a hard time telling you to not buy an aluminum tripod.  I actually use both.  I use my aluminum tripod for my Vortex Razor HD spotting scope, and I use my carbon fiber for my Vortex Razor UHD binoculars.

Which tripod do you prefer?  Click the links to learn more about these products or to purchase these products.

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