I hike every week with my family, and I travel by air and shoot in other cities every month. You and I both know that using a tripod unlocks picture opportunities that just can’t be made without one. I can use it for super long exposures to blur the sea and clouds, or reduce traffic to trails of light down the road, and make waterfalls that pour smoothly into eternity. However, carrying a tripod can be wearisome. Just thinking about carrying it on a seven-mile hike makes my shoulders and legs hurt.
I know I need a tripod, and I know my pictures will not be worthwhile without one, and I might as well not bring a camera if I don’t have a tripod (No camera? Unthinkable!). Last year, I discovered Platypod Pro and it’s completely changed the way I carry a tripod when traveling and hiking. It’s light, it’s flat, and it’s sturdy like a tripod. I didn’t believe it would be useful, but now I don’t leave home without it.
Platypod have made a new model that I like even more, the Platypod Max. It’s larger and has a few improvements that make it ideal for my work. Its Kickstarter just launched, but I’ve had a prototype model for a while and I love it.
It fits flat against my back in any backpack and it’s the only tripod that fits in my CamelBack. I own several other small tripods and travel size tripods, but they are either too short to be worth using or not sturdy enough to hold my camera steady. Platypod Max is perfect because it’s rigid, and it can mount to anything.
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This new model has two slotted holes so a belt or strap can attach it to virtually any post, tree, or bridge railing. Railings are usually in the way because they keep my tripod far from the edge of a precipice. With Max, railings are an asset. I wear a webbing belt hiking and can use it to secure Max to most things. I’m carrying a longer 6 foot (1.5 meter) strap, as well, to wrap arooun larger trees. Just be sure to secure your Platypod before attaching your camera. This picture shows how I used my belt to hold Max to a bridge.
Like the Platypod Pro, the Max has 1/4″ 20 tapped holes and threaded legs to level the plate on any surface, but Max has more holes and more options. I supported Max on top of a rock in Upper McCord Creek, and on a stump at Ramona Falls.
It turns out that termites in Oregon make holes that are exactly 1/4″ in diameter, so I hung Max from the side of a dead tree to get the perfect vantage on Upper McCord Creek Falls.
I know what you’re thinking: what if there’s nothing to set the Platypod on? That concern kept me from using it for a while. However, now that I’ve tried carrying only my Platypod, I’ve found that there’s always something to rest it on, and I usually get a better picture because my problem-solving brain is stimulated finding a place to put it, which fuels my creativity, too. I’m also less fatigued after a hike since I’m not carrying a tripod.
I’m not saying Platypod Max is the answer to all tripod questions, but it’s a very good tool for hiking and traveling. You’ve got to have a tripod to make the best pictures and Platypod Max leaves my shoulders free for carrying more important things. Platypod Max is a brand new product, and you can check it out in detail right here.