5 Ultralight Hunting Tripod Review: Versatile | Light | Sturdy

Ultralight hunting Tripods

Best Utralight Hunting Tripods

Which ultralight hunting tripod will be your go to this year? With so many options on the market these days, it can be difficult to sort though them all to find what best fits your needs. Do you need a carbon fiber tripod or will an aluminum one do the trick? Is there a best tripod for spotting scopes as far as stability? What are some of the features that make up the best tripod for hunting?

Best Ultralight Hunting Tripod Material

While a lot could be written about the differences between carbon and aluminum when it come to the best tripod material, the bottom line is that both will get the job done. A carbon tripod is generally going to give you some significant weight savings and added durability compared to an aluminum tripod, all other things being equal. Additional factors (albeit much less important) are that carbon is warmer to the touch, so your hands won’t freeze touching the carbon tripod legs when glassing. Carbon tripods are a little bit quieter as well if you happen to knock your bow release or other metal object against it. You probably guessed it though, carbon tripods are typically much more expensive.

Best Ultralight Hunting Tripod Head

Utralight hunting tripods

When choosing a type of hunting tripod head, you’ll quickly see that the two primary options are a ball head and a pan head. Both offer some unique features, so lets help you choose what will fit your needs best

Check out our bino tripod adapter review or as well as our upadated revew on the new Gen 2 Field Optics Research Rapid Release Adapter to match an adapter with one of these tripods for stable glassing

Ball Head Tripod

A ball head is quite simply what it sounds like. It typically uses a round ball with a clamp around it to lock into place. The benefit of a ball head is more ease of maneuverability. Unlock that clamp and your optics can quickly move in any direction. The downside is that they tend to be less stable, and generally don’t quite have the load capacity as a good pan head tripod. Ball heads are typically less expensive though.

Pan Head Tripod

Sirui VA5 Head

Pan heads are probably the most popular hunting tripods among big game hunters as they give you the ability to methodically grid search an area. While you can also do this with a ball head, it is much more difficult. Pan heads tend to be more stable for your heavier optics as well. Another features of pan heads is that you typically get some kind of handle to move the head whereas with a ball head, you are grabbing your optics to move it when viewing.

Sirui T024SK VA5 Carbon Fiber Tripod

Sirui T024 VA5 ultralight hunting Tripod

The Sirui T024SK tripod with the VA5 fluid video head is the first one we are going to look at. Sirui is a brand I wasn’t that familiar with before this testing, but I quickly grew fond of the Sirui T024SK. It took only seconds to realize that the VA5 head was silky smooth, offering a ton features. The Sirui T024SK with the VA5 is a seriously nice tripod/head combo, giving you a little extra height, carbon fiber legs, a spring loaded pan head, and a sturdy center post.

The height of this tripod given the weight is awesome! At 5’11” I can stand and glass with my angled spotter. Granted, fully extended, the tripod becomes much less stable, so use caution when doing this. Glassing while standing with a sub 3lb tripod is purely a bonus, but one you get with the Sirui T024SK

Things I Liked

  • Very smooth, fluid head
  • Spring loaded
  • Very stable at full height (for this tripod class)
  • Center post height adjustment smooth and robust
  • Wider rubber feet are less susceptible to digging into soft dirt
  • High quality quick release plate
  • Max height 57.75 inches
  • Massive 14lb load capacity

The VA5 head is the only one I tested with the spring loaded feature, which is a nice benefit that keeps your larger optics (think big spotter) from clanking down if you forget to tighten down the head when you take your hand off of it. It just lets it down nice and smooth.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Folding the tripod requires handle to be moved
  • Twist lock nobs not as user friendly as the Slik 522
  • Legs tended to hang up a little when collapsing
  • Foam handle pieces on legs seemed less durable than rubber
  • Plate release in bad spot (tough to turn)
  • Extra quick release plates expensive ($45)
  • Less compact than the Slik 522 or Field Optics Micro Lite

The folded height of the Sirui T024SK was longer than the others similar in this group. Additionally, because of that spring loaded head (which you don’t want to leave compressed when packing around), the handle must be loosened and moved so it doesn’t hang out of your pack and snag branches. A minor annoyance, but one I am willing to live with given the benefit of having that spring in the head.

Another thing I didn’t care for on the Sirui T024SK was the narrower stance of the legs. Compared to the Slik 522 the Sirui T024SK tripod felt a little less stable than the Slik 522. An easy work around is to widen the legs by simply pressing the button and opening up the stance. Of course, you’d loose a little height doing that. Most of the time in a hunting situation I find myself widening the legs anyway because I’m on a side hill or something. But, the narrower stance is definitely something to note

Buy Sirui T024SK / VA5 @ S&S Archery
Buy Sirui VA5 Head

Slik 522/Benro S2 Carbon Fiber Hunting Tripod

Benro S2 Head

Over the last several years I’ve been using this ultralight hunting tripod and head combo. Coming in under 3lbs total weight, this is a great option for backcounry hunting. The Benro S2 tripod head is smooth and very easy to use, while not breaking the bank.

I wished there was more tension adjustment on the Benro S2 though. Even with the tension screw fully loosened, the S2 is still very stiff and a little difficult to move. This works great for heavier optics but not quite as well for binos. While this wasn’t an annoyance, it would be nice if it was a little more adjustable.

The Slik 522 tripod is super compact, super light weight, and gives you the ability to extend tall enough to use when standing (barley). I’m 5’11” and had to hunch over just a little when standing up, but it did work. The legs are silky smooth when deploying and the twist nobs are top quality. The twist nobs and leg configuration was my favorite of the bunch.

Things I Liked

  • Rubber grip on legs seemed like it would last longer than foam pieced of Sirui (rubber on only 2 legs)
  • Leg sections smoother and compacted easier
  • Very compact 18 inch folded length
  • Extra quick release plates cheap ($18)
  • Very high quality

Things I Didn’t Like

Slik 522 ultralight hunting tripod
  • 5th leg section very small diameter….lost stability when used (reducing the usable height)
  • Head smooth, but not as smooth as the Sirui
  • Handle on the large side
  • Center post extension adjustment a bit difficult to operate and not as robust as the Sirui
  • Benro S2 head kept unscrewing from tripod during use
  • Narrow rubber feet susceptible to digging into dirt
Buy the Slik 522 Tripod
Buy the Benro S2 Head

Field Optics Micro-Lite Carbon / FPH200 Head

Field Optics Research Micro Lite ultralight hunting tripod

The Field Optics Micro Lite tripod is the smallest of this group, and also the lightest. With a max height of 50.4 inches, you only loose a few inches vs the Slik 522 or Suiri T024. The Field Optics Micro-Lite is the most compact of all these tripods and is impressively small. This is also a great looking hunting tripod. This is an ideal backcountry hunting tripod when space and weight are of the utmost importance.

The Field Optics Micro-Lite with the Field Optics FPH200 head are just slightly cheaper and a few ounces lighter than the Slik 522 / Benro S2 head. But, for me personally, the extra stability and height both the Slik and Suiri offer is worth the few ounces. The joints (both the twist lock legs and two section center post) flexed a bit too generously for my liking. It seemed that the plastic threads combined with the aluminum nut afforded extra flex in the joint. This wasn’t an issue when using in the sitting position, but if the legs needed to be extended, I noticed more flex in the legs than the others I tested.

Things I Liked

Utralight hunting tripods
  • Super compact
  • Very lightweight (lightest of the group)
  • Nice looking

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Flex in the joints
  • Not a fan of the double jointed center post
  • Aluminum nut, plastic threads
  • Threads too aggressive at joints – unscrewed too fast
  • Came broken(plastic inside and 2 rubber feet came unglued)
  • Stability not as good as others
  • Twist locks not as smooth as others

Full Disclosure: I was unable to fully test this tripod because it came to me broken. Two of the rubber feet pulled out when I deployed the legs the first time, and one of the internal plastic pieces was broken, so that leg would pull out completely. I did contact Field Optics on multiple occasions regarding the issue as I wanted to give them a chance to send a replacement. A replacement was promised each time, but as of the writing of this article, I have yet to receive it. Unfortunately, that was my experience with this tripod.

Buy Field Optics Micro-Lite Tripod

Field Optics Pro Max Carbon / FPH200

Field Optics Research ProMAX ultralight hunting tripods

The Field Optics Research Pro Max Carbon Tripod is a full size hunting tripod that gives you extra height and extra stability. It is also very versatile with the ability to remove two of the legs and use them as trekking poles, a gun bipod (with an extra attachment) and a host of other attachments that Field Optics Research offers for this setup. You can purchase this tripod and then add other attachments at a later time.

With that said, the legs that detach are on the heavy side for trekking poles (about 12.7oz each with the Field Optics handles), so if you are looking for an ultralight set of trekking poles, I’d look at something like the S&S Archery CL trekking poles (see my trekking pole review here.) Of course, the S&S Archery CL trekking poles are only trekking poles and don’t offer the same versatility, but are only 6.2oz each.

Things I Liked

Field Optics Research ProMAX Tripod
  • Taller – 62.7″
  • More stability at taller heights
  • Very versatile
  • Thicker/sturdier carbon tubing
  • Detachable Trekking pole/shooting stick legs
  • Great looking tripod

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Too much flex in the joints (legs and center post joints)
  • Trekking poles had too much flex at the joints (when legs were converted to trekking poles)
  • Twist locks not as smooth as others
  • Twist locks threads were aggressive – quickly unscrewed too far
Buy ProMAX Carbon Tripod

Vanguard Alta 233AO Aluminum Tripod

Vanguard Alta 233AO ultralight hunting tripod

The Vangurad Alta 233 AO tripod is the only Aluminum ultralight hunting tripod in this review, but is also about a third of the cost of the others! For a solid hunting tripod with a pan head at just under $100, this is a great option. Of course, you get the extra weight with an aluminum tripod, but a big reduction in cost. The pan head is smooth, legs are stable, and quality seems good. This one has held up great over several years of use. The main complaint with this one is the weight. With a height of 57 inches and coming at 4.1lbs, this is a great option!

Things I Liked

Vanguard Alta 233AO Tripod
  • Great price point
  • Stable, even at extended heights (relative to the others)
  • Great value for the money

The Vanguard Alta 233AO tripod is a great economical choice that gives you a lot a stability, nice fluid pan head and great height for a price that doesn’t break the bank. Being aluminum, it is a bit heavier than the carbon options, and is more likely to bend on you. That said, it’s tough to beat for around $100. This one also features flip lock legs

Things I Didn’t Like

  • Flip lock legs (I prefer twist locks)
  • Aluminum
  • Heavier
  • Longer folded height.
Buy Vangurad Alta 233AO Tripod

How They Rank For Me

Best Overall Ultralight Hunting Tripod

Sirui T024 VA5 Tripod

Sirui T024 / VA5 head

Buy the Sirui T024/VA5 Tripod

Best Ultralight Hunting Tripod On a Budget

Vanguard Alta 233AO Tripod

Vanguard Alta 233 AO

Buy the Vangard Alta 233AO

Best Height/Weight/Quality/Price Combo

Slik 522 Tripod

Slik 522 / Benro S2

Buy the Slik 522 Tripod

Most Versatile Ultralight Hunting Tripod

Field Optics Research ProMAX Tripod

Field Optics Pro Max

Buy the Field Optics Pro Max

Most Compact/Packable Ultralight Hunting Tripod

Field Optics Research Micro Lite

Field Optics Micro Lite

Buy the Field Optics Micro Lite

Conclusion

Even with the above annoyances, the Sirui T024SK tripod stood out among this group. It offered, in my opinion, the best combination of stability at all heights, versatility, quality and value. The VA5 head is silky smooth and a pure joy to use. It was a tough decision, but in my opinion, the Sirui just barley beat out the Slik 522.

I did like the twist nobs and how compact the Slik 522 was better, but the center post just wasn’t nearly as stable and was much more cumbersome to use. I’ve used the Slik 522 for several years, and it’s held up awesome, still looks almost new, and still works just like the day I bought it. If it wasn’t for that narrower, less user friendly, less stable center post, I’d probably take the VA5 head and put it on Slik 522. I did like the size, weight and packability of the Field Optics Micro Lite Carbon, and worked well as long as you are in the sitting position.

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