I found a couple of small, inexpensive products that looked to be of use for my upcoming Grand Canyon Backpacking Tour and I present my first impressions in this post. I’ll post again later once I’ve got some experience with them. I found both of these products while searching for trekking poles that had camera mounts built into them. I found a couple of blog posts where people had described various ways of carrying cameras on trekking poles. Indeed, there are some trekking poles that have camera mounts built in, but what if you already have poles? Both of these product seemed to fit a useful purpose for the hiker/backpacker.
The first product is called the StickPic and is sold at TheStickPic.com. The premise is simple, it is a way to mount your camera on the tip of your trekking pole so you can hold it further than arms length and at an optimum angle to take a selfie. And by getting the camera out far enough, you can include grand vistas behind you. Take a look at the Vimeo on the website and you’ll see an example of a guy using the StickPic to take a video of him and his buds on a skiing trip. For someone who lives in Alabama, the vistas look pretty epic.
Once you click on the link to order the StickPic, you’ll notice that you are directed to choose your brand of poles and, once you do, you see various sizes of the StickPic available. This is to accomodate different shapes and sizes of trekking pole tips. The website lists quite a few different brands, but my trekking poles are Kelty Upslope 2.0 and Kelty is not a brand listed. If you don’t see your brand, you are directed to click on another link where you are provided an email address to contact Rod Java. (That is such a badass name. Can it be real?) I did so and let him know that I was interested and that if he would let me know what measurements he needed, I would be happy to provide. He responded quickly saying that a photo should suffice and, once sent, he responded that the #2 size should be ok. He gave me the disclaimer that slight mods may be required, but he assured me that he intended to make sure I was happy and I believed it. So, I ordered.
The StickPic was shipped in a padded envelope via U.S Postal and it arrived in just a few days. The product is very simple, but professionally produced.
As you can easily surmise without any instructions, the StickPic screws into the tripod mount of any camera or (videocam). There is a tightening washer with large grippers (I’m sorry for using such technical terms) so you can tighten independently of the direction of the camera. That is a very nice touch. Then, you simply insert the tip of your pole through the small hole in the StickPic and it is the friction between the hard plastic ring and the plastic or rubber on your trekking pole tip that holds it in place. The website directs you to use your wriststrap as a safety strap by wrapping it around the lower portion of your pole. When I first mounted my camera, I didn’t follow this advice nor did I jam the the StickPic on tightly enough and the first time I held it out, it promptly rotated and then fell off. Since I was on a carpeted floor and the camera is shock proof (to a degree), the lesson was learned without the terrible consequences. The first key is to really get the StickPic on tighly by screwing it on; this lets you get it tighter than you can just pushing it on. The second key is to follow the advice and wrap your wriststrap around the pole. Yessiree. Once you figure that out, it works like a charm. Here’s how it looks…
The StickPic weighs 10g or around .4oz. I guess you’ll need to carry it either on the camera, which blocks you from using the tripod mount for other devices, or in a pocket on your pack your person. You might be tempted to slip a carabiner through the hole in the StickPic, but you’d then be in danger of losing the tightening washer unless you did something else to keep it in place. If you’re not carrying it mounted to the camera, it means you’ve got a two-stage mounting process before you’re ready to shoot. But that doesn’t seem like a big deal to me since I don’t think I’ll be using this to grab immediate shots. I’ll pull this out when I want to get myself in a photo and point the camera back at me. If I need to capture something quickly in front of me, I’ll just grab the camera.
The second product gets closer to what I was actually searching for. The TrekMount is a small product that allows you to mount a camera on the handle of trekking poles that were not designed for such. This product is sold online at TrekMount.com. I ordered it with no communication and, once again, it was shipped in a padded envelope via U.S.Postal and arrived in a few days. It is a small plastic bracket that straps (with a Velcro strap) to the handle of your pole and extends a camera mount over the top of the handle. Here’s what it looks like alone…
The TrekMount weighs 20g or around .7oz. You can see that it is designed to trace the lenght of your trekking pole handle and has a cutout for the “knob”(?) at the top of the pole handle. A Velcro strap is placed around the handle below your pole straps and then your camera simply screws onto the TrekMount via the tripod mount. Having learned the lession from the StickPic to use the wriststrap of the camera as a failsafe, I experimented with various ways to fix the wriststrap and eventually settled upon running the TrekMounts Velcro strap through the wrist strap. If you’re doing this, it makes it difficult to screw the camera onto the TrekMount while it is mounted because your wrist strap now twists up. My procedure will be to mount the TrekMount to the camera and then mount whole assmebly to the trekking pole taking care to slip the Velcro strap through the camera wriststrap. Once mounted like this, it feels good and doesn’t seem to get in the way of your hand. I did notice that I needed to loosen the trekking pole wrist straps and I’m not sure why that is. Here’s what it looks like without the camera…
You may have noticed by now that the TrekMount does not have the tightening washer like the StickPic does. It has what the website calls a “Quick-Tight” design that seems to me just involves a rubber washer that holds your camera tight even if it is not screwed down tight. This means, theoretically, that you probably have 90-180 degree of rotation in which the camera will be relatively tight. The website states that you can remove the silicone washer below the rubber washer to reverse the direction of the camera. I guess that means removing the silicone washer gives you another 180 degress of rotation. While I’m confident that this will work and will keep the camera mounted, I must say that I much prefer the tightening washer provided by the StickPic. Here’s what it looks like with my camera mounted…
One thing I noticed immediately is that the camera is at a slight angle relative to the pole. When looking from behind the pole/camera, the camera is tilted slightly to the right. I initially thought the knob on the trekking pole was just wider than expected and was keeping the TrekMount from laying flat, but I see a small amount of daylight between the TrekMount and the knob and it seems to be laying flat against the handle. The result of this is that you have to tilt the pole a bit to the left to keep the landscape level in the camera. I notice on the TrekMount website that the only photo I see of a camera mounted to a pole has it mounted facing to the right. By mounting the camera facing left or right, you would change this angle to an up-down orientation allowing you to shoot with the pole straight when looking at it from the back. Of course, you’d have to rotate the pole 90 degrees from how you carry it normally.
This is not that big a deal to me and I’m not going to grip about that because I believe there is too much variability in trekking pole handles for the designer of the TrekMount to cope with without getting complicated. Once I get some experience under my belt, I may find that I don’t care about this, I may find myself carrying the camera facing right, or I may find that I want to modify things to compensate for this angle. I may email the proprietor to see if he can suggest a way to mod.
After my Grand Canyon trip, I should have plenty of experience with both of these products and will post any additional thoughts at that time.