A couple of months ago, I posted my first impressions of the TrekMount and StickPic. After several backpacking hikes including my recent Grand Canyon Backpacking Tour, I think it is time to post my full thoughts on these two products. I’ve gone back and forth on reviewing these two products together again, but have finally decided to do so because I employ them as a system and I have some comments regarding the system as a whole. However, please keep in mind that these are different products manufactured and sold by two different people and comments regarding the one do not necessarily reflect upon the other.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not an experienced hiker and I’ve purchased what I thought would be useful gear, but that means that I don’t have a lot of experience with alternate products in the same category with which to compare. So, please keep that in mind when considering my opinions.
The TrekMount is basically a camera mount that straps onto the handle of your hiking poles. From my point of view, this provides two benefits: First, your camera is always at hand as long as your hiking pole is in your hand. Second, you can use your hiking pole as a monopod when you require some stabilization.
The TrekMount is sold online (only, as far as I can tell) from TrekMount.com for $10.95 including shipping in the U.S. It weighs in at 20g or .7 oz. The body of the TrekMount looks to be molded from some type of tough plastic and, while it doesn’t seem indestructible, it does feel like it could take a lot of abuse.
An ordinary Velcro strap is slotted through the body of the TrekMount at about the mid point, which is to be tightly wrapped around the handle of your trekking pole. The body is shaped to lay flat along the handle and yet curve around the “knob” at the end of the handle.
At the top of the TrekMount is a standard-sized camera mount with thin silicone and thick rubber washers. Your camera threads onto the mount, of course, and tightens down to compress the rubber washer. It is the force and friction of the rubber washer opposing this compression that keeps the camera in place.
Here’s what the TrekMount looks like when mounted on my trekking pole…
I kept my camera attached to my right trekking pole using the TrekMount almost at all times. The exceptions were a) When I wanted to shoot a video with the StickPic; b) When I needed to get closer to the ground or subject that I could attached to the trekking pole; c) When I was not hiking and, therefore, not carrying my trekking poles.
I would use it in two ways. When I saw something or a scene I wanted to shoot, I would reach across with my left hand to turn on the power and then move my right hand up to the camera controls. At times, I would use the pole to shoot walking video; sort of like a handle underneath the camera. When I did that, I found I needed to collapse the trekking pole because it was too easy to bang it on something or with my foot and this would make a terrible noise on the video. Carrying the camera on top of the collapsed trekking pole while shooting video was fun.
Here are some photos of the TrekMount with camera…
I have mixed feelings about this product. On the one hand, I really think it does what it was designed to do. It keeps your camera attached to the handle of your trekking pole and at hand when you’re walking. If I look at it strictly from that perspective, it does its job. On the other hand, I have a few niggles about it.
First, most tripods or camera mounts will have a locking nut of some sort that you can thread up while threading the camera down thus allowing you to fix the camera in any direction. The TrekMount uses the rubber washer in place of this, I guess on the theory that the thickness of the washer (1/8″?) gives you 1/2 to 1/4 turn of play in the direction of the camera along which it is basically tight. In fact, this is marketed on the web site as a technology called “Quick-Tight Design”. I found the reality is that the camera is only tight in one direction and that direction was facing to my right. I admit that this is a minor annoyance since all I had to do was twist my wrist 90 degrees to be able to use my camera. But, I would have preferred that the traditional design using a locking nut was followed.
Second, the Velcro attachment basically forms a single pivot point, which means the camera rocks back and forth along that axis. If you configure it to be on the side of your trekking pole handle like I did, that means the camera will rock backward and forward. This was even a little more annoying that my first gripe because I had to continuously adjust. I’m not really sure what could be done about this as you would need to have two attachment points. Two Velcro straps would make the TrekMount much bigger, which might make it more intrusive.
Finally, and this is a very small gripe, the nylon fabric of the Velcro strap frays at an alarming rate. Now, this is quite common amongst things like this. I have Velcro cable straps made by Case Logic that do the same thing. Maybe there is a way to minimize or stop this and maybe not.
Let me close by saying this; I’m going to keep using the TrekMount because, regardless of my complaints, I don/t have a better option. Keeping the camera hanging from my neck or wrist would be distracting to me and putting it in any pocket I can think of would put it further out of reach. I really like having the camera at hand and that outweighs these small annoyances.
The StickPic is a litte gizmo that mounts your camera to the pointy end of your trekking poles at an angle that seems to promote a higher perspective. You can point the camera back toward you for selfies or correspondent-style videos or you can point it away from you. It is sold online at StickPic.com for $13.99 plus $2.07 shipping in the U.S. It appears to be made from a nylon type of plastic and, furthermore, appears to be well made and it weighs in a 10g or .4oz. There are a few different sizes made to accomodate different shapes and sizes of trekking pole tips. When I placed my order, my trekking poles were not listed so I emailed the contact address and received a prompt reply on what size to order. No worries there.
I mostly used the StickPic in selfie mode where I held my trekking pole up and away from me with the camera pointed back toward me. I found this to be quite a lot of fun for shooting video. On the recent Grand Canyon trip, I got into a routine where I would film a segment at the beginning and end of each day as a sort-of vlog. This mode is also great for filming panoramas with yourself in the shot. I really found this to be a lot of fun.
I experimented with other configurations in an attempt to film video from my perspective (rather than a perspective facing me). One such configuration is simply to turn the camera facing out and hold the trekking pole up and away just like the selfie. That works just fine for standing or even rotating panoramas, but for shots while hiking, I found a lot of noise was transmitted through the pole to the camera and that would pretty much ruin the shot.
I also experimented with carrying the pole over my right shoulder much as the caricatured hobos carry their little bundle of possessions on a stick over their shoulder. This sets the camera up high looking down over your head, which was an interesting perspective and useful, but suffered from a similar problem. As much as I tried to cradle the trekking pole on my neck, my shoulder, or the padding on my backpack shoulder strap, it would inevitably bounce enough to inject that very loud noise into the video.
Please understand that I’m not complaining about this as a flaw of the StickPic as I’m sure most of this had to do with my aluminum trekking poles (carbon would probably not transmit sound as efficiently) and my camera. I’m just mentioning it here because it limited what I could do with the StickPic.
I’ve got one negative thing to say that is more of a comment aginst my “system” employing both the TrekMount and the StickPic. As I mentioned above, I kept my camera mounted to the pole with the TrekMount while carrying the StickPic in one of the pockets on the waistbelt of my pack. It was a little inconvenient (and not at all speedy) to take the camera off the TrekMount, mount the StickPick, and then install it onto the tip of the pole. If you were to forego the safety step of making sure the camera strap was providing a backup, you could save a bit of time, but I would only recommend that in cases where you are in a hurry to grab a shot. No. It takes time to go through this multi-step process to transition from the TrekMount to the StickPic.
Now, if you were the manufacturer of either of these products and happened to read this, you’d probably throw up your hands in frustration and say you can’t be held accountable for anything other than what your product is advertised to do. And that is absolutely correct. All I’m saying is that if the gear genie were to offer me three wishes, one wish might be to have a product that combine the functions of both products into one or to have each made in such a way that they worked together and supported a quicker switch. So, if one of the designers of these products happen to stumble upon this review… hint, hint.
The Bottom Line
As you can tell, my endorsement of the TrekMount is a bit nuanced, but what you should really take away is that I will continue to use it and would probably buy it again should I lose it. Regarding the StickPic, I’m not at all hesitant in recommending it; I love it and found it fun and I have no doubt others would as well.