On my recent mountain climbing vacation, I lost one of my most frequently used travel accessories: a small tripod for my camera. I haven’t a clue where I lost it, but I’m guessing that as I was grabbing a bottle of water out of my backpack side pocket, the tripod came out along with it and fell somewhere along the trail.
Losing that little guy made picture taking a challenge since there were several occasions where I was by myself.
This is one of those gadgets that was so useful over the years that I immediately ordered another one when I got home from my trip.
This is the Pedco UltraPod. It costs around $13 and is a simple design with two leg pieces that extend out and a ball & socket head that fits any standard tripod mount. When folded up, this mini tripod takes up very little space and weighs 1.6 ounces. It also comes with a long velcro strip that can be used to tie the tripod to something like a fence post or tree branch, but I rarely found this to be useful so I removed mine.
If you don’t have a standalone camera and are a smartphone-only photographer, you can still use one of these adapters to utilize the UltraPod. It will offer more stability than the flimsy tripods that are made specifically for phones. I prefer this design to the Gorillapod style due to its simplicity and compact size when folded down. I haven’t yet found a need for bendy legs in a tripod since the ball and socket provides an adequate amount of flexibility in getting the camera level with the horizon.
The only downside to this tripod is that it is too small to hold heavy cameras. The official load capacity is 3 pounds, but in my experience even cameras half that weight can give it some issues. My Sony RX1 weighs about a pound, and though it works fine in landscape orientation, if I flip the camera vertically, the UltraPod either tips over or the weight of the camera causes slippage of the ball & socket head. If you’re trying to pack light, you’ll probably be avoiding bulky cameras anyway, but there is a larger model called the UltraPod 2 that will work better for larger devices.
Overall the UltraPod is a great, inexpensive little gadget that I always pack in my bag if we’re traveling to an isolated location where no one else is likely to be around to take our picture.