Trek-Tech TrekPod XL Review
What do you get if you cross a walking stick, a monopod, and a tripod? You get a TrekPod. Think of the TrekPod as the ultimate travel tripod and the XL model is the Ferrari of the TrekPod models being made of lightweight carbon fiber and with the MagMount ball head, weighs in at only 22.5 oz.
The TrekPod XL is adjustable from 39″to 62.5″ and can handle camera gear weighing up to 13.5 pounds, making the TrekPod XL an extremely versatile unit.
The TrekPod is part monopod and part tripod which isn’t really the first of its kind but Trek-Tech has done a pretty good job of creating a really usable hybrid. Like any device that is a hybrid of two other products there are some compromises that need to be made to combine the benefits of each into one new product, the big question is if Trek-Tech was able to bring the strengths of a tripod and monopod together without sacrificing too much.
The TrekPod XL is made from carbon fiber, high strength polymers, and stainless steel to create a high quality, heavy duty, and super ultra lightweight unit. Unlike most monopods, the TrekPod XL breaks down into four pieces that fit nicely into the included travel bag that is small enough to fit into almost any suitcase or carry-on bag.
|Weight w/MagMount:||17 ounces|
|Height Range (tripod)||39″ – 57.5″|
|Height Range (monopod)||42.5″ – 62.5″|
|Max Load (tripod)||13.5 pounds|
|Max Load (Hiking)||~200 pounds|
|Open Leg Diameter||22″|
At first glance I wondered if there was any right or wrong way to assemble the TrekPod but it turns out there is only one way that the system can be put together and it only takes a few seconds to figure out which ends go together. At a little over a pound, the TrekPod XL is exceptionally light, while great for hiking or traveling, can be a negative since with about half of the leg spread of a medium tripod, stability can be an issue. I wouldn’t put my camera on top of the TrekPod if there is any wind. Secondly, since you can’t adjust the legs like a regular tripod, you cant stand it up straight on an uneven surface. Then again, the TrekPod isn’t a tripod, its more like a monopod with pop-out legs.
The MagMount is a very unique feature of all of the Trek-Tech products The MagMount uses a pair of high-strengh Rare Earth Neodymium Magnets to hold the camera to the ball mount.
Although tests showed that just the magnets would probably be sufficient for almost any setup, the bottom section has a small clamp that swings around to give you a little more piece of mind.
The TrekPod XL comes with two different attachments, the “jagged” version shown in the image here that is tightened down with an included Allen wrench and a smooth version that has a knurled outside for hand-tightening.
The ballhead moves smoothly and locks with a large paddle which also locks down the rotation of the ballhead.
The TrekPod comes in four pieces that fit together. The leg piece has a threaded top that the first tube (the one with the TrekPod XL logo on it) attaches to. The second piece, the tube with the foam handle on the top, slides into the lower tube. Finally, the top tube section, the piece with the ballhead on it, slides into the top of the tube with the foam handle.
All that’s left is to take one of the attachment points and screw it into the tripod mount on your camera, pop it onto the top of the MagMount and flip the lock into position.
The entire build process takes about 20 seconds so its really quick to setup and start using. This means the TrekPod is useful more more than just your camera. For me, I have been looking for a quick to setup and light-weight light stand for use with my speedlites and the TrekPod is just about perfect for this. If the plastic cap actually had an umbrella hole and a hot shoe mount, it would pretty much be ideal (hint hint Scott and Ken).
As I said earlier, anytime you take two diverse products and create a hybrid, you have to compromise somewhere. On the other hand, if you look at the TrekPod as a monopod with pop-out legs, then it does that job very well and it can be used in some places that you wouldn’t have enough room to setup a tripod. If you have an angled or uneven surface, well, at least you can use it as a monopod. In thinking about this, something like the ballhead to connect the legs to the first tube might allow more varied surfaces but would also negatively impact the price. With the TrekPod XL running around $360 , and a high-end carbon fiber monopod being around $200 with a good ballhead running around $120, you are going to pay a little bit of a premium for the TrekPod XL’s design and tripod legs, not bad when compared to a high-end monopod.
If you want to save some money, you can get the TrekPod Go! which is made of aluminum and is a little heavier, but will only ding you for $179.99. If the ability to break it down so much isn’t such an issue, you can really save some money with the Trek-Tech TrekPod II for only $74.17. So regardless of your budget, there is a TrekPod for you. You will be quite happy with a TrekPod if you think of it as a replacement for a monopod instead of a replacement for a tripod. For me, the TrekPod XL fills a need I have had for a lightweight stand that can be used for a camera or a light but takes up less room than a tripod or light stand.