Review: Trek-Tech TrekPod XL

It’s very rare that I would review a product a second time unless it had gone through some engineering change and warranted a second look. However, I felt that what was different here was not the product itself, but how the use of the product has changed. When I first reviewed the TrekPod XL I was only using DSLRs so the TrekPod XL was really just a very sturdy monopod. You would never put a DSLR with any decent lens on the TrekPod and leave it like you might with a tripod. As you have seen lately, I am a huge fan of the exploding mirrorless camera segment and my main travel camera is now a Sony NEX 5n. When getting ready for a short vacation I started to pick which tripod to take and I decided to pull out the TrekPod XL.

Why the TrekPod XL?

I have a good selection of tripods, including some not even on the market yet, but as I was cutting down my selections it really came down to three main criteria. First off, the tripod had to fit in my luggage. Second, it had to be lightweight, and third, it had to be as tall as possible. Given these requirements there was really only one choice, the Tonaex Inspiro. The Inspiro is my favorite travel tripod but it still isn’t super light but I guess it will do since it meets the other requirements… until I walked through the studio storage and caught a glimpse of the TrekPod XL sitting there. The TrekPod XL is VERY lightweight, extends to a good height, and comes apart making it very portable. Since I will only be using the NEX 5n, the TrekPod XL should be more than adequate.

I have also always been a fan of the MagMount PRO ballhead system and have used it on everything from GorillaPods to Dolly rigs to large jib arms. Since the MagMount PRO is rated at 13.5 pounds, I never hesitate to put my gear on it, but there is more to this than just liking the MagMount. One of the problems with the 5n is the design of the bottom of the camera body. The body comes to almost a point where the tripod mount is and this actually presents a problem for most quick release plates. Most of the quick release plates I tested just don’t have enough grip up close to the attachment screw and the 5n has VERY little surface area around the tripod mount. This combination makes it almost impossible for many tripod mount plates to lock down securely.

The MagMount, on the other hand, seems to be made for the 5n and because the MagMount’s plate is so flat and unobtrusive, I simply leave on all the time without it getting in the way or snagged on anything. I decided to use the flat plat versus the “jagged” plate for two reasons. First, while the jagged toothed plate can hold equipment more securely, this is not an issue with a camera as light as the 5n so the smooth plate is more the sufficient. Secondly, the jagged plate requires an Allen wrench to get on and off and thats one less thing for me to have to carry around where the smooth plate can be tightened securely with a screwdriver or most coins.

Specifications

Warranty: Limited Lifetime
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″

Summary

What is the TrekPod XL’s greatest feature is also one of its downfalls, because it is so light, putting a heavy camera on it will cause swaying and instability. However, when mated to a lightweight camera like the Sony NEX 5n, the TrekPod XL is a completely different animal. It’s as if the two products were made for each other. The MagMount Pro mount fits perfectly and securely on the 5n and the TrekPod provides enough stability for the camera that long exposure shots are not an issue.

If the TrekPod XL seems a bit pricey there are two other models that can get considerably cheaper.

Trek-Tech: http://www.trek-tech.com
TrekPod XL: http://www.trek-tech.com/products/trekpods.html

KerryG

Kerry Garrison lives in Castle Rock, Colorado with his wife and two dogs. With 10 years of experience shooting products and 5 years of experience in the wedding industry, Kerry brings a good deal of technical know-how and can explain topics in easy-to-understand terms.

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