Tripod Heads and Binocular Adapters
You have your glass. You have your tripod. Two more items are needed to complete your setup.
You need a tripod head to mount your binoculars, camera, spotting scope, etc to.
The Tripod head serves two purposes. It connects your glass to the tripod and it allows you to pan and tilt the glass to scan the hills and valleys.
There are several kinds of tripod heads available, but for the hunting and scouting purposes we almost always use a "video" head. Some people do like the ball type heads because they are lighter but they offer way less "panability" and control over your glass than a video head.
If you have watched any western hunting videos where the hunters are glassing from a tripod you have undoubtedly seen a video head. It has the control arm that sticks out and you use that to pan and tilt the glass or camera. Here is an example.:
This is my preferred set up. It works with everything I use while scouting and taking video. All of my binoculars. My spotting scope and my video camera have a plate attached which allows a very quick, easy and silent switch from one devise to the other. The pan handle makes for smooth tilting and panning and the fluid style heads are very smooth. \
These type of heads come in many configurations and price points. A good Manfrotto video head like the RC-128, seen below, can be bought for around $100-$120.00 and will serve most purposes. It might be a little shaky with a bigger spotting scope though.
For a little more you can get the Sirui VA-5 or a Manfrotto 502AH as seen below. Both offer more stability but also weigh a little more. These are good for a spotting scope up to about 80MM objective like the Swarovski ATX 80MM or the Vortex Razor 85MM and of course will be fantastic with smaller scopes and binoculars, especially in the wind.
When using a binocular with your tripod you will need a method of attaching them to the tripod head.
there are several different ways to do this and as long as the mount is solid and does not wobble when panning and tilting it will work.
However, there is one type that I much prefer and that is the Outdoorsman's type adapter which features two parts. The "stud", which screws into the hinge threads that most bino's have. The second part is the post which mounts to the tripod head, usually by the use of a quick change adapter plate.
This setup allows quick, quiet and secure mounting of the bino's to the head and is not bulking in your bino case or backpack like the one piece models are.
Vortex and Outdoorsmans sell a similar set up.
The tripod, head and adapter can pretty much be a lifetime investment if you take care of it, give a cleaning every once in a while. make sure are the screws and knobs are tightened down when not in use (they can vibrate out and be lost if you hike around with them loose. So, in my opinion, spend a little more to get something will work with all of your optics and from a quality manufacture the first time and you wont be constantly trying to find a better setup and spending additional money late on (speaking from experience.)
I would also rather hunt around for some quality used equipment (Ebay has a ton of used tripods and tripod heads and you can get good bargains if you are patient.) than cheaper new stuff that will probably only last you a season or two and probably will test your patients in the field when trying to get it set up.
We offer one and two day scouting packages in most units for Coues Deer, Mule Deer, Elk, Javelina and Bear.
Each scouting package will include the following:
1 or 2 days of scouting (appx 10-12 days before opening day)
Link to the same video on Youtube (set to private so only you can see it)
Maps marked with each location
Google earth KML File with markers for each location
GPX file for uploading the GPS coordinates to your GPS or GPS APP
Written description with pictures of each location