STOP THE MADNESS!! Quit Hanging Your Bag From Your Tripod!

I just read another article, this time from DPReview, comparing tripods and the author mentions paying attention to the load capacity so you can safely hang your bag from the hook for more stability.

CUT IT OUT!!! STOP HANGING YOUR BAGS FROM YOUR TRIPOD!!!

STOP THIS MADNESS!!

Yes, adding weight to a tripod, especially a lightweight travel tripod, will increase its stability. The problem with this is two-fold: you’re increasing surface area, making it more sensitive to wind and, until the bag is completely still, it’s making your tripod sway. Not to mention, the added stress to the tripod legs can be especially detrimental for a travel tripod, the type most likely to need more stability.

Instead, use a bungee cord or tie down strap to allow you to leave the bag on the ground. This makes it impervious to any breeze while still anchoring the tripod for increased steadiness. An added benefit is the ability to go in and out of your bag without adding movement or stress to your tripod. Most importantly, it allows you to adjust how much weight you’re adding to the tripod, preventing you from possibly over-stressing the legs and is a solution that’s compatible with even the most delicate of travel tripods. The solution also allows you to use anything around, within reason, to use as an anchor if you don’t have a bag or prefer not to place yours on the ground; think a large rock or fallen tree as examples. You could even pack a tent stake and use that as an anchor.

As an anecdote, I have a Gitzo Systematic Series 3, Mountaineer Series 1 and Traveler Series 1 tripods. I typically carry my GFX 50S with 32-64mm, 100-200mm 110mm and 23mm lenses in a Shimoda Designs Explore 40 backpack. The total bag weight usually exceeds 30lbs, and while I can technically hang it from the Systematic’s 55lb max load rating, it would normally exceed the 25-30lb rating of the Mountaineer and Traveler tripods. To circumvent this issue and to gain the advantages of a heavier tripod setup while ensuring the safest, most stable solution, I simply bought a tie-down bungee strap. The strap I ended up most satisfied with is a tie-down strap from ROK Straps.

Let me tell you about the ROK Straps Pack Strap Stretch Strap, 12-42″ adjustable bungee tie-down strap. It’s 2 halves, one being an adjustable length of nylon webbing, the other a nylon bungee. They’re connected by a quick release buckle and both ends have a nylon webbing loop. For speed, I’ve added a 25lb test, polymer S-biner from Nite-Ize so I can quickly clip and unclip it from my bag. It’s 5/8″ wide and easily stowed; I bought 2 pairs and keep one in each of my bags.

Setup is simple: loop, or clip, one end to your bag and the other end to the hook on the underside of your tripod. Pull the loose end of the webbing to take up slack until as much weight as you want is transferred from the bag to the tripod, effectively anchoring it. The bungee section ensures constant tension and a safety to prevent overloading your tripod. The quick release buckle will allow you to keep it attached to your bag without being a nuisance and also quickly separates for repositioning the tripod, if necessary.

If your tripod doesn’t have a hook, just use the webbing’s looped end to secure it around your center column or head.

Stop dangling your bag from your tripod. It’s ridiculous, unsafe and much less stable than anchoring the tripod with a tie-down strap. This way, no matter the conditions or how heavy your bag may be, you can safely increase the stability of your tripod setup with no risk to your tripod or your images.

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