One dilemma for the naturalist photographer is determining how much gear to lug around. This is especially true for long hikes. One camera body and a wide angle lens is a fairly minimalist travel list but every once in a while you might need a way to stabilize the camera. You may come across that elusive hidden waterfall and need a long exposure to blur the water. You may also want to make an impromptu time-lapse movie of a setting sun. These cases require a monopod or tripod but you may not want to carry heavy gear for such chance occurrences. This post describes how to convert a hiking stick into a self standing monopod.
- Your favorite hiking stick
- 1 Hangar bolt – 1/4″-20 x 2″
- 1 T-nut – 1/4″-20
- 4 screws #9 x 1/2″
- 3 Toilet tank lift wire sets - available at Home Depot
- Velcro Tie Wrap
- 1/4″ bit
- 3/8″ bit
Camera Mount Installation
- The camera mount is fabricated by screwing the 1/4-20 hangar bolt to the top of the hiking stick. You could simply mount it to the top as is, but you would constantly be dinging the threaded screw. Instead, you can solve this problem by creating a screw off cap.
- Warning – your hiking stick will be irreparably harmed in this step! Saw roughly 2″ off the top of your stick to make the cap. Drill a 3/8″ pilot hole into the remaining length of the stick and twist in the hangar bolt for the camera mounting screw. Then drill a 1/4″ hole in the adjoining piece and hammer in the t-nut. The finished product should look something like the images below.
- This completes the camera mount. You should now have a functional mounting screw which can be hidden away by screwing on the top cap of your hiking stick.
Stabilization Wire Installation
- The key to stabilizing the monopod is to mount a series of wire rods which can be inserted into the ground like tent stakes. Use any lightweight rod material you wish, but we found these toilet tank repair kit accessories to work well. They fold out of the way when not being used and they don’t add any extra weight.
- Begin by mounting the shorter 4.5 inch wire which will go straight into the ground. Drill a small pilot hole about one inch from the bottom of the stick and mount a screw through the eyelet of the wire.
- In the same way, mount three of the longer 8.5 inch wires evenly spaced around the stick and 5 inches from the bottom. You may need to bend the eyelets in order to make them align with the rest of the wire.
- This completes the installation of the stabilization wires. Make sure the screws are firmly mounted. You can use the velcro tie wrap to contain the wires when they are in the up position.
- Find a soft patch of grass for your first test drive and mount the camera to the top of the stick by threading the screw onto the bottom of your camera.
- Rotate the four mounting wires to the down position. The shorter wire should point straight down while the three longer wires should point down and slightly outwards.
- Insert all the wires into the ground and ensure they hold.
- Set your camera and take your shot.
- Disclaimer: As always, be careful and ensure you have proper stability before leaving your camera. The stabilization wires work well for short hiking sticks and small cameras. For other situations, the physics may work against you, so use your judgement. Use rocks or other props if you are uncertain about stability.
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