TrekPod Go! Monopod; When The Going Gets Tough. . .
There are those situations when you can't (or don't want to) carry a tripod or there's just not enough space to set one up. That's when a monopod comes in handy. Monopods are the ideal camera support for nature photographers and backpackers, to who size and weight are important considerations. A monopod is especially useful when working with long lenses in the tight spaces where sports photographers are often confined. If you're shooting from the stands a tripod could interfere with the spectators but a monopod won't get you the bum's rush. But let's face it, a monopod is just a stick. A stick that has to hold your camera securely, for sure, but it's still a stick. At least that's what I used to think. The TrekPod Go! may force me to reevaluate this opinion.
The Year Of The Stick
Trek Technologies (www.trek-tech.com) was formed in 2004 by John C. Barker and Tom McKasson who thought they saw a market niche for a sturdy, lightweight, multipurpose device that combined the functionality of a tripod and hiking staff. This resulted in the creation of the TrekPod, a height-adjustable hiking staff with an integrated tripod and magnetic quick-release system.
Monopods seem to be having a resurgence lately with new and innovative models introduced this year by Monostat and Adorama, but the TrekPod Go! includes more monopod innovations per inch than any other camera support I've seen this year. Let's address its most notable difference with a riddle: What do you call a monopod with three legs? When I asked Mary this question she replied "a tripod," but when you unwrap the touch-fastener strip from the bottom section of the TrekPod Go! monopod three legs pop out. Now you know why the product's name includes an exclamation mark.
Most monopods are telescoping affairs that let you extend the leg sections
and lock them in place with collars or clips and the TrekPod Go! kinda works
that way, too--after you put it together. It's a kind of a do-it-yourself
monopod kit and you'll have to insert various bits and pieces togther
to form something that looks more "normal" than it really is. For
example, two of its legs have printed markings indicating height but more importantly
display "Stop Here" labels that tell you not to extend past a certain
point. If you do, the tube comes off in your hand, so don't! The three
leg locking collars are covered in "soft touch" rubber over-molds,
making them easy and comfortable to use yet securely lock the legs in place
when you're hiking a trail or capturing a photograph.
In The Field
Trek-Tech considers the TrekPod Go! to be a combination monopod/tripod/hiking staff and it admirably fulfills each of those goals, whether shooting at junior's soccer game or photographing the Maroon Bells near Aspen. Build quality on all those bits and pieces that make up the monopod is high with quality components used throughout its construction. The grip is foam and the palm rest is molded polymer, but Trek-Tech offers cork and wood palm rests on their website that you can snap onto the MagMount a.k.a. mini ball head. The monopod comes with a nicely made 23" long (approved carryon size) nylon case that holds all the components, but once I assembled it I kept it together and put it to work.