There are many tripods out there, and selecting one is not an easy decision. Which type of tripod will work best for you will depend mainly on the type of hunting you do and the conditions of a typical shot. If you’ve never used a tripod for shooting, you are missing out on an outstanding asset. I have come to love shooting off my tripods, and a quick survey of competitive, military and law enforcement shooters will reveal that tripods are considered to be standard equipment for shooters.

In this article, I will compare two tripods. In essence, one is lighter and more compact, which is advantageous for mountain hunting with considerable elevation to travel but with little vegetation to shoot over, and the other is a larger, more steady tripod well-suited for standing shooting to reach over vegetation and when you will require enhanced stability.

I’ve been using tripods from Really Right Stuff, a premier tripod manufacturer. They build some of the best-built tripods in the world right in the US, so the craftsmanship and design are second to none. The tripods are super smooth, and that’s important when you’re out in the field and trying to move across the landscape, being smooth and not missing anything. That’s where the RRS products shine for me. Additionally, they are light.

I use the Ascend-14 for mountain hunting and the Ultralight for later-season hunting. At just 18.5″ when folded, the Ascend-14 fits on, or in any backpack I use, even a smaller daypack.

Both tripods will work very well for glassing, whether using binoculars or a spotting scope. Both are simple to set up to get the height you need, whatever the terrain from which you are glassing.


Now the Ascend is compact, where I can throw it in my backpack, and it’s out of the way. The Ascend is my go-to in the mountains. If I need to travel miles with a heavy pack, I’m always carrying the Ascend, and I don’t need to extend it to an excessive height in the mountains. I never have to stand and shoot off of it, which the Ultralight shines in that category. The Ascend-14 is an excellent backpacking unit. It’s just smooth, lightweight, and quick to deploy, which you want to get set up and have the ability to get your optics or rifle on it quickly.

Whether you’re using it with gloves on in cold conditions, it’s a joy to work with.

This past year, I was hunting Dall’s Sheep, and the Ascend-14 made a downhill shot highly straightforward. I could switch out my spotting scope and have my rifle locked and ready to go in a few seconds, all while choosing a shooting location that suited me in terms of remaining hidden and comfortable.

Ascend-14 with the Anvil-30 ball head on a Dall’s Sheep hunt.
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The Ultralight

The Ultralight is slightly longer and bigger than the Ascend-14 but still fits easily on the side of my packs. The Ultralight offers additional height for standing shots and extra stability at any height due to its larger-diameter legs. All of this comes at only a nominal weight cost. I think if you’re a competitive shooter and looking for the most stability you can get, the Ultralight is the way to go.

I am carrying the RRS Ultralight tripod, paired with RRS’ BH-40 tripod head. The setup is just under a pound heavier than the Ascend. The long legs of the Ultralight perform well in a situation like I had this past winter when I was hunting moose in the snow. You can see the brush in this image, which is quite a bit smaller than the brush I faced when taking my Yukon-Alaska moose off the tripod.

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