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Z-Cage

Review of the Trek-Tech TrekPod Go!
Walking Staff, Monopod, and Tripod

Reviewed by Ron Risman
Date: October 2007





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In March of this year I had the opportunity to test the original TrekPod (read review) while traveling through Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.   The trip proved to be a great way to test out the TrekPod - a combination walking staff, monopod, and tripod complete with ball head and exclusive MagMount™ system for quick mount and dismount of your camera, binoculars, or scope.

A couple of weeks ago Trek-Tech sent over their brand new version of the TrekPod, dubbed the TrekPod Go!, which incorporates many customer-requested enhancements including a few that we felt were needed after reviewing the original TrekPod.   These enhancements help to make the TrekPod Go! a welcome addition to the Trek-Tech line, which now includes three models; TrekPod II, TrekPod™, and the TrekPod™ Go! - the subject of this review.

What is the TrekPod Go!

The Trekpod Go! is a combination Walking staff, Monopod, and Tripod designed to support cameras, spotting scopes, binoculars, and virtually any tripod-mountable device (lights, mic's, range finders, etc.) up to 9 pounds.  

The Trekpod Go! itself weighs 28 ounces with integrated MagMount ball head and extends from 39" to 57.5" when in Tripod mode or from 42.5" to 62.5" in monopod / hiking staff mode.  When compared to the original TrekPod, the new TrekPod Go! collapses down to 39" (4" shorter) without taking it apart, yet reaches the same height (57.5") as the original TrekPod.   However, when taken apart, the new TrekPod Go! fits into a case that is only 23" in length (13" shorter than the original TrekPod), making it packable in a carry on bag.   Like the original, it can support gear up to 9lbs in tripod mode, and up to 200lbs in hiking mode.


New Enhancements to the TrekPod Go!

To appreciate some of the changes of the TrekPod Go! it might help if I mention a few of the things I wished for after reviewing the original TrekPod; a smaller footprint, redesigned MagMount / Ball head that would help prevent the Ball head from unscrewing when pivoting the camera on its axis, and a redesign to the Ball head that would help support longer DSLR lenses when in portrait mode (vertical).  


(A) TrekPod and TrekPod Go!

Smaller Footprint

One of the biggest complaints that users of the original TrekPod had was with its lack of compactness for traveling.   Photographers like to travel with their gear but many find traditional tripods a bit too heavy and cumbersome to take on a flight, which is why many travel with monopods.   Monopods typically collapse to a small enough size where they can comfortably pack away in a suitcase - unfortunately, the original TrekPod was just a bit too long to fit into most carry-on luggage.


(B) TrekPod and TrekPod Go!
The new TrekPod Go! is shipped in a compact storage case in 4-sections.   This new 4-section design allows the TrekPod Go! to fit comfortably in a airline approved carry-on bag, while the included case keeps everything you need together and organized in one place.   When broken down, the TrekPod Go! has a packable size of just 23" (compared with 35.5" of the original TrekPod).  The original TrekPod was designed with 3-sections, but only two of the sections were meant to be broken down by us consumers.   The 3rd section - the legs - were attached in such a way that removing them was not recommended, but possible if in a bind.  The disassembly of the legs required an allen wrench and re-assembly was best done with a helper.  Removing the legs could also loosen the locking screw requiring the use of medium strength Locktite to keep the screw at the desired leg friction when re-attaching.


Photo (A) is a close up of the leg connector of the TrekPod and TrekPod Go! side-by-side.   The rubber twisting lock of the TrekPod Go! (right) makes it easy to remove the legs when breaking down for the day or when traveling.   Photo (B) shows both the TrekPod (left) and TrekPod Go! (right) broken down to their smallest size.   This really makes a big difference when traveling.  

MagMount™ AR/i

Photo (C)

MagMount AR/i w/ Anti-Rotation Grooves


Photo (D)

MagMount AR/i & MagAdapters
The TrekPod Go! includes as standard the new MagMount™ AR/i.   The MagMount AR/i is a magnetic mount that makes it easy to attach or remove your camera, scope, or other device and uses an industry standard 1/4"-20 mounting stud.   The MagMount AR/i includes a silver (light force) and black (heavy force) MagAdapter that connects to the base of your camera.   The new MagAdapters attach to your device using an included allen wrench to insure a tight, no slip, fit.  I am not in love with this approach but it does answer one of my complaints with the original MagMount where it had a tendency to loosen and slip during use. The new MagAdapter never loosened up during testing and was easily removed - as long as you had the allen wrench with you (See Photo D).

The original MagAdapter featured a quarter-size slot, making it easy to attach or remove the mount from the camera using just a coin.   The advantage to this design is convenience, as no special tool is needed to remove the adapter.   The drawback to this design is that it is nearly impossible to make the adapter tight enough to insure that it wouldn't loosen or slip during use.  

New Anti-Rotation feature
What makes the new MagMount AR/i different from the original MagMount is that it now features grooves which interlock to provide Anti-Rotation protection (See photo C), a feature which helps to lock your portrait shots in place.   These grooves are spaced every 30° which can also help to create more accurate panoramas in landscape mode - allowing for repeatable and precise positioning.  
Photo (E)

MagMount AR/i ...vs...  MagMount


The photo to the left (Photo E) illustrates the anti-rotation feature of the new MagAdapter SD, which features interlocking grooves to prevent heavier cameras from rotating when shooting in portrait mode. In this example I place my EOS Rebel XTi with 28-200mm lens on the TrekPod Go! (left) and on the original TrekPod (right). As you can see the anti-lock feature of the new MagMount AR/i worked as promised and kept the camera's weight from twisting it downward.


Magnetic Bond - Not As Strong!
Photo (F)
It is important for me to note that the new MagMount AR/i does not have the same magnetic strength as the standard MagMount.   I was so confident with the magnetic holding power of original MagMount that I would often carry the entire TrekPod with camera attached without any fears - many times without the safety clip in place.   With the new MagMount AR/i the strength of the magnetic 'hold' is not as great thus the safely clip should now be considered part of the attach and detach process - especially when mounting a front heavy camera.   I would also not recommend carrying the TrekPod from location to location with the camera attached.   With the safety clip in place you CAN feel comfortable that your camera will be held firmly in place - even in portrait mode (vertical).   This is not an issue when using smaller and lighter point & shoot cameras.  

TrekPod as a monopod!
Using the TrekPod Go! as a monopod mode is one of the best uses for the TrekPod.   Because of the shorter 39" minimum height, you can now easily use it while sitting or standing.   Because of its shorter length it is now worth taking it to a professional sporting event where long focal lengths benefit greatly from the extra stability.   While sitting in a stadium, the original TrekPod was just a bit too tall (at its shortest) for comfortable use.

The MagMount AR/i ball head is easily positionable and makes it easy to track subjects.   A quick twist of the locking knob allows you to tighten the ball head at any position.   The ball head features a vertical slot (See Photo F) allowing you to position the camera vertically.

TrekPod as a Tripod
Depending on the situation the Tripod mode will either work for you or it won't.   For daylight shots, where shutter speeds are highest, the TrekPod Go! makes a suitable tripod, and if you typically hold your camera during shutter release then conditions really won't matter, but for self-timer or remote shutter use the Tripod mode is only recommended for use during daylight and when winds are light.  I was hoping that the new 4-section design of the TrekPod Go! would have made it less susceptible to sway, but unfortunately that isn't the case.   On windy days or when using longer exposures (1/30 sec.  or slower) I would recommend reducing the height of the TrekPod as much as possible to help prevent sway.   This trick works for all but on the windiest days.

The legs do not spread as wide as a traditional tripod but are individually positionable and offer decent stability for point & shoot and lightweight SLR cameras.   When using cameras that are front heavy you will get the best stability when you keep the lens centered over one of the legs and position yourself on fairly flat ground.  

The TrekPod Go! was not designed to be your end-all / be-all tripod, but it does well in many situations.   Having the Tripod mode integrated into a walking staff / monopod is a huge convenience and one that will prove useful over and over again.   It sure beats carrying a tripod around the whole day when all you really needed was a monopod for most of it. The smaller leg footprint also helps when trying to setup in tight locations such as in the bleachers of a sporting event.

TrekPod as a Walking Staff
The TrekPod Go! looks much LESS like a walking staff when compared to the original TrekPod.   Instead of the rich looking cork hand-grip and palm-rest, the TrekPod Go! features a more modern-looking padded rubber hand-grip and a black polymer palmrest. Some will prefer the extra comfort and high-tech look of the rubber hand-grip, while others might prefer the cork look of the original TrekPod.   Visually, I prefer the look of cork, however in use I could see how the padded hand-grip would prove more comfortable.   TrekPod Go! users can purchase a cork or wood palmrest for $14.99 or $39.99 respectively from Trek-Tech if they so desire.

Whether hiking in your area or going on a multi-day photo expedition, photographers often travel with a backpack full of gear.   The TrekPod helps the photographer by offering the added stability of a walking staff while doing triple duty as a monopod and tripod.   The TrekPod Go! feels right as home as a walking staff - offering a combination of balance, height adjustability, and comfort.   It was also designed to be used in water, helping you across streams and small rivers.

New MagMount AR/i Assists with Panoramas
The new MagMount ARi/i helps you create better panorama's by offering grooves every 30° in the new Black (heavy force) MagAdapter SD. This helps to insure that each image in your panorama offers the same degree of overlap as the previous one - making for higher quality results.

Four images taken at 30° increments using the TrekPod Go!


Conclusion
Similar to my conclusion for the original TrekPod, the TrekPod Go! is a great photography tool designed for the sports, landscape, wildlife, and nature photographer.

The TrekPod Go! is really a customer-enhanced product as it incorporates the most requested features from users of the original TrekPod. For example, the new TrekPod Go! collapses down to fit inside its 23" long case and will now fit into an approved airline carry on. This was the #1 most requested feature. Trek-Tech also redesigned the TrekPod so that the minimum height was 4" lower without sacrificing the top end, which remains at 57.5". This lower height also makes it possible to comfortably use the TrekPod Go! while sitting - making it usable even in the bleachers of the ball game.

Trek-Tech also added the ability to support an SLR with small zoom lens vertically. This was achieved by redesigning the MagAdapter by adding interlocking grooves. While they were at it, they made sure that the grooves were evenly spaced at 30° to help assist in creating panoramas.   Trek-Tech also redesigned the way the MagAdapter connects to the tripod mount of the camera. They did away with the coin slot and replaced it with a hexagonal hole that requires an allen wrench for tightening. While definitely a bit more inconvenient, the new MagAdapter SD doesn't slip or become loose like the original MagAdapter did - and they included the allen wrench with the package. Still, I hope they can come up with a better alternative in the next version.

I have outlined below the differences between the two models in order to help you decide which of the two TrekPod's might work best for you. I do want to point out that the new TrekPod Go! retails for $199.99, a seemingly steep 45% premium over the original TrekPod. This $199.99 price however includes the travel case, whereas the original TrekPod, which sells for $139.99 does not.   The travel case for the original TrekPod sells for $40 - helping to make the price gap only $20. Retailers such as Hunts Photo & Video and Amazon.com both sell the TrekPod Go! at $179.95 - which wipes out that $20 price spread all together.

ModelTrekPodTrekPod GO
MagMountMagMount offers stronger holding strengthMagMount AR/i offers anti-rotation and Panorama assist
MagAdapterMagAdapter has slot which allows the use of a coin to tighten.

More Convenient
MagAdapter SD with hexagonal hole for tightening with allen wrench.

Won't loosen during use.
PalmrestMade of Cork
Must be held or stored when removed
Made of resin-coated Polymer and stays attached to TrekPod
Hand grip MaterialCorkPadded Rubber
Minimum Height as Tripod43"39"
Extended Height as Tripod57.5"57.5"
Minimum Height as Staff/Monopod47"42"
Extended Height as Staff/Monopod62.5"62.5"
Packable length35.5"23"
Weight (includes MagMount)30 ounces28 ounces
Maximum load (tripod)9 lbs
Maximum load (hiking)200 lbs (properly tightened)
WarrantyLifetime Limited
Price$139.99
$179.99 with Travel Case
$199.99
includes Travel Case


Optional Accessories
Trek-Tech makes a wide range of add-on accessories for the TrekPod series. These accessories include:

VersaRest
Designed for hunters and features a soft closed-foam pad topped with synthetic suede for a smooth, durable shooting surface.
$19.99
VersaMount
The VersaMount attachment is ideal when you need to place your camera, camcorder, or other optical device low to the ground - making it perfect for macro photography. This VersaMount can be purchase separately or with its own MagMount ball head ($39.99 total) making it simple to attach or remove your camera anywhere along the length of the TrekPod.
$19.99
VersaMount / MagMount Bundle
VersaMount is a clamping arm with a 1/4-20 threaded stud. It will mount anywhere on the TrekPod upper or lower tube and also on most Tripod legs (.56" to 1.16" in diameter). It is bundled with our MagMount, 1 heavy and 1 light force MagAdapter. This combination is the ideal way to mount a camera or scope low on a TrekPod or tripod.
$39.99
Cork Palm Rest
Palm rest of compressed cork for the MagMount™ System.
$14.99
Wood Palm Rest
Custom Wood Palmrest for the TrekPod™.
$39.99
MagAdapter SD (Screw Down)
Heavy force MagAdapter with a free floating allen head screw down.
$15.99

Purchase the TrekPod II, Trekpod, and TrekPod GO! at:

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