I used to hike with a trekking pole all the time. Always good to have something to check the ground ahead, poke for snakes, use as a third leg etc.
Once I started iNatting I’ve found it an inconvenience because when I take pictures I tend to use both of my hands and I’ll have to find a spot to put the pole down, pick up the phone, take pictures, and then pick the pole back up. And often I’ll be holding my phone in my hand since I make a lot of observations. And that’s with just a phone camera; I’m thinking about moving to a DSLR, and that’s way bulkier than a cell phone. How does one carry/use a camera and a hiking stick?
a monopod could be a walking stick. you can mount your camera on the monopod.
Use the neck strap on the dSLR camera or get a nice sling holster for it.
For your phone, you can get plenty of neck lanyards with holders to slip them into
The pole…i usually just stick it in the ground so it stays upright? But I use quality trekking poles. There are some that collapse super fast & easy too (kinda like how tent poles work) if you prefer to holster those to a pack quick or something.
I didn’t know a monopod was a thing until now, but now that I look into it… that’s not a bad idea.
Might run into issues when shooting a small insect or plant near ground level… I suppose one could unmount and remount the camera, or do some ungodly finessing with the camera-monopod combo.
Just use a quick-release plate. One half gets screwed into the tripod mount on the camera, the other half onto the monopod head.
Press the button to release the camera.
If you are willing to invest a bit of money, IFOOTAGE produces a comparatively inexpensive telescopic monopod that is light yet sturdy enough to double up as your walking stick, and, if need be, the included tripod base can be easily detached and used like a small table-top-style tripod for low shots (just unplug the top with the camera and plug it into the base). These monopods come in various lengths and are available in carbon and in aluminium.
I got the tallest carbon version (without the video head as I am taking photos only) and am loving it.
my tripod (which i almost never use outdoors) can be reconfigured into a monopod (which i also never use). setting it up as a monopod, it measures a minimum of 27 inches long (without the camera but including a 4 inch swivel head with quick release plate), or 58 inches long fully extended. 24 inches of the extension is controlled by 3 quick locks, and 7 inches is controlled by a twist lock. the twist lock isn’t super fast, but it still takes only a few seconds to go from fully extended to no extension. or if you use jus the quick locks, it adjusts really quickly.
even though it’s 27 inches with no extension, that’s actually a good length (for me) for bracing the camera like so:
or, as olrett mentioned, you can remove the camera fairly easily with a quick release plate. (mine is only a not-so-slow release plate, but it’s quick enough in most cases, and i could switch it with a quicker plate, if needed.)
i’ve never used it, but i was planning to take some photos / videos outdoors in a little bit. so i’ll take the monopod and let you know how it works.
(this is my tripod: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DS13FKR. i got it for $49 after a applying a $16 coupon.)
I regularly use my camera and a walking stick while I walk. I make my own walking sticks from local dead standing wood so I don’t really worry too much if I forget to pick it back up after taking photos. It is easy enough to add a bolt to the top of the stick so that you can use it as a monopod as well. Most cameras just need a bolt with a 1/4in – 20 UNC thread. Larger lenses might need a 3/8in - 16 UNC thread.
I make use of wrist loops. , I have a loop on my hiking pole, and a wrist loop on my camera, which doubles as a phone.
If I was using a traditional camera I would have it on a shoulder strap.
I sometimes use the pole to steady the phone by just holding it against the bottom of the phone. Not the best, but sometimes it helps.
They work fine when on even ground. I find them however impractical when making my way up/down a steep slope with undergrowth because the camera inevitably swings around. I end up having to have to use one hand to keep the camera steady. Same when I have to pick up dog poo – awkward (impossible) to do it with one hand only while the other one is busy holding the camera out of the way.
Provided the camera has a sturdy tripod mount baseplate, Peak Design’s Capture may be the best solution. I got one attached to the strap of my waistbag, I just clip the camera in and it stays close to the body without extra hands needed.
Like @oltrett, I use and LOVE the Peak Design Capture clip. I bought one more than a year ago and it’s never been off my waistbag belt since. A loop on a hiking stick does the rest.
I carry the DSLR on a longer than standard strap so it can go on the diagonal over my shoulder instead of straight in front of my neck. That means it is carried close to my body, under the arm on that side. I often also carry a telescopic monopod with a GoPro attached. This doubles as a walking pole when I need one. When I need to use both hands on the camera, I often just tuck the monopod between my knees. If I’m walking around rocks I can use the monopod as a third leg, or if I need a hand free I hold the camera in one hand with the (collapsed) monopod tucked in under the same arm so that my other hand is free.
Or you just lean it against yourself or let the trekking pole dangle from the wrist strap. It’s not like it’s a 60 kilo caber or something.
Most trekking poles also compress down to a pretty small size, so you’re not using it compact it down to its small size and hang it off your waist or pack strap.
Some have an additional chest strap to prevent that exact thing. It’s easy to rig one up if the sling doesn’t already have one, or to simply attach a carabiner to it and clip that to a belt-loop, belt, pack strap, etc when you don’t want the camera to move around.
I just tighten mine up so the camera is snug against my chest in that situation.
If I’m out with one of my long lenses then I have it on the chest strap and on a holster at my waist.
Any of those methods prevents the camera from swinging around.
Tried all those. These all work fine when you maintain a mainly upright position. When just out in the yard or on a quick walk with the dogs, I am however unlikely to don a sling or a chest strap or a holster.
The waistbag clips on real fast. My hands are free at all times, and I can bend over to pick up stuff (or get close to that cricket) without having to first rearrange strap lengths or carabiners. I guess I am fundamentally lazy. ;-)
I hike with a group. No stick for me. But a couple of us went back to hunt for the stick which stayed at the last photo op. I was scanning the slope but my companion found it lying next to the path.
(Now we do an unconscious quick scan, before the sweeper = me leaves that op)
I can also recommend the Peak Design Capture Clips. I have one on each shoulder strap of my backpack and they were one of the best camera investments so far. Dependent on the weight of the camera it can get a bit heavy and cause some strain in your shoulders, though. But as I always carry a backpack with me I can’t put it on my belt as the waist straps of the backpack would be in the way.
Such clips are also produced by other brands but I have no experience with them. In comparison the Peak Design ones are a bit more expensive. But they will also last you a lifetime.
My hiking stick is also my wading stick for when I’m fly fishing. Standard practice is to have a cord attaching the stick to a belt. When you need both hands or just don’t want to hold the stick, drop it. The stick won’t go far and you don’t have to bend over to pick it up. Just grab the cord and pull the stick back to your hand.
Use them all the time in terrain that is comically complex topographically, and absurdly steep and overgrown (that fellow is part of my antipoaching team), as well as in caves that take serious work to get to, and where even the shore is work to get out of a boat onto to do on-foot based fieldwork.
In these conditions I’m rarely even in an upright position, and am having to clamber over, around, and under all sorts of obstacles. Works fine.
If the conditions are really bad I put the camera in my rucksack, but that’s rarely necessary unless I’m climbing something vertical for a while and there is danger of slipping.
If you hike with a backpack and don’t mind a bit of do-it-yourself, you could add a large patch of hook and loop fasteners to the sides of your backpack and middle of the trekking poles.
This would allow you to reach back and stick them there while you take photos. The larger the patch, the easier. I’d use the iron-on type, if I was doing this, but I also abandoned trekking poles once I started iNatting.
One downside is that the hard/hook side can get clogged, but brushing them with a cat fur brush or file card works well to unclog them.
I struggled with this too and everyone has to find a method that works for them. This is what I do… I have a harness that lets me connect my large and heavy camera to the center of my chest. Before that, I used the tripod foot on the lens to hook it onto my leather belt and simply kept my left hand on it lightly to keep it in place (it works a lot better than it sounds). Before that, when I used a Canon SX70 bridge camera, I just kept it on the neck strap and used my left hand to keep it against me while I walked so it didn’t swing wildly.
So that’s the camera… Then, as far as a walking stick, I got a hiking stick and expanded it to its full height so that the top is about throat level. I hold that in my right hand to help me walk because I’m walking through swamp and cutover land with a lot of obstacles (not to mention snakes) and I need the “third leg” a lot to keep me steady.
Here’s the “good part.” When I want to take a photo, I balance the camera on the top of the walking stick so it acts like an monopod but since it’s not fixed to the top (my walking stick does allow for a camera to be screwed to the top if I wanted that) and is more moveable. Since I frequently take photos of birds, I find that something attached to a tripod or even a monopod simply isn’t moveable enough to follow the quick movements of birds or whatever and is just frustrating to me. So simply using the walking stick as a “quick and dirty” monopod albeit unattached gives me sufficient steadiness for the most part.
In some cases, it’s just not workable to use the walking stick as a balance mechanism for the camera and in those cases, I lean the walking stick against my shoulder or the crook of my arm and then use the camera “free style”. Or I’ll lean the walking stick against a tree or bush temporarily in order to take a shot.
So I guess the gist of it is that I carry the walking stick in my right hand and use my left hand to steady my camera against my body using whatever carrying mechanism I’m using with the camera (whether it be my full harness, a neck strap, or my belt) while I walk. Then I use the stick as a monopod to steady the camera for shots by just resting it on the top. My walking stick has a cork top and handle so the camera rests nicely on it as long as I keep a good grip on the camera of course.
I hope that helps or at least gives you some ideas. I’ve been working on my methods of dealing with this for about 4 years. It’s constantly evolving, but that’s what I do now at any rate. (I know I made real photographers shudder to think that I would ever hook the tripod foot into my belt to carry my heavy mirrorless camera with its 100-500mm lens but heck, it works and it keeps the weight off of the lens/camera connection point. And lightly placing my left hand over it keeps it from swinging as I walk. I should mention that I always, and I mean always keep the camera strap around my neck no matter what carrying method I use just as an extra safety measure. I really don’t want to drop my expensive camera into one of the swamp runs…)