As a photographer, filmmaker and hunter, I've found that no amount of meditation, breath control or isometric exercises can make me as steady as I'd like to be when looking through a telephoto lens at twilight or through the scope of a rifle. Tripods and other sorts of stabilization equipment provide support, but usually not at a weight you'd want to walk over a mountain with.
Lolo, Mont. outdoor gear manufacturer MazDog offers the RipPod as an inventive solution to this very problem. A well-built carbon-fiber monopod, the RipPod has an ingenious swivel-head that can mount to a rifle, camera or a bow, using a magnetized attachment for quick connecting and disconnecting. Even better, it only weighs 19 ounces.
But the RipPod's real strength is versatility. Instead of lugging a tripod (to get primo photos) along with a shooting stick to steady your gun, you only have to tote one item. Just plant the RipPod pole in the ground, mount your shooting gear, and voila. (Another plus: The MazDog website offers how-to videos that make using the product a cinch.)
At just over 29 inches collapsed and 64 inches fully expanded, the RipPod might not be practical in quick-fire situations, when you won't have time to set up and adjust it to the right height. But if you're waiting in a tree stand or blind, it could come in handy.
If you're doing serious photography or videography, you still need a tripod, which offers the superior stability required to capture crisp shots at slow shutter speeds. And if you're only going, say, rifle hunting, and you aren't bringing a camera, shooting sticks might be the better choice: They're lighter, let you get lower to the ground and provide more left-to-right stabilization. But if multi-tasking is your game, the RipPod will give you a leg up—and another one to lean on.