6 Important Considerations When Choosing Surveying Tripods

When it comes to choosing a survey tripod, stability and durability are of the utmost importance to ensure consistent and accurate readings.

Additionally, qualities such as weight, portability, and height must also be considered.

Keep reading to learn about the top 6 considerations when choosing a surveyor tripod and to see our recommendations in each category.

1. Durability

The one thing you can count on when it comes to land surveying is that the conditions are unpredictable. Whether you are working on rough terrain or withstanding severe weather, the job needs to be completed; you need equipment durable enough to handle whatever field conditions you might encounter.

Choosing the right material is extremely important for durability.

Surveying tripods typically come in three primary materials: wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Wood is an affordable option and it offers decent stability, plus it isn't affected by temperature changes. Aluminum is lightweight and affordable, making it a great choice for jobs that require changing setups. Fiberglass is strong, long-lasting, and resistant to the elements.

Recommended Products in this Category:

  • SECO Tri-Max Tripod, Quick Release – The only surveying-grade tripod with certified accuracy, the Tri-Max easily meets the ISO 12858-2-H standard for stability of instrument tripods and is highly recommended for robotic total stations and 3D laser scanners. It extends up to 71 inches, holds up to 65 pounds, and comes with SECO's 1-year warranty.
  • Dutch Hill T-REX Composite Tripod – Constructed with an extra-wide aluminum head and fiberglass composite legs, this tripod is extremely durable. It extends up to 72 inches, comes with replaceable stainless-steel points, and features composite BBT molded hinges and feet.

2. Stability

While durability may be the most important factor when considering land survey tripods, stability is also critical. Land surveyors encounter all kinds of terrain and it isn't always flat or level. This makes stability another important factor to consider in a tripod. Stability is particularly important when working indoors on concrete or other hard surfaces to prevent the legs from spreading apart.

Recommended Products in this Category:

  • Sokkia Wide-Frame Wood Tripod, Twist Lock – This wooden tripod is made from durable North American maple with metal hardware only (i.e. no plastic). It extends up to 72 inches, has self-adjusting hinges, and includes durable nylon bushings for smooth operation.
  • SECO Tripod Stabilizer – Made from heavy-duty aluminum, this tripod stabilizer is designed to improve stability when working on concrete and other hard surfaces. It features three rubber O-rings that fit over the feet of the tripod to keep the legs from spreading.

3. Weight

Most land surveying jobs require multiple setups and site changes. As such, it is important to consider the weight of any survey tools you use because will be carrying them around all day.

One of the best materials for lightweight surveying tripods is aluminum. As an added bonus, aluminum is not affected by humidity, though it may slightly expand and contract with temperature changes. Even so, aluminum tripods are ideal for most site setups that last for an hour or less.

Recommended Products in this Category:

  • Dutch Hill Square Leg Aluminum Tripod – Made from aluminum for lightweight durability, this tripod also features square tubing for improved rigidity. It comes with a quick-clamp feature and a poly-web shoulder strap, making it ideal for levels, lasers, total stations, and other land surveying tools.
  • SECO Aluminum Mini Instrument Tripod – For quick jobs or work that takes place in cramped conditions, this miniature aluminum tripod is an excellent choice. It measures 19” to 25” but can accommodate standard 5/8x11 thread equipment. It also has full-size kick-in cleats for stability.

4. Portability

Land surveyors in the field often do not have the luxury of staying in one place all day. Portability is key, and when it comes to portability in land survey tripods, there are several things to think about. First and foremost, the tripod needs to be made from lightweight yet durable materials. Generally speaking, aluminum is the best material for lightweight tripods, though some composite tripods fit the bill as well. You should also think about the size of the tripod and how compactly it folds down.

Recommended Products in this Category:

  • SECO HD Aluminum Tripod – Weighing in just under 10 pounds, this aluminum tripod features a heavy-duty construction and extends up to 67 inches. In addition to being made from lightweight aluminum, this tripod comes equipped with square outer dowels for lock security and a 5/8x11 threaded adapter for use with a variety of surveying tools.
  • SECO Aluminum Mini Instrument Tripod – If you are looking for a compact and lightweight tripod that still accommodates standard 5/8x11 threaded equipment, this mini aluminum tripod is the way to go. It folds down to 19 inches and weighs under 7 pounds while still being durable and dependable.

5. Height

While most land surveying jobs can be completed with a standard tripod, there will be times when you simply need a little more length. When it comes to choosing a tripod based on height, you need to find the right combination of features.

Telescoping legs are great for added height, but you still want to make sure the tripod is sturdy without being too heavy. Having dual clamps on each leg helps ensure stability while also enabling you to adjust the tripod as needed. You may also need to consider added safety features when using an extended-length surveying tripod.

Recommended Products in this Category:

  • SECO Tri-Max TALL Tripod, Dual Clamp – When the job calls for an extra-tall tripod, this model is a great option. The only surveying tripod certified for accuracy, this tripod extends up to 91 inches and collapses down to 54 inches. It features a large footbed for stability and comes with a retention loop for use with safety straps.
  • Dutch Hill ELT3000 Extended Length Tripod – This tripod has all the same features of the popular 2000 series, but it extends up to a whopping 93 inches. Durably constructed with stainless and aluminum components, this tripod weighs just 16 pounds but has a max workload up to 50 pounds.
  • SECO Heavy-Duty, Extra-Tall Elevator Tripod – For a heavy-duty tripod that extends to the max, this SECO tripod is a great option. It extends up to 12.4 feet and features highly durable fiberglass legs and an adjustable center column. It also features dual clamps and twist locks.

6. Cost

Things like durability and portability are the most important things to consider when shopping for land survey tripods, but cost is an important factor, too. You need to walk the line between choosing a surveying tripod that will withstand some rough conditions and buying a top-of-the-line model. When it comes to price, aluminum tripods are a great choice because they are inexpensive, lightweight, and long-lasting. They are particularly beneficial for leveling applications.

Recommended Products in this Category:

  • SECO Contractor's Aluminum Tripod – This tripod is made from high-quality aluminum for durability but costs just $50. It is the perfect tripod for quick jobs and frequent site changes because it weighs only 7 pounds but extends up to 65 inches. It also features a triangle/flat head and a quick clamp.

With so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the perfect land surveying tripod. In the end, you must decide which factors are the most important to you and select the one that delivers on those things without breaking your budget.

When it comes to choosing a survey tripod, stability and durability are of the utmost importance to ensure consistent and accurate readings. Additionally, qualities such as weight, portability, and height must also be considered. See our recommendations i