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Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Appalachian Trail Hiker Jeff Ryan – VW Vans, Books + Pakpods

By | Food for thought, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

A brief post and shout-out to fellow Mainer (and author) Jeff Ryan, who’s put together a one-minute video about how he uses a Pakpod on his hiking excursions.

Those excursions have included the entire Appalachian Trail and most of the Pacific Crest Trail. Jeff’s also written a number of books, one of which is about hiking the AT. Check it out here.

Appalachian Odyssey: A 28 Year Hike on America’s Trail

(Book info:) When two friends went for a one-day hike in Maine in 1985, they had no idea they were actually starting a 2,100 mile, 28-year adventure. Inspired by the author’s trail journals, Appalachian Odyssey is not a “how to” guide, but an enduring story told through a refreshing blend of history, photography and wit. This Appalachian Trail book is an uplifting reminder that the most meaningful accomplishments in life rarely happen overnight, but are achieved by making steady progress toward our goals. (Published by Down East Books. First edition: July, 2016.)

If you’re considering hiking a specific section of the AT, he’s also created a page that provides valuable state-by-state information about the trail so you’ll know what to expect when you hike there.

Fourteen Flavors of Amazing (State-By-State Descriptions of the AT)

(From Jeff:) I love finding new places to hike. As the Geico voiceover man would say, “If you’re Jeff Ryan, it’s what you do.” One thing I found missing when I looked around on the web was that there wasn’t a “go to” place for learning about the trail on a state-by-state basis. So, here it is. (A.T. TRAIL INFO)

That’s it for now. Have fun out there! ~ Steve




Pakpod Bungee Tips and Tricks

Bungee Cord Hacks From Pakpod Tripod

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If the world would just stay still, traditional tripods would work in every setting and situation. But it doesn’t. Most of my filmmaking happens near the water, on the water, or under the water. From sailboats that rock, roll, and heel over to churning white water determined to take a camera for a ride downstream, nature and gravity often conspire against the adventurous photographer/videographer. So, how can three feet of bungee cord help level the playing field?

Pakpod stake and bungee around square post

Before I Kickstarted Pakpod—and actually had one in-hand to use while filming in the wild—I experimented with every available model of the Joby Gorillapod. From mini-sized to max-sized, I tried them all, and broke more than a few. I’d twist, tweak, and contort them, trying to make them “grip” onto trees, boat gunnels, fences, and signposts, with minimal success.

I decided that the tripod I’d eventually bring to market had to be super-attachable. It would have LOTS of places to loop bungee cords, tie wraps, and ropes. It would also have pivoting stakes. The idea of stakes raised some eyebrows. Why on earth would a tripod need stakes? Because cameras are expensive, and gravity can be brutal. Watching a camera crash onto rocks or into the icy depths is painful! What follows are some notes and tips for creatively mounting your GoPro, smartphone, or mirrorless camera using a Pakpod tripod.  

Pakpod post mounts

Tree, Posts and Pole Setups

The basic “side-arm setup” uses trees, posts, and pillars, plus a short length of bungee, to get the camera up high (or down low), and locked down securely. Note that the bungee not only loops through both upper feet, but it also wraps 360º around the cylindrical object.  

Pakpod mounts on Venice bridge and Cable bridge


Bridge Bungee Setups

Bridge railings pair well with Pakpods. Rotate the Pakpod’s feet and pivot the stakes to orient them so that they hook securely onto the available structure. The bungee often ends up serving as a backup lifeline for the tripod, just in case it gets knocked out of position.

Pakpod Halyard sailboat Boat stern mount, Mast mount, and Boat railing mount

Sailboat Bungee Rigs

Masts, halyards, and safety railings are great attaching points on sailboats. Lashing the Pakpod down securely is especially important when a boat is being pitched by big waves or laid over by strong winds. No need to worry about water dousing your GoPro and Pakpod—it’s completely waterproof!

Pakpod car hood, window and dashboard mounts


Vehicle Mounts

Adding a hook to one or both ends of a bungee is useful for certain vehicle rigs. Note that the window-rolled-halfway-down rig really should have a bungee connecting the Pakpod to the door handle (I didn’t have one on me that day).

 Pakpod Kayak roof mount and Kayak underwater mount

Kayak Connections

With the kayak strapped onto the roof of my car, one bungee secures the Pakpod’s front leg and the kayak roof rack strap secures the back legs. To attach beneath the kayak, a well-placed bungee snugs the tripod up against the bottom of the boat.

Pakpod Citibik mount

Bikes and Bodies

These photos of a Citi Bike in NYC show a few bungee cord setups. Wedging two Pakpod stakes into the nooks of the handlebar components and into the “Citi Bike” sign holder yields a stable triad of connecting points. The bungee just provides downward force to the rig, keeping it from bouncing off the bike on rough roads.

The successful bike mount inspired me to try a “chest rig.” With the bungee cord looping around my back connected to the Pakpod’s upper two legs and the third leg tucked into a sweatshirt tied around my waist, it was solid, allowing for a nice “Rider P.O.V.” I’d recommend using the Safe Stakes (with rounded tips) when attaching a Pakpod to your body.

Pakpod Kayak mount, white water raft mount


Rubber Rafts & Kayaks (Part 2)

Whitewater rafts, kayaks and “Zodiak-type” inflatable boats usually have plenty of eyelets, connecting rings, cords, lines, and ropes to hook up to. Sometimes just looping a stake around a rope or eyelet is all that’s needed to secure the Pakpod. Adding a bungee cord as a “safety lifeline” in case things get too wild provides some added security.

If you have any thoughts or ideas on the subject of “securing a tripod with bungees, ropes, tie-wraps, and tape,” I’d love to hear about them (and see photos).

See you out there! ~ Steve Underwood