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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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