Pimped Out Tripod For Winter Shooting

Surprisingly a lot of people ask me about my legs… I mean my tripod legs (no one asks about my athletic personal legs). They wonder where I got the special soft covering for the upper legs of my tripod that keep my hands off the cold metal.  Of course, you can go on-line and buy manufactured tripod leg coverings but you’ll spend from $30 to $50! Ouch! For less than five bucks you can make your own tripod leg covers from foam pipe insulation and hockey tape (the best tape to use ’cause it can handle the cold). I went to my local ‘hardware’ store to get what I needed. Canadians probably know where I mean and that special place even gives you their own printed money for each purchase saving you another 5 to 10 cents to boot! The only other thing you’ll need are a pair of scissors. Heck, I am the least handy of handy-men. If I can make my own tripod leg covers then so can you. Watch the video below to see how it is done!

If you are looking for more winter photography tips for cheap be sure to come to our Twoonie Talk (a twoonie is a $2 coin up here in Canada) on Winter Photography in Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park on January 21st here in Cochrane (free parking, free coffee and close to that special ‘hardware’ store so you can buy goodies for your own tripod leg coverings. Hey did you know they even carry hockey tape in all colours including the ultra chic Camouflage, Lilac and Hunter Orange)?

About the Author

I am a Canadian landscape and outdoor photographer who loves long hikes in the woods, yummy food, hairy dogs, good company and a good guitar jam.

20 Comments

  1. John Fujimagari
    December 2, 2011

    Darwin, If you have a tripod with 1/2″ legs, I think you need more than leg wraps! 😉

    Reply
  2. Darwin Wiggett
    December 3, 2011

    John, that is my special low-level short tripod!

    Reply
  3. Scott Dimond
    December 5, 2011

    For what it is worth, I use Velcro covered cable ties instead of tape. They are easy to undo and retighten as the foam compresses over time and there is no adhesive involved (which can leave a sticky mess if the tape comes off). You can pick them up at places like Princess Auto or computer cable suppliers.

    If you want to see what they look like, check out this site: http://www.lextec.com/prod_velcro.html#bulk

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 5, 2011

      Hi Scott, great idea! Sometimes the hockey tape can get ‘gummy’ after use. The velcro idea is simple but brilliant!

    • Samantha
      December 17, 2011

      Also great so you don’t get that ‘tripod swing’ that happens when just the ends of the tape/foam contraption come unstuck. That’s my issue with Darwin’s hand-me-down, 5000lb tripod that I get to carry around.

    • Samantha
      December 17, 2011

      I’m not jealous of his lightweight, Gitzo, carbon-fibred sleek model though. Not at all.

  4. Mike Katona
    December 7, 2011

    Been doing it for years, but then I have always been cheap.
    I just wrap electrical tape on the top and bottom and middle and it work fine for me.
    It is a good tip. Never thought leg covers are worth what dealers want for them, unless you want to go stealth and get camo. So buy camo tape at the sporting goods department.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Samantha
      December 17, 2011

      Cheap is great! Although the other day someone told me to call it ‘value’. 😉

  5. Les Howard
    December 7, 2011

    I’ve put foam insulation on all my tripods for the last 25 years. It works great. No cold hands and much softer on the shoulder.

    I’ve always used electrical tape instead of hockey tape and never had any problems with the glue getting sticky even when I took it to Arizona in the summer. I would expect that problem with hockey tape because that’s why they use that particular tape on hockey sticks.

    Also, contrary to Scott’s advice, I’ve never had the foam compress so that it needed to be replaced. I did have to replace the foam on one tripod when it ripped and disintegrated because I was in a hurry and didn’t wrap the tape around the full length of the leg. Except for that one, all my other tripods still have the original insulation in place.

    Reply
  6. Tom Nevesely
    December 8, 2011

    I did something similar to my tripod but instead of pipe insulation I used some 5mm thick closed cell foam from an old outdoor sleeping pad. The result is the same except it’s not as thick.

    Reply
  7. Shirley Gallant
    December 11, 2011

    Instead of insulation I put a handle on my tripod to make it easier to carry at any time of the year. I purchased a velcro strap that’s sold at that same store with the “printed money”. It has a strong handle built into a long piece of velcro that you can wrap around heavy stuff for lifting. I cut most of the strap off and then used velcro tape and electric tape to fasten it to one of the legs. …maybe a photo would work best here.
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150398303196917&set=a.59167331916.82687.657446916&type=3&theater

    It works great. I love having a handle on it.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 14, 2011

      Wow Shirley, that is great and thanks for the visual, I really like your idea!

  8. Al Hart
    December 17, 2011

    Yet one more suggestion:

    The hardware store can usually provide 12 rubber o-rings of an appropriate size. Just stretch out 4 or so (one at a time!) and slide them onto each section of the pipe insulation – there’s no sticky residue – it’s less work than taping – and they do a nice-looking job.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      December 17, 2011

      Al,

      another winner of a suggestion! Love that you all are sharing better and different ways to do roughly the same thing!

  9. Ben
    March 19, 2013

    Or you can get some pre-made tripod leg protectors for cheap from here: http://www.tripodcovers.com

    Reply
  10. Randy Lowden
    July 25, 2013

    Thanks Darwin. I am heading to Canadian Tire now to get everything I need. Maybe pick up some duct tape while I’m there.

    Reply
  11. Gaston S. Chan
    May 16, 2015

    Dear Mr. Wiggett:

    Silicone tape! I discovered this marvelous invention a few years ago. Since then I wrap everything with it, even things that don’t need to be wrapped. If I were an ancient Egyptian embalmer, I would have wrapped mummies with silicone tape. I wrapped my tripod legs and monopod with silicone tape just to protect them from bumps and gouges I don’t have the need for insulation. One, I live in a mild climate. Two, I have an equipment “manager,” my wife, and she carries, among other things, the heavy Gitzo tripod. I don’t find it uncomfortable at all that the legs are not wrapped with pipe insulation.

    Hot or cold, using silicone tape to finish off the leg wraps will survive a range of climatic differences.

    Sincerely,
    Gaston S. Cahn

    Reply
  12. Kim
    October 31, 2015

    Thank you, Darwin, for posting this. It is very helpful. I’ve not done much winter photography but wanting to focus more on it this year, especially of the night sky. I was wondering what you use to insulate your camera and lens while out in the cold for long periods of time? Thanks.

    Reply
    • Darwin Wiggett
      November 1, 2015

      Hi Kim, have fun with your winter photography. Don’t forget do not bring a cold camera into a warm room unless it is in a sealed plastic bag or unless you leave it in your zipped camera bag and don;t open the bag for two hours.

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