A Tripod for Travel - and Everyday!
SLIK Sprint Mini II GM
by Simon Elliott
This might not be a very exciting subject for an equipment review, but we all use tripods, and if you find one you like, you can get quite attached to them – maybe not literally.
For many years I've used a big, heavy SLIK D3 to support my larger mic rigs, especially my Atherstone reflector, or a collection of angling poles and bank sticks. For a long time, my travel tripod was the SLIK 500 – a tiny aluminium thing that slipped easily into hand luggage or a daysack. When eventually it snapped in two, I needed a replacement, and my eyes fell upon the SLIK Sprint Mini II GM. I liked it so much, I didn't buy the company, but I did buy two.
A travel tripod needs to pack up small and weigh as little as possible, but should be sufficiently strong to hold a couple of mics in a windshield and be versatile. The Sprint ticks all those boxes, and at a reasonable street price of GBP 60-70.
The tripod packs down to 35cm in length with the ball head attached, though I tend to use it without, making it even smaller; total weight is just 780g, down to 650g after removing the head. This is not the ideal tripod for photography or scoping, with a max height of 109cm and max load capacity for 2.1kg (though only 1kg when using the ball head) so not suitable for a large reflector or heavy DSLR, but it easily supports my Rycote with MS Sennheisers, or my pair of MKH60s in a windshield.
Remove the ball head and you have a standard ¼” photographic thread on a nice flat plate, though I add a small adaptor to convert this to a 3/8” standard mic mount. The column can be split into two sections, and inverted – useful for low mic placements or a travelling windshield as once described by Alan Burbidge.
Perhaps the best feature is the legs! These are 4-section, mostly plastic, with rubber feet, so it stands happily in the water at the edge of my lake. The uppermost metal sections are encased in foam making it easy (and warm) to handle. But best of all they have simple-to-use small clips at the top for altering their angle. Three positions take you from a standard rather narrow spread, through to a really wide and incredible stable set-up. No chance of your mics blowing over and landing in a rock pool. Each leg angle is independent so the tripod can adapt to difficult terrain.
Though I initially bought this as a travel tripod, it is now a part of my everyday set-up for mic placement.