The Benro Wild Tripod has now been discontinued. View our other Benro Tripods here >
The humble tripod: a vital but often overlooked part of any birder’s armoury, providing essential support to spotting scopes throughout the birding world.
It’s hard to underplay the importance of having a decent tripod: a top-quality scope with razor-sharp optics will only perform at its best when mounted on sturdy support; conversely, said sturdiness is often achieved through a certain degree of bulk and weight.
For almost two decades, my trusty aluminium Manfrotto 055 has accompanied me on almost every birding foray. Up, down, through, across hill and dale, mountain and moorland, saltmarsh and heath, the 055 has never let me down. I’ve come to trust its combination of toughness and versatility coupled with an air of all-out indestructibility.
Given the many attributes of the 055, there would appear to be little reason for me to look at finding alternative support for my scope. But here’s the thing: over the last few years, the tripod has gained weight. It has become heavier. Definitely. Long walks with bins, scope and tripod have become ever more ‘character building’ as time has passed. So, what to do?
As luck would have it, possible salvation has recently hove into view on the birding horizon in the relatively compact (and extremely green) shape of the Benro Wild 1 Carbon Fibre Birding Tripod Kit. Weighing in at a measly 1.78kg, could the Wild 1 be a viable lightweight option for future birding sorties? Only one way to find out!
Right, first impressions. One of the great things about the Wild 1 Kit is that it is…er…a kit. By this, I mean that it comes with both tripod legs and head included, so no need to look at matching up individual components. Benro also includes a nice padded carry case (ideal for protecting the tripod in the boot of the car), a set of beefy looking spiked feet that can be fitted when required and a toolkit containing everything you need to make any required adjustments that may be required. When I first unpacked everything the head was a little loose on the base; a few quick turns with one of the included Allen keys and all was well.
Is the Benro Wild Birding Tripod good for travel?
One thing that struck me straight away is just how small this kit is when packed down to its minimum length - I measured it at 58 cm -helped, no doubt, by having four leg sections. Picking the tripod up for the first time I was also impressed by its weight, or rather the lack thereof. Benro quoted 1.78kg, just over half the weight of my existing Manfrotto setup. The aforementioned lack of grams is due in no small part to the use of carbon fibre in the construction. I should also mention that Benro offers the same kit in aluminium form – lower-priced but weighing in at 2kg.
Both base and head are finished in a combination of black and ‘Fern Green’. Personally, I think this is a good idea. Leaving aesthetics aside, this colour combination can only help to make the scope setup less conspicuous in the field. Also - and I’m aware that this is likely to be subjective - I think it looks pretty cool.
What advantages do the Benro Wild carbon fibre legs deliver?
The leg sections are adjusted by chunky twist locks and I was pleased to find that only a quarter of a turn or so is required to tighten or release each section. One advantage carbon fibre has over aluminium (apart from being lighter) is that it is warmer to the touch – a definite advantage when shivering on a saltmarsh in the depths of a British winter! Benro has also added a foam ‘hand warmer’ to the top of one of the three leg sections for a touch of added luxury. The legs can be set to any one of three positions, thus allowing for low-level use when required. I like tripods with this feature as I find it really useful when used on a slope or when I just want to get down out of the wind on a blustery day. The centre column is removable and features a retractable hook at its base. This allows a sandbag or other weight to be added for extra stability if required.
Reviewing the BWH4 head on the Benro Wild Tripod...
The BWH4 head features independent controls for adjusting pan and tilt and sports a panning handle that can be set up for either right or left-handed use. The head is topped off with an Arca-Swiss type plate – a good thing, in my opinion. I love the simplicity of the Arca-Swiss system: releasing the single locking knob all the way allows the plate to be tilted and removed; a partial release of the same allows the head to be slid backwards or forwards for optimum balance. I should also add that a couple of stop-screws placed cunningly under the plate prevent it from sliding all the way out when the locking knob hasn’t been tightened fully, thus providing an additional level of security for your trusty scope.
So, first impressions are good. Ultimately, however, the acid test is going to be how the Wild 1 performs in the field. Over the next few months, it will be accompanying me into the field in an effort to find out how it copes with the rigours of British winter birding. Will it provide the level of support I need? Will I notice the reduction in weight? Will the foam hand-warmer prove to be worth its weight in gold? I will report back in due course. Until then – happy birding!