View Full Version : Compact tripod easel?
08-05-2012, 01:13 AM
Hi folks! After some futile online searching, I thought perhaps you guys could help me. I'm trying to find a field easel that could fold into a relatively small backpack. Ideally it would fold to about 18 inches. The reason is that I want to be able to carry lightweight gear and still be able to paint standing up. Pochade boxes plus tripods are a bit too heavy for me for, say, an hour long hike.
I've searched on the internet and browsed through catalogs for the local art stores, and I couldn't find any that small. Do such things exist, and if so, where can I find them?
08-05-2012, 01:29 AM
I've been on the same search as you and have come up empty as well. The smallest easel I found is about 24" long and extended is too short to stand at to paint. The smallest easel I've found that you can stand at is 26" long folded up. I'm afraid the only option is to somehow secure the easel to the exterior of the backpack. I saw a backpack with a pouch to hold a rifle that might work, I'm tempted anyway.
08-05-2012, 03:41 AM
I have backpacked for years and have never found a tripod that small, some that we're close but they end up too short. And if they are too light they are flimsy, so your best bet is to go to a camera shop that has floor models (or an art store that carries them) and look at them in person. Go for strong and sturdy but as light as you can find. I strap mine to the outside of the pack. I put the head part in the water bottle sack on the side and use the pack side compression straps to hold the tripod legs. Also a tripod with a level built in and a hook on the bottom of the main shaft to hang weight on for stabilizing ( I actually use the backpack, hanging it by the handle it has on top) is nice and helps when the winds pick up.
08-05-2012, 12:20 PM
I have a Velbon Uktra Rexi L. It goes down to 36cms (without the head) and weighs 1.3kgs. It is a camera tripod, and not cheap, but it fits happily in my cabin bag for travelling and goes tall enough for painting-for me at least.
08-05-2012, 12:33 PM
David - thanks, at least I know other people are having the same problem as me! Let me know if you've found a solution. :)
Janetpoole and adventurartist - actually I'm looking for an easel, not a camera tripod. I actually have a "field easel" thats lightweight and flimsy, but works well enough for me. The only problem is that it's folded length its too tall for my backpack. But what do you put on the tripod so you could paint on it? Seems to me pochade boxes add a lot to the weight...
08-05-2012, 12:41 PM
When I paint in watercolour I use a (homemade) small light board with a screw fitting on the back that takes the quick release plate. I tape my watcolour paper to it. I have an easel butler that I use as a shelf. Both weigh very little.
When I paint in oils I use the palette and board support from an OpenboxM. I find full pochade boxes heavy, but both these alternatives are very light.
08-05-2012, 02:36 PM
You still have to carry paints, brushes, etc. If you pick a pochade box, thumb-box or cigar box that is just large enough to carry your paints and use a mono-pod instead of a tripod, I imagine that is about as small and light as you are going to get, for something that is supported--(rather than hand-held or placed in your lap). Perhaps you could modify a hiking staff to act as a mono-pod? The minimalist approach (if you are using oils), is to squeeze out the puddles of paint you think you will need and leave the tubes at home or in the vehicle.
08-05-2012, 06:29 PM
Per some other posts, I've been thru quite a string of Plein Air stuff over these past 5yrs of doing same 100x annually and seeking to lighten my load to a minimum. These have included a several FEs', a Soltek, GP box, a Sienna, two EZLs' and more. Recently, I acquired a 10x12" OBM weighing only 1.75lbs dry and an affordable $18 Costco High Sierra backpack which easily holds the OBM, several plastic container boxes for stuff (paints, brushes, IPod Shuffle & tiny rechargeable speaker), either my 10x12" or 11x14" RayMart wet boards holder, foldable trash thingie, turp & stand oils, and lotsa misc stuff. I carry my EZL tripod (supposedly @ 4lbs) & umbrella separately, their bags tied together. I've dramatically lessened my load! .. About half of what it was with, even a small quality Julian FE or SolTek! The U.S. made OBM with accessories of brush, towel & drink holders, hooks is amazingly light, quality and totally functional! Per Ian's comments, I leave paints in the closed OBM, closed, into a well fitting plastic zip lock and into one of those nylon gym baggies before sliding into the laptop holder of the backpack... Perfect! A few occasonal clove oil drops helps during hot days!! I can leave the paints in the car or a plastic box in the backpack. I recognized how well all this was working and quickly sold all my old stuff via CraigsList ads and remain very pleased :thumbsup:. The only thing I may change, someday, is to a lighter tripod. The feather-light OBM box doesn't need much!
08-06-2012, 02:18 AM
JanetPoole -- Thanks, where can I get the fitting that would take a tripod screw?
Everyone -- thanks for the helpful replies. Seems to me I'll have to try out different setups to see what's right for me. Reading through these forums, looks like acquiring plein air equipment is part of the fun! :)
08-06-2012, 03:10 AM
Ken Bromley art supplies
If the link doesn't work google Ken Bromley Art Supplies UK and it is listed as Camera Tripod Mounting Bracket. I bought 2 and have them on different sized boards.
08-06-2012, 10:07 AM
Flyingroc, Boomer, Janet and Ian
I don't want to be dogmatic as there are many solutions. My ultra lightweight go-to is a tripod that you shake to open in less than 2 seconds and folds down to 16 inches from Photojojo ($50). It weighs 6 oz. My easel attachment is homemade, cost is zero, not including hardware. It's not as rigid as my huge professional tripod, which makes me tired just walking to the edge of the parking lot.
More details on this tripod thread in Ontario Plein Air Society at:
Best regards, Ted
08-06-2012, 10:32 AM
The smallest I've seen is the Testrite Backpack easel. It's specs indicate it fold to 21". I use the model 100, which is a bit longer and it's a good easel for the price. Your other laternatives are to look at pochades as others have suggested, or some thing like the Coulter (http://artboxandpanel.com/about) setup. If you ahve moderate woodworking skills, it's not too hard to knock out something like it yopur self.
08-06-2012, 12:57 PM
I have the Winsor and Newton version of this easel and it works great and is very light to carry. Their is a heavier version at Hobby Lobby stores too if you have one near you.
08-06-2012, 12:59 PM
I assume you paint standing. It would be simpler if you sat down. I'm thinking you could get a pack frame, (google that) and mount a center post from a tripod to that in such a way its top is at your working height when the pack is sitting on the ground. Then mount a Sun Eden Traveling Adaptor (Google that) on it with a quick release ball head. You can then clamp a drawing board, panel, plexiglass sheet whatever on the Sun Eden TA. You can also bungie a small duffle bag to the pack frame and carry your outfit in it. All you need to support the pack upright might just be a couple of aluminum tubes or locally cut sticks tied to the top of the pack frame and spread out. :crossfingers:
Have fun, Dave
08-06-2012, 06:10 PM
JanetPoole -- Thanks, where can I get the fitting that would take a tripod screw?
You can get these at any camera shop that caters to professionals.
08-06-2012, 06:20 PM
Per the above there are about as many ways to get the job done as artists who are out there doing it VBG!:lol: You can get a tripod head mounting plate from Judson's art Outfitters under the DIY parts and hardware section, then you can put that on anything you want, a board or pochade box. I have glued mine with epoxy to boxes and boards and they last for decades of use. Getting a lighter kit is a constant search for me also. Outdoor easels are all over the internet, but in the end one usually has to anchor it down with weight or stakes, even the big ones that spread out need some help now and then.
Good luck finding one for your needs, we all go through this getting equipment that works for us phase, and it sometimes never ends!:D
08-08-2012, 05:44 AM
I use a Gitzo carbon fibre tripod http://www.gitzo.com/photo-tripods-traveler weighs less than a kilo and is shorter than 18in and will take the weight. The downside is that it is very expensive... I've had it a couple of years now and love it very strong and light. It also has 2 leg positions so it can be used sitting.
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