Unless I know I’ll be in a blind, it’s pretty rare that I go hunting without a tripod anymore. The consistent use of a tripod has let me take sure shots on game at ranges that would have been iffy or impossible without one. That includes my safaris in southern Africa.
For flat land hunts, or hunts where I wont be walking too far from the bakkie, the standard large competition/tactical style tripod works just fine. But that’s not the safari I had coming up this last March. That was a hunt that I knew would lead me up and down the hills and mountains where the Free State of South Africa bordered the tiny mountain nation of Lesotho.
For that hunt, I needed something smaller and lighter. Something I could carry all day, over the rocks, under and through the brush, but would still handle the recoil of a fairly lightweight 375 H&H Magnum rifle.
Wandering around at SHOT Show this last January, I found exactly what I was looking for, the Ulfhednar UHRT55CBH Tripod.
Ulfhednar hails from Norway, land of ice, snow, slush, and a couple week of boiling summers. They’re shooters and hunters in an area with a long history of both endeavors. Nothing tears apart gear, and people, like the artic so Ulfhednar prides itself top quality components held to high standards.
The first time I saw the UHRT55CBH, it was completely folded for storage. That’s what got my attention. All folded up, without the ball head, it’s a hair under 15″ long and 4″ wide. It weights just 3 lbs. with the ball head attached. That fits inside most day packs and any luggage. That tiny form factor allowed me to simply tuck it behind the outer shock cord on my Chisos Day Pack for most of my safari.
With the ball head attached and all the legs and the central column up, the tripod stands 63″ and some change. I’m not short, and on flat ground that’s much taller than I’d ever need. Of course, the real world is rarely flat ground, and that extra height is really handy when shooting standing on a hillside.
Alternatively, the minimum height is about 10″. And there’s my only beef with the UHRT55CBH, other than its name. With the ball head attached, it’s too tall to use from the prone position. A shorter center column, even by a few inches, would allow the shooter to use the tripod from the prone and still be a good trade-off, as the tripod is already taller than most folks will ever need.
To get all of that height variability in such a small package, you’re going to have to have a lot of telescoping parts. At its full height, there are four leg sections. A simple twist friction lock holds each section firmly in place. One very smart feature is that all of the locks are heavily knurled and, when collapsed, are all close together. I can twist to unlock all four sections at once with one hand to deploy each leg quickly, although of course each section will then need to be individually locked.
Each leg swivels out with a large toggle with four positions total. The toggles themselves, like all of the controls, can be operated with heavy gloves on.
You’ll find a set of rubber feet as well as a set of ice spikes included with the tripod. I’d never even considered the necessity of ice spikes for shooting off iced surfaces, and if I ever find that I require them I’d likely choose to simply leave and go somewhere I didn’t, but it speaks to the types of hunts and environments Ulfhednar builds their gear for.
One of the legs has a soft neoprene cover on it. I assume that’s to give you a solid grip in snow or wet weather for carrying, but it also works great when applying downward pressure on the tripod with your support hand, especially if you have gloves on.
The center column includes a small, retractable hook for hanging gear, particularly good for hanging a weather meter.
The tripod package includes a high quality ball head with an ARCA rail attachment clamp. The ball head holds tight with a pan knob and the base head includes degree hashes.
The head itself is locked in place with a single simple knob, and the platform also includes two bubble levels built in. I don’t yet use an ARCA rail on my rifles, so the only thing I had to put on it was my spotting scope, which I mounted and just pressed on hard to see what it took to release. It takes a lot…far more pressure than I would ever actually need on a rifle.
For my most recent safari, I needed the UHRT55CBH tripod to hold my Ruger No. 1 and also the new Taurus Raging Hunter 460 S&W Magnum revolver, and other random guns, so I simply unscrewed the ball head and mounted a Shadow Tech Pig Saddle on top of the tripod. It worked marvelously.
The tripod is rated to hold 12 kgr/26 lbs. Through instagram, @ulfhednar.no told me that is the weight the tripod will hold and hold steadily. In my experience with the UHRT55CBH, it holds a lot more than 26 lbs, but it’s kind of a moot point for a hunting-focused tripod.
Hunting rifles very rarely weigh that much, and if they do, I don’t want to carry them. Of course you’ll have to consider that not only is the tripod holding the rifle, but it also has to hold the rifle steady while the shooter is leaning into it.
Just to test it out, I fully extended every section and balanced a 40 lb. kettlebell on top of the ball head and left it there while I watched the latest episode of The Mandalorian. That weight was right where I left it when the credits rolled. So it holds 40 lbs steady. Maybe our Norwegian friends are building in some tolerances for the cold.
For all of my hunting in South Africa, the integrity of the tripod was never an issue, or even a consideration. I leaned heavily into the gun for some running shots on a Red Lechwe, and I grabbed and absolutely stabbed the tripod into the ground as hard as I could setting it up for a shot on an eland. My PH’s shooting sticks couldn’t handle being hammered into the ground like that, but the Ulfhednar tripod could.
I certainly put the UHRT55CBH through its paces on this last safari. You’ll all read about those hunts in articles to come. Some of my gear failed and some of it got left on the green hills of Africa, but not this tripod.
It got wet, a lot. It got dropped several times. It got set up carefully in anticipation for shots that never came, and it got thrown down for quick shots that I was grateful to have one fleeting chance to make. It got passed around from one hunter to the next. It held up for some absolute once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
A few days into the hunt, it was out of my pack, and on my PH’s shoulder. For those of you who’ve been there, you know there’s not much better endorsement than that.
SPECIFICATIONS: UHRT55CBH Tripod with ball head
Ulfhednar Cordura carry bag included
Rubber feet and ice spikes is included
Min height 25 cm (9.8 in.) , max height 160 cm (63 in.)
Size: 45x10x10cm when folded
Weight: 1350 grams (2.975 lbs)
Rating (out of five stars):
Overall * * * * *
Extremely compact and lightweight, exceptionally durable. Ulfhednar claims it’s very sturdy, and it is in fact even sturdier than that.
“And there’s my only beef with the UHRT55CBH, other than its name. With the ball head attached, it’s too tall to use from the prone position. A shorter center column, even by a few inches, would allow the shooter to use the tripod from the prone and still be a good trade-off”
with a tripod a hunter does not need to be in the prone.
you are not a sniper trying to hide from the enemy.
adjust the height so you are sitting.
that will be more than stable enough, and more comfortable.
In this case, you’re a hunter, trying to hide from your prey. But that’s not really the point of the prone in the first place. The point of the prone is to get the most stable platform possible in order to make the best shot possible.
I’ve never understood the separate pointed tips and the rubber tips. Six different tips to keep track of. Just have rubber tips over the pointed tips and be done with it. Just a little annoyance with the engineers.
As a former event photographer I can help with that. Those combo tips have to be carefully designed, or else the pointy tips break through the rubber eventually and scar beautiful hardwood floors.
Wolf Coats tripod. Cool. For when Odin needs a place to rest Gungnir.
If I went to Africa I’d want to come back with an elephant.
A live one.Pack your trunk Tusker, we’re going to America.
I can see an inspirational book title: They Pachyderm and the Possum.
This is the way.
I have a $48 tripod purchased from Amazon that I’ve used hunting for 9 years. Why would you spend $450 on a tripod?
Must be that virtue signaling thing…..
Wow, that would be incredible. What tripod is that?
I use a very nice Cannon (the camera company) camera tripod which is able to hold large/heavy video cameras, even though I originally acquired it for heavy single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras. It does a great job and it was probably less than $100.
Having said that, I had to make my own plate for the top of it to rest/hold rifles. It also weighs about seven pounds and only folds-up to about 30-inches long, which is NOT suitable for hauling around long distances (such as on a safari). In other words my far less expensive tripod is an “apples-to-oranges” comparison to the tripod in this article.
Like anything else, you get what you pay for–and top-quality items appropriately command top-dollar prices.
I just found out about this now.