The GorillaPod HYBRID photo tripod offers compact size, light weight, and a quick-release head
Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 2.2 x 10.1”
(55 x 55 x 257mm)
Weight 6.4oz (191g)
Holds up to 2.2lb (1kg)
NOTE: This review is of the older GorillaPod SLR (JOBY GP2-D1EN Gorillapod), which has been replaced by the new GorillaPod HYBRID (JOBY GP2-B1AM). The notable improvement is the integrated aluminum ball head with tilt and pan, a slick feature lacking on the SLR version. All other features and specs remain essentially unchanged.
Avid photographers know that one key to sharp photos is the use of a tripod to steady the camera, whether for simple landscapes or for the iconic sunset or campfire shot. But paddlers and hikers know that bulk and weight must be kept to a minimum, and that ease-of-use is paramount for any such equipment, especially when used on the water. So, when I spotted the GorillaPod Original, it struck me as a clever and adaptable solution to using a compact digital camera on paddling and camping trips.
My only trepidation was the diminutive size of the Original, which perhaps was perfectly sufficient for the waterproof point-and-shoot camera I intended to use with it, but which seemed a bit insubstantial for use on a kayak foredeck exposed to wind and waves, and possibly difficult to handle while wearing gloves. So, I opted for the HYBRID model, which is roughly 40% larger in all dimensions, and certainly up to the task at hand.
At first glance, the GorillaPod HYBRID is a weird little space creature, with superarticulated tentacles and knobby knees. The only thing missing is laser-emanating eyeballs. The HYBRID seemed perfectly proportioned for my purpose, with its three stiff but flexible legs capable of bending in an endless range of configurations. It can easily be shaped to serve as a standard tabletop tripod, bent to wrap around a small tree branch, bicycle handlebars, or canoe thwart, or bundled together for stowing.
The camera attaches to the HYBRID via a clever quick-release plate with built-in bubble level and standard 1/4-20 tripod screw. Just mount the plate to your camera and then easily attach/detach to the HYBRID tripod. The swivel head tilts and rotates through 360° of horizontal pan.
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On The Water
Perhaps the obvious way to use the HYBRID on a kayak is with the legs splayed wide to rest securely beneath the deck bungees on the foredeck. The tripod becomes quite wide and stable when nearly flattened, and the bendy legs are studded with rubber segments for superior grip on a wet deck. Nonetheless, it’s always a good idea to tether your camera (see sidebar).
The GorillaPod HYBRID also lends itself to a wide variety of other configurations, such as hanging off to one side to position the camera just above the waterline, further forward on the deck and shooting back for video self-portraits, or even mounted on your own chest and wrapped around your PFD shoulder straps for a padder’s-eye viewpoint. The myriad ways to affix the GorillaPod HYBRID to your kayak or other camping gear for increased photographic drama are limited only by your imagination.
In The Long Run
I’ve been using the GorillaPod for a couple of seasons now, shooting still photos and on-the-water video with my camera mounted to my kayak, mountain bike, even the side-view mirrors of my car. In fact, virtually all the kayaking videos featured here on Superior Paddling were shot using a GorillaPod mounted in a variety of ways to a kayak. It has held up well to endless water, sand and dirt, sunlight, impacts and other abuse like capsizes and Eskimo rolls in large breaking waves.
I find that adding a small tripod such as the GorillaPod to compact point-and-shoot cameras helps stabilize the camera from jerky motion, even when handheld, similar to a Hollywood Steadicam rig. I recently used my GorillaPod as a simple tabletop tripod to shoot a nighttime illuminated boat parade using a telephoto lens and long exposure times. With the compact size and light weight of the GorillaPod, there’s no excuse for not having it in the bottom of your camera bag for such impromptu shooting.
There were sporadic reports a few years ago of early GorillaPods breaking, either at the neck just below the mounting head or the individual leg segments, but these problems seem to have been resolved, and I have personally had no troubles with mine.
I also feel that the respective sizes recommended by the manufacturer are a tad on the small side, and I would suggest purchasing the next size up, both for practical durability and for ease of handling, especially on a moving kayak.
With its compact size, light weight, and quick-release head, the GorillaPod HYBRID is an ingenious bit of equipment. Its tenacious rubber leg joints make it ideal for use on a wet foredeck, and its infinite adaptability and versatility, I have found no end to the variety of place to mount a camera. The GorillaPod has become a vital bit of gear for my paddling and wilderness-travel photography.
Hits: very adaptable, grippy, easily adjustable, quick-release head
Misses: a few earlier breakage reports
Notes: buy one size larger than suggested for easier handling and greater strength, add a tether