Friday, 9 January 2015

Has Trek-Tech, makers of the TrekPod, gone?

My TrekPod XL has been envied wherever I have taken it in the world. For those not familiar with the TrekPod system, it acts as a trekking pole and tripod with a quick-release magnetic ball and socket head.  It breaks down into sections for packing (the XL is carbon fibre and came with a case as well a separate table tripod) and it is the bottom section that can easily be splayed out to form a tripod. For video it is perfect since any kind of support is better than no support.

When I bought it a few years ago, the British agents were Johnson-Photopia. I was concerned that it might be a poor trekking pole and a poor substitute for a proper tripod. That proved not to be so and I was very pleased with it from day one. It proved its robustness as a trekking pole in the Simien mountains of Ethiopia; I really put some pressure on it both uphill and downhill. The MagMount system for the Sony camcorder is excellent and although pans and tilts would be difficult, a steady shot is assured, especially when using longer focal lengths for wildlife.

I then saw that the advertisements for the system had disappeared from the British photographic press; then from the range of products for which Johnson-Photopia are agents. A look at the Trek-Tech website showed that nothing had been updated since about 2008; similarly, the company's page on Flickr held nothing beyond early 2010. I found this ominous notice on the website: To our customers: Trek-Tech is working through some corporate restructuring. Please be patient while we work through this process. And that's the way the website has stayed.

I suppose the rise of stabilised cameras has reduced the potential customer base for this type of product but nothing else quite fills the bill. The current crop of video monopods with fold-out feet are not suitable as trekking poles and even the lightest tripods are less convenient to carry and slower to set up than the Trek-Pod. For lighter CSC and bridge cameras it is also excellent.

Whether Trek-Tech will ever be back in some form I do not know. I could have sold a number to photographers, wildlife watchers and travellers impressed after seeing one in action. It would be a pity if the innovative technology disappeared forever.