Surveying Tripods: Aluminum, Wood Or Fiberglass Composite?

If you’re in the market for a sturdy, dependable survey tripod or any type of tripod or stand, we’ve got an excellent selection at Warren-Knight. Before you select a tripod, it’s smart to think about which type of material might be the best fit for your needs.

Common Tripod Materials

Typically, survey tripods and other tripods are crafted from three different materials – wood, fiberglass and aluminum. Each material has its pros and cons, and there’s not necessarily one option that’s superior to the others.

For instance, a wooden tripod will be extremely stable and won’t suffer from expansion when exposed to the sun for a prolonged period of time. Wood also isn’t heavily affected by vibrations. On the flip side, wooden tripods do tend to be a bit heavier than fiberglass or aluminum tripods.

Aluminum, of course, is lightweight and also highly resistant to changes in moisture, so if you’ll be working in an area with high humidity, aluminum can be a smart option. While moisture isn’t an issue, changes in temperature can cause the aluminum to expand and contract.

Finally, fiberglass can handle changes in temperature as well as handling high humidity and moisture. Fiberglass survey tripods also tend to be less heavy than wooden tripods, which can be a big advantage if you’ll be setting up in multiple locations.

Our Tripod Selection

The WK-19-1310 Survey Compass Tripod is extremely lightweight at just 3.5 pounds. Built out of aluminum with non-magnetic stainless steel points, this can be a great option if you need a survey tripod that’s easy to tote around.

The WK-19-7358 Non-Magnetic Composite Tripod features a combination of materials including fiberglass composite legs and components crafted from stainless steel, aluminum and thermoplastic. All of these materials are corrosion resistant, and can handle changes in moisture. This tripod has a maximum work load of 50 pounds, so it’s not suitable for heavier equipment.

The WK-19-6800AS Wood Frame Wood and Composite Tripod, provides excellent damping of vibrations and it was designed with strength and stability in mind. In addition to the wood, we’ve used fiberglass for the dowels and cast aluminum for the hardware. This sturdy tripod has a bearing surface as hard as cast iron.

The WK-19-6900AS Extension Leg Wood and Composite Tripod features hard maple wooden legs with fiberglass dowels. These dowels will not shrink or swell due to increased humidity or temperature conditions, which makes this a highly versatile tripod that you can use just about anywhere.

The WK-59-2350 Elevation Tripod can handle heavy loads up to 150 pounds, so if you have heavier equipment, this might be a great option and the convenience of being able to adjust the elevation also is a huge benefit. Weighing in at 23 pounds, it is a heavier option, which also might factor into your decision.

If you aren’t sure precisely what type of tripod you need, feel free to contact the team at Warren Knight. If the aforementioned tripods won’t quite suite your needs, we may be able to provide you with a custom design.

In addition to our survey tripods and other tripods and stands, we also manufacture many different types of theodolites, as well as clinometers, leveling instruments, navigation instruments, boresights and optical tooling. We’ve been creating tripods and optical equipment for more than 100 years, so give us a call at (215) 464-9300 or email us at

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