Vanguard Veo AM-234 Monopod/Walking Stick

What Vanguard Say:

The VEO AM-234 monopod is one of the most compact of its kind, and yet still performs excellently at full extended height. It can be used for video or photo support and can also double as a walking stick. The 4-section aluminum alloy legs come equipped with strong flip locks, maximizing the monopod's camera loading capacity. Quickly stabilize your shot on the anti-slip rubber foot. The soft rubber handle will provide an unbeatable grip in any weather. You may then pack your VEO monopod away to fit easily in your carry-on to make it to your next adventure.

Specs:

Material: Aluminum
Weight (LB): 0.93 (0.4kg)
Load capacity (LB): 11 (5.5kg)
Extended Height: 59 in
Folded Height: 19.5 in
Leg Lock: Flip Lock

More info:

  • One of the most compact aluminum alloy monopods of its category, yet also offers excellent performance at full extension
  • Multifunctional use: for video, photo and as walking stick
  • Ultimate strength flip locks to maximize camera loading capacity
  • Soft rubber handle provides an unbeatable grip in any weather
  • Anti-slip rubber foot

On test with me:

I’ll be honest I’m not a big fan of walking poles or monopods for that matter.
Hiking I will typically have a map and compass in hand or axes, wood and equipment. With photography I will typically use a tripod as three legs are better than one but more recently I've found I can't always have a tripod with me.

More recently, with the longer expeditions I have had to sacrifice taking a tripod in order to save weight, and trust me when your rucksack comes in weighing just shy of 20kg you’ll sacrifice anything you don’t need and most of the time a tripod will fall into this category.

So when the guys at Vanguard sent me this lovely monopod with my Veo 235 I had mixed feelings on whether it would get it would get used or not.

A month later and I’m glad I have the monopod, its super light weight and great for packing light. When hiking I’ve found I can walk further with the walking pole and when on location I can hold the camera steady for longer, even in the cold and coupled with the VEO TBH-50 Ball Head; I’ve found ICM, HDR and general photography sharper but the biggest benefits have been the weight saving and space for that matter.

As a walking pole the AM-234 is sturdy and good grip, despite not having a spike like most traditional walking poles and the three leg lock system is tough, with the ability to take some weight so it’s reassuring that they won’t just buckle under pressure. The monopod is said to take a max weight of 6kg, which matches my smaller Veo tripod.

One bonus feature I loved about the 234 is the caribena on the head which is very handy to clip onto my belt or bag when it wasn't required or even lashing extra rope through for added support. A nice feature to have with the monopod would had been the spiked foot for gravel or muddy conditions. Larger versions of the monopod comes with a retractable spike but also weigh considerably more with the top version weighing over 700grams which are not ideal for walking poles.

Weighing in at 400grams and costing £40, compared to walking poles of the same price point it weighs nearly double and the more expensive ones, triple! However as this is a monopod for photography its unfair to say as a walking pole it poor, because it is far from it.
This additional weight is a bonus when it comes to a photographic point of view, as you know it’s not going to be flimsy and be capable of holding a camera.

For walking pole use I found locking the legs ¾ the way down each section helped kept the pole more rigid and a lot more sturdy compared to at full length, which at full length the monopod with a ball head and the camera itself came up to my nose and to put things into perspective I’m 6ft2.

The leg lock system is flip lock so if you prefer your screw locks this one might take some getting used too. Personally I prefer the flip lock systems as this is what I've always used and become most comfortable with.

So what has the AM-234 giving me; personally I feel my style of shooting with photography has become easier with wild camping and hiking in being able to speed up the process achieving a stable shot and keep moving without having to set up a tripod, level out, adjust settings and pack up again.
When in a timed challenge like Duke of Edinburgh or the Three Peaks Challenge this can save precious minutes, even seconds or even if you are racing to capture that sunset or storm and don't want to hang around in the rain. The biggest benefit I have found is its time saving on the photographic front.

So if you are not in need of a tripod but enjoy your walking and photography, the AM-234 is certainly a piece of kit you need to add to your kit list and at £40 its not something you'll feel guilty about buying either but will gain heeps of rewards from the monopod.
Below are some recent photographs taken when using the Veo AM-234 which have typically been shot in the morning light during winter.

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