Whether you are just out for a night wild camping in the woods, or you are building a more permanent base. Then the ability to use a tripod structure in your construction plans, is vital.
This is the method of tying together 3 poles, that enable you to turn them into a tripod structure. It could be a small stand-alone structure, or a section of a larger construction.
Basically, anywhere that 3 poles come together are they are at the same step in the construction process, then tripod lashing can be used. Triangles are the strongest shapes in nature, and you can use this to your advantage.
I wouldn’t say there are endless uses for a tripod at your camp, but it is close to being endless.
Here are a few ideas on how to use one or multiple tripods to take your basecamp to the next level. They truly are a bushcraft dream for any bushcrafter, whether a beginner, intermediate or advanced.
In emergencies you can build things like Signal fires and Attention tripods. Tripods allow signal fires to be built in a triangle shape which allows for air circulation, keeps the wood dry, and burns in a uniform manner.
This allows the fire to burn longer, meaning there is more chance of it being seen. Attention tripods are where you attach shiny and colourful objects to the tripod which will attract the attention of passers-by or rescue workers.
They can be used for a whole host of cooking prep and actual cooking methods.
From more advanced techniques such as butchering game, to more simple things, like spit roasting, or simply hanging a pot of water over a fire to make a delicious brew.
Larger tripods are great for hanging things vertically over a fire. But you can also use smaller ones as a pivot, to run a pot crane over a fire.
You can use a tripod as a part of a system to move heavy objects. Very useful if you are clearing out large areas for your camp.
Waterproof the outside with things like spruce boughs, then you have a place you can sit in when it rains, or you can use it as a shelter for your fire, so it doesn’t go out.
If there are no suitable trees to use. Build 2 tripods and run a ridgeline between them. Then you can erect a tarp for shelter purposes. Or use 1 tripod to elevate one end of the tarp, then stake the other end into the ground.
Tie the lashing further down then normal so the gap between the poles at the top is larger. Then you can tie material to the 3 poles forming a chair/stool.
Tripods are great for hanging things off them, for ease of access, safety, and it helps keep them off the floor and clean.
You could hang coats, layers, bedding, saws, axes, cooking, and water storage equipment. You can create a washing clothesline or a camp cupboard by running a line between 2 tripods.
Probably the most obvious use is to use the tripod as the framework for building yourself a lovely spacious tipi. Then cover with tarps, canvass, or natural shelter materials.
If you have a filter bag, you can have it hanging from a tripod over a pan or bottle you are using. Then you can leave the water to filter into the container whilst you get on with other tasks.
There are many pros to using tripods, but I think the 3 best reasons for learning the skill of tripod lashing is:
They are super versatile, as you can see from the above. Tripods can be used for a whole host of reason, which will help your camp be safer, more comfortable, and more efficient.
It is a skill that is easy to learn and doesn’t involved a large outlay of expense like owning a high-quality axe or saw.
In fact, if you can master making your own rope, then the expense is zero if you can find the legs on the tripod and no felling is needed.
You are using natural “ingredients” that humans have been using for thousands of years, in traditional ways.
Depending on where you have set up camp, you should have access to a large range of materials to build a large range of tripod sizes.
There are a few cons to using tripods, but they mainly boil down to experience:
Yes, tripods are versatile, but it is not a case of 1 tripod fits all. Depending on what you want them for you will likely have to build a tripod for every new reason.
For example, you can’t have a tripod as your framework for a tipi, but then take the shelter down, because you need the tripod to boil some water. So, you would need to different sized tripods and multiple versions.
Yes, there is a low entry level to building tripods, but it is a skill which needs to be learned. So, you will have to take time to understand what you need to do, and you will need to put in the hours to improve your skills.
Because they are so versatile, when you master the skill you need to be careful not to become over reliant on it. You should know multiple ways to build or deal with problems.
For example, if the only shelter you can build is a tripod with a tarp wrapped around it. What about if you find end up somewhere, where there isn’t any suitable wood, or you damaged or lost your tarp?
You need to know multiple ways to protect yourself from the elements.
You want to find, make, or buy 3 sticks/poles. They should be the same thickness and same length.
This will make the binding easier and it will make the structure more stable. The bigger the tripod the thicker the wood should be or the harder the wood you should choose.
You need to use a sufficient length and thickness of rope that allows you to do all the necessary wraps and fraps to make a safe and secure tripod.
You have basically 2 options here depending on your skill set and expertise.
If you are buying your rope, then Manila rope is generally recognised as the best rope to use for lashing.
Manila rope is derived from the fibres of the Albaca leaf. It is renowned for being a very durable and flexible rope. Meaning it will be long lasting, but you will be able to get a tight lashing around your poles.
It has the added benefit of tightening when it gets wet, but you should obviously make sure your lashing is tight when dry. A little extra bonus is that it is resistant to the effects of sea water.
So, you can use it for lashing in any location.
You can of course make your own cordage from fibres in the wild, either beforehand or on location.
Just be careful which fibres you use as the rope needs to be strong, so for example bark fibres are a better option than grass fibres.
How long is a piece of string ha-ha.
It really depends on how thick the poles of the tripod are. You should take the diameter of the poles and then you multiply that by 3 feet.
You are always best having too much, which you can cut off. However, if you do find yourself short, don’t worry you can always tie on or splice additional rope to the original piece.
As I have already mentioned if you are using Manila rope it is extremely strong. So, for most tripods a diameter of a 1/4-inch will be more than enough.
However, if the diameter of the 3 poles is over 6 inches, then you should consider using 3/8-inch rope.
The easiest and most traditional way to build the tripod is to use the Figure of 8 Lashing, which is widely used by the Boy Scouts.
- Now you will need to tie a clover hitch around the left pole of the three. Do these 6 inches down from the top butt of the poles. A clover hitch is a crossing knot which consists of 2 successive half hitches. The clover hitch will secure the rope to the pole, so you have a base from which to proceed with your lashing.
- Leave a tail of approximately 4 inches
- Now you wrap this tail around the running part.
- Wrap the rope around the pole once.
- Pull it tight, so the poles are pulled tight together.
- Repeat these wrapping turns 8 times.
- These wraps are horizontal.
- Now it is time for the vertical frapping turns.
- Feed the rope down between the pole you tied the clover hitch and the centre pole.
- Do one turn around the wrapping and pull tight.
- Repeat the frapping turn one more time.
- Once complete take the rope over and in between the middle on right pole.
- Frap this side in the same way.
- Now you need to close off this lashing and secure it in place.
- This is done by taking the rope past the right pole and then going around it.
- This creates a half hitch.
- Do another half hitch, against the first.
- You have now created a second clover hitch on the opposite pole, to the first clover hitch you created at the beginning.
Well, that’s the lashing bit done anyway.
Tip: Do no rush this process. Ensure that each wrap, frap and hitch is pulled tight. This will ensure you have created a strong lashing and the tripod will last.
Now you need to erect your tripod.
You have just created a quick and easy structure, which has numerous uses. If you want to increase its stability, or if you envision it to be a more permanent structure in your camp. Then you can reinforce the structure.
This is done by running poles horizontally (usually about between halfway and 2/3 of the way down on the outside of the tripod securing the legs in place, so that they cannot be move in or further out.
You secure these poles a square lashing method.
To square lash the poles in place:
Again, take your time, and ensure every wrap and knot is pulled tight.
If you are new to bushcraft and wild camping, this is a great skill to learn early on as it opens a whole host of possibilities.
As with any bushcraft skill, it is not something to be rushed. Make sure you do all the step carefully and safely, as your life might depend on it.
Even if you are an experience bushcrafter and you think you are proficient at the method, always keep coming back to it.
So that your skills don’t dull, or find new and interesting ways to use tripods to become a more well-rounded bushcraft expert.