The Gitzo G-1560 Monotrek is a lightweight monopod and hiking stick combo. It has a small built-in ball head with a plastic cover for the head when not in use. I recently took it with me on a 9-mile hike along with the Think Tank Photo Rotation 360 backpack.
As a hiking stick, it works well. I generally don’t hike with such a stick, but I could be persuaded to making it a more regular practice. I found that I really used the Gitzo G-1560 on inclines, which turned out to be quite a bit with over 2900′ elevation gain on the trip. The grip and wrist strap are comfortable and caused no problems for me over the course of my 9-miler.
At 1.0 lb, the Gitzo is a little heavier than some of the other top-rated walking sticks out there, which are commonly in the 10-11 oz. range. I figure that most of the difference, however, is a result of the small, yet effective, ball head that comes with the G-1560.
The one annoying thing about the G-1560 was that it was a bit noisy. Every time that I planted the monopod on the ground, I noticed a hollow rattling sound from the aluminum tubing. This was particularly noticeable when I planted in on rocky surfaces during my hike. Once I got used to it though, it didn’t bother me as much. But still, it’s a Gitzo and I expected better of it.
As a monopod, the G-1560 works quite well. While the ball head could be a little bigger, it’s necessary to have a smaller head in order to make it an effective walking stick. There are compromises on both sides of the coin that allow you to have a solid functioning product for both hiking and photography.
The Gizto G-1560 has a maximum extension of 63.7″ and compacts down to 30.2″ when fully retracted. It has 3 sections that operate with a twist-lock movement. Note that the leg itself twists and not a collar at the joints. I don’t really have a preference with one over the other and I thought the Gitzo worked fine with this design.
The G-1560 is rated to hold up to a 4.40 lbs maximum load. The G-1560 also includes a rubber shoe for helping you get your footing with the monopod on unstable surfaces; however, I didn’t have any problems getting the metal foot to plant when shooting.
It is a sturdy monopod with its weakest trait being the smaller ball head. That said, it works quite well for it’s size. The tension adjustment on the head is capable of setting variable degrees of pressure to cater to your shooting style; however, don’t expect too much out of such a small head. It’s sufficient for hiking and panning the occasional moving subject, but I wouldn’t take it out on race day. The good thing about it though is that I was able to tighten it enough to lock it down so that there was no movement from the head, which was not the case with the cheaper Canon Monopod 100.
If you are an avid hiker and like using a walking stick on your treks, the Gizto G-1560 would be a worthwhile choice for you. If you are looking for a monopod to use on a more regular basis and don’t really need a dual purpose hiking stick, then this is probably a little overkill for you. I would recommend picking up something like the Manfrotto 679B, Manfrotto 3245 (now discontinued) or 334B for photo-centric uses.
The only real bummer about the G-1560 is that it appears to be on its way out now and may be hard to find. B&H Photo has already listed the monopod as discontinued; however, you may be able to find some clearance, demo and used models out there below the $160 price tag that it usually carries.
The replacement to the Gitzo G-1560 is the GM1130MT Monotrek, which comes in just a smidgen lighter at 15.5 oz and costs $10 more. Otherwise, the GM1130MT appears to be almost the same thing as the G-1560.