Available from CleySpy http://www.cleyspy.co.uk/products.asp?i=56
This is a clever idea which enables you to carry your scope and tripod already assembled but keeping the weight evenly distributed on your back in just the same was as a rucksack. You can either carry it with the legs folded – just to make it easier than slinging it over your shoulder or carting it in your hand, or you can leave the legs extended so as to be able to quickly view birds without the hassle of having to release the leg clamps etc. It slips easily off the back just like a rucksack and, voila, your assembled scope and tripod are ready to use.
I talked to a couple of birders I met who were actually using the mule and asked whether they found it a useful addition to their birding wardrobe and got a resounding “yes!” Another birder told me that in the past he had cut down an old rucksack to create a very similar, although esthetically unattractive, device. However, it would have been pretty difficult to keep the tripod stable that way, whereas with the “mule” the number of straps keep the whole thing upright and stable. There is a strap to go just beneath the tripod head, another around the central column and others to go around each of two legs – some with buckles, others with Velcro wrap around straps. [There is also a useful map pocket]
The device does carry a warning that care must be taken if using the mule in high winds as it could act as a sail picking up the wind that would normally pass between the tripod legs.
I have since tried it out for myself and found it useful when walking a sea wall or marsh edge but a bit intrusive if settled in a hide or on a viewing ramp… nevertheless, it is a useful bit of kit although even the avid users I met were unimpressed with the price – at just a tad under £50 at most retailers, which unfortunately is high due to the relatively low volumes manufactured.
Created: 22nd Jul 2005