In fall of 2016, Toby Harriman and Andrew Studer road-tripped Colorado to capture fall colors, but instead of heading straight there and back, they decided to take a detour to visit some place Toby had been itching to revisit: The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

“​This place contains the tallest sand dunes in North America, rising to about 750 feet and covering about 19,000 acres,”

Toby said. “Researchers say that the dunes started forming no less than 440,000 years ago.” “​I think for me, one of the coolest aspects of the Great Sand Dunes was the fact that I had never heard of them before,” Andrew said. “I had no idea that there were dunes outside of Death Valley that were that impressive.”

As you can imagine this place is a playground for photographers, but it can also be a death trap for photo gear and the duo had to go prepared. Andrew was specifically grateful that the tripods were as light as they are. “One thing we realized was just how difficult it was for us to hike the dunes. Because the sand dunes aren’t solid structures, it was more difficult to trek up the hills than if we were climbing on regular hill,” he said. “With each step we took, we lost nearly half of that step as we sank down into the sand. This made it fairly frustrating and challenging when we knew we wanted to get past the crowds and hike even further. Because we had light carbon fiber tripods, the hike was a lot easier for us and less frustrating and we were able to push past the crowds.”

“​Constant wind gusts and of course sand gets everywhere, in every nook and cranny imaginable,”

Toby said. “It can be a real mess.”

Andrew agreed. “Toby and I were surprised with just how windy it was,” he said. “If our setup took a dive into the sand, it could have caused immeasurable damage.” “Hanging a weight by the hook found at the bottom of the tripod center column was really helpful because it brought an extra level of stabilization to our expensive camera gear,” Andrew added. It is these kinds of environments that led Toby to Induro tripods to begin with. “When I first got started in photography, I picked out an aluminum tripod with clip locks,” he recounted. “It lasted no more than a couple months. Aluminum did not have staying power because of how easily they corroded from the salt water and mist that hit it when I was shooting seascapes, which spelled a quick death for most of the tripod.” That was bad, but the clips were even more troublesome. “Because the clip have more notches, sand collects in them and gets drawn into the small parts like a magnet. No matter how hard I cleaned between shoots, they just kept getting worse.”

“After that disastrous first experience, I decided to splurge on an Induro, a brand that I had my eye on but didn’t pull the trigger because of price,”

he continued. “In the end, I figured I could buy a nicer tripod that lasts longer rather than a cheap one every few months that would result in paying more overall in the long run.”

And that’s exactly what Toby did.

“I ordered the Induro CT 214 (Which is now the CLT 204) and it lasted for years. It was carbon fiber and had the best feature of all: the screw locking system. This feature is great for the environments I choose to shoot in because it resists dust and sand, and is easy to get into position in a wide range of environments. The twist locks are also incredibly easy to clean and prepare for the next shoot.”

Specifically on this trip, both Toby and Andrew had to take their tripods apart to clean them after the shoot.

“The way the tripod breaks down for cleaning was incredibly helpful,”

Andrew said. “Sure, it got sand everywhere during shooting, but getting it all out afterwards wasn’t a problem thanks to the design.”

“It’s a brand I trusted long before we had a partnership and it’s one I hope continues on,”

Toby said. “I know I will keep using their gear no matter what, I still trust it!”

Toby Harriman’s Recommended Gear: