SmartRest’s Hyper Pod II is different. It combines elements of a bipod, a monopod and a set of shooting sticks, which makes it a very versatile shooting aid. Designed for stalking hunters, it’s a clever gun rest.
The basic idea is that it attaches to the fore-end of your rifle and can be adjusted to suit prone, sitting, kneeling and standing shots, and in any position it adds lots of stability when you’re aiming.
When you’re on the move, it tucks away pretty neatly so you can still sling your rifle over your shoulder.
The Hyper Pod is made up of carbon-fibre poles that slide into each other, just like a camera tripod leg. The carbon-fibre ensures the whole thing is fairly light, weighing 540g on its own and 830g with the bipod clamped to the bottom.
At the top, there’s a swivel system that allows you to pivot your rifle up and down, and tilt it side to side.
To attach the Hyper Pod to your rifle, you’ll need a picatinny rail. SmartRest supplies its own bolt-on rail with the Hyper Pod, which it can be attached directly to the stock or via the stock’s sling swivel stud, and it has its own swivel stud so you’re not losing out.
Using the bipod is optional. I find it increases stability, so I like to have it there, but if a monopod gives you the support you’re looking for you can leave the bipod behind and screw in the little rubber foot that’s also provided.
It’s a well-designed system, all up.
It doesn’t require much maintenance. It pays to keep everything torqued up properly, as just about everything in the Hyper Pod relies on clamping force. Properly adjusting the picatinny clamps helps, too.
My favourite position with the Hyper Pod is using it pressed into my thigh. This is the most flexible position of all (see the story’s main image). It’s very quick to get into and the improvement in aim over an offhand shot is brilliant.
It’s better on a moving target, too.
As such, I tend to carry the Hyper Pod extended to the right length for it. Getting a shot away happens almost as quickly as if I were taking an offhand shot, but with consistently more accuracy.
With a bit more time, it’s easy to set up to the right length for a standing, kneeling or sitting shot. In each case you can use the bipod open or closed, depending on how flat and even the ground is, and you can tilt the rifle back to vertical if you’re set up on a slope.
The improvement in accuracy when standing is great, but it’s not as much as you’d get from a tripod, of course.
When kneeling or sitting, aiming stability is really, really good. Basically, the more secure your position, the better the Hyper Pod can do its bit.
The prone position is a bit compromised because of the Hyper Pod’s length, even at its shortest. You have to have it way out in front, and it pays to lock it with the pin to prevent it pivoting down under the rifle’s weight. This is where a straight bipod is more convenient.
Still, the Hyper Pod generally works fine in this role. And if it doesn’t, you can attach its bipod directly to the rifle instead.
If you don’t want to use it at all, just whip it off using the quick-release clamp.
You can also use the Hyper Pod as a walking stick or stuff it into your backpack.
I’ve never got on well with shooting sticks and I hate having a bipod hanging off a rifle unless I’m setting up for purely prone shooting. In fact, I’m no fan of clutter on my rifles at all.
However, the Hyper Pod has more than enough advantages to challenge my prejudice and I’ve been taking it out pretty regularly on hunts. Some of the footage you’ve seen in the thermal scope reviews has been filmed using a Hyper Pod.
At $265 it doesn’t cost a lot more than one of the cheaper bipods but it’s a lot more versatile and certainly better for the stalking hunter.
You can get them online or in many gun shops; the recommended price is the same so support your local shop if you can. SmartRest products are designed and distributed in Australia by Eagleye Hunting Gear.
Disclaimer: Mick was involved in the production of promotional material for the Hyper Pod II in his previous existence.