Go and buy a Manfotto monopod. Do it today. In fact, do it sooner than that. Do it now. Do it even if you don't ever think you would use a monopod. One day, you will. I convinced myself I needed a monopod, and then didn't use it for ages as despite it being about a third of a tripod (go figure) I still couldn't be bothered to carry it. As an afterthought I strapped it to the side of my bag on my trip to Shetland last year, and put my tripod in my suitcase. My suitcase didn't arrive on the same plane I did, or even on the same day. That monopod saved my ass, and meant I was able to bring you this lovely Otter.
Hmm, not bad I thought, and threw the monopod back in it's dusty corner in my living room. Down the side of the bookshelf in case you were wondering. There it lay, or stood, whatever, for the next three months. Then I had to go to America, and so I dug it out again. I knew I wouldn't have much if any time for photography, so a tripod would have been overkill. It made this Eastern Bluebird shot possible. Without it there would have been a dribble of blue and red, possibly identifiable as a bird, but nothing beyond that.
You know what monopod, for eighteen quid off Ebay, you are the nuts. I mean, you are the best. You are constructed of cheapo aluminium, have a rubber grip and a standard screw thing, and that's it. No frills, no carbon fibre weave, no fancy-ass weight-saving clips or built in spirit level. You weigh 800g, but you can support 10kg. You are one tough little cookie, and you cost me naff all. And you're the reason I'm back in the UK and not still lying in the snow in Lithuania.
The defining moment for my monopod came on my recent trip. We (Bradders) got the hire car - the second hire car - stuck in snow. Properly stuck. The engine block was resting on compacted snow, the puny wheels spinning uselessly in deep troughs of their own making. We had no shovel. Enter the monpod. The Manfrotto 680B Icepick. We dug the car out with my monopod and our bare hands. The monopod was instrumental, extended, for reaching all the way under the car and smashing out compacted blocks of snow. A tripod would have been too unwieldy, a carbon fibre implement perhaps likely to shatter with a misplaced blow. An aluminium cheap as chips monopod? Ideal. It took two hours, but we did it. I am never travelling without my monopod again.
Other uses could include bashing sueda, a walking stick, beating off muggers and rabid twitchers, helping to balance on a tightrope, punting small bitey dogs in graceful arcs across broom fields, and stirring one of those record-breaking giant paellas. Or bird photography.