One of the main complains I have when hiking light, is that you have to compromise what you bring with you. I have tried to hike with less than 3 cameras but at the end always convinced myself to bring a point and shoot, a rangefinder and a SLR at a minimum. The point shoot for everyday tourist shots, rangefinder to shoot people, and SLR for the more artistic shots where I need a TTL-accurate compositioning and filtration system. So I found myself oogling at a compact Gitzo GT1541T 4 sectioned tripod while on business trip in Taipei, and before I knew it, I had that tripod in the hotel room. It weights just shy of 1kg (0.98 to be exact) and extends to a height where you just have to crouch down, or get down to your knees to shoot. For a 6 footer at least. Not too bad considering I wouldn't be able to cover the hiking distance I usually cover in a day if I had to bring my old Gitzo 1228 tripod with Kirk Photo's BH-3 ball head.
What is so special about the 1541? There are many sites on the web with the technical feature description, but for me, the foot folds over the top of the head to create a compact system, enough to fit into my 25 litre backpack and sturdy enough to put on a DSLR with a wide angle lens. I know I don't carry anything more than a 105mm prime lens when I hike, so there's no need to consider the weight of a 200mm or 300mm lens weight on that thing.
But next trouble I had was the ball head. I have been using the Arca-Swiss compatible plates and brackets for years now, and so it was not a question what I need was a new lighter ball head. I checked Kirk Photo first and their smallest ballhead is the BH3, which I already have, and it looks oversized for the 1541T. I wandered over to Really Right Stuff's website and found that they have the BH-25 ballhead, which is about the same size as a Gitzo 1177 ball head. The loading specifications look the same, but at least the BH-25 comes with an A-S compatible clamps so I do not have to get another.
Placed the order with RRS and in less than a week, the package arrived in Shanghai together with a new D300 L-plate to go along with it. In time for my November hike.
Here are some photos of the setup: