Well, after giving it a lot of thought, I am rethinking my tripod choice for an upcoming trip to Alaska. I currently have the Gitzo GT5541LS which is a beast of a tripod - strong and stable. The big issue is the weight. I am 6'-1" and it is plenty tall for me along with my wimberley head. I originally wanted, and am currently on the waitlist for, a RRS TVC-34L as it goes plenty high, packs small and weighs almost 2lbs less than my Gitzo. Now the reason I am rethinking is solely based on packing. I do not have a lot of room for things and a huge tripod is a big concern. Katmai is the main place for the trip and I feel I might be on my knees most of the time while photographing, which would negate the need for a tall tripod.
After reading many blogs and forums and asking a few questions from a fellow photographer Michael Fullana, Creative Edge Photography, about what he brought to Alaska when he went this past September, it made me re-prioritize my needs. He told me he just brought a Gitzo 3 section 3 series tripod. After seeing the Amazing Alaska Images he captured while in AK from the lesser tripod of the 5 series, I seriously am considering getting a 3 series again or trying the RRS TVC-24 or the TVC-24L. The TVC-24 collapses down to 18.7" and can hold 40lbs. More than enough for a D3s, wimberley and a 600mm VR, especially if all legs are not extended. The only downfall to the 24 is that it only extends to 49". The 24L goes to almost 67", holds 40lbs and packs down 1" smaller and is 1lb lighter than the TVC-34L. I might have to buy the TVC-24 and the TVC-34L to compare and see what will work best. I will add a follow up post as soon as I can on this.