As you’ve doubtless noticed, all the sexy new tripods come with foam wrappings on each leg, padding them while resting on your shoulder. Adding foam wraps after the fact is difficult, since it means somehow wrapping tape of some sort over balky pieces of foam, plus the finished product lacks a certain aesthetic appeal.
Cork padded bicycle handlebar tape is both inexpensive and works well as a substitute. It’s easy to apply, and way softer than bare metal.
Simply wrap the uppermost portion of each tripod leg using an entire roll of the handlebar tape. Take care to overlap the tape on each turn, and then wrap the butt end with the adhesive strip included with the handlebar tape or a little gaffer’s tape.
You get two rolls of tape per package, so with three legs on a tripod and one roll needed per leg, you have an extra roll left to wrap your monopod leg too.
Wish I could claim credit for this idea, but I found it works well, the price is right, and it looks nicely finished.
You can find cork handlebar tape in your local bike shop or online.