Yes, tripods can be a hassle to carry around with you but they help you take great shots in two ways.
First, the time you take to get out the tripod, set it up and position the camera on it will slow your picture taking down. This means you’ll become more aware of other elements like composition of the image, and lighting. The more focussed you are to external conditions, the more likely you will be to take a great shot.
The added advantage is your camera is more steady allowing you to take razor-sharp images – particularly in low light situations.
An alternative to the tripod is a ‘mono pod’. These only have one leg and don’t have the stability of a tripod, but they have a greater stability than just your hands – particularly if you lean them against something.
If you do a lot of mountain walking, there are also extendable ‘walking canes’ (like a ski pole) that are great for helping you walk up steep hills. The top unscrews to reveal a tripod mount underneath turning it into a mono pod.
Tripod Tip: If you have a lightweight camera, you might consider purchasing a ultra lightweight tripod. These are small, don’t weigh much and easily fit in a backpack or camera bag.
Extra Tip: You don’t need to purchase a tripod either! Any horizontal surface around can make a tripod – arms of chairs, railings, rocks, anything! Be very careful not to damage your camera, though as cameras have a tendency to slip and break when perched on chairs, rocks etc.