Our Top 3 Picks
1. Peak Design Travel Tripod
Tripods are one of the bulkiest photography accessories. But that extra support isn’t much good if you can’t take it on the plane or hike a few miles with it.
We’ve sorted through some of the top options to find the best travel tripod for each type of photographer. Whether you are on a budget or need a full tricked-out tripod, you’re bound to find something on our list.
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7 Things to Look for When Buying a Travel Tripod
Travel tripods make it possible to capture that long exposure at the end of that long hike — but there’s a catch. The problem with a lightweight tripod is that the lighter a tripod is, the harder it is to make it sturdy.
That doesn’t mean your travel tripod is going to dump your camera in the dirt. It does mean there are a few features that you should look for.
These features will help your travel tripod stay put in the wind. Keep in mind that in the windiest conditions, most travel tripods will struggle.
You might ask yourself, Do I need a tripod for travel? Well, not really, but it will depend on what you are shooting. For street photography, perhaps not.
Are you photographing a destination wedding? Are you unsure what situations you might face? Better to have it and not use it than needing one and not having it.
Counterweight Hooks are Serious Perks
Adding a simple hook to the bottom of the tripod’s center column may not seem like a big deal. This tiny feature allows travel tripods to perform more like hefty studio tripods.
By adding weight to the tripod, such as your camera bag, you add more stability without sacrificing portability. This feature is essential if you are going to shoot in some wind.
Avoid Lots of Leg Sections
Breaking the legs down into more pieces allows your travel tripod to fit in your carry-on bag – but will make it less stable. Instead of more leg sections added to the center column, look for a tripod with reverse fold legs, but with a leg section count under five.
How are the Legs Adjusted?
You can adjust tripod legs through either twist locks or lever locks. Twist locks are slimmer, but if you don’t twist them tight enough, they could unlock.
Flip locks will add more bulk and tend to take longer to set up but stay locked. After using a monopod with twist locks that kept self-shortening mid-shoot, flip locks are my preference.
Travel tripods are even more portable when they do double duty. Like that, you don’t have to bring any other accessories along. If you use both a tripod and a monopod, look for a two-in-one that converts to a monopod.
If you shoot macro work or low to the ground, check the maximum height of the tripod and look for a versatile height range. You’ll save yourself from bringing a tabletop tripod for those low angles.
Watch the Weight
Whenever you buy any tripod, pay attention to two weights in the specifications. The first is how much weight the travel tripod can hold.
Ensure that your heaviest camera body, lens, and accessories fit within those parameters. The maximum weight can also help you compare tripods. The one with a higher weight capacity is going to be sturdier even if you only need half the weight limit.
The second weight to consider is the weight of the tripod itself – because that’s how much you’ll be adding to your hike. A carbon fiber tripod is lightweight and can hold a lot of gear, but it’s also more pricey than an aluminum one.
How heavy is your tripod? It begs the question, Do I need a Tripod for Travel? You might not, but it could be handy to have even if you don’t use it.
Don’t forget to check the maximum height of the tripod as well.
How Outdoor-Friendly is it?
Plan on hiking with a tripod? Look for other outdoor-friendly features besides the light profile. Retractable feet spikes can help make the tripod a bit sturdier on grass and dirt.
How Fast Can You Set it Up?
Don’t miss the peak moment because you were still fiddling with your tripod. Look for a travel tripod that includes a quick release plate — or factor in the cost of adding a quick release plate.
Also, watch for small design changes that lead to faster set-ups. Unfolding each of the three leg sections take longer than just unfolding one center column, for example.
10. Manfrotto PIXI Evo
- Mini tripod for Compact System Cameras
- Comfortable handgrip
- Push-button locking mechanism
- Lightweight and intuitive
We all know Manfrotto for making excellent tripods. Whether large and sturdy, or small and portable, they are the go-to company. The other tripods on our list are for the photographer up high.
Eye-level vantage points are not the only way photographers want to capture scenes. Sometimes they want to get low for a different perspective. The Manfrotto PIXI Evo offers you just that.
You might expect it not to deal well with DSLR camera systems. You’d be wrong, as it will hold a weight of 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg). This is more than enough for a Canon 5D MIV (1.76 lbs) and a 24-70mm lens (1.77 lbs).
Using it couldn’t be easier. Flip out the legs, and you’re good to go. The PIXI Evo is the most compact, and lightest of our travel tripod picks but doesn’t offer you much versatility.
It is perfect for interviews, or even selfies and vlogging, as it offers two leg angles along with two2-leg sections.
9. MeFOTO RoadTrip Tripod
- Versatile with monopod option
- Compact but high weight capacity
- Five leg sections
- Carbon fiber option is pricey
The MeFOTO RoadTrip is a tripod that’s as versatile as it is colorful. The RoadTrip serves as both a tripod and a monopod with one removable leg. The versatility also extends to the tripod’s height range.
It goes from 15.4-inches to about 61 ounces when extended. With the legs reverse-folded, the tripod packs away in less than 16 inches of space.
The number of leg sections is a bit on the higher side, but, with five parts using twist locks. The feet have spikes, and the twist locks and Arca quick release plate help get the tripod set up a bit faster.
MeFoto offers two different versions of the RoadTrip – an aluminum and a carbon fiber edition. The pricier carbon edition option weighs 3.1 pounds and can handle over 17 pounds of gear.
The aluminum weighs a half-pound more handling the same amount of gear. For those who don’t like their photo gear looking like everyone else’s, the RoadTrip comes in seven different colors.
8. Benro Slim Aluminum Alloy Tripod
For a tripod that doesn’t enter three digits yet still comes from a reputable brand, the Benro Slim is a reliable option for photographers on a budget.
At 2.6 pounds, this tripod fits into the travel category. And a weight hook will help negate some of the negatives of using such a light tripod.
The tripod uses four leg sections with twist locks. Each leg can be set to one of three angles for more height options. This allows the tripod to extend from 15.7 inches to about 57 inches.
You can also reverse the center column for the most height flexibility. The tripod also includes a ball head with a bubble level.
So what’s missing to keep the costs down? The Benro Slim doesn’t fold down as compact as the others on the list without reverse folding legs. This means a faster set-up while taking up about four more inches of space in a bag.
The Slim, like the BeFree, also has one of the lower capacities on the list with an 8.8-pound limit. And the under three-pound weight could mean the tripod isn’t as sturdy as some of the pricier options.
7. Vanguard VEO 2 235AB Aluminum Travel Tripod
Need to get down for macro shots? The Vanguard VEO’s reversing center column allows you to shoot as low as seven inches from the ground, or as tall as 57 inches. You can also adjust each of the twist-lock legs at three different angles.
Despite the versatility, the Vanguard VEO 2 235AB weighs a little over three pounds. It can handle four times its own weight with a 13.2-pound capacity. When folded, the tripod fits in a space less than 16 inches.
A counterweight hook helps add more stability to the lightweight tripod. With a tripod ball head included, the camera’s position is also easy to adjust. And an Arca quick release plate also adds to the set-up speed.
The VEO is designed for quick set up – Vanguard claims a 15-second set-up with the central column system. The four-leg sections are also easy to adjust because of twist lock legs.
The Vanguard VEO 235AB is also well-priced for a name-brand travel tripod. It doesn’t include spiked feet (you can get them for a higher price).
It also doesn’t have the versatility of also using one leg as a monopod. But for the price, the feature list is rather tough to beat.
6. Zomei Z818
What you’ll notice with the Zomei Z818 is the small folding size. The legs fold back on themselves to keep it compact at 18″ (45.72 cm). This beats the Benro and the Sirui, but not the Peak Design version.
The center column also comes with a hook, allowing you to stabilize it further with your backpack. You’ll find a head-and-pan lock, keeping your camera exactly how you left it.
Like most other tripods on our list, you can extend the legs by using the four extendable sections. This allows you to use it at an array of different heights.
What makes this perfect as an outdoor travel tripod is the materials used. The anti-corrosion Magnesium and aluminum alloy tube mean it won’t damage easily, offering long life.
5. Gitzo GK0545T-82TQD Series 0 Traveler
The Gitzo has a strange name, especially when trying to buy it in a physical store. Good job we have the amazon link for you, so you don’t even need to try.
Despite the naming, this tripod is the juggernaut of travel tripods. It will hold up to 24.25 lbs (11 kg), making it one of the heftiest loads of tripods on our list.
This allows you to take heavy equipment, making it perfect for destination weddings or sports photography. The extra load will help with devices, like microphones, lights, or flash units.
This tripod is expensive compared to the others on our list, but for a reason. It has a simple design and construction, making it easy to extend and shrink. It is great for colder regions.
The ball head that comes with it is of high quality, and as far as tripods go, its light at 2.84 lbs (1.29 kg). The most significant benefit I found is the small center column. This lets you get close to the ground for low angle shots.
4. Benro GoPlus Travel FGP18A + B0
- Mid-level folded length
- Large maximum load
- Converts to a Monopod
- There are cheaper options out there
Benro is known for great tripods, and now they have the GoPlus Travel tripod. It is a versatile stabilization device that allows you to move around without feeling weighed down.
The folded length isn’t the smallest, but its also not the biggest on our list. 18.11″ (46 cm) is the lowest it will fold but extends to 165 cm, which is excellent for landscape photography.
One leg is unscrewable, meaning you have access to a monopod. This is like Batman ditching the Batmobile for the bat bike and giving you versatility when you need it. Perfect for sports photography.
3. Manfrotto BeFree Color Aluminum Travel Tripod
This Manfrotto BeFree Color tripod is one of the few that use level locks instead of the twist type. The twist-vs-level debate is personal preference, I prefer the security of a flip-lock.
This is why, when it came time to buy my travel tripod, I opted for the BeFree. Weighing a smidgen over three pounds, the BeFree Color folds down to a little over 16 inches.
You can adjust the legs on the BeFree to three different angles. Along with the compact fold, this allows the tripod to reach as low as 13.4 inches and as high as 56.7 inches.
Like other three-pound travel tripods, the BeFree can be a bit susceptible to wind. This is why I recommend the BeFree Color over the original BeFree.
The Color is a seemingly minor update to the original – but it adds that counterweight hook. And clipping my camera bag underneath the tripod negates the slight instability that wind can introduce.
With the counterweight, the BeFree Color is plenty sturdy.
The BeFree’s mid-line price point, compact design, versatile height, and flip locks made this the best travel tripod for me. That doesn’t mean it’s the best tripod for every photographer.
The capacity is 8.8 pounds, so it’s not designed for the biggest telephoto lenses. The 56.7-inch height limit will also be a sticking point for tall photographers.
For the price point, the Manfrotto BeFree Color offers stable quality and portability.
2. Sirui W-1204 Waterproof Carbon Fiber Tripod
Sirui is one of the few brands offering waterproofed tripods. This makes the W-1204 one of the best options for the hardcore outdoor photographer.
The tripod has a sealing system. If you shoot in the rain or place the legs in shallow water, those twist locks are still going to work.
The feet complete the outdoor design. They can be rubber or spiked by unscrewing the interchangeable feet. The leg sections are held in place using twist locks to reach a maximum height of 65 inches.
This Sirui also has the highest weight capacity of any of the tripods on this list. It supports up to 33 pounds of gear while only weighing 3.1 pounds itself. This is thanks to the carbon fiber construction.
A counterweight hook adds even more stability to the tripod. The legs fold around the center column for a more compact folded measurement.
It stands at 19.3 inches when folded, with only four leg sections.
With a height of only 5.7 inches and a removable leg that you can use as a monopod, the Sirui gets points for versatility. So what’s the downside?
1. Peak Design Travel Tripod
- Single ring for head adjustment
- Arca Swiss compatible head
- Available in aluminum or carbon fiber
- Compact ball head
Now, they added a travel tripod that is turning everyone’s heads. What makes it so unique? Quite a few things actually.
There are also two options in the material you can get this tripod in. Aluminum and carbon fiber, where the former weighs 3.44 lbs (1.56kg) and the latter comes in at 2.81 lbs (1.27 kg)
The weight is manageable as it weighs similar to other travel tripods. The carbon fiber version is stiffer and lighter but is more expensive.
As a travel tripod is has a few advantages. It is Arca Swiss compatible, has a single ring to adjust the head, which is also an intuitive and compact ball head.
What is different is this tripod has four leg extenders. This offers you more versatility in the stable height you can use it.
Check out this video review on the Peak Design travel tripod too!