Best Lightweight Travel Tripods Money Can Buy
The best travel tripods are essential companions for most kinds of photography. They offer stability in a highly portable package that won’t give you a hernia during an all-day hike or city stroll. While they can never replace the stability you get from a full-size tripod, they offer enough to make them incredibly valuable backup options.
There are compromises to be made. A good travel tripod will be able to do all of the above but may not reach the same maximum height as a more conventional tripod. Travel tripods will also often be constructed of carbon fiber – a superior material to aluminum, which allows for stronger and lighter builds, but costs more. A larger number of leg sections will help a tripod collapse down more but add to the cost.
Even so, all of this is well worth it for the lightweight convenience of your next three-legged friend. Aluminum and carbon fiber versions are often available, but because the travel tripods are pretty small, the weight saved by using carbon fiber only tends to be about 200g or so, and they can be much pricier to buy whether they offer great value or an incredibly stable shooting platform. So here are all of the best travel tripod options you can buy right now.
Ticking just about every conceivable box on our wish list, the Benro GoPlus has a modest folded length and generous operating height, coupled with a hefty maximum load capacity. It’s one of many tripods to feature a pivoting center column, enabling a range of locking angles through a complete 180-degree arc in small increments. Bubble levels are fitted to the tripod platform for easy leveling, interchangeable rubber feet and spikes are supplied, and a soft padded case. You can unscrew one leg to use as a standalone monopod. However, while it was once sold as a kit with a head, you’ll now need to order a ball head to go with it (if you don’t have one already). The Benro B0 or IB0 would be a good match.
From innovative tripod designer 3 Legged Thing, the Punks travel tripod range includes the diminutive Corey, which folds down to just 35cm and has five leg sections plus a dual-section extending center column. We prefer the Travis, though, as it has a loftier maximum operating height, and with a single-piece center column and four sections per leg, the thinnest sections are less spindly. Indeed, it has a beefy maximum load rating of 18kg.
Typical of modern travel tripods, the legs swing up for stowage, reducing the folded length to 45cm. One of the legs can be unscrewed and used with the detachable center column to act as a monopod, with a maximum height of 171cm. Build quality is excellent throughout, extending to the AirHed Neo ball head included in the kit. A carbon fiber version of the tripod is available, going by the name of Billy, but it’s only 220g lighter in weight and considerably pricier to buy.
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It’s the first tripod Peak Design has made, and considering the carbon fiber version we looked at costs more than practically any of its rivals except a Gitzo, it had better be good. There is an aluminum version that’s a massive 40% cheaper, however, which has all the same design features but just a little less vibration resistance. A couple of the other tripods here will go higher, but the Peak Design will still go to eye level for an average-height person, and it packs down to just 39cm in length. It’s designed to cut out the ‘dead volume’ between the legs and the column when packed, which means it’s not just short when folded but very slim too – you could put this IN your camera bag or cabin bag and strap it to the outside. The low-profile ball head is simple but brilliant; there’s a phone holder hidden inside the center column, and, best of all, this tripod feels seriously rigid.
Novo used to market a handy, compact, and lightweight Explora T5 kit, but that’s now been discontinued, making the T10 the smallest in the range. As with its stablemates, it’s a smartly turned-out carbon fiber affair, and there’s no lower-budget aluminum option. The leg sections are pretty chunky, ranging from 18mm to 28mm in diameter, which helps to deliver the hefty maximum load rating.
The maximum operating height of 174cm is also pretty impressive for a travel tripod, and you can shoot from low down as well, thanks to the inclusion of a low-angle adapter. Interchangeable rubber feet and metal spikes are also supplied in the kit. Up top, the high-performance ball head features a neat adjustable friction damper built into the main locking knob, along with two pan release locks, one at the base and the other in the camera platform. A bubble level is featured on the camera platform as a leveling aid, but, unfortunately, it’s obscured during shooting once you’ve inserted the Arca-Swiss type quick-release plate.
With more and more creators working in photography and videography, it makes sense to pick up a travel tripod that suits both purposes. The Manfrotto Befree 3-Way Live Advanced tripod is very clearly designed with this goal in mind – a lightweight photographer’s travel tripod paired with a three-way video head.
The fluid head uses a hydraulic damping system to make it easy for the user to make smooth, fluid camera movements. The tripod, meanwhile, provides a good balance between capacity, weight, and price. It’ll take 6kg of kit and only weighs 2kg itself. We’ve tested lighter and stronger tripods, but they tended to be more pricey than this one.
It’s not as tall as some of the other tripods on this list, and we did find during testing that sometimes the design interfered with routine operations like changing the camera battery. But for the vast majority of purposes, this is an impressive all-around package and merits serious consideration for any traveling photographer or videographer.
Despite the legs only extending to 133cm, this pays off when you’re on the go, as the 36.5cm closed length is the shortest here, and at 1.29kg, only the Befree is lighter. Moreover, Gitzo’s four-section Carbon eXact leg tubes manage to defy their slim diameter and stay amazingly stiff, making the 10kg payload rating entirely credible.
The quality and precision of the other components are just as uncompromising. The bundled ball head features separate pan locking, and it’s 32mm ball diameter is just about large enough to support a full-frame DSLR.
This is the smallest of Benro’s four new Rhino travel tripods, but it’s remarkably stiff for such a compact tripod, and Benro’s new VX ball heads and their secondary pan axis just under the camera plate are a triumph. Travel tripods have limitations – a lower working height and longer ‘unfolding’ time, but this goes with the territory, and we can’t criticize the Benro for this. The Benro doesn’t extend that high, and it soon gets wobbly if you use both center column sections, but with a single column extension or no center column, it’s as rigid as much bigger tripods.
Manfrotto aims to spoil you for choice with its Element range of travel tripods available in different sizes and colors. They’re also mostly available in either aluminum or carbon fiber, although the ‘MII,’ which replaces the Element Big, is only available in aluminum.
Fundamental changes from the Big include reducing five sections per leg to four, making the tripod more rigid and quicker to set up. More remarkably, it does this with only 5cm loss in maximum operating height and barely any greater folded length. A more disappointing change is that you can no longer remove one leg for monopod duty.
Choosing the right tripod can be an absolute minefield for vloggers and content creators. Unless you’re well versed in photography accessories (and even if you are!), the sheer volume of tripods and heads can be overwhelming. Enter Joby, maker of the GorillaPod range, to provide creators with a straightforward solution that ticks all the right boxes. The Joby RangePod Smart is the manufacturer’s first full-size tripod and is a worthy travel offering in its own right.
However, this aluminum number is ideal for those who shoot on their phones; it includes a phone clamp with a pair of quarter-inch attachment points to mount your phone horizontally or vertically, so you can quickly switch between regular recording and upright shooting for Instagram or TikTok. With a quick-release Arca-Swiss plate, it’s just as adept if you’re using a DSLR or mirrorless camera – and its 8kg payload means it can handle chunky lenses with no problem. With a maximum 160cm height, it’s also taller than many travel tripods – making it perfect for presenting to the camera at near head height.
Fancy traveling in style? The GlobeTrotter will help you stand out: it’s available in red, green, and blue finishes, as well as black or titanium. A 12kg capacity is enough to stand firm under all but the heaviest DSLR setup, yet the tripod tips the scales at just 1.68kg.
The GlobeTrotter’s measurements are just as well-balanced, with its 163cm reach retracting to a modest 42cm. Spiked feet and a capable ball head with adjustable friction enhance versatility. The monopod conversion feature is the same as the Benro’s (see above) – Benro is MeFoto’s parent company, which explains the GlobeTrotter’s top build quality.