Saturday, May 21, 2022
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Best Lightweight Travel Tripods Money Can Buy

In this article, we list the best lightweight travel tripods that offer stability in a highly portable package that won't give you a hernia during an all-day hike or city stroll

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 fibre – 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 again will 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 fibre versions are often available but, because the travel tripods are quite small, the weight saved by using carbon fibre 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, here are all of the best travel tripod options you can buy right now.

1. Benro GoPlus Travel FGP18A

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 a handful of tripods to feature a pivoting center column which, enabling a range of locking angles in small increments, through a complete 180-degree arc. Bubble levels are fitted to the tripod platform for easy leveling, and interchangeable rubber feet and spikes are supplied, along with a padded soft case. One leg can be unscrewed 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.

2. 3 Legged Thing Punks Travis, AirHed Neo Ballhead

Source: Amazon

From innovative tripod designer 3 Legged Thing, the Punks travel tripod range also includes the diminutive Corey, which folds down to just 35cm and has five leg sections plus a dual-section extending centre column. We prefer the Travis, though, as it has a loftier maximum operating height and with a single-piece centre column and four sections per leg, the thinnest sections are less spindly. Indeed, it has 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 in conjunction with the detachable centre column to act as a monopod, with a maximum height of 171cm. Build quality is excellent throughout, extending to the AirHed Neo ball head which is included in the kit. A carbon fibre 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.

3. Peak Design Travel Tripod

Source: B&H

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 as well as 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.

4. Novo Explora T10 Carbon Fibre Professional

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 fibre 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. As a leveling aid, a bubble level is featured on the camera platform but, unfortunately, it’s obscured during shooting once you’ve inserted the Arca-Swiss type quick-release plate.

Source: Novo-photo

5. Manfrotto Befree 3-Way Live Advanced tripod

Source: Manfrotto

With more and more creators working in both 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.

6. Gitzo Traveler Series 0 GK0545T-82TQD

Source: Gitzo

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. 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 is just as uncompromising. The bundled ball head features separate pan locking, and its 32mm ball diameter is just about large enough to support a full-frame DSLR.

7. Benro Rhino FRHN05CVX20

Source: Amazon

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.

8. Manfrotto Element MII

Manfrotto aims to spoil you for choice with its Element range of travel tripods, which are available in different sizes and colors. They’re also mostly available in either aluminum or carbon fibre, although the ‘MII’ which replaces the Element Big is so far only available in aluminum.

Fundamental changes from the Big include a reduction from five sections per leg to four, which make 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.

9. Joby RangePod Smart

Source: Joby

For vloggers and content creators, choosing the right tripod can be a real minefield. 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 no problem. With a maximum 160cm height it’s also taller than many travel tripods – making it perfect for presenting to camera at near head height.

10. MeFoto GlobeTrotter Carbon C2350Q2T

Source: Amazon

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 strong 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.

Editor’s picks:

Diekola Yusuf
Diekola Yusuf
Founder & CEO of Novabach - Yusuf is a Tech enthusiast. Fascinated by Computers and all sorts of Technology. He writes news, updates, walkthroughs, guides, troubleshooting tips, and how-to tutorials on gadgets and consumer electronics.
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