For any photographer, beginner or professional, travel tripods are an often overlooked piece of equipment that is crucial when you're taking photos on the go. A good portable tripod will allow you to keep your camera nice and stable for long periods of time when shooting time-lapses and video, while also being easy to set up for a quick bit of landscape photography.
Finding the best travel or backpacking tripod is a little different to looking for the best tripod overall as they need to be lightweight and easy to carry when folded, yet sturdy enough to handle the weight of your camera and other equipment. We've rounded up the best budget and top-end options so you won't have to worry about being caught short when that perfect opportunity pops up!
There's such a wide range of travel tripods on the market that it can be difficult to know which one is best for you, but thankfully our buying guide is here to help you make an informed decision. We'll be looking at the different weights and heights available as well as the materials that tripods are commonly made of.
Firstly, you'll want to take note of how heavy your current camera kit is, as this will determine what sort of load capacity you should be looking for in a tripod. If you're travelling light, then a limit of 5 kg should be more than enough, but if you're working with heavier lenses and flashes, you'll need something a bit more heavy-duty.
A good rule of thumb is to take your current total weight and double it – this is a great way to ensure that your tripod will stay nice and stable when in use while also giving you some freedom to add new equipment down the line. If you're a keen photographer, picking the right tripod at the outset will save you money in the future.
The main advantage a specialised travel tripod has over a regular tripod is that it's easy to carry around on different jobs or simply to explore nature and work on your skills and portfolio.
If you're going backpacking or planning on spending half a day hiking around the countryside, you're going to want something as lightweight as possible, but if you're driving from job to job, you can afford to carry a little extra weight to ensure more stability.
Most travel tripods will weigh somewhere between 1 and 3 kg and are usually made of aluminium or carbon fibre. If you're looking for something lightweight and resistant to the elements for use at home or away, then carbon fibre is a good choice, but they do tend to cost a little more than their metal counterparts.
Similar to how a tripod's weight often affects its stability, the same is true of how much it folds down; the more joints and telescopic legs it has, the greater the risk of it slipping. However, if you're working with a single camera and spending a lot of time carrying it on your person, you'll want to opt for something that collapses down to the smallest size possible.
Most portable tripods will fold down to between 30-45 cm in length and are thin enough for you not to worry about slipping them into a rucksack or suitcase while travelling. Nonetheless, it's worth checking whether it comes with a storage pouch to prevent it from unfolding or knocking against other equipment.
Now that we've covered the folded size, it's only right that we cover the extended size. Most travel tripods will have a maximum height of between 130-175 cm, which can be the difference between using your camera from a standing or crouching position. When outdoors, we'd recommend getting something tall enough so you're able to stay on your feet, especially when uneven ground is involved!
There are some extremely small table-top tripods that don't extend outwards but can be useful if you're just looking for a way to level your camera while recording a travel vlog or working indoors. These can be as little as 15 cm tall and can easily fit in a coat or bag pocket, but will leave you with few options in the way of adjustments.
Tripod heads are funny things, and choosing the right one is more a matter of personal preference than a technical necessity. On the whole, the attachment is universal so you won't have any trouble screwing your camera and tripod together, but there are some different features to look out for.
The most common head found on a tripod is a pan and tilt head, which allows you to move your camera up and down and side to side while filming. If you're planning on recording a lot of footage, this is the way to go. Another choice is the ball head, which is a quick and easy way to set your camera in place for static shots. You won't want to move it while recording, though.
It's also worth looking out for tripods that come with a spirit level on the head to help you make sure your shots are straight. This can be a life-saver if you're working outside on uneven terrain, or even indoors if you're not quite sure about your framing.
Now that you have an idea of what to look out for in a travel tripod, it's time to check out our top 10 list. Whether you're working on a budget or you're ready to invest in a premium model, we have something for everyone, so sit back, relax, and take a look!
|Maximum Load||500 g|
|Tripod Weight||110 g|
|Folded Size||12 cm|
|Extended Size||15 cm|
|Head||Ball with 90° tilt|
|Maximum Load||6 kg|
|Tripod Weight||1.8 kg|
|Folded Size||40 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||145 cm|
|Maximum Load||9 kg|
|Tripod Weight||1.3 kg|
|Folded Size||38 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||153 cm|
|Maximum Load||1 kg|
|Tripod Weight||190 g|
|Folded Size||13 cm|
|Extended Size||13 cm|
|Maximum Load||1.5 kg|
|Tripod Weight||920 g|
|Folded Size||39 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||131 cm|
|Maximum Load||30 kg|
|Tripod Weight||1.85 kg|
|Folded Size||35 cm|
|Extended Size||147 cm|
|Maximum Load||4 kg|
|Tripod Weight||1.7 kg|
|Folded Size||66 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||160 cm|
|Head||Pan and tilt|
|Maximum Load||3 kg|
|Tripod Weight||1.2 kg|
|Folded Size||51 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||152 cm|
|Head||Pan and tilt, spirit level|
|Maximum Load||20 kg|
|Tripod Weight||2 kg|
|Folded Size||42 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||151 cm|
|Head||Pan and tilt, spirit level|
|Maximum Load||10 kg|
|Tripod Weight||1.95 kg|
|Folded Size||46 cm, case included|
|Extended Size||165 cm|
3 Legged Thing
Befree 3-Way Live Advanced Tripod
PIXI Mini Tripod
VEO 2 Aluminum Travel Tripod
Lightweight Mini Tripod
The Tripod That Has It All – and More
An All-Inclusive Kit for Photography and Filmmaking
The Best Budget Travel Tripod
Incredible Height From a Value Option
Huge Capacity in a Tiny Package
The Lightest Extendable Travel Tripod Around
Top Choice for a Tabletop Tripod
One for Professionals and Serious Photographers
An Exclusive and Innovative Central Column
A Cheap and Easy Option for Vlogging and Streaming
|Maximum Load||10 kg||20 kg||3 kg||4 kg||30 kg||1.5 kg||1 kg||9 kg||6 kg||500 g|
|Tripod Weight||1.95 kg||2 kg||1.2 kg||1.7 kg||1.85 kg||920 g||190 g||1.3 kg||1.8 kg||110 g|
|Material||Aluminium||Aluminium||Metal||Aluminium||Carbon fibre||Aluminium||Aluminium||Carbon fibre||Aluminium||Metal|
|Folded Size||46 cm, case included||42 cm, case included||51 cm, case included||66 cm, case included||35 cm||39 cm, case included||13 cm||38 cm, case included||40 cm, case included||12 cm|
|Extended Size||165 cm||151 cm||152 cm||160 cm||147 cm||131 cm||13 cm||153 cm||145 cm||15 cm|
|Head||-||Pan and tilt, spirit level||Pan and tilt, spirit level||Pan and tilt||-||Ball||Ball||Ball||Ball||Ball with 90° tilt|
Looking for a tripod for quick smartphone snaps too? We've got just the article. Plus, if you're heading off on a backpacking adventure, you'll want to make sure you have a good camera bag and cable case to keep everything safe and organised. Find out which products made the cut below!
A travel tripod is a piece of equipment that every budding photographer or filmmaker should have in their kitbag. Whether you're looking for something for outdoor excursions or hotel hopping and shooting footage or photography, we hope our recommendations have helped you find it!
Author: David Sexton
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