- Our pick: Manfrotto Element Traveller Big
- Also great: Vanguard Veo 2 GO 265HAB
- Budget pick: AmazonBasics 63-inch Aluminum Travel Tripod
Why you should believe us
I’m a photojournalist, writer, and professional photographer, and I have a broad range of experience researching, testing, and writing about photography trends, techniques, and tools—counting in my role as mobile-imaging editor at DPReview, the most accepted camera review site on the Web.
I have been reporting on travel tripods for this guide since 2014, testing dozens of models and measuring performance in a diversity of climates and situations. I also consulted the latest reviews from appreciated sites like Shotkit and Digital Camera World to see what others look for in a portable tripod.
This is for those
A travel tripod is any tripod that collapses down enough to be simply carried when attached to a hiking bag or placed within a carry-on suitcase. They’re smaller and lighter than their full-size brethren, and although they might not be quite as stable or have as many extra features as bigger models, they build-up for that in portability.
Every photography enthusiast should comprise a travel tripod in their packing plan. Sneak one into the fewest approved carry-on when you’re off to see the sights on a European vacation, and it will permit you to capture the glow of St. Peter’s Basilica at night and the brilliant light trails of traffic on a hectic Paris street in the evening. Attach it to your backpack when hiking the lush Iao Valley of Maui thus you can photograph waterfalls using longer shutter speed, but lacking breaking your back in the process.
since a travel tripod weighs less than a small Chihuahua, you can stuff one into your bag on a family tour to Mexico’s Tulum and finally be able to get your whole group in the photo, once you’ve framed your shot and underway the shutter timer. The highlights of your holiday are often unexpected surprises—so a travel tripod will let you be more supple in your photography, allowing you to shoot fireworks on the beach or capture an all-day surf rivalry, all without much fuss.
How we picked
A good travel tripod has to offer the best features of the genre—most notably, portability—while measuring up to the task at hand. unavoidably, you’ll have to make some sacrifices. What a travel tripod lacks in height and load ability it makes up for with its lightweight and compact design.
In researching and testing the best travel tripods on the market, we narrowed our scope to those with features a photographer on the go really requirements. Below, we list some key considerations for when you’re choosing a tripod.
Size is the most significant element
A travel tripod that’s too big to fit in your bag, too thick to strap to a pack, or too heavy to effortlessly carry defeats its purpose. We chose models that can extend up to 60 inches or taller, which is tall sufficient for most people to be able to shoot without having to stoop. We resolute a travel tripod ought to collapse down to less than 20 inches so it can fit in your commotion luggage.
And we set a maximum weight of 4 pounds, a figure that seems to be the cutoff among full-size and travel tripods. Anything heavier than that, and you might as well spend in a full-size tripod to enjoy the extra stability, height, shooting angles, and leg positions that the better weight affords.
Twist leg locks are more moveable than flip locks
Flip locks stick out more and can be vaguely more likely to catch or snag, so twist locks are the way to go. Professional panoramic photographer Mark Banas decided with us: “Flip locks are easier to handle while wet, or with gloves on, but they tend to stick out and catch on things,” he said.
Choose a model that’s little but mighty
We wanted to recommend a tripod that could hold the sort of gear the standard user might bring while traveling or backpacking: a midrange DSLR and a zoom lens. Let’s believe Nikon’s D7200 (our current pick for the best mid-range DSLR), at 1.49 pounds, plus the extensively used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II zoom lens, at 3.39 pounds, for a joint load of around 5 pounds. All of our picks can grip heavier gear than that combo, but it’s wise to keep your rig’s total weight in mind since you shouldn’t overload your tripod.
Package deals are the simplest answer
The vast number of travel tripod options can be overwhelming, except when you realize that legs and heads are often sold separately, the field can feel completely flooded. When possible, we wanted to offer you one-stop shopping, with a superiority head and legs in one package.
A ball head is a top for travel
A ball head allows you to adjust your camera’s position more speedily, and there are fewer knobs and levers to unscrew. This type of head is lesser, with a more streamlined design than a three-way head.
Carbon fiber isn’t worth the price
The carbon fiber version of a tripod was sometimes twice the cost of its aluminum counterpart. For the average person, the likely benefits—better vibration handling, slightly lighter weight—do not rationalize this significant price increase. We asked Jeff Mitchell, a photographer by means of more than 30 years of experience and the resident tripod expert at Glazer’s Camera in Seattle if he thinking carbon fiber offered noticeable benefits in a travel tripod. “In my opinion, no,” he responded.
How we experienced
It took hours and hours of research to pare down options in a market swarming with dozens of travel tripods, many of them nearly identical. We read many tripod reviews and forum posts to first determine what was and wasn’t vital to users. Then we read product reviews also talked to experts in the field about real-world considerations for travel tripod use.
We experienced the models that made the cut by actually using them in a location that’s a perennial preferred with traveling photographers—Hawaii—as well as on road trips to eastern
Washington and on everyday outings approximately Seattle. We set them up and folded them back down over and over again. Then We examined all the accessories and features of each model. We took them hiking, onto a wet, greasy boat for some whale watching, and to the beach. Real-world utilization helped us discover what was annoying and what was really helpful, and from all of that, we were able to make our pick.
Our pick: Manfrotto Element Traveller Big
The moderately priced Manfrotto Element Traveller Big is small and tall—able to open out from a collapsed height of 16½ inches to a maximum height of immediately over 64½ inches. The Element Traveller Big was one of the main stable models we tested, with five leg sections that ended in a pretty slight circumference, but with a single center column that obtainable more stability than models with expandable center columns.
At 3½ pounds, it weighs about as great as a small jug of liquid laundry detergent, but it can handle an important load capacity of 17.6 pounds—that would be far more gear than you’d ever require to support at once while traveling. It’s about as girthy as the rest of the rivalry, with a circumference of about 3½ inches, and it simply fits into a larger backpack or small suitcase.
The Element Traveller Big features silky leg lock twists with plenty of grip and three leg angle locks that crack into place and release with a simple push. One leg can detach to change to a monopod. Two knobs control panning and ball head rotation easily with secure tension, while two bubble levels help remain perspectives straight from the horizon level as well as above.
The Arca-Swiss–style mount looks small, but it simply accommodated my 2.6-pound Canon 5D Mark IV camera and 50mm lens through testing. The mount includes a tiny handle that works hugely in a pinch if you don’t have an Allen wrench or a coin handy.
The Manfrotto Element Traveller Big’s small, faintly spiked rubber feet offer plenty of grips. Optional rubber spikes are integrated in the bag the tripod comes in. luckily, both bag and tripod are small enough to tuck into most backpacks or large bags.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
Perhaps we’re cleanly used to a mounting system that slides into the full-size tripod we utilize most often, but it took a bit of mental retraining to get worn to the Manfrotto Element Traveller Big mount, which must be set honestly on top of the tripod and then tightened. This top-down mounting process works just as well as the side-slide method we’re familiar with, but it did give us pause during testing.
Like many tripods, the Element Traveller large uses twist leg locks. Although we favor twist leg locks to the flip kind when it comes to a travel tripod—because they help remain the overall aesthetic sleek and are less likely to snag—they come with possible problems, too. Resist the temptation to over-loosen twist locks. It takes simply a slight turn to loosen them; much more than that and you’ll learn that those legs are a bit tricky to put back together. Once they’re extended, you’ll also desire to be sure to firmly tighten the twist leg locks. dissimilar with flip leg locks, with twist leg locks it’s harder to inform whether they’re completely secured, so use your hand to double-check.
Like most tripods in this category, the Element Traveller large comes with a bag that you’ll probably end up discarding. And it’s a drawstring bag with a thick cord, so it would cut into your bear after a while. There’s not much advantage to using a dedicated bag, as contrasting to just tucking the tripod into or attaching it onto a bag you’re previously likely using in your travels.
Also great: Vanguard Veo 2 GO 265HAB
With a collapsed length of 16 inches and a weight of 3.33 pounds, the Vanguard Veo 2 GO 265HAB is a slightly smaller and lighter than the Manfrotto Element Traveller Big, except the Veo, offers no bubble levels—the Element Traveller Big comes among two—and for maximum height, it relies on an extendable center column, which doesn’t sense as stable as the Manfrotto’s single shaft center column.
The Vanguard model is simple to use: Set-up feels smooth, and the legs lock securely into place with a pleasing click. Each leg lock releases with an easy push. The twist locks feel supple.
The ball head has two uniquely shaped knobs—they seem a bit like commas—to control the pan and ball locks. That added bit of purchase on each knob feels almost luxurious and would be obliging for people with larger hands.
similar to the Manfrotto Element Traveller Big, the Vanguard Veo 2 GO has an Arca-Swiss–style mount that too employs a small handle to attach it to your camera—it’s a tiny feature, except a real lifesaver if you can’t find a coin or an Allen wrench to mount the plate.
Budget pick: AmazonBasics 63-inch Aluminum Travel Tripod
If you’re a newer shooter who’s not yet ready to invest extra in a long-term tripod or an infrequent traveler who’s unsure of how frequently you will use a travel tripod, the AmazonBasics 63-Inch Aluminum Travel Tripod meets all of our expectations at a bargain price.
The aluminum erect feels solid, and a grip on each leg provides a bit more to hold onto during group and take-down, as well as in transit. It offers a lot of height, with the highest extension of 63½ inches, but at 4.4 pounds it was the heaviest (by about a pound) of the models we experienced.
The mounting plate is a tad larger than those on the other travel tripods, and it may feel uncomfortable on a smaller, mirrorless camera. Most annoying were the AmazonBasics tripod’s clumsy leg angle locks—each necessary a two-fingered grip to release.
Also great: Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit
Joby’s tiny GorillaPod 3K Kit offers an option to a traditional travel tripod. Its flexible legs can tuck into stretched places and around just about anything, like a tree limb or light match, for a unique perspective. This GorillaPod’s latest version feels stronger than ever, with legs that stay stiff and firmly in place, and it has a better mounting system, too.
The Joby GorillaPod 3K is small, reasonable, and ideal for use with smartphones or lighter cameras. The downside is that it won’t offer as much stabilization as larger travel tripods, and it offers just up to 12 inches in height. There’s no gear hook, no grip, no adaptable leg size, and no extending center column or replaceable head. The GorillaPod 3K will do in a pinch, but you’ll require a full-size travel tripod for more substantial shooting that requires improved vibration control and height.
We’ve measured hundreds of tripods since we started working on the first iteration of this guide in 2014. For this mainly recent round of research, we cautiously looked at the newest models other reviewers liked and those that inward excellent consumer reviews. From an initial list of more than 60 candidates, we called in nine models—which fit all of our criteria for a grand travel tripod—for hands-on testing.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey travel tripod has relaxing textured grips on each rounded leg lock. But it also had the mainly spindly legs of any travel tripod we tested, and they exhibited an important amount of flex. It was also hard to lock in an exact leg angle lock, and the price point was at the high end of our spectrum.
Oben’s CT-3565 Carbon Fiber Tripod
Oben’s CT-3565 Carbon Fiber Tripod and BZ-217T Triple-Action Ball Head is a hard travel tripod and even lighter than our top pick, for about a similar price. It’s just a bit shorter than our top pick, and we didn’t similar to the feet as much. The Oben comes with rubber/spiked combo feet, which can be a bit irritating when the rubber spins up (during transport or use) to disclose the metal spikes, just when you don’t need them. (We’d argue you so very rarely require them that this feature often feels similar to more of a hindrance anyway.) The Manfrotto Element Traveller Big’s small, somewhat spiked rubber feet are everything most of us will ever require, with a bit more grip to the rubbery material, too. (And the Traveller Big comes among optional rubber spikes should you require them.)
MeFoto recently revamped its colorful line of tripods, and although we’ve recommended a previous version of the RoadTrip, the novel RoadTrip S feels unstable compared with the rivalry. The leg angle locks also feel tricky and require a two-fingered grip to discharge. MeFoto also offers the RoadTrip Air, which converts into a selfie stick and includes a shutter remote, except its collapsible leg system, feels both faster and harder to manage than five individual leg locks.
We worry a tiny bump to any of the five thin leg sections would send the whole tripod, along with your costly camera gear or smartphone, cascading down.
Zomei is one of those new manufacturers that appear to be making photography gear that’s almost identical to gear from top brands we’re used to but at a fraction of the cost. We were excited about the Q666, which met all of our criteria and looked a dreadful lot like our top contenders online, but with a far cheaper cost tag. Once we got this lookalike in hand, though, we could feel the difference in material and make. We think it’s worth spending a small piece more on a model that’s better and will likely last longer.
A novel travel tripod from Peak Design, best known for its modern bags and backpacks, got a lot of notice on Kickstarter. The $350 price already exceeds what we’d advocate spending on a travel model. However, and we don’t think flip leg locks are finest for a portable tripod.