Whether you are backpacking in the countryside or traveling across the world, a reliable tripod is arguably the most important gear! While there are several tripod models that cater to specific needs for different photographers on the market, it’s important to know which tripod you need for yourself! But, I understand that navigating the market for a travel tripod can be super confusing and time-consuming. After hours and hours (or even days) of shopping around, you may even end up empty-handed unsure and confused about which model is the one you need for your trip.
As a professional and hobbyist photographer, I have traveled to countless destinations around the world, searching for mesmerizing landscapes to shoot. Throughout these years, I have made my fair share of mistakes regarding buying tripods. I have probably spent several thousand dollars on travel tripods that I thought were well-built but I was mistaken by false advertising and claims.
Some tripods ended up being too heavy for traveling and backpacking and others are just simply poorly built and it would become obvious to me a few days into using the tripod that it’s useless for me. While none of them have damaged my equipment (thankfully), they are now sitting in the back of my closet and collecting dust, which is really unfortunate and not the intended use of a tripod.
I try to keep a tripod with me at all times because you never know where inspiration can come from! Inspiration to photograph can come from anywhere! I’ve been inspired to shoot while on a nice walk, driving around my neighborhood or in the countryside, and sometimes a sudden change in the weather can randomly inspire me to set up my tripod and camera on the side of the road or in my backyard and take photographs. Some of my best shots are taken during spontaneous moments.
So, I’m always glad that I have an extra tripod conveniently laying around next to me during moments like this! Some tips and tricks will be provided throughout this article regarding the importance for a travel tripod so you can be sure to have a comfortable experience traveling and shooting.
If you’re in a hurry, you can view me recommended choice for the best travel tripod on the market! I think this is an excellent tripod that provides you with extra added features, like the smartphone adapter, a carrying bag, and a dustproof bag to protect your equipment. You can also store extra items like keys, wallet, and other essentials in the carrying bag as there is ample room!
What’s The Purpose of a Travel Tripod?
A travel tripod is definitely a must-have if you want to make your life a lot easier while traveling with your photography gear. Their compact designs are built specifically to be travel-friendly and their lightweight feel won’t hold you back during your explorations.
It also allows you to capture the sharpest and cleared photos possible because it provides a stable base for your camera to rest on. As you don’t need to hold their camera while shooting, a tripod can be used by a photographer to take professional shots.
Traveling can present its own sets of problems regarding photography. Regular tripods not built for the purpose of traveling can be too heavy and bulky to carry around in with you, in your backpack, and your suitcase. A tripod designed for traveling allows you to pack your tripod as compact and effectively as possible so you can have enough space for the other important things you would like to carry with you on your trips. And leaving your tripod at home isn’t a good option either.
There’s just no way around a tripod. Don’t do a rookie mistake like I one did (I see beginners do this all the time) and put your precious camera on a park bench, on top of a garbage can, and on public stairs. You risk running into some costly and time-consuming repairs.
The stability provided by a tripod can’t be interchanged with that of a park bench or garbage can. If you find yourself a travel tripod that you absolutely love, it won’t feel like a chore carrying it around everyone! But, when tripods are no fun to carry with you, I understand why some people try to seek alternatives.
I should mention before continuing that you can also use monopods as a great alternative to regular tripods. Monopods only have one leg and are a great choice for hikers since they can double up as hiking or walking sticks. It’s also helpful for photographers who don’t want to carry around the extra weight of a tripod and can function perfectly well with a monopod.
However, there’s no need to buy a monopod as several tripods on the market can transform themselves into monopods with some easy and quick adjustments. Some of the tripods mentioned in this best list provide that option.
Do I need a travel tripod? Will a regular tripod be just enough?
Choosing whether if you would like to buy a travel tripod is a personal choice. Some of the points that I brought up earlier in the blog post suggest that a travel tripod is a great purchase! Believe me, a tripod for travelling will come in especially handy when you’re trying to get a clear of a beautiful scenery on a windy day or when you’re standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and want your shots to be extremely precise.
A nice travel tripod is also useful when photographing at night or in situations with low-lighting. It allows you the possibility to adjust your shutter speed for longer and use a lower ISO for professional and well-lit shots despite the poor lighting situation.
A tripod for travel that best suits your needs will open up your creativity wherever you are. It will aid you in creating captivating and unique long-exposure shots of the water, light trails of the city and even time-lapse videos. Since the tripod will allow you to set up your camera at any angles and height you desire, you can better approach the framing and compositions of your shots.
While it seems silly to buy a tripod specifically for traveling because after all, aren’t all tripods supposed to be travel-friendly, it’s important to realize that not all tripods are built to be easier and lighter to carry and can be folded up into a compact size. That’s why a travel tripod is pretty unique because you get the same qualities as a heavy-duty tripod that can support heavier weights and the heights are adjustable.
Depending on your height, some won’t require to bend down or stay crouched. The main benefit of a travel tripod, at least for me, is that it allows me to set up extremely fast and effortlessly so I don’t miss shooting anything interesting while I’m on-the-go.
The Top Best 7 Travel Tripods Reviewed and Ranked
It’s important to take into consideration the height, weight, and cost (amongst other factors, but these are the most crucial ones) before purchasing a tripod. I provide some tips and tricks that will help you in your search for the best travel tripod that will last you many years!
It’s important to be aware of the height, when folded (so it can fit snuggly in your carrying case, backpack, or suitcase) and fully-extended when searching for a travel tripod. Generally, photographers usually get travel tripods that folds up to 15 in/38 cm so that it can fit in most backpacks. But, this is not to say that you can’t find excellent travel tripods that are extremely compact at 21 in/53.34 cm or less when it’s folded.
Ideally, you would find it preferable to have a folded height of less than 21 in/53.34 cm. Most travel tripods that are built for stability and sturdiness do not exceed beyond 69 in/175.26 cm (so they keep their travel-friendly features and don’t compromise on their portability).
You would want to avoid anything under 50 in/127 cm when fully-extended, unless you don’t mind bending or crouching throughout your whole shoot, which can last several minutes to hours. I don’t think that many photographers (including myself) enjoy this, so it’s best to go for tripods that extend higher than 50 in/127 cm just to be on the safe side. A compact, study, but also lightweight tripod will inspire your to get out and photograph more often!
Weight is a serious consideration when looking for travel tripod! It’s especially important for photographers who like to shoot during their hikes or while they are backpacking in the outdoors. Ideally, you would want to bring the least amount of weight possible with you during these situations. Travel tripods that weigh under 3.85 lb/1.75 kg are highly recommended as they are usually lighter and much more comfortable to carry with you. I would also recommend to pick tripods that come with the head as a single unit.
The travel tripods mentioned in this article all arrive with the head, so that’s one less thing to worry about. A lower weight will generally inspire you to pick up your tripod more often while traveling, whereas a heavier tripod will most often stay home. If your budget allows, carbon-fibre tripods are recommended. You can still shoot freely and securely with an aluminium tripod, especially since the cost of carbon-fibre tripods can be a little too high.
You can definitely find professional-grade travel tripods that can cost in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars depending on the material. For the most part, the more expensive tripods are built with advanced material, like carbon-fibre that are easier to carry around without compromising on stability. But, this is not to say that aluminium tripods are a bad choice, in fact some may perform better than carbon-fibre tripods! Knowing your budget will help you find the perfect travel-friendly tripod without sacrificing on quality.
Other Important Factors
There are other features that also need to be considered before purchasing a travel tripod. You may also want to think about if you would like to get a travel tripod with a built-in bubble level, centre columns, and what the types of legs you would feel comfortable with. Choosing between flip-locks or twist-locks is completely personal choice. Generally, flip-lock legs are usually quicker to manipulate in a hurry but they may require more elbow grease to open and close.
The twist-lock legs may take longer to lock and unlock but you can use your whole hand, which makes the process much more smoother! (Side note: don’t forget to bring some gloves with you if you think you will be photographing in the cold). If you’re still unsure about what types of legs you would be interested in, you can watch this excellent video on that goes in great details regarding the types of legs on tripods.Now that we have established the most important features found in high-quality travel tripods, let’s dive into the 6 best travel tripods!
1) Ballachy 56-Inch Tripod with Bag
- iPhone Tripod made with lightweight aluminium and adjustable-height legs.
- Recommended max load weight is 7 lb (3.2 kg) for best performance.
The Ballachy 56-Inch Tripod with Bag is a great tripod for photographers who love to travel and need to carry their tripods around with them at all times! With the added features, this tripod definitely makes it a worthwhile purchase. The added security of the carrying bag as well as the dustproof bag are great for traveling as they will keep your tripod protected. Plus, you don’t need to buy a carrying case since the Ballachy Tripod already comes that’s built beautifully and with resistant material.
The tripod weighs 1.9 lb/0.86 kg, but can support a maximum weight capacity of 7 lb/3.2 kg. While it’s made of aluminium, it doesn’t feel bulky and it’s surprisingly quite easy to carry. The height is adjustable from 18.9 in/48 cm all the way up to 56 in/142 cm when the centre-column and legs are fully extended. It will fit comfortable in any carrying case, although I recommend using the one that is provided by the company because it’s extra roomy and you can easily store in extra essentials.
My favourite part about this tripod (apart from the included carrying bag and dustproof bag) is that it includes a smartphone adapter that is compatible with all models of smartphones. I’ve tested mine with a iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 6, iPhone 6s, and the iPhone 5s. The phones were easily able to slip into the adapter without causing any damage.
Once the smartphone was mounted, it didn’t budge and it was quite easy to shoot with! Tripods aren’t the only photography gear that can be bothersome to carry as bulky cameras can also force us to leave our photography gear. With the rise in popularity in smartphone photography, the inclusion of the smartphone adapter makes it much more appealing for photographers to shoot with the smartphones!
- Stable and sturdy tripod for all types of weather
- Buttery smooth panhead
- Great price point for a well-built tripod
- Includes a bubble-level for levelled shots
- Legs can be adjusted to accomodate different heights
- Includes a dustproof bag, a carrying bag, and a smartphone adapter for phone photography (easy to mount smartphone adapter).
- Not a con personally, but it’s important to acknowledge that this is a aluminium tripod and it’s not made from carbon-fibre. It’s still lightweight and easy to travel with.
- Doesn’t come with a ballast hook, which might be an issue for some (it’s not for me, since the tripod doesn’t move or shake in windy conditions).
2) Sirui T-025SK Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with B-00 Ball Head
- Super compact travel tripod with S Grade design, with ball head
- Extendible and removable centre column | Legs fold up by 180°, head is fully enclosed
The Sirui T-025SK Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with B-00 Ball Head is a fantastic option for a lightweight and portable tripod designed specifically for travel. Its reverse-folding legs and removable centre columns allow for easy storing and low-angle shots, respectively. The lightweight feel of this tripod at 2.2 lb/1 kg makes it an attractive option for taking alongside on explorations and journeys. The maximum load capacity of this tripod is 11 lb/5 kg. This tripod includes a carrying case for easy traveling.
The legs of this tripod can be extended from 12.2 in/31 cm to 51.2 in/130 cm. The 5-section support leg system can be extended by unlocking the twist lock system. Each section has 4 sealed twist locks that can be easily unlocked or locked with your hands. The legs are quite flexible and can be set up at any angles without compromising your tripod.The ballhead operates with great efficiency and precision. While this is an expensive model, it’s worth every penny! The compact size makes it a great buy and the carbon-fibre material won’t hold you back or slow you down!
If you’re interested in an in-depth review of this tripod because you’re considering getting the Sirui tripod, you can watch this video down below! 🙂
- One of the lightest tripods that can support a good amount of gear for hiking and backpacking trips.
- A great travel tripod for photographers who want to carry a lightweight tripod that can still deliver some height.
- Durable and sturdy due to its carbon-fibre makeup
- Compared to other travel-friendly tripods on this list, the Sirui T-025Sk Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod falls a little short in terms of extended heigh at 51.2 in/130 cm.
3) Vortex Optics Summit Tripod Series
- Our ultimate field-packing tripod, the Summit SS-P provides the perfect combination of size, weight, rugged build and fast operation. No other tripod gets out of your pack and on target quicker than a Summit.
- 3-way pan head provides smooth horizontal and vertical adjustments. Three leg angles allow for flexible positioning and reduction of tripod height for greater stability. Twist leg locks are valued for rapid adjustment of leg height and reduced bulk.
The Vortex Optics Summit Tripod Series is a lightweight, easy to use, compact, and portable tripod that is built ideal for backpacking and hiking. The 3 way panhead allows for smooth adjustments both horizontally and vertically. The 5 leg sections offers great height and can be conveniently stored away in the carrying case provided.
The tripod weighs 2.9 lb/1.31 kg and holds a maximum load capacity of 5 lb/2.26 kg. The height when collapsed is 14 in/35.56 cm to 54.33 in/138 cm when fully extended. A ballast hook is included in the bottom of the centre column, which allows you to hang a weight bag for added stability and security in windy conditions.
This is a great versatile tripod with adjustable legs and rubberized feet for additional support on rough grounds. The panhead is great, it’s quick smooth and easy to maneuver. This tripod also comes with a pretty good carrying bag which is also always super great to have provided by the manufacturer. The Vortex Optics Summit Tripod Series packs down quite light and comfortably with the carrying bag that’s included.
- Lightweight and packs compact
- Flexible and easy to use legs with a solid locking system
- Quick-release plate is easy to use
- Quick to set up and take down in a matter of seconds
- Versatile tripod can also be used with spotting scopes
- The twist-lock leg system can sometimes get jammed or they don’t lock into place properly. This can be not only inconvenient but also annoying.
- Compared to other tripods, the height is a little lower so you may need to crouch or sit down while you’re shooting.
4) Manfrotto Before Advanced Travel Tripod with Ball Head and Level Locks
- Maximum performance and stability ergonomic
- Professional QPL lever locking power in travel version
The Manfrotto Befree Advanced Travel Tripod is an ideal tripod for travelling. With its capacity to support a heavier maximum capacity, this tripod offers maximum stability and great performance. It’s optimal for photographers seeking for a travel tripod that offers great portability and is can be set up within seconds. It’s a sleek-looking tripod that provides a great support for your photography equipment in all types of terrains and weather.
This tripod is made with an innovative ballhead that helps you capture detailed shots. It also includes flip-lock legs which aren’t too common but personally my favourite (easier to setup). This tripod is extremely compact and fits most carrying bags comfortably. The height of this tripod when collapsed is 15.79 in/40 cm, but reached 59.45 in/151 cm when fully-extended. The weight of the tripod is 3.5 lb/1.59 kg but the maximum load capacity is 17.64 lb/8 kg. All in all, a great carbon-fibre tripod with excellent features.
You can watch this video for a great review/unboxing of the Manfrotto Before Advanced Travel Tripod if you think you would like to purchase this tripod.
- Rubber feet provide a stronger grip on uneven terrains
- Great leg movement that gives precise control
- Secure locking mechanisms
- Reversible centre-column for low-angle shots
- Great maximum height for such a compact tripod
- Includes a durable carrying bag.
- Quite pricey especially since similar travel tripods offer the same features for less money.
- The twist-locks can sometimes be a little hard to use.
5) Benro SLIM Carbon Fiber Lightweight Travel Tripod
- Slim profile shoulder - allows for the tripod legs to be more compact when folded.
- Anodized aluminum twist locks - only require a quick half turn to lock and unlock.
The Benro Slim Carbon Fiber Lightweight Travel Tripod is an excellent tripod for traveling, thanks to its sleek design and compact feel. This tripod folds very easily in any carrying bag or suitcase without wasting necessary space.
When the tripod is fully extended, it can reach most people at the eye-level. The height reaches a maximum of 57.6 in/146.3 cm when fully-extended and 15.7 in/40 cm when collapsed. The weight of this tripod is 2.2 lb/1 kg, but you can load a maximum weight of 8.8 lb/4 kg which is remarkable for it’s size! The twist legs are very easy to unlock and lock, and the blue accents on the legs look super clean and stylish.
This video provides an in-depth review and features of the Benro Slim Carbon Fiber Lightweight Travel Tripod if you would like to see the tripod in movement.
- A great affordable lightweight carbon-fiber travel tripod
- Solid and easy-to-use ballhead
- Provides good stability
- Great value in terms of weight, height, and size (great price for a carbon-fiber tripod)
- While this is a good tripod, the legs can sometimes feel too narrow, but they won’t collapse or break as long as you don’t go over the maximum load capacity. Still a great tripod for lightweight usage.
6) Vanguard VEO 265CB Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with VEO 2 BH-50 Ball Head
- Exclusive And innovative central column system that allows you to set the central column and tripod legs in less than 15 seconds
- 1st rate carbon fiber material for lightweight & long-lasting working sessions and advanced twist lock system for fast and rock solid position setting
The Vanguard VEO 265CB Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is designed for an easy and stress-free traveling. You can easily store it in your backpack, camera bag, suitcase, or carry-on bag. The tripod is relatively fast to set-up with the twist-lock system, it takes a few seconds for the tripod to reach maximum height with full-extension. The rubber feet ensure that the tripod stays rock solid in the outdoors.
It offers a maximum load capacity of 17.6 lb/8 kg while it weighs only 2.98 lb/1.35 kg. The tripod reaches a height of 16.38 in/41.6 cm when collapsed and 59 in/150 cm while fully-extended. This tripod is made with quality material and it’s built to last for many years and throughout many travels.
This short review of the Vanguard VEO 265CB Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod provides an overview of the great features of this tripod!
- Height accommodates most people,
- Secure and durable centre column, which flips up when you want to extend it and slides back down with the help of a button
- Easy to adjust legs, folds tightly, a great carbon-fibre tripod.
- Legs are a bit skinny and flimsy and can sometimes cause vibration movement
- A little expensive for a carbon-fibre tripod (but still worth it)
- Twist-lock legs are not as easy to clean up after visiting the beach.
MeFoto Backpacker S Travel Tripod/Monopod
- The MeFOTO BackPacker folds up inversely, and is available in several colors in aluminum. When incorporated with the MeFOTO SideKick iPhone tripod mount(not included), the BackPacker makes the perfect travel companion.
- Converts to monopod - the center column connects to the tripod leg to form a full size monopod.
- Collapsed height: 13.2 in/33.53 cm
- Extended height: 54.7 in/138.94 cm
- Weight: 3.17 lb/1.48 kg
- Maximum load capacity: 13.2 lb/2.95 kg
- Head Type: Ballhead
- Leg Type: Twist-lock system
- As the name implies, this tripod is designed for backpacking across the world and it’s quite great for this function!
MeFoto Backpacker S Travel Tripod/Monopod is made of aluminium and provides a comfortable feel while you’re carrying it around with you. The legs and the centre-column, once extended, can reach a maximum height of 54.7 in/138.94 cm and can fold down tightly at 13.2 in/33.53 cm. The tripod can withstand a maximum load capacity of 13.2 lb/2.95 kg. The weight of the tripod is 3.17 lb/1.48, so it’s pretty lightweight perfect for trips, hikes, and all sorts of traveling.
The great thing about this tripod and what sets it apart from others is that the centre column and legs of the tripod can be converted into a monopod (so you don’t need to buy a separate monopod if you were thinking of getting both). With its fast set-up, you can ensure that this tripod will be a great companion on your next journey!
- Excellent for panoramic shots thanks to its smooth ballhead
- Includes an extension hook to add extra weights, which is ideal for long exposure shots.
- Converts easily and effortlessly into a monopod which can save you money if you are thinking of purchasing a tripod and a monopod.
- Twist-lock legs can get stuck sometimes
- Compared to the other tripods offered on this list, this one is not the most sturdy nor solid but it’s still a pretty good option as long as you don’t overburden your tripod with too much extra weight.
That’s the end of my list for the top 7 best travel-friendly tripods that are tried and tested! I would also like to remind you that you can also use the tripods with your smartphones or GoPros while you’re shooting during your journeys. With the exception of the Ballachy tripod, you will have to get a smartphone adapter for the other tripods as they do not come with one. But for that reason (and many others), the Ballachy tripod is my recommended choice for the best travel tripod especially considering the great features it comes with for an excellent price point!
Final Words: General Tips for Traveling with a Tripod
I’d like to leave you with a few tips and tricks for traveling with your tripod.
On a Plane:
As stated in the TSA guidelines, tripods can be carried on flights in carry-on bags or checked bags as long as it meets the requirements of the airline. It may happen that an inspector asks you to check-in your tripod because it can be considered as a weapon. It happened a few times to me, so I always call the airline before flying and have a back-up plan in case I need to check mine in. Don’t check-in your camera though, it can get stolen, keep that with you in your carry-on bag.
In a Public Location with lots of Tourists and Visitors:
While visiting certain locations such as museums, monuments, government or religious buildings, the use of a tripod may be forbidden. I recommend to call ahead, potentially limiting any risks of having entry denied due to your tripod. If you plan to go to a beach or any similar locations, it’s always a good idea to wipe your tripod with a washcloth after going to dusty, salty, rainy and muddy locations.
As part of my yearly cleaning routine, I throughly clean out my tripod. This helps extend the life of my tripod while keeping it in a pretty good condition. I have tripods that look brand new even though they are a couple years old!
Happy travels and don’t forget to take tons of shots to forever capture those everlasting moments! 🙂