You’ve got your bags packed and you’re ready to go, You do a final mental checklist of what you need to bring- money, clothes and of course that new camera you want to test out in the field. But wait. Do you have a travel tripod to hold your camera steady for that one-in-a-million shot?
You may be confused as to what constitutes a great travel tripod when looking in a sea of available products in the market. Don’t worry, we’re here to help you choose the best tripod that will perfectly suit your need. In this guide we present to you the 10 best Travel Tripods available in 2017.
What To Look For In A Travel Tripod
First things first – you definitely want a sturdy travel tripod that will be your faithful companion for years to come. For this reason, you need to look at these key features.
- Material -The best travel tripods are usually made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Each material will have their own strengths and weaknesses. Carbon Fiber is lighter but more expensive – You should look at your budget and make the decision on which to choose.
- Sturdiness – You’d want a good set of tripod legs that can survive a beating in the great outdoors. Try to extend and shorten the legs and get a good feel for the tripod’s stability. Keep in mind that you’ll be placing them on sand, salt water, asphalt, and even mud so they must be sturdy and feel solid. The head is the part where the camera attaches to the tripod. This one needs to be compact, strong and lightweight.
- Compactness -Travelers will understand the value of space – the smaller the essential equipment is, the better. The tripod should be able to fit in your bag or be stashed on a plane compartment if you plan to visit a lot of countries. Size comes at a premium, but it’s well worth it to choose a compact tripod when traveling. The maximum allowable length for items that go inside carry-on bags are 21 in. or 55 cm.
- Load Capacity – How much can the tripod hold safely? If you shoot using larger telephoto lenses you will need one with a higher capacity.
- Weight – How much does the tripod weigh? You definitely don’t want to be lugging a heavy piece of equipment around on holiday or if you are traveling light.
- Height – Extend the tripod to its maximum height. Will it be enough for the shots you’re aiming for? Also, consider the size in terms of being comfortable to use. The right length for average use is somewhere around 50 in. or 125 cm. Disregard this factor if you’re purchasing tabletop travel tripods.
You’d be surprised to find out that not all travel tripods are equal. In fact, some are better built, others have more features and there are some that can withstand medium winds and rocky terrain. Choosing the best travel tripod will mean a hassle-free shooting experience. It will save you precious time for when you’re adjusting your camera and your tripod for the best possible shot.
How Much to Pay?
The best consumer travel tripods may cost less than the most expensive professional tripod models, but they can still burn a hole in your pocket. Try to strike a good balance between what you want to use it for and how much you’ll be willing to pay out for a good tripod. Expect better build quality, materials and a lighter tripod the more you pay.
A high-end travel tripod will have better quality materials. Instead of just base aluminum, expect one that’s made of carbon fiber and/or titanium. Adjustability is a premium that you can get when you opt for a more expensive tripod. With it, you’ll be able to position your camera for a wide range of shooting style and not worry about the terrain.
Whatever your price range, our guide is here to help – We did all the legwork out of choosing from the hundreds of available travel tripods in the market and brought you the top 10 best tripods you can buy now. Each travel tripod on this list excels in one or many of the key features listed above. Take a look, compare and decide on which travel tripod is the best for you.
1. Joby GorillaPod Flexible Tripod
- Price $99.99
You’d think that the best tripods are ones that have stiff legs. Well, the GorillaPod Flexible travel tripod serves to change all that. As we found out, flexible tripods can be better than straight-legged tripods. Joby’s unusual-looking creation has flexible legs that can stand upright or be bent and wrapped around poles or other static fixtures for some truly unique shots. Stability is reinforced with rubberized foot grips, German-made TPE joints and mechanized aluminum sockets. Your camera is safely nestled atop a zinc-aluminum-stainless steel plates. The GorillaPod will stand tough and steady on all kinds of terrain.
- Unleash your photographic creativity. The GorillaPod can be securely attached to almost anything.
- Users can carry the GorillaPod to another shooting location with the legs and the camera still attached.
- Strong and tough, like its namesake.
- The X ballhead attachment is versatile engineering. You will be able to do shots that are impossible to do with a normal tripod.
- Can carry a maximum load of 5 kgs, or 11 lbs. This is enough to support pro DSLRs, the zoom and the flash attachments.
- Carries a premium price tag in exchange for strength, flexibility and high-end materials.
2. MeFOTO Globetrotter Travel Tripod
- Price $349
The Globetrotter tripod from MeFOTO has managed to ace all the key features in what makes a tripod great! You get excellent adjustability, fantastic build quality and a bang for your buck in one package. The Globetrotter makes for a good companion for photographers who are always on the go. It’s extremely flexible and has good stability, too. The pictures are clear and your camera is secured. You won’t really have to worry and spend most of your time setting it up- it’s as simple as standing the tripod, securing the camera and capturing great images each and every time. The secret behind the rock-stable platform is the addition of MeFOTO’s Anti-Rotation system.
- Amazing value for money. The photos produced are at par with other tripods ten times the cost of the Globetrotter.
- Sturdy, well-made fastenings and an aluminum frame lends a solid, stable performance outdoors without encumbering the user.
- Get professional-like images without the wallet-draining costs of owning a pro tripod rig.
- Truly adjustable. Make use of the 360-degree panning to create wide panoramic shots.
- The rugged frame and durable titanium material will stand strong even on rainy or windy days out in the beach or in the mountains.
- The Globetrotter carries a premium weight due to the excellent materials used.
- The smaller adjustable knobs could do with a proper cleaning from time to time. The travel tripod’s adjustable joints could be the first ones to break.
3. Manfrotto BeFree
- Price $149
The first thing you’d probably notice about the BeFree is how trendy it looks, and how the 6 colors can make a great fit with your personal style. Don’t write it off as a kid’s tripod though, because it can compete with the big boys in this list! The versatile travel tripod can hang with both amateur and professional photographers alike, thanks to its highly functional construction, unparalleled accessibility and ease of use. Users will be pleased that the Manfrotto BeFree can provide great photos without being overly priced.
- The portable travel tripod provides freedom of movement. It’s lightweight and easy to set up.
- It’s jazzy and attractive to look at. The colors and the brushed finish lends an air of confidence and professionalism.
- Highly adaptable, thanks to the new leg angle selector technology.
- The quick release head allows users to “release” the camera for the next location shoot quite rapidly. Simply make a few adjustments and the camera should come right off.
- Excellent adjustability allows you to place your camera and travel tripod on great shooting angles where traditional tripods fail to get decent shots.
- The BeFree is your go-to companion for lengthy trips and adventures. It’s more portable than most of the travel tripods on this list.
- Supports up to 9 lbs of weight load.
- The smaller ball isn’t made for sweeping panorama shots.
- Leg angle selector isn’t as good as compared to other pricier models of the same brand. You get the traditional lock mechanism for the legs instead of the twist mechanism, which is a toss-up preference.
- The BeFree may need additional counterweights to balance heavier rigs.
4. The Gitzo GT 1542T
- Price $849
If money is no object and you want to compete with the big leagues, then the wise choice would be the Gitzo GT. It’s a powerful model that exceeds all other travel tripods when it comes to practicality, ease of use and build quality. The GT 1542 excels in both performance and premium features; it’s what you’d want in an incredible package! Frequent flyers will love the portability and will appreciate just the right amount of weight for avoiding those extra charges!
- Can be used by hobbyists and professionals alike. The small model of the GT 1542T has the capability to replace your full rig.
- Has the Ground Level Set Shooting feature, which allows users to capture great images even in poor lighting conditions.
- The unique design and engineering lets the Gitzo GT fold to more than half its extended size. The ball head is folded and nestled within the collapsible legs, which minimizes unused space.
- Practical and easy to bring along extended trips. Simply set up, tear down and go to the next location.
- The lightweight construction makes it easy to bring about. The durable carbon fiber material makes everything stronger. Built to take a beating.
- Comes with a premium price tag. Still, given the features, it’s a good value for your money.
- May lack certain stability when positioned at awkward angles.
- The Gitzo GT does not have ball heads. You will need to purchase them separately.
5. Davis & Sanford Traverse TR553-P228
- Price $109.99
Photographers may not be familiar with the brand name Davis & Sanford, but they will be familiar with the product creator, which is Tiffen. Tiffen is a widely-accepted brand name for bags, and they have entered into the foray of camera bags. The Traverse will probably wow you when you first see it collapsing to a final portable form of only a foot long (or around 30 cm). It does so by turning in the legs to a 180-degree turn, which hides the ball head inwards and out of sight.
- Comes in with a handy ballast hook which serves the purpose of a counterweight for the heavier camera loads. Useful in windy conditions or rocky terrain.
- The aluminum legs are set in a 5-section architecture and come in with twisting locks. You’ll have an easier time adjusting to your preferred height. The max adjustment height can be set to 134 cm or 53 in.
- Release plates are patented Arca-Swiss technology. They can be quickly disengaged from the ballhead. The low profile and lightweight construction is compatible with most cameras in the market.
- Each tripod comes in with a bubble level and built-in calibrations for a more precise shooting setup.
- Has a locking knob that controls the ball movement. A separate knob handles the panning movement.
- Weighs in at just 1.1 kg or 2.6 lbs while offering a max weight load of 10 lbs.
- Not as stable as the heavier travel tripods on this list.
- Serviceable maximum height for most common shots.
6. 3 Legged Thing Punks Rick
- Price $259
The name is really simple- a tripod is definitely a 3-legged thingy! The 3 Legged Thing nicely fills in a particular niche in the travel tripod market. It’s a cross between professional and amateur. Beginner photographers will get a lot of value when they choose this mid-range tripod to bring with them to vacations and far-off locations.
- You get durable grips on a ParaLock leg mechanism, which enhances overall camera and picture stability even in the rockiest of landscapes.
- A smooth 360-degree pan head is great for creating that poignant panorama. The quick release plate is a welcome feature for shoot-and-move situations.
- Collapsibility is an honorable mention. You can pack the 3 Legged Thing easily in your travel backpack or camera bag.
- Users will be astonished at the one-two punch of the quick lock leg system coupled with the tripod’s tough carbon fiber body.
- May falter in the most extreme shooting conditions. Adventure photographers may find better travel tripods that match their need.
- The ball head is barely enough to stabilize cameras with heavy zoom lenses. Users will have to sacrifice balance and stability.
7. BENRO GoTravel Tripod
- Price $290
Quality comes at a price, and the GoTravel Tripod from BENRO delivers at this level. It’s also worthy to note that the GoTravel is one of the best that has come out of the BENRO brand so far. The wealth of helpful features make it a must-have for any traveler looking to take great pictures. The monopod capability is a huge plus in our books. If you want a cool travel tripod that’s loaded with awesome features, then the choice clearly goes to the GoTravel. You won’t be disappointed!
- Thick, shock-absorbent rubber coats the tripod legs. You can carry it comfortably and on long distances.
- The spiked feet is useful for when you need to keep it steady soft ground for an extra-stable shot.
- Precise angle adjustments are made easy, thanks to the center column’s quick flip feature.
- Monopod capability is a unique feature that’s not present on all travel tripods. With it, users can squeeze in tight spots and get in a terrific shot where traditional tripods fail.
- Flexible and has a weight that’s neither too heavy nor too light.
- The other fixtures are quite flimsy. You’ll need to handle some of the more delicate parts, such as the column lock with care.
- Does not include a ball head. You’ll need to purchase one separately.
8. RetiCam Tabletop Tripod
- Price $31.99
An absolute steal for the price. This is what you can expect when you go for the tabletop tripod from RetiCam. It will serve its purpose excellently for when you need to shoot in close quarters. You’ll thank the stars you have the RetiCam when you’re wishing for a tabletop tripod!
- Includes a carrying case.
- Lightweight; comes with some extra accessories.
- The 3-way tilting head allows for adjustments to get that excellent shot.
- Aluminum frame is stable and steady.
- Comes in very handy for when you need a steady shot but there’s a premium in real estate. Shines in situations where a full tripod is impossible to set up.
- The RetiCam is on a whole different level from the professional rigs on this list. Photographers will appreciate this tabletop tripod’s ability to get in quality shots in restrictive space.
9. ZOMEI Z699C
- Price $139.99
Carbon fiber on travel tripods are arguably the best material you can hope for, but that usually comes with a higher price tag. The ZOMEI Z699C seeks to disprove this theory- it puts out some impressive tripod specs at a very affordable price. Is it really too good to be true? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
- The Z699C’s legs can be transformed into either a tripod or a monopod. It can even be turned into an alpenstock for when you’re hiking.
- There’s a built-in spirit level that works great when going for a perfectly balanced setup. Spirit levels are largely underrated pieces that should go with good travel tripods.
- Ballhead has precision markings on the circumference for panoramic scene photography. Get a smoother panning motion with the adjustable side knob.
- Small footprint when folded up. It can churn out an impressive length of 151 cm or 59 in. when fully extended.
- Travel-friendly tripod clocking in at 35 cm or 13.7 in. length. You can put it on your carry-on luggage or in the included tripod bag.
- Carbon fiber material and construction. The special 8 layers of carbon fiber weaving presents a much stronger and more durable alternative to aluminum alloy materials. It can hold up a max load of 15 kg or 33 lbs.
- Extended size benefits the tallest photographers on Earth. Otherwise, the standard length should be sufficient for most photography shoots. The relatively unknown branding may put off some photographers or travelers.
10. Sony VCT-R100
- Price $28.98
Simple, affordable and compact. It’s Sony’s offering that has somehow sneaked into the top 10 best travel tripods as a no-nonsense item. Though it may look to be crafted for the amateur photographer, the Sony R100 does simple quite well and effectively. Backpackers will appreciate the tripod’s ability to hold the camera steady for a great shot.
- Incredible value for its price.
- Intended for lightning-quick setup and easy shooting.
- A cheap, no-frills travel tripod that can be put into any backpack.
- Deployment and retracting is fast. No fiddling around with twisting joints, latches or levers.
- Weighs in at just 816 gram or 1.8 lbs. Extended height is modest.
- Not to be used for extended periods of travel.
- Very lightweight at 1 kg.
- Caters to the most basic of tripod uses.
So which Tripod suits you the best ? What most travel photographers would be looking for is a perfect balance between weight, quality and stability. Affordability is an important factor that depends on your budget. Keep in mind that when it comes to buying products, you get what you pay for. Thankfully, all the Tripods on this list are considered as affordable for the value they bring. You’ll enjoy years of solid use and get great shots when you bring your chosen travel tripod with you wherever you go!