Best Travel Tripod for Lightweight Backpacking Adventures

best travel tripods in 2018

If you’re traveling with your camera in 2020, be sure sure to pack a travel tripod.

A tripod will let you blur flowing water or star trails for beautiful long exposure photography, create engaging time-lapse video, capture panoramic landscapes… or just take a better selfie!

Tripods also allow you to get sharper and clearer photos than shooting handheld.

PeakDesignTravelTripod
Peak Design Travel Tripod

Revolutionary design with useful, well-implemented features. Best all round - highly recommended.

Check Current Price

A travel tripod needs to be strong, small and lightweight, preferably offering both carbon fiber and aluminum options to suit every budget.

The best models also include unique features to make the experience more efficient and enjoyable.

Here are the best 7 travel tripods of the year.

Best Travel Tripod in 2020

Image Product Features
shk2-table__imagePeak Design Travel TripodOUR #1 CHOICE
  • Multiple Unique Features
  • Compact Ball Head
  • Rigid & Strong
  • Easily Packable
View Price →
shk2-table__image3 Legged Thing Punks CoreyHIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  • Strong Legs & Ballhead
  • Multiple Attachment Points
  • Multiple Bubble Levels
  • Attractive/Unique Design
View Price →
shk2-table__imageZomei Z699CGREAT VALUE
  • Best Value for Money
  • Flexible Monopod Convertability
  • Impressively Strong
  • Tall yet Compact
View Price →
shk2-table__imageMefoto Roadtrip
  • Great Value for Money
  • Fun Colours
  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Simple to use
View Price →
shk2-table__imageManfrotto BeFree
  • Good Value for Money
  • Popular brand
  • Fast Leg Deployment
  • Strong Ball Head
View Price →
shk2-table__imagePedco UltraPod
  • Excellent Value for Money
  • Versatile Strap for Securing
  • Featherlight - 0.26 lbs (119 g)
  • Sturdy as a Grip for Vloggers
View Price →
shk2-table__imageJoby GorillaPod 5K
  • Incredibly Versatile
  • Flexible Design
  • Strong Ball Head
  • Compact
View Price →

 

1. Peak Design Travel Tripod

photographers love innovative centre column

See More Reviews

Material: Carbon fiber or aluminum alloy | Maximum height: 153cm / 60.2″ | Minimum height: 14cm / 5.5″| Folded length: 39cm / 15.3″ | Weight: (Alu) 1.56kg / 3.4 lb (CF) 1.27kg / 2.79lb | Feet: Pads (spikes optional extra) | Leg sections: 5 | Max load: 9kg / 19.8lb

Pros
  • Ultra-compact storage
  • Well built and durable
  • Quick to deploy
  • Unique & innovative features
Cons
  • High price
  • Often out of stock

Most famous for its Everyday Backpack, Peak Design rocked the photography community with the release of its innovative and highly functional Travel Tripod, with a premium price tag offset by a lifetime warranty and features not found on other tripods

  • Size

The standout feature of the Peak Design Travel Tripod (review) is its unique ability to collapse into a tubular unit, similar in diameter to a can of beans. When folded, there’s none of the ‘dead space’ which is typical of other tripods – it’s svelte enough to slide into the water bottle holder of a travel backpack, with no protruding ball head and ultra-compact quick release plate. Folded height is impressive, at only 39cm.

10/10

  • Max Height

At full extension (153cm), it’s tall enough for comfortable usage, while still retaining good rigidity. It’s best to avoid extending center columns if possible, particularly on windy days, but this is the case with all lightweight tripods.

9/10

  • Weight

Both the aluminum and carbon fiber travel tripods are relatively lightweight – there are certainly lighter products, but they often sacrifice strength and rigidity. The 29g weight saving for the carbon fiber tripod may not be worth the extra price.

8/10

  • Build

As with all Peak Design products, the Travel Tripod is very well designed and built. There’s also a lifetime guarantee, perfect for backpackers and frequent travelers.

10/10

  • Sturdiness

Despite having 5 leg sections, the stiffness and damping of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is impressive. With a maximum load capacity of 9kg, you can safely support any camera + zoom lens. In high winds, there’s a hook beneath the center column to hang a weight (e.g. your backpack!)

9/10

  • Features
carbon fibre section legs minimised tripod weight

Innovative features that don’t exist on other travel tripods. (Bottom left: smartphone holder concealed in centre column.)

Best lightweight travel tripod features, bar none. Stem of the ball head nestles between the tops of the tripod legs when collapsed, ensuring no protrusions and compact storage. Lever locks can be controlled with one hand, while you adjust the camera angle with the other, making adjustment of locking angles fast and efficient. Legs slide in and out smoothly, and leg locks are strong yet easy to open – full deployment of all 5 sections is very fast.

Center column hook conceals a mobile phone holder, neatly tucked away (see also: Peak Design Mobile Review). Rubber feet are replaceable for spikes, and the column can be inverted for macro photography camera setups. Even the protective case is well-designed, with all-over padding and not an inch of superfluous material.

10/10

  • Value

This is by no means a budget tripod – you’re paying for a unique design and innovative features that don’t exist on other models. Lifetime warranty is a huge benefit, making the price tag more palatable. Aluminum model is best bang for your buck, although carbon fiber feels/looks better, and has a slight weight advantage (I own the CF).

8/10

The Peak Design Travel Tripod is truly one of a kind. It beats all other travel tripods in 2020 with a unique space-saving body / ball-head design, fast leg deployment, impressive strength to weight ratio and overall good looks, giving it that desirable x-factor. Highly recommended. Final Score: 64/70

2. 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey

low tripod weight + sturdy ball heads + 2 bubble levels

See More Reviews

Material: Magnesium alloy | Maximum height: 147.5cm / 58″ | Minimum height: 18.5cm7.2″  Folded length: 35cm / 13.67″ | Weight: 1.5kg / 3.4 lb | Feet: Pads (spikes optional extra) | Leg sections: 5 (+ 2 section column) | Max load: 14kg / 30lb

Pros
  • Multiple attachment points
  • Stylish design
  • Strong legs
  • 14kg maximum load capacity
Cons
  • Colours not for every taste

3 Legged Thing is a British tripod company, specialising in multi-functional tripods and accessories, often with quirky design features. The lightweight, compact and impressively strong Punks Corey offers high quality at a reasonable price. It’s our second best travel tripod of 2020.

  • Size

Designed specifically for travel, the Punks Corey tripod packs down to an impressive 35cm / 13.67″, with the legs folding back 180 degrees over the center column, helping to create a slim overall packed diameter for your camera bag.

9/10

  • Max Height

At (147.5cm / 58″) extended height, the 3 Legged Thing is tall enough for comfortable usage, while still good rigidity. Legs can be positioned at multiple locking angles, or splayed close to the ground for low-angle or close-up travel photography.

8/10

  • Weight

At 1.5kg / 3.4 lb, the Punks Corey is a lightweight travel tripod for photographers who prefer to travel carry-on only.

8/10

  • Build

Aircraft-grade magnesium alloy construction is unique for travel tripods, offering excellent durability and one of the best strength:weight ratios. Excellent ball head design.

10/10

  • Sturdiness

With 5 leg sections and a unique 2 section center column, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey travel tripod maintains great rigidity. A unique detachable d-ring under the column allows you to hang extra weight for increased stability. Impressive maximum load capacity of 14 kg / 30 lb.

9/10

  • Features
3LT good for landscape photography

Unique design and useful details make for a fun and functional travel tripod.

Twist locks offer fast leg deployment. Double center column increases rigidity and allows efficient fine-tuning of overall height. Fast adjusting AirHed Neo ball head with grippy knobs. precision engineered leg lock system offer excellent stability and rigidity. 2 spirit levels (head/leg) for precise leveling. Ergonomic ‘bubble’ grip leg locks for all-weather use. Detachable monopod.

Invertible column for macro camera setups. 1/4″ screw foot with multiple accessory options. Tri-mount plate with hollowed spurs for clipping on accessories. Durable drawstring bag. ‘Toolz’ multi tool, including hex key, coin key, key ring, carabiner and bottle opener! Attractive colours.

10/10

  • Value

Good value to suit most budgets. 5 year limited warranty against manufacturing defects.

9/10

Detachable monopod leg, the ability to splay the legs completely for low-angle work, unique detailing, friction control knob design, excellent strength:weight ratio and overall efficiency in use. Highly recommended lightweight tripod. Final Score: 63/70

3. ZOMEI Z699C

center columns between section legs series 1

See More Reviews

Material: Carbon fiber | Maximum height: 152cm / 60″ | Minimum height: 35cm / 3.7″ | Folded length: 35cm / 15″ | Weight: 1.3kg / 3.3lb | Feet: Pads and spikes | Leg sections: 5 | Max load: 15kg / 33lb

Pros
  • Great value for money
  • Folds up nice and small
  • Super light weight
  • Converts to monopod
Cons
  • Cheap quality protective bag
  • Not ideal for cold weather/gloved operation

Although relatively unheard of in the travel photography industry, Zomei is a reputable manufacturer of camera filters and tripods. The Z699C is a surprisingly affordable compact carbon fiber travel tripod.

  • Size

Folded up, the Zomei Z699C travel tripod (review) is compact enough to suit any camera bag. Folded height (35cm / 15″) is among the best in class.

10/10

  • Max Height

At full extension (152cm / 60″), the Zomei tripod is tall enough for comfortable usage, while still retaining good rigidity. Legs can be locked at multiple angles, or splayed close to the ground for low-angle or close-up travel photography.

9/10

  • Weight

Arguably the best lightweight travel tripod, at 1.3kg / 3.3 lb. Plastic tripod head helps keep weight down. Carbon fiber construction offers best weight savings. Carbon fiber tripods are stiffer, lighter, more weather/corrosion/scratch-resistant, and in general, stronger than aluminum. They also look and feel nicer.

9/10

  • Build

Legs slide smoothly and locks on each leg can be deployed all at once with one hand. Grips could be larger/grippier for cold-weather / gloved operation. Leg grips a nice addition and provide padding when in transit. Plastic ball head is basic but includes bubble level. Protective bag feels budget but does its job.

7/10

  • Sturdiness

Good rigidity and center column hook for additional stability. Surprisingly sturdy considering its light weight – max load of 15kg / 33lb can support any camera / lens combination.

9/10

  • Features
leg section, 4 grippy locks minimise tripod weight

The Zomei features everything most photographers need.

Reverse folding design. Monopod conversioon. Multiple leg angles including inverted macro. Contoured rubber feet for flat and metal ‘spikes’ for outdoor/uneven surfaces. Twist locks for fast deployment.

7/10

  • Value

The Zomei Z699C is the best value compact carbon fiber travel tripod of 2020. You won’t find carbon fiber at this build quality for less.

10/10

If you’re looking for great bang your buck this is the best lightweight travel tripod, this is it. Details aren’t as impressive as higher priced rivals, but operation is decent and size/weight/strength are competitive. Final Score: 61/70

4. Mefoto Roadtrip S

series 1 mefoto

See More Reviews

Material: Aluminum / Carbon Fiber | Maximum height: 150.8cm / 59.4″ | Minimum height: 35.5cm / 14″ | Folded length: 35.5cm / 13.98″ | Weight: (Alu) 1.55kg / 3.42lb (CF) 1.33kg / 2.93 lb | Feet: Pads | Leg sections: 5 | Max load: 8kg / 17.64lb

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Great build for the price point
  • Light and compact
Cons
  • Thin legs
  • Maximum load capacity below average

Mefoto is a manufacturer of colourful, wallet-friendly travel tripods. The Roadtrip S is a newer version of their hugely popular Classic line, refined for the traveling photographer, available in both aluminum and carbon fiber.

  • Size

The Roadtrip S tripod offers an impressively compact folded length of 35.5cm / 13.98″ , and center column which tucks neatly between its legs when folded.

9/10

  • Max Height

At 150.8cm / 59.4″ fully extended, the Roadtrip S tripod provides comfortable usage in most situations.

8/10

  • Weight

Despite being a compact travel tripod, the RoadTrip S isn’t the lightest on this list, at 1.55kg / 3.42lb for the aluminum and 1.33kg / 2.93 lb for carbon fiber.

7/10

  • Build

The RoadTrip is a budget tripod, but thankfully the build is above average at this price point. Nothing spectacular, but good enough for frequent backpacking adventures. Ball head does its job.

8/10

  • Sturdiness

Stiffness is let down by thin legs and a 20 degree leg angle – slightly too narrow for optimum stability. Maximum load capacity of 8kg / 17.64lb lower than average, but enough for most camera + lens setups.

7/10

  • Features
 

Reverse folding design and full size monopod conversion, by combining one of the legs with the center column. Dual-action tripod head with Arca-Swiss quick release plate and separate controls for pan lock and ball lock. Available in 5 attractive colours.

7/10

  • Value

Best value option – both aluminum and carbon fiber tripods represent excellent value for money. Go for the carbon fiber tripod for the weight saving and additional rigidity. 2 year warranty is extended to 5 years when registered online. Best travel option for tight budgets.

10/10

Mefoto won’t win any awards for design, but the price tag is hard to fault. For budget-conscious travel, the RoadTrip S is compact and light enough for every trip, with a 5 year warranty for best peace of mind. Final Score: 57/70

5. Manfrotto BeFree Advanced

manfrotto befree advanced travel tripod easy to use

See More Reviews

Material: Aluminum / Carbon Fiber | Maximum height: 150.8cm / 59.4″ | Minimum height: 40cm / 15.7″ | Folded length: 40cm / 15.75″ | Weight: (Alu) 1.58kg / 3.5lb (CF) 1.24kg / 2.75 lb | Feet: Pads | Leg sections: 4 | Max load: 8kg / 17.64lb

Pros
  • Trusted brand
  • Quick to deploy
  • Strong ballhead
  • Well built
Cons
  • Lower than average maximum load capacity
  • Slightly heavier than other options

Manfrotto is a popular and well-regarded Italian tripod manufacturer. The Befree Advanced is the second version in its series of compact, affordable and lightweight travel tripods – much more compact than the also popular Manfrotto Element Traveller Big lightweight tripod.

  • Size

With its thin legs, folded length of 40cm / 15.75″, and center column which tucks neatly between the tripod legs when folded, the BeFree tripod takes up little space in a travel bag.

8/10

  • Max Height

At 150.8cm / 59.4″ full extended height, the BeFree is average of the best travel tripods, offering comfortable usage, particularly if you intend to use a camera with a 90 degree rotational LCD screen.

8/10

  • Weight

Despite being a compact travel tripod, the BeFree is somewhat let down by its weight – by no means heavy at 1.58kg / 3.5lb for the aluminum version, serious travelers may consider spending more for carbon fiber, for a 34g / 0.07lb weight saving.

7/10

  • Build

Manfrotto tripods offer excellent build for the price, and the BeFree Advanced is no exception. Rubberised twist locks offer fast and secure operation. Ball head strong and simple to use.

9/10

  • Sturdiness

Stiffness is let down slightly by thin lower legs, but damping/resonance is still very good. Maximum load capacity of 8kg / 17.64lb lower than average, but enough for even the heaviest pro camera + zoom lens.

7/10

  • Features

manfrotto travel tripod details

Reverse folding tripod design. 494 Center Ball Head with ergonomic and independent controls for pan and tilt. Side-pull selections provide secure leg angle positioning. Nothing particularly unique, though.

7/10

  • Value

Both tripod models provide good value for money, with the aluminum model being best bang for your buck.

9/10

The Manfrotto Befree is a hugely popular travel tripod from a respected brand. There are no stand-out features, but decent all-round design and operation in a lightweight travel-friendly package. Final Score: 55/70

6. Pedco UltraPod

tripod weight reduced - no section legs

See More Reviews

Material: Nylon/Aluminum | Maximum height: 15.2cm / 6″ | Folded length: 17.8cm / 7″ | Weight: 119g / 0.26lb | Feet: Pads | Leg sections: 1 | Max load: 2.7kg / 6lb

Pros
  • Ultra light
  • Versatile velcro strap system
  • Small and portable
  • Affordable
Cons
  • Low height
  • Low maximum load

Produced by US brand Industrial Revolution, the Pedco Ultrapod is a unique form of table-top tripod, featuring a velcro strap which allows it to be secured to objects for multiple placement options. Small and light enough to be carried on every trip. Best as a second tripod, next to a full size travel tripod.

  • Size

As a mini (aka tabletop) tripod, the Pedco Ultrapod (review) is obviously much smaller than full size tripods. If you don’t need the height, a table-top tripod is perfect for travellers.

10/10

  • Height

With an extended height of only 15.2cm / 6″, you’ll need to squat behind your camera for ground use, or place it on a wall or secure object for comfortable operating height.

5/10

  • Weight

Pocket tripods are light and best for travel photography when airline weight limits are tight. At only 119g / 0.26lb, you can even carry the Ultrapod tripod in your jacket pocket.

10/10

  • Build

Fiberglass reinforced nylon resin legs feel durable enough. Camera attachment point is a little fiddly but remains secure. No ball head – just a 1/4″ screw and base.

7/10

  • Sturdiness

At such a low extended height, there’s zero sway. However, the meagre maximum load capacity (2.7kg / 6lb) may restrict usage, although generally enough for most DSLR or mirrorless camera + zoom lens set ups. Choose placement wisely.

8/10

  • Features
cons of ultrapod - fixed height and less max load

Ultra-lightweight table top tripod with unique velcro fastening feature.

Ball and socket head allows for 360 degrees of panning and tilt/angle +/- 90 degrees. One tripod leg longer than the others, allowing simpler balancing of longer lenses. D-ring velcro strap transforms the Ultrapod into an impressively versatile pocket tripod – allows secure attachment to trees, posts, railings, etc.

7/10

  • Value

Cheap enough for any budget and best travel option out of all the tripods reviewed.

10/10

These lightweight tripods can be carried in addition to a full-size tripod, and the Pedco Ultrapod is the most versatile of the bunch. At this price, it’s an ideal lightweight travel companion for a stable shot. Overall best lightweight tripod in this category. Final Score: 57/70

7. Joby Gorillapod 5K Kit

series 1 gorillpod has no cons

See More Reviews

Material: Plastic/Aluminum | Maximum height: 38.5cm / 15.1″ | Folded length: 38.5cm / 15.1″ | Weight: 739g / 1.74lb | Feet: Pads | Leg sections: 1 | Max load: 5kg / 11lb

Pros
  • Felxible legs
  • Compact
  • Durable build
  • Works as grip for vlogging
Cons
  • Low height
  • Only 1 year warranty

Synonymous with one-handed filming and YouTubers for almost a decade, the Gorillapod 5K is a machined aluminum flexible tripod with strong ball head, providing multiple placement possibilities for travel photography or video shooting. They also make the best travel tripods if you’re tight on space.

  • Size

As a mini (aka tabletop) tripod kit, the Gorillapod 5K tripod kit is a lot smaller than other travel tripods. It’s not as small as the Pedco Ultrapod, but still takes up little room in your travel bag.

10/10

  • Height

Gorillapods don’t have an fully extended height, since they are intended to be used with the legs partially splayed, or bent to wrap around thin objects. Either way, you’ll usually be either crouching down, or trying to find something higher to secure it to or balance it on.

5/10

  • Weight

With its sturdy aluminum parts and robust ball head, the Gorillapod 5K tripod kit is the heaviest of flexible tripods, but still the best lightweight flexible travel tripod.

9/10

  • Build

The strongest of Gorillapod tripods, with a high quality ball head and bending legs. Best tripod for travel when camera bag space is at a minimum, but tripod head strength/durability is still required for heavier setups.

9/10

  • Sturdiness

As long as your zoom lens weighs less than 3kg / 6.6lb (most do), the Gorillapod 5K tripod will support all sub 2kg / 4.4lb cameras – basically any camera you’re likely to take backpacking! Leg joints are stable and strong, but you’ll need to find thin tubular objects to wrap them around, or flat surfaces for optimum stability (since all leg lengths are identical).

7/10

  • Features
multiple flexible section legs

For such a compact tripod, the ball head is surprisingly heavy-duty.

Ballhead with Arca-Swiss quick release plate. Anodized aluminum construction for strength & smooth movement. Rubberized ring and foot grips stabile in difficult terrain. It’s flexible!

7/10

  • Value

Great value for money – make sure you get the 5k ‘Kit’ option, which includes the BallHead – you can use your own, but this may affect overall stability. 1 year warranty – not the best, but still adequate for regular travel.

9/10

Gorillapods allow you to secure your camera to objects for variety in shooting angles and additional convenience when traveling alone. Rubberised ball joints provide grippy finger placement for one-handed selfies and vlogging. Final Score: 57/70

How to Choose a Travel Tripod

  • Size (when folded) – smaller the better for packability.
  • Height – closest to user’s eye level is best, if sturdiness/strength is maintained. Min height allows macro/close-up work.
  • Weight – lighter the better, if sturdiness/strength is preserved. Between 1-1.5kgs offers good strength:weight.
  • Build – carbon fiber is better for strength:weight, but more expensive. Overall build quality also examined.
  • Sturdiness – rigidity under load vs maximum weight capacity; number of leg sections (less is better).
  • Value for money – justifiable price based on overall quality. Within the budget of average travel photographer / backpacker.
  • Additional Tripod Features – anything unique that adds value.

Final Words

Shopping for a travel tripod can be a confusing experience due to the number of products on the market here in 2020.

This is compounded by the large number of unknown brands producing similar spec models on Amazon.

Stick to the travel tripods on this list to narrow your choices to the best options for the average traveling photographer.

Remember to take a tripod on your next trip – you’ll come home with a wider variety of photos, and even if you travel alone, there’ll be more pictures featuring you!

PeakDesignTravelTripod
Peak Design Travel Tripod

Revolutionary design with useful, well-implemented features. Best all round - highly recommended.

Check Current Price

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.

39
Mark Condon

Mark Condon is a British wedding photographer based in Australia and the founder of Shotkit.