The 16 Best Travel Tripods – Lightweight and Compact Options [2019]

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Travel tripods carry out the same basic tasks as a standard tripod. The difference is, these tripods are strong enough to carry most standard DSLR cameras and lenses, yet compact enough to fold up and throw into your camera travel bag or luggage.

If you want to get serious about taking better pictures, it’s time to invest in a travel tripod and take your travel photography to the next level.

Why Buy a Tripod For Travel

Perhaps the question here should really be why wouldn’t you buy a travel tripod for your next adventure? If you’re already the proud owner of a quality camera and all the accessories that go with it, then your travel tripod will be the icing on the cake in your photographic armory.

Your tripod will let you capture images where the human hand just can’t cope. Take long exposures in dim lighting and selfies the like of which will never have been seen before, all with the help of a handy travel tripod.

A tripod will offer you rigidity where there otherwise would be none, helping you to create and capture stunning, seamless, shake-free pictures that benefit from maximum image stabilization and improved lighting conditions.

You may only use your travel tripod for a small number of the images you capture while traveling, but they’ll be some of the best you’ve ever created!

Things to Consider With Travel Tripods

Size and Weight

As you’ll be taking this tripod with you while you travel, the size and weight are 2 of the most important aspects you need to consider. Your tripod will need to be lightweight and compact enough to fit in your luggage, but also strong and sturdy enough to do its job.

As a general rule, larger tripods are heavier and harder to squeeze into your backpack or suitcase, but they’ll be more stable. Smaller, lightweight tripods will be easy to stow with your clothes, but you might be compromising the durability of the tripod.

If you want the best of both worlds, be prepared to pay for it. Professional level tripods offer tip-top stability but are made from state of the art materials that are light and easy to carry.

Material and Durability

The material your travel tripod is made from will directly affect how well it performs, how long it will last, and how heavy it is (or isn’t) to carry. More expensive materials tend to weigh less and be more durable, while cheaper tripods are conversely, heavier yet not always as reliable or long lasting.

Most travel tripods are made from aluminum — a cheap material that handles the elements well. Durable and long-lasting, most of your standard travel tripods made from aluminum offer a cost-effective alternative to those with a higher-spec construction.

Carbon Fiber, on the other hand, is the preferred material for high-end tripods that are designed to weigh next to nothing and last for years to come.

Bottom Line: For the majority of travelers, an aluminum tripod will be just fine and help you to capture impressive pictures all around the world.

Load Capacity

Some travel tripods are better at holding heavy loads than others are. The load capacity of the tripod you choose to invest in will need to be enough to safely hold your beloved camera. Excellent images can’t be achieved with a tripod that’s struggling under the weight of top-heavy equipment, as shakes and falls will make a mockery of your finished picture.

Most modern-day tripods can comfortably handle the weight of a standard DSLR, meaning that unless you have some cumbersome lenses or other extras, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about load capacity.

Tripod Head Design

The tripod head design can affect what types of photos you’re able to take. With the right tripod head, you can take 360-degree images that will be superb. Don’t limit your creativity by getting the wrong tripod head.

Look for free-floating ball-heads, quick release plates, panoramic markings, and bubble levelers to help you capture excellent images using your travel tripod.

Ease of Use

State of the art technology is all well and good, but if you have a tripod that’s too tricky to use, you may as well not bother with it. The perfect travel tripod should be easy to erect, quick to set up, and allow for interchangeable accessories to be added, quick as a flash.

The legs should fold out, and back up again in one smooth motion, and you should never have to miss a shot because you’re too busy trying to open your tripod and attach your camera.

Legs

Not much mystery here when we say that the legs of your tripod are essential to its overall effectiveness. The majority of tripods have 3 or 4 legs, which is plenty to reduce minor wobbles. For an even more stable set-up, invest in a stone bag to weigh down the tripod and prevent unwanted shaking.

Most tripods will allow you to adjust the length of the legs using a series of locking mechanisms, and screws or flip locks to keep them held firmly in place.

Over time, the locks will loosen, and you may find your tripod takes on a lean more often than it used to. If this is the case, you can repair it or replace it, depending on how much your initial investment was.

The Best Travel Tripods

A Firm Favorite With Professionals and Amateurs Alike

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod

Weight: 5.38 pounds

Maximum Height: 56.8 inches

Folded Length: 28.8 inches

Since its introduction to the market 7 years ago, the Vanguard Alta Pro has been and is arguably still one of the best tripods that money can buy. Made from aluminum, the clever construction of the legs means this tripod can practically lay flat, allowing you to capture gorgeous images from very low angles.

A little on the heavy side, the flip lock legs are designed to hold up to 15.4 pounds of camera and gear, while the SBH-100 ball head remains sturdy and smooth. You can even add a bubble leveler.

The Alta Pro is renowned for its use of the innovative MACC (Multi-Angle Central Column) system, that allows the center column to be rotated up to 180-degrees. A real favorite with photographers the world over, this is an affordable option for savvy travelers.

Enjoy 3-Legged Flexibility or Use as a Monopod

ZoMei Z818 Light Weight Aluminium Travel Tripod

Weight: 3.7 pounds

Maximum Height: 85 inches

Folded Length: 18 inches

This handy, multi-function tripod converts from a full-size tripod into a very useful monopod. The tripod legs can be inverted and folded back 180 degrees, meaning that the ZoMei Z818 can fold up small enough to fit in your luggage.

Made from anti-corrosion magnesium and aluminum alloy tubing, this tripod is extremely lightweight and portable. Take excellent images with the separate head and pan lock functions, and make use of the smooth quick-release mounting plate for super fast tripod mobility.

With 3 different leg angle positions, you should easily be able to find the right configuration for shooting in cramped quarters or on irregular surfaces.

The rotating leg locks control 4 adjustable leg sections offering a height range of between 18 and 65 inches. This is a small tripod with a large capacity to help you capture your best travel images ever.

Extremely Versatile, Lightweight, and Foldable Tripod

JOBY GorillaPod 5K Kit

Weight: 0.8 pounds

Maximum Height: 14.5 inches

Folded Length: 14 inches

A great little addition for photographers looking to get into those hard to reach places, the Gorilla Pod 5K from JOBY is a sturdy yet lightweight alternative to traditional tripods; it’s so compact it can be carried anywhere.

Loved by some, yet hated by others, the Gorilla pod format has been around for some years now. The novel, bendy design is fun to play with, but in some cases, it can’t withstand harsh conditions or heavier loads, rendering it useless in certain circumstances.

Built from high-end plastics, rubber, aluminum, and stainless steel, the Gorilla pod 5K can hold up to 11 pounds of camera, which is pretty impressive given its diminutive stature.

Bottom Line: Wrap around an object or adjust the legs to suit your requirements, and get ready to capture impressive images with this fun, funky tripod that comes complete with its very own ball head.

The Tabletop Tripod That Packs a Punch

Sirui 3T-35K Tripod with 3T-35 Ball Head & Case

Weight: 8.8 pounds

Maximum Height: 7 inches

Folded Length: 6.2 inches

This unique and innovative little table-top tripod comes directly to you from the geniuses at Sirui — an under-the-radar Japanese firm that’s a big hit with the super hip.

With 3 possible configurations, this tiny tripod has a fixed-length center column that can reach as high as 13 inches tall, while the head itself can be attached directly to the legs for impressive, low-level shooting. It can also be used as a camera handle for shooting video.

Complete with a matched ball head, this sturdy bit of kit can support up to 5.3 pounds of weight, and the Arca Swiss-type release clamp has a sprung safety catch to prevent your camera from falling off. The foldable, rubberized feet are also useful to help the tripod itself stay stable on uneven surfaces.

A Tremendous Lightweight Tripod at an Affordable Price

Manfrotto MKCOMPACTADV-BK Compact Advanced Tripod

Weight: 3.1 pounds

Maximum Height: 64.96 inches

Folded Length: 17.3 inches

Manfrotto is famous for its ability to create excellent, innovative camera accessories at affordable prices. With this particular model, the 3-way head has an innovative, foldable mechanism that offers superb stability while still allowing you to twist and turn to perfectly frame your subject.

Made from 5 sections of reinforced aluminum, this is light enough to carry with you but strong enough to support an entry level DSLR with a standard zoom lens up to 200mm, weighing up to around 6 pounds. The 3-way head is a fun feature that offers 2 independent levers, allowing you to pan and tilt while maintaining levelness.

From 30 degree dips to 360 panoramic rotation, there’s never a reason to miss a great shot with this little number.

When not in use, the head has a unique mechanism that allows the levers to be folded, making the tripod easier and more convenient to carry than many more expensive models on the market.

A Carbon Fiber Wallet Buster

Gitzo Lightweight Traveler Series 1 Carbon Fiber Tripod

Weight: 2.3 pounds

Maximum Height: 60.2 inches

Folded Length: 16.7 inches

This superb carbon fiber tripod is the stuff of a photographer’s dreams. Not because it’s full of fancy features, but because it’s so well made it’s undoubtedly one of the best in the business.

Good looking, stylish, and incredibly lightweight, this tripod can extend to just over 60 inches high, while still holding up to 22 pounds of camera and lens. This little beauty can get down low to capture shots from unique angles, while the added strength from the carbon 6X tubes make it feel rock solid, regardless of the surface it’s sitting on.

Gitzo’s patented G-lock system is also included to help reduce the overall size of the tripod; making is easy to stow wherever you’re traveling to.

There’s also a rather lovely shoulder strap attached to sling across your arm for easy carrying on location. This is a serious bit of kit that more than does the job but comes with a hefty price tag.

Super-Fast Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

Vanguard VEO 2 265CB Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

Weight: 2.9 pounds

Maximum Height: 59 inches

Folded Length: 16.25 inches

Quick to set up and easy to take with you, this carbon fiber travel tripod is lightweight and well-made. The multi-action ball head is super sturdy and offers 3 independent options for locking, panning, and friction control to ensure perfect pictures every time.

The Arca plate gives you a quick attach and release option, while the 5 section carbon fiber legs can twist and lock to reach the right height. Even on tricky terrain, this tripod offers superior levels of stability and is on hand to help you capture images from a variety of unusual angles.

With the ability to support cameras and lenses weighing up to 17.6 pounds, but able to fold up to a compact size, this is an excellent bit of kit for keeping with you while you travel. The included tripod bag and shoulder strap make for comfortable carrying, and you’ll love the 15 seconds set up for capturing those fleeting moments.

Strong and Sturdy Saves the Day

MeFOTO Classic Aluminum Globetrotter Travel Tripod

Weight: 4.5 pounds

Maximum Height: 64.2 inches

Folded Length: 16.5 inches

Globetrotter by name and designed for the globetrotter by nature, this robust and stable tripod can carry all but the heaviest of camera setups with ease. With a 26 pound capacity, you’ll have no problem keeping your beloved camera steady and shake-free as you capture gorgeous images from every angle.

With a ball head that offers adjustable friction as well as an Arca-Swiss style compatible quick release plate and integral bubble level, you can pan and prevent uneven movements. The 360-degree panning scale will also help you to capture excellent panoramic images.

Lightweight and easy to use, the tripod legs can be also be inverted and folded back 180 degrees making it small enough to carry just about anywhere, and the MeFOTO’s innovative rubberized locking grips enable fast set up in any condition.

An Affordable Option for Those Looking to Shoot From Innovative Angles

Rangers 55” Ultra Compact and Lightweight Aluminum Tripod

Weight: 4.5 pounds

Maximum Height: 55.5 inches

Folded Length: 14 inches

Designed to be incredibly stable, the precision engineered tripod legs on the Ranger 55 are made from high-density aluminum alloy. With a load capacity of 26 pounds, you can safely secure your DSLR and lens to this very affordable tripod and capture incredible images on the go.

The 4-section column legs come with quick release flip-locks that allows you to find the correct working height in just seconds. When attached to the ball-adapter, this tripod can even be used as a monopod by removing a leg. The ball head can rotate 360-degrees, helping you to take seamless panoramic pictures and shake free shots every time.

For those looking to create something entirely new, the center axis can invert in on itself to give you the ability to shoot unusual angles from ultra-low down.

The Basic Budget Tripod by Amazon

AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag

Weight: 3 pounds

Maximum Height: 60 inches

Folded Length: 15 inches

The AmazonBasics range offers pretty good travel accessories at budget prices, and this lightweight little tripod is no exception. It won’t provide the built quality of a carbon fiber model or the flexibility of a Gorilla Pod, but it does offer a cheap solution for those looking to expand their kit on a budget.

With adjustable height legs and rubber feet, this little tripod will hold cameras and GoPro’s up to 6.6 pounds with ease. It also offers 2 built-in bubble view levels and an impressive 3-way head that allows for tilt and swivel motions as well as both portrait and landscape options.

The quick release mounting plate will ensure fast transitions between shots, and weighing in at just 3 pounds, this is one piece of equipment that you’ll be able to take everywhere with you to ensure you never miss a moment.

Great Value Tripod For Both Low and High Shots

Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series 60-Inch Aluminum Tripod

Weight: 2.5 pounds

Maximum Height: 60 inches

Folded Length: 23 inches

This aluminum alloy tripod and B200 ball head offers a sturdy and robust support system for your camera and lens set up. Lightweight and extremely portable, you can capture epic images with this inexpensive aluminum tripod.

The ball head includes a quick release plate with a safety lock to prevent the camera from slipping or falling. It can also pan 360-degrees and tilt up to 90-degrees to help you capture amazing images.

With 4 level positioning, interchangeable spike and rubber feet, and a dual-purpose mount, uneven surfaces aren’t a problem as you have the freedom to move each leg individually to find the most stable shooting position.

You can shoot images from a high position, or adjust the legs to ground level to shoot extremely low macro-shots. However you intend to use it, this is a nice looking, easy-to-use, and affordable tripod that’s compact enough to take away with you.

Not as Compact But Worth a Mention Due to Price

Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod 

Weight: 2.54 pounds

Maximum Height: 55.12 inches

Folded Length: 19.7 inches

This affordable travel tripod is made from durable and robust aluminum, yet remains lightweight and easy to fold and carry with you on your travels. Measuring less than 20 inches when folded down, you can slip this in with your luggage or other camera equipment; in fact, it even comes with its very own carrying case for extra safe storage!

The 3-way pan head is perfect for precise framing, while the 360-degree swivel functions mean that you can quickly capture excellent panoramic images or change form portrait to landscape in the blink of an eye.

The quick release plate means you can move your camera in seconds, and the 4-section, lever-locked legs provide stable and secure support even on the roughest of terrain. Not the most compact when folded, this is still an affordable tripod that’s perfect for taking away with you.

Final Thoughts

If you want to take your travel photography to the next level, or are looking for a new way to capture unique and innovative images on the go, a travel tripod will help you in ways you never imagined possible.

Lightweight, compact, and easy to stow away with you, these camera supports will help you take shake-free pictures from a wide range of angles, breathing new life into both the way you use your camera and your photography portfolio.

 

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

FAQ

Do you need a tripod for travel photography?

While some photographers prefer the ‘run and gun’ approach to travel photography, there are some situations where a tripod is essential to taking shake-free images. As there are budget options available and tripods these days are becoming smaller, lighter, and more compact, there isn’t a reason not to have one of these in your travel arsenal.

Do tripods fit all cameras?

The majority of cameras will have a 1/4″ female thread on the underside of camera and conversely tripods will have a detachable plate with a a 1/4″ male screw. Tripods will usually fit all cameras. However, a select few tripods will have a 3/8″ screw so it is best to always check the attachment just in case.

Amar Hussain

About Amar Hussain

Amar was born and raised in England, UK, embarked on an 11 country round the world gap year after graduation and then became well and truly hooked. The first gap year inspired a second which ended up being a 23 country down-the-world trip from Canada to Antarctica. Since then Amar has endeavoured to turn his gap year into a ‘gap life’ and has spent the last 10 years traveling the 7 continents.

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