The compact Punks Travis has arrived. Could it be the only tripod you’ll ever need?
30 second 3LT Punks Travis review…
The 165cm, 1.6kg Punks Travis tripod is the latest innovation from 3 Legged Thing. As with past tripods from the company, it features the signature design, colours and branding, but don’t let funky graphics and anodized parts distract you from the fact that this is a very serious tripod.
Tripods are primarily designed to do one thing and that is to support your camera, anything else that they do is secondary. The Punks Travis packs in features but at its core it’s a sturdy support, the fact that it’s lightweight, packs down small, can be used as a monopod and can hold almost any camera and lens combo is all an added bonus.
This is a true general purpose tripod, one that doesn’t sit in a cupboard gathering dust but will be out with you on every shoot and will become a trusty friend. It doesn’t want to stay clean and shiny, rather it begs to be thrown in to the back of the car, dragged across hills and used as part of your daily kit.
If I am to find fault with the Punks Travis then it is in the fact that in order to supply flexibility of use there is a certain amount of dismantling, unscrewing, bolting and swapping of parts, but none of this takes too long. Whatever configuration you choose, that vital primary function of the tripod remains, as a product to provide you with a firm steady support for your camera.
Tripod Name – Punks Travis
Tripod type – Professional Entry Level
Price at launch – £149/$179
Weight – 1.6kg / 3.6 Ib
Max height with center column – 160cm / 65 inches
Max height without center column – 139cm / 55 inches
Minimum height with centre column – 45cm / 17.5 inches
Minimum height without centre column – 110cm / 4.25 inches
Packed down height – 45cm / 17.5 inches
Max pay load – 18kg
3 Legged Thing is a tripod company with a difference. Unlike the bulk of today’s manufacturers it designs its tripods from the ground up, and that work and care is apparent from the moment you pick up the box.
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Travis Punk, or for that matter any 3 Legged Thing tripod, is the graphics. These have absolutely no bearing on the function of the tripod, they are just there to make it look nice. But they show that this is a company that wants to stand out and be different.
Take the tripod out of the box and you gain your first real impression. The Punks Travis is a magnesium alloy tripod that retails for around £150 / $179, and its size and weight would make it a great travel tripod, although 3LT positions it as an entry-level to the professional range.
Along with the tripod you have the AirHed Neo ball head. Again, this is well designed and compact. The head arrives in a micro fibre bag to help keep it clean while the Travis itself comes with a handy drawstring bag.
In the box you’ll also find a special tool designed to enable you to quickly tighten the Arca Swiss style base plate onto the base of your camera.
3 Legged Thing Punks Travis tripod features
Onto the particulars and the Travis’s three legs have four sections with twist style locks with grips that enable you to quickly release and tighten. At the base of each of leg is a small rubber foot that can be removed and replaced if needed, or swapped out for a variety of additional feet.
Additional feet come in the form of the Stillettoz, Heelz or Clawz. The screw-in feet can have either a ¼-inch or ⅜-inch thread, this is made possible by a small adapter so further options are available.
One of the legs has an orange band around around the top. With a firm twist that leg can be released and unscrewed and then used as a monopod, which is very handy. At the top of the monopod leg is a ⅜-inch thread that enables you to directly fit the AirHed Neo.
When set up the Travis can reach an impressive height of 165cm fully extended including the centre column, or 139cm without. At its lowest height you have the option of 45 cm with the column or a very low 11cm without. Fully packed down it measures 45 cm and weighs in at 1.6kg.
The AirHed Neo tops off the tripod and despite it’s small size is designed and finished with the same attention to detail as the rest of the tripod. It screws directly onto the ⅜-inch screw on the top of the tripod and this in turn sits on top of a triangular plate designed to easily enable you to attach a strap, it enables the tripod to reach low heights when needed.
The main function for any tripod is the ability to hold a camera and this is where the Travis really starts showing exactly why it stands out. The small head and slender design is easily able to hold 18kg.
3 Legged Thing Punks Travis in use
There’s no doubt that the Punks Travis tripod is feature-packed, but it’s nice and simple to use. There’s no seemingly unneeded additions and the legs, locks, column and head are all tight and secure.
Starting with releasing the legs, the twist locks enable you to quickly extend the four section legs to height, and on the tripod crown is a small bubble level that helps you to quickly get things level.
The centre column is again secured in place by a twist lock and, like the legs, the rubberised grip enables you to get good purchase. A half turn is all that’s needed to lock and release the twist locks. It’s still surprising when you see people completely unscrewing a leg lock, especially when they pass themselves off as an expert.
If you do decided to completely unscrew the lock, it takes quite a few turns and the shim inside is of a D shape design and brightly coloured. This means that it won’t just drop to the ground like other manufacturers designs and if it does, then it’s easy to find.
Being able to take the leg apart is essential when it comes to cleaning and maintenance and reinforces the entry-level pro label.
This attention to detail is shown throughout the design with the rubberised feet twisting and unscrewing enabling you to quickly swap them out for a selection of other options.
Above the crown is the tri plate which features three holes so that a strap can be easily attached, this is a really sensible addition and enables a strap to be quickly attached and connected to the D-Ring at the base of the centre column.
In the centre of this tri plate is the ⅜-inch screw to attach the AirHed Neo and the full construction is metal.
If you want the tripod to go to its minimum height then the D-Ring is removed from the base of the centre column, then the column is popped out, the triplate unscrewed, twist grip unscrewed and replaced with the trip plate ready for laying the tripod flat. The whole process takes a couple of minutes maximum and is really straight-forward.
Finally, the legs have a monopod feature. As mentioned earlier, the leg that can be removed is highlighted by an orange band around the top. A quick firm twist and the leg releases and can be unscrewed. Once removed, the head can be screwed directly onto the leg ready for use as a monopod. The only addition here that would be nice is a grip around the top of the monopod leg, just to make it slightly more comfortable to hold in use.
The small head that supports big weight
The AirHed Neo is incredibly compact for a head that can support 18 kg of weight. As with the tripod it initially looks simple and understated despite the anodized blue and orange colourings.
It features three knobs two coloured black and the third orange so there can be no mistakes about which knob does what. The orange knob releases the base plate which is of the Arca Swiss design. It’s also identical to the Peak Design plates, making it 100% compatible with all Peak Design products, a nice touch. 3 Legged Thing also imports and sells Peak Design products so the company tie-in makes sense.
On the base of the plate is the usual screw thread to attach to your camera. You would normally need to search your pockets for a coin, so this is where the 3LT Tool (which it doubles nicely as a keyring) comes into play.
Once the base plate is mounted and tightened to your camera or lens it can then be attached to the head. Here you have the orange knob pointing towards the front of the camera. A nice feature here is that there is another bubble level mounted into the end of the knob as well as on the back of the tripod top plate, so if you didn’t get the tripod level with the legs you can easily level the camera with the head.
Once tightened, the head holds the camera firmly and there’s no worries about the head slipping although there’s no safety feature for the release, so once you undo the orange knob the camera is free to be released. The head is also designed to enable the plate to be rotated by 90º if you want to portrait or macro.
The large black knob on the side enables you to adjust, lock and release the ball head itself and although it’s not a friction head, the design enables you a similar amount of control by simply tightening or loosening. Finally, the smaller knob is used to rotate the base if you want to rotate the head through 360 degrees in order to shoot panoramas.
3 Legged Thing Punks Travis tripod verdict
The Punks Travis shows splashes of colour throughout but remains understated and discreet. It has been designed to be used everyday and not stored in a cupboard, this is a workhorse of a tripod that defies its slight design.
At £150 it seems cheap, it’s not carbon fibre and there is no carbon option. It has been designed to be as useful a tripod as it can be at the price that it is. For that price you get a tripod that 3LT states is its entry-level pro model, yet compare the quality and features against much larger tripods and you’re left wondering why you’d bother with anything more substantial.
A workhorse of a tripod
The Punks Travis isn’t being sold as a travel tripod yet when packed down it’s only 5cm longer and 200g heavier than the popular Manfrotto BeFree. Yet in height you get an extra 21cm and it will support in weight an extra 14kg, a big difference it’s easy to carry on a backpack.
In the studio or out in the field, the Travis has been designed to provide support and flexibility and it certainly does that.
The relatively low weight may be a concern for landscape photographers who are looking to shoot long exposures, but that really needn’t be an issue with the D-Ring on the base of the centre column providing a perfect attachment solution to add weight with a bag.
During our testing the only quibble that I could truly put forward is that there isn’t a grip around the top of the monopod leg to give better purchase. Also at a push, a safety feature on the quick release plate and a slightly better travel bag would be nice additions – but even then the draw string bag is a step up from Gitzo’s.
As ever the twist locks on the legs will raise debate and are either loved or hated. I personally love them and find that especially in cold conditions they save my fingers being caught in overly stiff lever style locks, but this is personal opinion.
In comparison to some of Manfrotto’s tripods, the adjustments in height options aren’t as quick and easy and there is a certain amount of unbolting, screwing and swapping of components around, which won’t suit all. But if you’re confident enough to unbolt centre columns and heads, the process really isn’t too much of a hassle and does open up the usage.
As tripods go, this is as complete as you get when it comes to price and features. The few niggles could easily be resolved with a Punks Travis accessories pack that features an upgrade tripod bag, detachable monopod grip and a Peak Design Slide for good measure.
If you’re looking for the best all round tripod on the market, then at present the Punks Travis is hard to beat. It’s feature-packed yet retains simplicity in looks and design, it supports the weight of a decent camera and will extend to a proper workable height. There is very little not to like about this tripod.