The line of distinction between travel tripods and full-size tripods has become increasingly blurred in recent year. Manufacturers are putting greater emphasis on lighter legs that fold down to smaller sizes. What’s more, many travel tripod options these days can extend to greater maximum heights than their full-size counterparts.
The compact form of the travel tripod has really elevated this once niche subsect of the tripod world to what is now, without doubt, the most popular. The small size, light weight and simplicity of design mean that they can be taken anywhere.
So how do you choose the best travel tripod for your photographic journey? In this buyer’s guide we’ve rounded up our favourite models that we’ve tested.
What to look for in a travel tripod
When you read the fine print, there isn’t a whole lot of weight difference between travel tripods and their full-size siblings. Nor is there a whole lot of weight difference usually between the carbon fibre and aluminium options.
While you may not feel the difference of a few hundred grams over the long haul, where you will notice that weight difference is in the flexibility of the legs and centre column. This allows for levelling at awkward leg angles and folding down to smaller proportions.
Another point to look for when choosing the best travel tripod for your needs is a head that can support your camera. Most travel tripods tend to come with a ball head so you can make quick adjustments on the go. But unless the ball head is big enough to support your camera, you might find it slowly drifting out of position. If you’re using a chunky DSLR like the Nikon D850, this will be a concern.
In our list of best travel tripods we’ve chosen models that support a heavy payload and should put these concerns to bed, whatever camera you’re using.
You might also want to look for a travel tripod that has accessory ports on the legs, such as the Manfrotto BeFree Advanced GT a little further down our list of best travel tripods. With an accessory port you can attach things like audio recorders, iPad mounts, etc.
Other things to look for in a travel tripod are removable feet and a removable centre column that allows for extreme low-level angles. These aren’t must-have features for everyone, but if you are holidaying on the beach or low angles are part of your signature style, these will be of great use to you.
We’ve taken a look at a selection of the best travel tripods to help you decide which will offer you the best solution for your DSLR or CSC.
The best travel tripods you can buy today
3 Legged Thing Punks Brian
- Price: £249
- Max Height: 1.87m
- Packed size: 410mm
- Max Payload: 14kg
- Weight: 1.45kg
As one of the most versatile tripods in the pack, the Brian stands at a staggering 1.87m fully extended. That due to the double height centre column that enables this compact tripod to tower over the competition.
It’s packed with other innovative features such as the reversible centre column that enables you to shoot low and a removable leg which transforms into a handy monopod.
For a travel model, Brian is unusually tall. Not only does it reach that towering 187cm in height but it packs down to 41cm, making it small enough to pack into a travel bag or backpack without adding too much bulk or weight.
It’s feature-rich with a reversible centre column and enough additional bits to keep photographers of all genres happy while they’re away on their travels.
The Brian is something of an oddity when it comes to travel tripods: it supplies exactly whats needed from a travel support, but it also supplies an awful lot more.
Its massive height rivals tripods many times larger and more expensive while it’s packed down height and weight is close to that of other travel tripods.
So why is it an oddity? Well, it’s versatility is far more than your average travel tripod.
Manfrotto BeFree Advanced GT Carbon Fibre
- Price: £399
- Max Height: 1.62m
- Packed size: 430mm
- Max Payload: 10kg
- Weight: 1.55kg
The Manfrotto BeFree was the travel tripod that really transformed the market and several generations on we now have the Manfrotto BeFree Advanced GT. This is essentially the BeFree on steroids and offers one of the most robust and sturdy travel supports on the market.
The Manfrotto BeFree Advanced GT builds on the design and capabilities of the Advanced, and at the top of this spec sheet is a load capacity of 10kg. which is 2 kilos more than the previous version.
The BeFree Advanced GT features 100% carbon fibre on all the legs and weighs just 1.55kg in the carbon version. An aluminium version weighs 1.85kg. Comparing the carbon versions, the BeFree GT is only 300g heavier than the Advanced.
The BeFree GT can also fold down to just 43cm while extending up to 164cm with the centre column raised.
When you buy the BeFree Advanced GT you also get Manfrotto’s Advanced 496 aluminium Centre ball head. And the legs use Manfrotto’s M-lock twist lock and leg angle selector, which offers three independent leg angles.
The BeFree GT also boasts Manfrotto’s new 200PL-PRO plate. This plate fits all of Manfrotto’s other normal 200PL plates, but it also fits into Arca Swiss heads so that you can swap between different systems.
THe BeFree Advanced GT also inherits the Easy Link port from the Advanced, meaning you can attach a micro friction arm and mount any accessory – such as a Tascam audio recorder – that has a 1/4-inch screw thread.
Vanguard Veo 2 235CB
- Price: £199
- Max Height: 1.45m
- Packed size: 403mm
- Max Payload: 6kg
- Weight: 1.2kg
One of the smaller tripods in the selection the Vanguard Veo 2 235CB stands out for its innovative design and ease of use. Despite being the smallest and lightest in our group of best travel tripods, the attention to details and solid build quality ensure that this is a worthy travel companion for anyone venturing off into the wilderness.
Carbon fibre has been used for the leg construction to keep weight down and at just 1.35kg it’s pretty light. There is a cheaper aluminium version which weighs in at 200g more. This weight makes it ideal for fitting in your backpack without adding too much weight. The five-section legs enable the tripod to pack down to 41.5cm.
Fully extended the Veo 2 reaches a height of 1.45m with the centre column at its full extent. Drop the column, and the tripod stands at 1.2m.
As with many of Vanguards other tripods the Veo 2 features the horseshoe style flip up centre column. This action enables you to flip the column around in a matter of seconds making it very quick to set up ready for use.
One of the great things about this style of centre column is that you can turn the orientation of the camera from above to below the crown enabling you to take macro shots nice and quickly.
In the box, if you want to take ground level shots, there is a small column which enables the tripod to be dropped down to ground level.
At the end of each of the legs are small rubber feet, these are of the push fit type. If you pull these off, then there is a screw thread, and the Veo 2 spiked feet can easily be added which is a nice feature.
As ever each of the legs can be adjusted with three different angles; 20, 45 and 80º, these angles can be selected by pushing the button on the side of each leg.
Gitzo GK1545T-82TQD Series 1 Traveler Carbon eXact Tripod Kit
- Price: £749
- Max Height: 163.5m
- Packed size: 425mm
- Max Payload: 10kg
- Weight: 1.45kg
Gitzo is the premium brand that many photographers dream off and the Series 1 Traveler is for many the ideal tripod.
It looks stunning and packs in the features that any solid travel tripod should offer. Being Gitzo, however, it does come with a price tag, but then you only live once.
Gitzo’s Traveler Tripods feature a 180 leg folding system that promises to make more efficient use of the tripod’s folded space by accommodating the centre column and head in between the tripod legs. Gitzo has built on this efficiency with the GK1545T’s new Carbon eXact tubes Traveler G-lock technology.
The GT1545T is taller than its predecessor, thanks to the space efficient Traveler G-lock, meaning you can uses it with 135mm to 200mm lenses. The GH1382TQD head features an independent pan lock is engineered for ultimate precision of movement while remaining slim enough to fit between the folded tripod legs. The head can also be removed and attached other heads on the tripod’s upper disc.
Benro GoPlus Travel FGP28C Carbon Fibre Tripod
- Price: £319
- Max Height: 165.5
- Packed size: 495mm
- Max Payload: 14kg
- Weight: 1.62kg
Looking for a good solid all-rounder then you really can’t beat the Benro GoPlus. It’s a little weightier than some others in the group but with that additional weight comes a high payload of 14kg.
This makes it ideal for medium to large DSLR users and will also be an excellent choice for anyone looking to buy the new Canon EOS R or Panasonic S1.
The FGP28C Go Plus Travel Carbon Tripod also employs reverse-folding legs that wrap around the centre column, which helps it fold down so compactly. You can also remove the Benro FGP28C’s centre column from its vertical position and swing it through a 180-degree arc, locking it into place at any point. Combined with its three-position leg angle settings makes it ideal for low -evel macro photography.
There’s also a built-in monopod, twist leg locks, screw-in rubber & stainless steel spiked feet and a padded tripod carry case included in the kit.
Karoo Standard Travel Tripod Kit-LG
- Price: £189
- Max Height: 1.653m
- Packed size: 475mm
- Max Payload: 8kg
The Karoo maybe a lesser know manufacturers but for the price, the tripod is certainly impressive.
With a decent stature that sees it reach a full height of 1.65m and payload of 8kg it will suit most uses and budgets.
Benbo Mini Trekker travel tripod
Max Height: 71cm
Packed size: 550mm
Max Payload: 3kg
If you’ve never come across a Benbo then you’re in for a treat. This is the smallest in the family and only has a maximum height of 71cm.
The design is unique with only one other company over the years producing anything as radical in design.
For the size, it’s not light which also means its as sturdy as they come.
A warning a Benbo takes a certain type of person to operate, they’re far from the norm, but once you skill its use there really is nothing like a Benbo.
Tiltall TC-224 travel tripod
Price: £295.95 / $289.95
Max Height: 137cm
Packed size: 40cm
Max Payload: 8kg
The TC-224 is a travel style tripod, just tall enough to be useful and light enough to go unnoticed on a backpack.
The overall quality of the tripod is superb, with a solid build and finish. There are also a few nice finishing touches such as the knurled metal work around the top plate of the centre column, grub screws ensuring everything is kept tight and retractable spikes in the feet.
And in use, the TC-224 acts as any decent tripod should: the joints are all reassuringly tight, and the leg angle adjusters work well, supplying you with a sturdy support.
Best travel tripods: pocket-size
Manfrotto VR PIXI EVO with Aluminium Extension
- Price: from £32
- 52.2cm minimum height
- 1kg max payload
- adjustable leg length and angle
A mini tripod designed for 360 cameras might seem like an odd choice for this list of best travel tripods, but its robust build and versatility makes it an obvious choice.
The latest addition to Manfrotto’s VR range, the Manfrotto VR PIXI EVO Kit consists of the PIXI EVO mini tripod and its Aluminium Extension. The four section Extension does just as it says and extends 143cm, and you can either mount this to the PIXI EVO or detach it and use it as a selfie stick.
At its minimum height (52.5cm), the VR Extension pole can withstand a payload of 1kg, and at its full height it can sustain 0.15kg. On either end of Manfrotto’s VR Extension pole is a 1/4-inch screw for mounting onto your 360 camera or screwing into the PIXI EVO.
The PIXI EVO mini tripod is a variation of Manfrotto’s popular PIXI tripod. On top is a 1/4-inch screw thread for mounting the Extension pole. The VR PIXI EVO also offers two leg angles, and each leg boasts a button that allows you to slide an outer casing and adjust its height.
As ZZ Top once said, the PIXI EVO’s got legs and knows how to use them, and that’s what makes the EVO so versatile, whether you’re shooting with a 360 camera, your phone or a mirrorless camera.