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The Buyers guide to...Best travel tripods

3 Legged Thing Ray
Buyers Guide

The line of distinction between travel tripods and full-size tripods has become increasingly blurred in recent years. Manufacturers are putting greater emphasis on lighter legs that fold down to smaller sizes. What’s more, many modern travel tripods can extend to greater maximum heights than in the past.

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, lightweight 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 sometimes 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 for a short length of time, it can become more apparent if you carry the tripod for a long period. However, the weight reduction can be at the expense of strength.

Another point to look for when choosing the best travel tripod for your needs is to ensure that the 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 the best travel tripods, we’ve chosen models that support a heavy payload and should put these concerns to bed, whatever camera you’re using.

Other things to look for in a travel tripod are removable or interchangeable 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

Peak Design Travel Tripod

Peak Design Travel Tripod


  • Maximum height centre column raised: 152.4cm / 60inches
  • Maximum height centre column down: 130.2cm / 51.25inches
  • Minimum height: 14cm / 5.5inches
  • Collapsed length and diameter: 39.1cm / 15.4inches, 7.9cm / 3.125inches
  • Weight: Aluminium: 1.56Kg / 3.44lbs, Carbon fibre: 1.27Kg / 2.81lbs
  • Maximum payload: 9.1Kg / 20lbs
  • Number of leg sections: 5
  • Leg material: Aluminium or carbon fibre
  • Leg lock material: Aluminium

Peak Design makes two versions of its Travel Tripod, one with aluminium alloy legs and one with carbon fibre legs. While the price of the aluminium tripod is more palatable, if low weight is especially important, bite the bullet and go for the carbon fibre tripod which is 290g lighter.

Don’t be fooled by the thinness of the lower leg sections, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is very stable. In our tests it even delivered sharp long exposures in a stiff breeze with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a full-frame camera.

The beauty of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is that it packs down to less than 40cm in length and its legs fold in tight together so it has a very narrow diameter. It’s a tripod that you won’t mind carrying ‘just in case’. We think it’s the best travel tripod you can buy right now.

The aluminium Peak Design Travel Tripod can be found here on Amazon UK, while the carbon fibre version is here on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Price when reviewed
£569 / $349.95 / $599.95
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  • Very compact
  • Very stable for a travel tripod
  • Quick to deploy


  • Centre column needs extending slightly to give the head full movement
  • Hex wrench (supplied) required to attach and detach the quick release plate
  • High price - especially for the carbon fibre version

Manfrotto BeFree Advanced GT Carbon Fibre

Best travel tripods in 2018


  • Maxmimum height: 1.62m
  • Packed size: 43cm
  • Maximum payload: 10Kg
  • Weight: 1.5kg

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.

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  • Solid and versatile
  • Accessory port
  • Manfrotto Advanced 496 ball head included

3 Legged Thing Ray

3 Legged Thing Ray


  • Product type: Tripod
  • Announced: 4th August 2020
  • Construction: Carbon fibre tubes, hard anodised aerospace-grade magnesium alloy fixings
  • Max Height: 129.5cm
  • Minimum height: 104mm
  • Leg sections: 5
  • Centre column sections: 2
  • Folded length: 34.2cm
  • Leg angles: 23º, 55º, 80º
  • Load capacity: 30kg / 66lb at 23º, 20Kg / 44lb at 55º, 10Kg /33lb at 80º
  • Max tube diameter: 26mm
  • Head height (with the kit): 98mm
  • Weight: 1.27kg

As a travel tripod, the Three Legged Thing Ray isn’t the tallest tripod around, but it has a premium build and packs down to just 34.2cm in length, which means it can fit in your hand luggage or slot sideways into a suitcase.

As usual, 3 Legged Thing has given the Ray some very nice extra features, including the ability to remove the legs so that it can be converted into a tabletop tripod with the addition of the optional 3 Legged Thing Vanz feet. Also, the centre column can be attached to a leg to make a monopod or mic boom.

3 Legged Thing used 8-layer Japanese carbon fibre for the Ray’s leg and centre column tubes while the canopy, leg fixings and locks are made from aerospace-grade anodised magnesium alloy. The quality of the machining is superb, which helps to make the Ray a pleasure to use.

3 Legged Thing sells the Ray legs-only or with the AirHed Vu tripod head.

The 3 Legged Thing Ray is also available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

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  • Short packed-down length
  • Removable legs and interchangeable footwear for versatility
  • Available with or without the Airhed Vu tripod head


  • Quite a large diameter when packed down

Gitzo Légende Tripod

Gitzo Légende Tripod


  • Materials: Carbon exact (carbon fibre), aluminium
  • Maximum height: 165cm
  • Minimum height: Standard configuration: 43cm, Short centre column: under 31cm
  • Closed length: 43cm
  • Number of leg sections: 4
  • Leg angles: 25°, 70°
  • Maximum payload: 8Kg
  • Panoramic rotation: 360°
  • Front and lateral tilt: -90°/+40°
  • Weight: 1.45Kg

The Gitzo Légende (GK 1545T-RTI) tripod kit is a special edition Series 1 4-section Gitzo Traveler tripod (GT1545T – see below) with a matte silver aluminium Center Ball Head. It has an elegant, simple design that works very well and should give many years of service.

It’s recommended for use with lenses with focal lengths of up to 135mm – 200mm.

The legs are constructed from Carbon eXact tubing for strength and rigidity while the leg locks are made from aluminium.

With the legs flipped up through 180° Gitzo Légende packs down to 43cm in length. However, when the 4-section legs and centre column are fully extended, the shooting height is 165cm (5ft 4-inches).

The legs have a robust yet easy to use angle-release mechanism that enables them to be positioned in one of two angles (25° or 70°) for shooting.

By unscrewing the base plug in the centre column and loosening the column lock, the centre column can be removed then inverted for low-level shooting. Alternatively, there’s a short column supplied with the kit that can be used in place of the standard column with the legs spread to their widest point. This lowers the top of the tripod head to below 31cm above ground height.

Gitzo also supplies a hook that can be screwed into the bottom of the centre column for hanging a weight.
The kit includes a Center Ball Head from Gitzo’s professional range. This is made from steel and aluminium components and features a friction-control knob to enable precise, smooth adjustments of the composition. Its quick release plate is Arca-Swiss compatible, which means the head can be used with Gitzo D profile plates as well as Arca-Swiss type plates.

A bubble-level on the head helps with keeping the horizon level.

According to Gitzo, the Légendes Tripod is built from 170 parts and is designed to be repaired rather than replaced. All of the parts are replaceable and 70% of them are said to be user-replaceable with the part being shipped at no extra cost. The Gitzo Légende is eligible for a free unlimited extended warranty upon registration.

Price when reviewed


  • Simple elegant design that works well
  • Excellent build quality
  • Designed for repair rather than replacement


  • No accessory connection points
  • Short centre column replaces the standard column rather than just removing the bottom section of the main column

Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler

Gitzo GT1545T Best travel tripods


  • Materials: Carbon fibre legs
  • Number of leg sections: 4
  • Maximum height: 153cm
  • Maximum height with centre column down: 130cm
  • Minimum height: 22cm
  • Collapsed length: 42.5cm
  • Leg lock type: Twist
  • Leg angles: 25°, 70°,
  • Leg tube diameter: 14.7, 18.3, 21.7, 25.3mm
  • Maximum payload: 10Kg
  • Weight: 1.055Kg

Although the GT1545T Series 1 Traveler carbon fibre tripod weighs just 1.055Kg, it doesn’t skimp on the build quality, it feels extremely well made. It also extends up 153cm with the centre column extended or 130cm without raising the centre column.

Gitzo used it Carbon eXact tubing for the GT1545T’s legs, making them strong and stiff. They also have the ‘Traveler G-lock’, a smaller version of Gitzo’s G-lock leg locks which are quick and easy to operate, yet tighten securely.

In addition to the standard centre column, Gitzo supplies the GT1545T with short centre column which can be swapped quickly for low-level shooting. It drops the minimum height to 22cm.

The Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler tripod is available from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

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  • Great quality set of legs
  • 1.055Kg weight and 10Kg payload
  • Short-centre column supplied for low-level shooting


  • Expensive and head extra
  • Short centre column isn't part of the long column
  • No hook on the centre column

Benro Rhino FRHN05CVX20

Benro Rhino FRHN05CVX20


  • Max height: 139.5cm
  • Minimum height: 35cm
  • Pack down length: 35cm
  • Max payload: 10kg
  • 360 pan: Yes Dual
  • Monopod leg: Yes
  • Monopod height: 181.4
  • Leg lock type: Twist
  • Weight: 1.24kg
  • Leg sections: 5
  • Materials: Carbon fibre, magnesium alloy

The FRHN06CVX20 is the smallest of the Benro Rhino range of tripods, making it a great choice for travel. The carbon fibre 5-section legs feel well made and extend quickly following a twist of the rubber-coated leg locks.

Sold as a kit, the legs come with Benro’s VX20 ball head which has simple dual-action controls with built-in friction control and a separate pan lock. The head is lightweight and comes with an Arca Swiss compatible release plate.

A sprung hook is provided at the bottom of the centre column to hang a weight to give extra downward force and stability. However, this can be removed to enable to column to be inverted for low-level shooting.

Conveniently, the leg with a short foam covering unscrews and can be attached to the centre column to create a monopod.

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  • Elegant design
  • CNC machined
  • Low weight


  • No accessory ports
  • Spindly lower legs

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4 months ago

For me, all over 1kg and all over 30cm in collapsed length are waste of money.