The Best Travel Tripods for 2021 – Ultimate Buyers Guide

If you’re in the market to buy the best travel tripod then we’ve got you covered! Working as professional travel photographers we have personally tried and tested countless products on the market, and now are ready to share our expert guide to the best tripods for travel in 2021!

Having spent almost a decade travelling the world on various photography assignments, from Antarctica to the Arctic and everywhere in between, it’s safe to say when it comes to gear, we know what works and what doesn’t.

While some accessories are a bit more generic than others, what we’ve found over the years is that selecting something as important as tripods is not so straightforward as one would think.

We’ve bought, tested, and eventually ditched, dozens of travel tripods since we first got into photography.

These days we have finally narrowed it down to our favourite few products, based on features, durability, portability and price, and after thousands of questions from friends and readers we have finally sat down to share our top recommendations from our experience.

But do you really need a tripod for travel photography?

You might think it’s a bit unnecessary, but truth is the travel photography you can create is going to be so much higher quality thanks to one of these essential tools.

Even the steadiest hands give off some shake, and the second you start diving into the world of long exposures, you’re going to need to keep your camera perfectly still.

Speaking of cameras, make sure you check out legendary guide to travel cameras here!

A lightweight travel tripod will provide crystal clear shots, time-lapse video, panoramas, and long-exposure looks at the night sky.

Besides helping create beautiful images, a tripod also comes in handy if you want to setup the camera to take a photo of yourself when no one else is around.

So why talk about the best travel tripods specifically, rather than just tripods in general?

PRODUCT

WHAT WE LIKE

THINGS TO CONSIDER

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Peak Design Travel Tripod

Our #1 Choice

  • Packs down to the size of a water bottle

  • Lifetime warranty

  • Light, durable and versatile

  • Expensive

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Punks Travis System  

  • Loads of customization options

  • 11:1 load to weight ratio

  • Ships with its own carrying bag

  • Not a travel tripod first 

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Manfrotto BeFree

  • It can also be used as a monopod

  • Wide selection of tripod models for various features

  • Clip or twist-lock options

  • Doesn’t pack down as low as other models

  • No carbon fibre option

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Vanguard VEO 2 Go

  • Packs down very small

  • Carbon fibre at an affordable price

  • Reversible centre column

  • Small payload capacity

  • Lots of twist sections

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Gorilla Pod 3K Pro

  • Affordable

  • Super flexible legs 

  • Works in places where full-sized tripods are banned

  • Only extends 16 inches

  • Won’t support a large camera

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ZOMEi iPhone Tripod

  • Most affordable tripod on our list

  • Comes with a remote shutter

  • Built to work with iPhone

  • Cant support a DSLR

  • Five leg sections to clip through

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Benro SystemGo

  • Doubles as a mobile workstation

  • Can be used as a monopod

  • Includes a padded soft case

  • Ball head sold separately

  • Larger than other options on our list

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Gitzo Traveler Series 1

  • Respected tripod brand

  • Very durable

  • High load weight

  • Quite expensive

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SIRUI T-005X

  • Very affordable

  • Really lightweight

  • Carbon fibre and aluminum hybrid

  • Center Column doesn’t compact

  • Short legs

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MeFOTO Backpacker S 

  • Can be converted into Monopod

  • Additional mount available for phones and cameras
     

  • Affordable and customisable

  • Not built for all-weather

  • Decent across the board but doesn't have any exceptional features

Before you can set up your tripod and start shooting, you’ll have to haul your gear to the location.

Any traditional tripod may be capable of capturing the shot, but might be too heavy to carry with you.

Remember, you’ll have to carry every piece of gear you take on your hike and back every step of the way.

Photography equipment built for travel has one primary objective: be light weight.

Great travel tripods are small enough to slip into a daypack and strong enough to withstand a grouchy luggage handler to bring a quick and easy setup on the move. 

Even a professional travel tripod will compromise some operating features to be more portable.

Jarryd Sunrise Best Travel Tripod
Travelling with a lightweight and portable tripod means you never have to worry about whether or not to bring it on your adventures.

Whether it’s a lower peak height or wobbly legs, a tripod built for travel won’t have the same comfort levels as a traditional tripod, but packability is priceless. 

The good news is, there are plenty of travel tripods that provide enough creature comforts and extra features that allow them to serve your needs beautifully, and we’re here to show you what the best options have to offer. 

This epic buying guide will cover everything you need to know to feel confident in your purchase.

READ MORE: Keen to become a better creator? Check out our expert guide to our best travel photography tips!

Whether your valuable equipment needs a strong max load, your far-reaching panorama requires great maximum height or your extreme adventures require durable carbon fiber construction, we’ve got the sturdy travel tripod for your next adventure.

There are loads of different components that make up a tripod kit, and no one secret formula to success. Tripod manufacturers and models all have different strengths and weaknesses that allow them to function in different scenarios.

In addition to showcasing the best-in-class tripods, we’ll examine some key points to consider when choosing the best travel tripods for you. So take a look, get your batteries charged, and start shooting with the best tripod for your needs.

The Best Travel Tripods 

We’re on our way to the mountaintop just before sunrise to grab an epic shot. And we’re not going to take just any old tripod with us.

To qualify for this buying guide, the tripods on our list offer the best overall value and utility.

Starting at the pinkies of the interchangeable rubber feet up to maximum height with a ball head attached, we expanded and compacted the leading lightweight travel tripods.

Whether you’re looking for something petite for a compact camera or a full-sized unit, read on to find the best travel tripod for your trip.

Long Exposure Sunrise Pool Photo
Pack a solid tripod and be prepared to capture epic long exposures wherever you go!

Peak Design Travel Tripod

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Peak Design isn’t just a company name – it’s a brand legacy. After revolutionising the industry with their Capture Clips and backpacks, their award-winning travel tripod was crowdfunded thanks to its smattering of unique design features that make it fit uniquely in every camera bag.

Peak Design spent four years working on this aluminium and carbon fiber travel tripod. An included ball head design that works with unique leg locks to reduce the mini tripod to the diameter of a can of tomato sauce and extend out to a maximum height at eye level. 

The ball-head of such a compact tripod may look funky, but the potential is there, and the ARCA-compatible camera plate works with most DSLRs.

You may feel a bit awkward swinging your camera around the first few shots, but this center ball-head is also one of the biggest reasons this tripod is so packable. Once you get the hang of operation, you may never switch back.  

It’s not the most affordable tripod out there, but any passionate photographer will tell you not to skimp on key camera accessories.

Don’t trust a cheap plastic base to protect your DSLR camera; trust in this sturdy aluminium version (or pay extra for the carbon fiber tripod, which we did) backed up by a lifetime guarantee. 

PROS

  • Packs down to the size of a water bottle
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Light, durable and versatile

CONS

  • Expensive
Peak Design Travel Tripod
The Peak Design Travel Tripod is the king of gear for anyone who prioritises portability, weight and durability. Image courtesy of Peak Design

Punks Travis System  

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If it wasn’t for the incredible product design at Peak Design, this Travis system would be the clear-cut champ of the travel tripod market – despite not even being created for travel first. 

At $100 less than their rival and with loads of valuable features, this three-legged thing is an excellent addition to any camera kit. 

While it doesn’t pack down to the same compact folded length as our editor’s choice tripod above, Travis has its own strengths. It’s not just trying to be the best travel tripod, it wants to be the only tripod you own. Whether you’re into astrophotography or waterfall photography, this unit has you covered.

It’s tough to argue with some of its specs. With a great maximum heigh, durability, and strong tripod legs, there aren’t many shots you can’t capture with this tool. 

What we love most about this tripod is the number of professional features the photography-focused 3 Legged Thing brand brought to the little guy.

This system features extra foot options, a quick-release plate, and extension accessories normally reserved for professional tripods that cost hundreds more than this affordable option. You can build out your tripod any way you see fit.  

PROS

  • Loads of customization options
  • 11:1 load to weight ratio
  • Ships with its own carrying bag

CONS

  • Not a travel tripod first

Manfrotto BeFree

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Manfrotto’s BeFree line of travel tripods can be hard to navigate. The Befree tripods come at a variety of costs supporting loads of different features. 

While any model will give you a sturdy camera stand, our favourite BeFree tripod is the 2N1 model, which comes with monopod options.

Detach the center leg, and you’ve got the perfect selfie stick!

You won’t have to lug the entire tripod around when a monopod will do the trick. Put it all back together and you’ll have 4 different leg sections that help you get the shot at all levels.

That’s a great feature, and this robust travel tripod is way more than a one-trick pony. Twist locks clamp across the ball head and each leg allows plenty of height adjustment up to eye level. We love the simple brilliance of a good twist and lock tripod. 

No need to reinvent the wheel; Manfrotto instead took quality features and built them into a lightweight travel tripod affordable to photographers of all levels. 

PROS

  • Can also be used as a monopod
  • Wide selection of tripod models for various features
  • Click or twist-lock options

CONS

  • Doesn’t pack down as low as other models
  • No carbon fibre option
Elinjaa Falls Carbon Fibre Tripod
Elinjaa Falls in Queensland, captured using a Manfrotto carbon fibre tripod.

Vanguard VEO 2 Go

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Right away, we couldn’t believe that this affordably priced travel tripod comes with carbon fibre construction.

The ultralight and durable material carbon fiber is usually reserved for the most expensive travel tripod options, but Vanguard has made carbon fiber available at a fraction of the cost. 

If materials are the number one concern on your list, but price is a close second, this tripod makes the decision easy.

Set up requires five flip locks that allow the tool to reduce to a tiny size and expand up to eye level, all at less than three pounds. 

Shop around to find a VEO 2 Go package that includes a smartphone holder and Bluetooth remote or whatever customisation options you want to bring along with you. One thing for sure, this bad boy is all about traveling light. 

PROS

  • Packs down very small
  • Carbon fibre at an affordable price
  • Reversible centre column

CONS

  • Doesn’t pack down as low as other models
  • No carbon fibre option

Joby GorillaPod 3K Pro

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There’s light, and then there’s this. A vlogger and amateur camera-man special, the slingy arms of the Joby GorillaPod 3k is always a go-to for travel photographers where space and flexibility are of the utmost importance.

This is not a full size tripod, as it won’t extend much higher than one foot, but it can be used just about anywhere and the 3k version is perfect for point-and-shoot or mid-sized mirrorless camera setup.

They’re so good, we have two!

The GorillaPod travel tripod can be wrapped around trees, poles or mounted easily to ledges, walls, and car hoods for quick and beautiful shots.

The larger 5K tripod has a larger max load that can support DSLR cameras, but this slim 3K tool supports smartphones and go pros and fits into any daypack. 

The legs of this Joby tripod are flexible, allowing you to find stability and center the horizon on all sorts of uneven surfaces. Above all else, this aluminum tripod is one of the more affordable options on our list. 

If you’re not shopping for a full size best travel tripod, look towards this GorillaPod to fit into every luggage and balance on every surface. 

PROS

  • Affordable
  • Super flexible legs
  • Works in places where full-size tripods are banned

CONS

  • Only extends 16 inches
  • Won’t support a larger camera
Waterfall Photography Tasmania
We carried a Joby GorillaPod with us on an 8-day, 135km hike in Tasmania as it weighed next to nothing and allowed us to capture cool waterfall images like this. Check out our guide to waterfall photography tips here.

ZOMEi iPhone Tripod

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For the travel photographer that prefers to leave their big DSLR or mirrorless cameras at home and stick to their favourite smartphone, the ZOMEi iPhone Tripod is the one for you.

For less than 20 bucks, you can secure your phone for stable action shots and easy selfies.

If you just want a few memories to send to the folks at home, you can casually throw this ZOMEi lighter tripod in your day pack and start exploring. 

It’s so light you won’t even notice it in your luggage, and once it’s time to shoot, you can take advantage of the three-legged tripod and remote control to capture yourself in motion just as easily as others. 

You can easily sling this tripod to whatever angle you need, making it a perfect option for capturing backyard skateparks and backflips. It’s also a great choice for budding vloggers who haven’t started raking in the ad revenue.

Remote shutter features allow you to stop and start live streams without walking up to the camera.

The affordability, remote start, and iPhone functionality make this a great first tripod, so you can see what a great set of three legs can do for your photography. 

PROS

  • Most affordable tripod on our list
  • Comes with a remote shutter
  • Built to work with iPhones

CONS

  • Can’t support a dSLR
  • Five leg sections to clip through

Benro SystemGo

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The SystemGo gets a huge boost by Benro’s additional range of accessories.

It’s a tabletop tripod that can double as a mobile work or photo editing station with the GoPlatform that allows you to mount your laptop with the same protection and versatility as your camera.

Even without this fancy feature, this tripod would be worth a second look.

 

Benro’s center column helps expand your field of view, although unfortunately, you’ll have to supply your own ball head. 

Its affordability takes a hit because of all these additional purchases, but camera operators who want more choice will love this system.

The built-in monopod attachment grants you further control over your kit. You can detach the center leg and use the travel tripod as an arm-extending monopod if you don’t feel like lugging the entire arsenal. 

Look past all these extra features, and you’ll see a great, folding, sturdy tripod with a heavy operating capacity at a modest weight. 

PROS

  • Doubles as a mobile workstation
  • Can be used as a monopod
  • Includes a padded soft case

CONS

  • Ball head sold separately
  • Larger than other options on our list

Gitzo Traveler Series 1

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Trust this piece of gear to be ready to roll before sunrise. Carbon fibre can sometimes sacrifice durability in the name of lightweight, but not this Gitzo.

Gitzo tripods are no less than three pounds of the best tripod functionality whittled down to travel size. 

This series is the closest thing to a professional-grade carbon fiber travel tripod on our list, and it still fits in overhead flight storage.

A Swiss Arca quick release ball head and reverse folding leg design allow you to stow this carbon fiber tripod and quickly expand the leg sections when it’s time to shoot. 

Five twist-lock sections are user-friendly and easy to activate to make getting the perfect height even easier. I feel further responsibility to nitpick ultra-expensive options, and we do wish the legs would extend to a bit higher than 58 inches, but overall this series is well worth the high price. 

Gitzo is arguably the number one name in tripods, and with their Traveler series, you can expect nothing less but the best stability and user-friendly features from this model. 

However, for most amateur and even professional photographers, we feel that other tripods can perform the same functions at a fraction of the cost.

The major exception to this is any travel photographers planning to shoot in extreme weather. You won’t find anything more storm-ready than this Gitzo.  

PROS

  • Respected tripod brand
  • Very durable
  • High max load weight

CONS

  • Quite expensive
Milky Way Gitzo Tripod
The Milky Way over our friend’s house in Australia. Captured on a Gitzo tripod.

SIRUI T-005X

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Sirui’s aluminum travel tripod cemented its place on our list thanks to its incredibly low price point and high quality build.

If you’re not shopping for a cheap plastic iPhone only tripod, this is the most affordable travel tripod you can find that still offers the stability and performance to be worth bringing along. 

Don’t expect this tripod to rock a heavy load capacity; it’s simply a cheaper aluminum version of the best models on the market.

We love how lightweight it is, and the number of leg sections fold up nicely to stow the tripod in about a foot of space. 

We didn’t love the fact that twist locks split into five different leg sections even though the tripod head won’t reach near 5 feet high.

Oh well, they are what they are, the best budget travel tripods on our list. If you’re looking for no more than three legs and a quality ball head, look no further. 

PROS

  • Very affordable
  • Really lightweight
  • Carbon fibre and aluminium hybrid

CONS

  • Centre column doesn’t compact
  • Short legs

MeFOTO Backpacker S 

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To round out our best travel tripod list, we present another sturdy option that saves you a bit of money.

The Backpacker S doesn’t pump out eye-popping specs, but it does stay incredibly affordable and lightweight.

And most of us won’t need anything more than this sturdytripod with Swiss Arca ball plates. 

The ball-head allows complete 180-degree rotations of your camera, perfect for panoramas. You can have your choice of several bright colors, all with great functionality at an affordable price. 

It’s another high-quality aluminum tripod that isn’t trying to reinvent the industry.

Instead, Mefoto has presented affordable and lightweight travel tripods that prove you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to shoot with stability. 

PROS

  • Can be converted into a monopod
  • Additional mount available for phones and cameras
  • Affordable and customisable

CONS

  • Not built for all-weather
  • Decent across the board but doesn’t have any exceptional features

How to Choose the Best Tripods for Travel

As you can see, there’s a lot of great options when it comes to selecting the best travel tripod!

By definition, tripods often look pretty similar – Three legs with varying degrees of leg locks come together at a ball-head camera mount, maybe with a quick release plate.

With so much standardisation in construction, how can one tripod be considered better than the rest?

While loads of budget tripods can provide a capable camera stand, there are only a few products that seriously consider each of the following factors.

To choose the best travel tripod for your next adventures, take a look at these factors and decide which ones are most important for your needs. 

Ask yourself how you’ll be travelling to your photoshoots. If you’re travelling with an entire car full of room, you won’t have to worry as much about tripod weight as you will if you’re looking for a compact travel tripod that is also a hiking companion. 

Long-term travellers living out of a backpack may not feel the difference in a pound or two, but should emphasise buying a tripod that compacts to a small size.

And, of course, we have to be able to afford the dang thing! 

Portability 

Without portability, your travel tripod is just a tripod. Your tripod’s portability will be a combination of its weight and folding size. 

Weight is a straightforward factor to consider – less is more! However, a lightweight tripod may sacrifice a bit of durability to weigh next to nothing, and lightweight tripods are generally more expensive, such. asthe

Ask yourself how many miles you plan on walking with your entire load capacity on your back, and let that answer define how lightweight your travel tripod will be. The lightest options on our list weigh between 2-4 pounds.

The folded length is just as important as weight. The Peak Design Travel Tripod’s ability to condense down to the size of a water bottle is what earned its title of the best travel tripod.  

We want the number of leg sections to fold down and fit inside our daypacks, but some ultra-folding travel tripods may sacrifice maximum load capacity and durability to bend further.

Visualise how you will be transporting your tripod weight and decide how important folded length is to keep everything inside your backpack.

Portable Travel Tripod
Portability is very important when choosing a tripod for travel.

Height

Aha! The reason why tripods aren’t more portable across the board. I like my tripods to reach as close to eye level as possible, about 5 feet at maximum height. Anything more is a bonus, but anything less will start to lose value. 

Don’t forget to check out minimum height as well! You might want a tripod that can function with a leg angle selector at only a few inches off the ground for close-up shots, which can be handy for some types of landscape photography.

Not all 6-foot tripods are built the same, a lot depends on the number of leg sections it takes to get there.

Look at how the tallest travel tripod reaches its height and make sure it doesn’t sacrifice too much max load – we still need a sturdy tripod!

The more sections your tripod has, the smaller its folded length may be, but the more leg locks you’ll have to turn loose before your tripod is ready to shoot. 

I find that tripods with more than four leg sections start to be less sturdy and more annoying to lock up. 

Durability

Some of the tripods on our list are not cheap, especially if it’s a carbon fiber tripod. If you’re making a significant investment in your travel tripod though, you should expect it to last.

We’ve already touched on a few factors that impact durability; lightweight status, tripod weight, and leg sections. But the biggest indicator of your tripod’s durability is the build materials. 

Most of the tripods on our list use aluminum and carbon fiber. We do not recommend investing in a travel tripod made of plastic if you plan on taking it through the wringer.

Even if you don’t plan on bumps and bruises , the cheapest travel tripod won’t last more than a year or two, it will be flimsy and you wouldn’t even want to trust compact cameras on it.

Aluminum is a great middle ground. It’s not so expensive, and it’s not very fragile.

Travellers taking photos in normal weather conditions and exposing their gear to an average amount of wear and tear will be OK with the lightweight metal, and it still supports great maximum height.

Going near the ocean though, or want the best travel tripod on the market? You’ll need to look at carbon fiber tripods.

Carbon fiber is the strongest, lightest, and most weather-resistant material used in tripod construction, but also the most expensive. Invest in a carbon fiber tripod if you plan on shooting rain or shine. 

Some other tripods are made up of a combination of the two materials to strike up a middle ground. 

Cost 

There’s a large amount of range in tripod pricing, and you can expect to get what you pay for. As you can see, you can find a good tripod for anywhere from $100- $400. Even higher if you’re looking at the Peak Design Travel Tripod (it’s worth the price tag though).

I strongly believe in investing in your gear, but you shouldn’t buy a travel tripod that costs more than your camera!

Some gearheads will swear by the most expensive options, but the truth is, casual travellers won’t need the features included on a $400 tripod. 

That’s a Wrap!

We broke out the zoom lens and examined the landscape of the best travel tripods on the market with everything we got. Hopefully, the image is starting to get a bit more clear.

While best travel tripod won’t affect your picture quality as much as your camera will, a sturdy, steady, and lightweight tripod will go a long way towards sharp images and safe camera use. 

Whether you’re trying to play with long exposures, vlogging, or working in low-light, our editor’s choice Peak Design Travel Tripod will help you perform to your fullest no matter where you’re shooting. 

Peak Design Travel Tripod

Editors Choice: Peak Design Travel Tripod

We’ve tested everything and officially declared this Peak Design product as our top selection for best travel tripods. It’s lightweight, reaches eye level, durable and packs down to the size of a water bottle.

You can save a few bucks with the aluminium version or choose carbon fiber for the best in travel photography technology.

Looking for other ideas? Here is our runner up in 2 different categories:

Best Professional Tripod: Gitzo Traveler Series 1

This special carbon fiber tripod won’t come cheap, but it’s the best we’ve tested, and you can always write it off as a business expense if you’re a pro.

The three-pound unit offers excellent stability, durability, and portability that will pay for itself during your first long hike or voyage.

Get the best deal for it here.

Most Portable Tripod: Joby GorillaPod 3k

Incredibly small, flexible, and portable, this tripod can go anywhere you can. Add in the surprisingly sturdy ball heads at a reasonable price, and you’ve got a simple option focused on portability.

Get the best deal for it here.

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About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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