The travel tripod conundrum is a cruel reality of physics and practicality. The larger and heavier a tripod is, the steadier it will hold a camera. The larger and heavier a tripod is, the less likely you will ever want to carry it around or take it on a trip. Why are we left with a photographic reality like that which makes the tastiest food bad for you?
Tripods come in all shapes, weights, heights, and styles. If you are new to the world of tripods, please check out The Tripod Explained article before reading further. Here we are going to recommend travel tripods for the photographer. First, we must ask, “What makes one a ‘travel’ tripod?”
Well, any tripod is a travel tripod if you are willing to travel with it, but some tripods are designed to fold up into a compact package that, in some cases, can fit into a carry-on bag. They are also designed to be lighter than their full-sized counterparts. Usually, they have four or more leg sections, legs that can fold up around the center column, or a center column that drops down between the legs for transport. In general, they do not extend to the same heights as full-sized tripods, so get ready to bend over while shooting. Other than those features, the travel tripod is basically the same as any other three-legged camera support.
I picked the brains of the store’s tripod experts, got hands-on with all of the different options, and have compiled this list of the Top 10 best travel tripod in UK 2021 shown here, in price order, with the highest priced (as of press time) first.
Top 10 best travel tripod in UK 2021
1.Peak Design Travel Tripod (Aluminium)
It’s the first tripod Peak Design has made, and considering the carbon fiber version we looked at costs more than practically any of its rivals except a Gitzo, it had better be good. There is an aluminium version that’s a massive 40% cheaper, however, which has all the same design features but just a little less vibration resistance. A couple of the other tripods here will go higher, but the Peak Design will still go to eye level for an average-height person, and it packs down to just 39cm in length. It’s designed to cut out the ‘dead volume’ between the legs and the column when packed, which means it’s not just short when folded but very slim too – you could put this IN your camera bag or cabin bag as well as strap it to the outside. The low-profile ball head is simple but brilliant, there’s a phone holder hidden inside the center column and, best of all, this tripod feels seriously rigid.
2.SIRUI Compact Traveler 5C Tripod
The Sirui T-1205X mixes carbon fiber and aluminum to create a lightweight marvel. It’s aluminum components are anodized to increases the corrosion resistance and hardness of the metal.
The center column is reversible to suit your composition needs, plus it comes with a shorter center column for shooting as low as 5.1” from the ground. It’s one of the lowest priced carbon fiber tripods on the market, and insanely lightweight.
5 section legs
Ball head not included
3.3 Legged Thing Punks Corey (Blue and Orange) Aluminium compact travel tripod
3 Legged Thing is a British tripod company, specialising in multi-functional tripods and accessories, often with quirky design features. The lightweight, compact and impressively strong Punks Corey offers high quality at a reasonable price. It’s our second best travel tripod of 2021.
Designed specifically for travel, the Punks Corey tripod packs down to an impressive 35cm / 13.67″, with the legs folding back 180 degrees over the center column, helping to create a slim overall packed diameter for your camera bag.
At (147.5cm / 58″) extended height, the 3 Legged Thing is tall enough for comfortable usage, while still good rigidity. Legs can be positioned at multiple locking angles, or splayed close to the ground for low-angle or close-up travel photography.
3LT good for landscape photography
Unique design and useful details make for a fun and functional travel tripod.
Twist locks offer fast leg deployment. Double center column increases rigidity and allows efficient fine-tuning of overall height. Fast adjusting AirHed Neo ball head with grippy knobs. precision engineered leg lock system offer excellent stability and rigidity. 2 spirit levels (head/leg) for precise leveling. Ergonomic ‘bubble’ grip leg locks for all-weather use. Detachable monopod.
Invertible column for macro camera setups. 1/4″ screw foot with multiple accessory options. Tri-mount plate with hollowed spurs for clipping on accessories. Durable drawstring bag. ‘Toolz’ multi tool, including hex key, coin key, key ring, carabiner and bottle opener! Attractive colours.
4.Benro Travel Angel FTA28CV1
At 1.81kg, not even carbon fibre can stop this lining up alongside the FLM as the heaviest platform here, while the 47.5cm packed length also makes these the longest legs on test. But on the upside, the Travel Angel will raise your SLR higher than the competition, with the four-section legs and centre column extending to a lofty 170cm.
The nine-layer carbon construction results in a 10kg payload rating, and grippy twist-lock leg clamps, a sturdy ball head and a set of spiked feet are great to have. The Travel Angel’s stand-out feature is a removable leg that screws to the centre column to form a monopod.
REASONS TO BUY
+Great maximum height
+Decent payload of 10kg
REASONS TO AVOID
-Not very compact
5.MeFoto RoadTrip Air Tripod with Selfie Stick
The MeFOTO RoadTrip is a tripod that’s as versatile as it is colorful. The RoadTrip serves as both a tripod and a monopod with one removable leg. The versatility also extends to the tripod’s height range.
It goes from 15.4-inches to about 61 ounces when extended. With the legs reverse-folded, the tripod packs away in less than 16 inches of space.
The number of leg sections is a bit on the higher side, but, with five parts using twist locks. The feet have spikes, and the twist locks and Arca quick release plate help get the tripod set up a bit faster.
MeFoto offers two different versions of the RoadTrip – an aluminum and a carbon fiber edition. The pricier carbon edition option weighs 3.1 pounds and can handle over 17 pounds of gear.
The aluminum weighs a half-pound more handling the same amount of gear. For those who don’t like their photo gear looking like everyone else’s, the RoadTrip comes in seven different colors.
6.Manfrotto Befree Advanced Tripod with Lever Closure
If you’re looking for a conventional tripod that is very light and doesn’t sacrifice too much durability, then I suggest the Manfrotto BeFree. This reliable and lightweight tripod is great for wilderness backpacking in addition to demanding professional shoots. It has the usual bells and whistles that a good travel tripod should have and all at a great price.
The Manfrotto BeFree is very straightforward travel tripod that is not overly complex to use.
The legs can be arranged into the usual positions (wide, normal, and free) though the Manfrotto uses a slightly novel latching system to achieve this; it’s unique though in no way inhibitive.
The legs are composed of 4 sections and are locked via flip mechanisms. Like the Alta Pro, you’ll have to periodically tighten these locks. The feet of the tripod are made of rubber, which is good for gripping most surfaces. In my personal experiences, I find the feet like to fall off quite often, which easily fixed via replaced parts though still a little irritating.
The BeFree is remarkably light given that’s made of aluminum – ultralight photographers can upgrade to a carbon fiber version, which cuts about a half pound as well. The BeFree is rated to hold nearly 9 lbs, which makes it most ideal for mirrorless shooters.
Full frame DSLR shooters who use this travel tripod notice some wobbling in the frame especially and complain further that the lack of a hook on the central column, which is used to weight the tripod, leaves much to be desired.
For videographers, the Manfrotto BeFree can also be converted into a great travel video tripod via special video head sold separately. This accessory, the Manfrotto 502 Video Head, is very effective and does a great job panning.
7.Benro Slim Travel Kit – Carbon Fiber
Looking for a good solid all-rounder then you really can’t beat the Benro Slim Travel Kit. 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 Benro Slim Travel Kit also employs reverse-folding legs that wrap around the centre column, which helps it fold down so compactly. You can also remove the Benro Slim Travel Kit ’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.
8.Gitzo Traveler Tripod – Compact
We couldn’t do a round up of tripods without featuring one of the tripods from the high-end brand Gitzo. Gitzo are essentially the Rolls Royce of tripod manufacturers. They are certainly not a budget option, but for those of you with a healthy wallet, they are certainly a solid choice.
Their travel tripod range is conveniently called Traveler. We’d recommend the Lightweight Series 2 traveler tripod as offering a great balance of size and stability.
The Gitzo Lightweight Series 2 is a well built tripod featuring an Arca-Swiss compatible ball head that has a bubble level and independent pan and tilt locking, which makes it easier to capture panoramas. It extends up to 65 inches (165 cm) with a load capacity of 26.4 lbs (12 kg), allowing it to work for just about any photographer’s needs. Even with the center column down, you still get an impressive 55 inches (142cm) of height.
However, this tripod is one of the heaviest on the list at just over 4 lbs. If you want something lighter and even smaller, checkout the Lightweight Series 0 Traveler, which offers a more compact system at the expense of height.
This is definitely a premium tripod, but we think it is worth the price if you have the budget and you want something sturdy and durable from a well-known brand.
9.MeFOTO Backpacker S Aluminium Travel Tripod
This tripod is a nice lower-middle price range option if you’re looking for a sturdy reliable tripod but don’t want to break the $200 price point. The MeFOTO has all the features you would expect from a solid travel tripod. It comes in at a reasonable size to carry around all day with an overall tripod weight of 3.6 lbs and a folded height of 15.4”. There is also a center bottom hook in case you need to weigh your tripod down in windier conditions.
Its legs have 2 different adjustment angles which aren’t as flexible as the 3 leg angles found on the 3 Legged Thing Tripods, but in combination with its max height of 61.1”, you should be covered in most situations you’re shooting in.
Like many other tripods, my biggest complaint is that you can’t attach the ball head directly to the tripod. Because of this, the minimum height of the MeFoto is 15.4”, so you won’t be able to get as close to the ground as other tripods like the Peak Design Travel Tripod. With that said, one way around this is to reverse the center section and attach your camera below the tripod, although this doesn’t always work the best out in the field.
Solid lower-middle range price option for a sturdy tripod with all the features you would expect from a good travel tripod.
It’s a reasonably sized tripod that you can carry around all day with an overall tripod weight of 3.6 lbs and foldable height of 15.4”.
One of the legs can be removed and converted to a foam grip monopod by combining it with the center section.
It has a maximum load capacity of 17.6 lbs so it will be able to handle most camera setups.
Has a recessed center bottom hook which is nice to have in case you ever need to weigh your tripod down.
Spikes for the feet are included.
Is Arca Swiss compatible.
You can’t attach the ball head directly to the tripod so the minimum height is about 15.4”. The workaround is to reverse the center section and attach the camera that way but this isn’t always the best option in the field.
The legs have 2 lock angles which doesn’t give you as much height adjustment flexibility as the tripods with 3 lock angles.
The locking mechanism for the ball head quick release plate uses a knob mechanism so there is a chance you may accidentally loosen a mounted camera.
It’s aluminum so you don’t get the performance benefits of a carbon fiber tripod.
10.Camera Tripod, ZOMEI Q666 Aluminum Portable Travel Tripods
If you’re not looking to bust $100, you can take a look at the Camera Tripod, ZOMEI Q666. This aluminum travel tripod extends to 65″ and folds down to 18″ x 5″. It’s slightly larger than the Sirui T-005KX but it’s cheaper and also converts to a monopod.
The most significant disadvantage of the ZOMEi tripod is that it’s almost two full pounds heavier than the T-005KX at 3.7 pounds. I wouldn’t consider this a lightweight travel tripod at this weight.
If you want something really light, you’re going to have to pay for it, regardless of if it’s made of aluminum or carbon fiber.
How to choose the best travel tripod for you
There’s no one-size-fits-all tripod, so the ideal match will depend on the type of photos you plan on taking, and what camera setup you use. There are however a few key features that should allow you to hone in on the right ‘pod for you:
Load capacity: This determines how much weight the tripod can safely support. The last thing you want to happen is for your tripod legs to slip, or worse, for it to topple, taking your camera with it. Always make sure the weight of your kit doesn’t exceed the capacity. In practice it’s often recommended to get a tripod that’s rated to handle twice the weight of your equipment – it’ll give you increased peace of mind and give you a little futureproofing should you decide to upgrade to a heavier camera or lens later on.
Weight: When it comes to picking a tripod for travel, weight is crucial. If it’s too heavy it can feel a burden you’d rather leave at home. On the other hand, if it’s too light you risk sacrificing stability. For our roundup, we’ve picked options that we believe strike the right balance.
Maximum height: The ideal height will come down to personal preference and how you plan to use your camera. Everything else kept equal, taller tripods will be heavier and bulkier, so if you value portability over all else, check out some of the more compact options. However, if you plan on shooting from eye level, you’ll need to make sure you opt for a tripod that’s tall enough when fully extended.
Closed height: Another characteristic that’s worth noting when it comes to travelling is how compact the tripod becomes once closed. If you plan on packing your tripod in a suitcase or bag – or attaching it to the exterior of a rucksack, you’ll need to make sure the measurements are suitable.
What about tripod heads?
The tripod head is the small, adjustable mechanism atop the tripod legs and is where you attach your camera. While it’s easy to get caught up in the technical specifications of a tripod, you’ll likely find it’s the head that has the greatest impact on your user experience.
It’s also worth paying attention to how the camera connects to the head. While the most basic tripods may require you to directly screw the tripod head to the camera, most modern offerings now include some form of quick release plate. Arca Swiss and Manfrotto Quick Release Plates are the most widely used standards and both allow you to attach and detach your camera with ease.
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.