Few things are more exciting than traveling the world and exploring new places. When you are away from home, you likely want to capture memories by taking photographs or producing videos. Of course, you likely can’t get the shot you want without the right equipment. In addition to an excellent camera, you may want to invest in a travel tripod.
The are many travel tripods available for purchase today. Not all are a good use of your money, however. In this review, we list the 10 best travel tripods for traveling photographers.
TRAVEL TRIPOD FAQS
WHAT IS A TRAVEL TRIPOD?
A travel tripod is a three-legged tool that holds cameras and other devices in place. Travel tripods come in a variety of styles, colors, materials, finishes and configurations.
HOW MUCH DO TRAVEL TRIPODS COST?
Travel tripods usually cost less than studio tripods. Some, however, are quite expensive. Materials, size, construction, design and branding affect the overall cost of travel tripods.
WHERE CAN YOU BUY A TRAVEL TRIPOD?
Many big-box stores and photography shops sell travel tripods. If you prefer to shop online, you can find a huge selection of tripods at third-party sites, such as Amazon.
HOW WE EVALUATED TRAVEL TRIPODS
Our goal is to provide you with honest, reliable and valuable information. In compiling our rankings of the best travel tripods, we looked for excellence in the following areas:
To create a review you can trust, we didn’t only look at published specifications and marketing materials for each tripod. Instead, we considered the opinions of both professional reviewers and actual photographers.
OVERALL PRICE RANGE OF TRAVEL TRIPODS
As mentioned above, travel tripods vary considerably in price. Still, travel tripods usually cost significantly less than those used in studio photography. The tripods that made our rankings of the best travel tripods for traveling photographers range in price from $30 to $700. Most on our list, though, cost between $100 and $250.
TOP 10 BEST TRAVEL TRIPODS FOR TRAVELING PHOTOGRAPHERS: RANKINGS, RATINGS AND REVIEWS
In our opinion, the best travel tripod for on-the-go photographers is the Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH BeFree compact aluminum travel tripod. This tripod has everything most photographers want in a camera-holding device. The light and compact design of this product makes traveling through busy airports or quiet villages a breeze. In fact, it fits nicely inside most backpacks or carry-on bags.
While the BeFree is small in size, it feels strong and durable. The base supports medium-weight cameras up to about nine pounds. All three legs toggle quickly and easily into place, making shooting from a variety of heights and configurations possible. We like the professional look of this piece of equipment. Available in different colors, the tripod is sure to give you instant photog credibility wherever you go.
Even better, the comparatively low price tag on the Manfrotto BeFree tripod allows you to spend money on booking dynamic voyages. While the BeFree allows you to capture some great photos, it isn’t perfect. When the center post is fully extended, the tripod becomes a bit unstable. As such, your camera’s shutter may cause a vibration that reduces the quality of large prints. Since most photographers solve this problem by lowering the center post, this issue doesn’t bother us much.
While expensive, the Gitzo GT1542T Series 1 6X carbon-fiber tripod is perhaps the most complete traveler tripod on the market today. The 3.7-pound device is light enough to carry long distances. Moreover, its adjustable base makes setting up the perfect shot simple and fast. Some photographers notice that raising the center pole requires effort, as it tends to stick. We think this is likely resolvable with a silicone lubricant, however.
If you have a heavy camera or use bulky lenses, you will likely appreciate the payload of the Gitzo GT1542T. In fact, the tripod can support setups that weigh up to 22 pounds. The Gitzo has a hook to help you avoid accidently knocking your camera off the tripod base. It also features a failsafe lock to avoid tipping on rocky terrain. The clear standout feature of the Gitzo camera, though, is its carbon-fiber construction. While lightweight, the tripod can withstand significant punishment.
The second and third tripods on our list are virtually tied. Both the Gitzo and MeFOTO tripods appeal to both amateur and professional photographers. However, the comparatively small price tag on the MeFOTO Globetrotter makes it accessible to virtually everyone.
This tripod is easy to set up and tear down. Moreover, its compact size makes carrying the device to far-away destinations a breeze. We like the MeFOTO tripod for its simplistic design. While you hold your camera in one hand, you can likely adjust the tripod with the other. The small stature of the Globetrotter travel tripod makes it an excellent choice for hikers. If you need to reach tall heights, the MeFOTO easily converts into a 64.2-inch monopod.
The BENRO GoTravel tripod is one of the heaviest tripods we reviewed. Since a lightweight design is important for a tripod to work on the go, we dropped this device out of our top three. Still, we appreciate the many features the BENRO GoTravel has to offer. Perhaps the best of these is the quick-flip center column. This column allows you to quickly set up shots, making the GoTravel ideal for wildlife photographers.
Like the MeFOTO tripod, the BENRO device converts from a tripod to a monopod. The process is a bit more complicated, however. As such, you should probably practice transforming the device a few times before you hit the road with it. Some reviewers complain about the flimsy feel of the BENRO GoTravel aluminum tripod. At $200, we expect a sturdier feel.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Brian tripod is a transitionary tool for intermediate photographers. The carbon-fiber device is lightweight, which makes it easy to carry. Still, it doesn’t intuitively expand. Instead, you must twist joints to lock them into place. As such, this tripod feels like a professional-grade tool.
The Punks Brian offers excellent support for both light and heavy cameras. Its sturdy build is designed for extreme conditions. Nonetheless, some users complain about wobbling in the 3 Legged Thing’s legs. Accordingly, if you routinely shoot in windy or icy areas, the 3 Legged Thing tripod may not be the best option for you. Still, we can’t quibble with the super-cool product name.
Not every travel photographer is looking to create a masterpiece. Many simply want an excellent picture to post on social media. For those, the MeFOTO Backpacker Air travel tripod is a decent option. This tripod offers a sturdy base for small and medium-sized cameras. The aluminum construction of the tripod ensures it is simple to pack and easy to carry.
We like the MeFOTO Backpacker for its intuitive set up. With just the turn of a rubber foot, you manipulate the tripod in any direction you choose. If you expect a professional-grade tripod, the MeFOTO Backpacker will likely disappoint. If you want a starter tripod that fits inside a backpack, though, this tool is worth a look.
Don’t let the Big Travel from Prima Photo fool you. While the tripod is large enough to capture virtually any shot you want, it is not bulky or heavy. In fact, at only 3.6 pounds, the Big Travel competes with higher-end tripods.
We like the Prima Photo Big Travel for its customizability. Whether you want a standard tripod or a full-sized monopod, this device has you covered. This device is not, however, a professional tool. Because Prima Photo delivers an affordable tripod with its Big Travel offering, some of the components have a decidedly low-quality feel to them.
While the build quality of travel tripods tends to drop with price, the Oben AC-1341 feels strong and sturdy. This tripod relies on well-built legs and rubber feet to hold your camera or other device in place. Even though the Oben AC-1341 is lightweight and travels well, it isn’t right for all photographers. If your camera weighs more than a few pounds, you won’t want to trust this tripod to hold it.
At only $30, the RetiCAM tabletop tripod is the cheapest tripod we reviewed. It is also the lightest. This device isn’t tall enough to be a standalone tripod. Instead, you must place it on a bench, table or other sturdy structure. Still, it holds your camera securely while you capture important shots. While the RetiCAM’s small size may appeal to those who prefer to travel lightly, the tripod does not excel in build quality.
The last tripod on our rankings is the little brother of the Prima Photo Big Travel tripod. This Small Travel tripod holds your camera firmly in place while you capture shots. That’s about it. It doesn’t have many of the features of the other tripods on the list. Its designers didn’t intend it to have them, though. Instead, they wanted to create a device that allows you a hands-free way to take photographs. Further, the Small Travel tripod from Prima Photo is one of the most affordable tripods on our list. It is lightweight and easy to use.
TRAVEL TRIPOD COMPARISON TABLE
THE VERDICT: THE MANFROTTO MKBFRA4-BH BEFREE COMPACT ALUMINUM TRAVEL TRIPOD IS THE BEST TRAVEL TRIPOD
With its design, construction and versatility, the Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH Be-Free tripod is the best travel tripod on the market today. Nonetheless, the competition is fierce. That is, we reviewed some excellent tripods. Which one is right for you likely depends on your travel style and photography goals.