camera tripod

If you’re reading this report it probably means you’ve had enough of cheap low-quality tripods that always break. Either that or you need a lighter travel tripod for backpacking and travelling. Having a solid well-made travel tripod makes a huge difference. I’ve done a lot of research to find the best quality and best priced travel tripods. Jump straight to each segment:

Best of the Best

Best Value

Best on a Budget

All of the tripods in this report are good quality tripods that will not break easily. If you have yet to use a tripod for photography you’ll soon discover that most of the best photos ever taken were taken with a tripod. Night photography, landscape photography, astro-photography, sports photography, real estate photography and wildlife photography are some of the examples of where you would need to use a tripod.

Almost all professional photography and videography makes use of a tripod at some point. The tripod is a must have for longer exposures (less than 1/50th of a second shutter speed). Tripods also make it a lot easier to properly frame your shots. Tripods are also essential for HDR photography and bracketed shots.

Some of the tripods in this report can be converted to monopods as well. If you shoot video you can also use these tripods for that though they are designed for still photography. Check back soon for my report on Video Tripods soon.

Usually the main difference is the type of head that goes on the tripod. Video tripods have handles and tension for smoother panning. I’ve shot a lot of professional video on normal photography tripods (stationary shots) but its much easier with a video tripod, especially if you are tracking your subject. Most travel tripods use ball heads because there isn’t a need for 3 separate large handles which is better for travel. There’s always a bit of a trade off in height and sturdiness of travel tripods. This is done to reduce folded size and overall weight.

Do you need to worry about the travel tripod’s maximum load?

Its important to note what type of DSLR, Mirrorless Camera, Camcorder and lens you are planning to use when you travel. There is a difference in the load capacity of the tripods. If you are using a heavy DSLR with a heavier longer lens or if you want greater stability you should choose the tripod that has the higher weight capacity. In my experience you can put a heavier load on a tripod than the manufacturer suggests. But, when you swivel the ball head and position the camera and lens for portrait shots that’s where you can run into problems with the load. This is especially true if you’re using a heavy DSLR with a long/heavy lens. The tripod can tip or you have to hold the tripod while you shoot or weigh it down with a sandbag from the central column or on one of the legs. Its better to get the heavier load tripod just to be safe and to protect your gear. They’re also better in the wind (because they tend to be heavier) and you don’t want to have to hike around with a sandbag too. If you get a lower maximum load tripod you could also always weigh it down with whatever you’re carrying in your bag anyways. You can attach your backpack to the centre column or put it on top of one of the legs. If you are using a light mirrorless camera with a normal lens that should be fine with the lower maximum load tripods.

Should you spend the extra money for a Carbon Fiber Travel tripod?

A lot of people would say that you shouldn’t bother with the Carbon Fiber travel tripods because the improvments in weight are very modest compared to aluminum travel tripods. I partly agree with that. I think it really depends on how far you are planning to hike with your tripod and gear. I’ve done very long hard hikes and in those situations half a kilogram (1.1 lbs) does start to make a difference. If you’re planning on only doing moderate or easy hikes then a slightly heavier aluminum travel tripod should be fine and you can save some money as well.

The cool thing is you can also use these tripods for normal non-travel work as well. I hope you enjoy my report and find the best travel tripod for you.

BEST OF THE BEST



BEST OF THE BEST

Weight

Material and Max. Load

Tripod and Monopod

Head Type and Colors

#1 WINNER

MeFoto Classic Carbon Fiber Globetrotter

3.7 lbs (1.6 Kg)

Carbon Fiber, 26.4 lbs (12 Kg)

Yes

Dual Action Ball head, Multiple colours available

#2 WINNER

Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber 

2.4 lbs (1.1 Kg)

Carbon Fiber, 8.8 lbs (4 Kg)

No

Ball Head, Black with stripes

 

#1 WINNER
MeFoto Classic Carbon Fiber Globetrotter

Weight: 3.7 lbs (1.6 Kg)

Material and Maximum Load: Carbon Fiber, 26.4 lbs (12 Kg)

Tripod and Monopod: Yes

Head Type and Colors: Dual Action Ball head, Multiple colours available

Pros: Solid build. Converts to monopod. Lightweight Carbon Fiber. Separate pan and and ball head locking.

Cons: Pricey. Can take a while to get used to the tightening rings on the legs of the tripod. No quick release mechanism.

The Mefoto Carbon Fiber Globetrotter is a fantastic lightweight solid tripod. It can handle a large weight capacity and is super sturdy. The Carbon Fiber is light and strong and it folds to a small size that you can easily attach to a photography backpack or fit in a suitcase.

The Globetrotter version of the Mefoto travel tripod is the largest of their travel tripods. If you don’t need as much of a maximum load and want to save money you can check out the smaller aluminum Backpacker version of the tripod: My pick for Best Value #2 Winner: MeFoto Classic Aluminum Backpacker Travel Tripod.

The Mefoto Classic Carbon Fiber Globetrotter easily converts to a monopod and has a very smooth easy to use dual action ball head. The only real downside to this tripod is that when you extend or retract the legs, tightening the rings can be awkward and time consuming. Its much easier to use clamps that open/close with one action. You’ll find that good quality travel tripods tend to mainly use the ring tightening configuration rather than clamps. If you need super-fast tripod setups you might be better off with the Best of the Best #2 Winner the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod. I also prefer the dual action ball head that comes with this and other MeFoto tripods to some of the single action ball heads on the Manfrotto Tripods in this report. This is my #1 Winner because of excellent overall build quality, weight, maximum load, and the dual action ball head. I own this tripod and love it!

 

#2 WINNER
Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

Weight: 2.4 lbs (1.1 Kg)

Material and Maximum Load: Carbon Fiber, 8.8 lbs (4 Kg)

Tripod and Monopod: No

Head Type and Colors: Ball Head, Black with stripes

Pros: Lightweight. Solid build quality. Easy and fast setup. Quick release system.

Cons: No monopod mode. Lower maximum load. No dual action ball head.

The Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber is a fantastic travel tripod. Its a solid well made high quality tripod. Its .5 Kg (1.1 lbs) lighter than my #1 Winner. On the flip side it isn’t as stable and can’t support as much weight as the MeFoto Carbon Fiber Globetrotter.
If you are using a lighter camera and lenses this tripod may be the prefect travel tripod for you. You can still get away with quite a heavy setup like a Canon 5D Mark 4 and a 70-200 lens with this tripod. If you prefer a more stable setup regardless of the weight of your gear the #1 Winner would be better for you. The main downside to this tripod is that it can’t be converted to a monopod. It takes my #2 Winner spot because of that and because it has a lower maximum load.

 


BEST VALUE



BEST VALUE

Weight

Material and Max. Load

Tripod and Monopod

Head Type and Colors

#1 WINNER

Manfrotto BeFree Aluminum

3 lbs (1.4 Kg)

Aluminum, 8.8 lbs (4 Kg)

No

Ball Head, Black

#2 WINNER

Mefoto Classic Aluminum Backpacker

2.6 lbs (1.2 Kg)

Aluminum and Magnesium alloy, 8.8 lbs (4 Kg)

No

Dual action Ball Head, Multiple colours available

 

#1 WINNER
Manfrotto BeFree Aluminum Travel Tripod

Weight: 3 lbs (1.4 Kg)

Material and Maximum Load: Aluminum, 8.8 lbs (4 Kg)

Tripod and Monopod: No

Head Type and Colors: Ball Head, Black

Pros: Solid build quality. Lightweight. Quick release mechanism.

Cons: Not Carbon Fiber. Can’t be converted to a monopod.

If you like the Manfrottto BeFree Carbon fiber and want to save a bit of money this might be the tripod for you. Its basically just like  it but its slightly heavier because its Aluminum. Its really quite a small weight difference of .3 Kg (.66 lbs). This isn’t much of a difference unless you are hiking for hours and hours. On the downside the load capacity is quite low on this tripod which may or may not be an issue for you. It has the same load capacity as the carbon fiber version. There’s also no built-in monopod. It takes my #1 Winner for Best Value because its well-made and affordable. Its also very easy to setup and use.


#2 WINNER
MeFoto Classic Aluminum Backpacker Travel Tripod

 

Weight: 2.6 lbs (1.2 Kg)

Material and Maximum Load: Aluminum and Magnesium alloy, 8.8 lbs (4 Kg)

Tripod and Monopod: No

Head Type and Colors: Dual action Ball Head, Multiple colours available

Pros: Separate pan and and ball head locking. Very affordable.

Cons: No monopod mode. No quick release. Can take a while to get used to the tightening rings on the legs of the tripod

This is a great overall travel tripod. Its not as large and sturdy as the Globetrotter but its lightweight, affordable and well made. It has a modest maximum load but can hold its own against more expensive travel tripods. Its a full 1.1 lbs (.5 Kg) lighter than the Globetrotter version but has a significantly smaller maximum load as a result. Its definitely not as sturdy so if you prefer a sturdier setup it may be worth it for you to get the heavier and more expensive Globetrotter version. It takes the #2 Winner position because it lacks the easy to use clamp tightening system and quick release of the Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod.

 


BEST ON A BUDGET



BEST ON A BUDGET

Weight

Material and Max. Load

Tripod and Monopod

Head Type and Colors

#1 WINNER

Zomei Z818 Aluminum

3.7 lbs (1.7 Kg)

Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy, 33 lbs (15 Kg)

Yes

Ball Head, Multiple colors available

#2 WINNER

Bonfoto Carbon Fiber

2.5 lbs (1.14 Kg)

 Carbon Fiber, 17.6 lbs (8 Kg)

Yes

Dual action Ball Head, Black with Gunmetal accents

 

#1 WINNER
Zomei Z818 Aluminum Travel Tripod

Weight: 3.7 lbs (1.7 Kg)

Material and Maximum Load: Aluminum and Magnesium Alloy, 33 lbs (15 Kg)

Tripod and Monopod: Yes

Head Type and Colors: Ball Head, Multiple colors available

Pros: Huge maximum weight capacity. Stable. Monopod mode. Very affordable.

Cons: Heavier than other travel tripods. No Dual action ball head. Can take a while to get used to the tightening rings on the legs of the tripod

The Zomei Z818 is a great buy. Its inexpensive and gives you a lot of bang for the buck. Its stable and can carry a very heavy camara/lens load. If you’re gear setup is heavy this may be the best travel tripod for you. On the downside its weighs more than other travel tripods. Its about the same weight as my #1 Best of the Best winner the Mefoto Globetrotter.  It may also be not as well made as the more expensive travel tripods since there have been some complaints about quality. Overall there are many more positive reviews than negative and this tripod has an excellent 4.5 out of 5 Star rating so I am sure the quality is good enough. Since its inexpensive and can carry such heavy load its my pick for #1 Winner for Best on a Budget.


#2 WINNER
Bonfoto Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

Weight: 2.5 lbs (1.14 Kg)

Material and Maximum Load: Carbon Fiber, 17.6 lbs (8 Kg)

Tripod and Monopod: Yes

Head Type and Colors: Dual action Ball Head, Black with Gunmetal accents

Pros: Lightweight Carbon Fiber.  Monopod mode. Very affordable. Attractive design.

Cons: Ball head is inaccurate and hard to tighten. Some complaints about quality. Can take a while to get used to the tightening rings on the legs of the tripod

The Bonfoto Carbon Fiber travel tripod gives you a lot of features for a relatively inexpensive price tag. Its carbon fiber and lightweight and can carry a heavier load of 17.6 lbs (8 Kg). That easily beats out most of the more expensive travel tripods in this report. On the downside there have been some complaints about build quality. There have also been issues with the ball head. Some have said its inaccurate and hard to tighten. It still makes it to my #2 Best on a Budget winner spot because you get a lot of features for the price and the positive reviews greatly outweigh the negative. This tripod has a 4.3 out of 5 Star rating. It may not be as well built as the expensive travel tripods but its definitely better than low quality entry level tripods. If you plan to put your tripod through heavy everyday use, you might be better off with one of my Best of the Best or Best Value picks.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A good quality travel tripod makes a big difference to your kit. It makes taking photographs and video much easier. They don’t break easily and are very portable. Framing shots is super easy and once you get used to a good quality ball head they can be quick and easy to use. You can even use some of these tripods (the bigger and heavier ones) for normal shooting scenarios and not just for travel photography. If you’ve never shot with a tripod you’re in for a big treat. You’ll discover how much better your photos become and how many more sub types of photography you can explore. I hope you enjoyed my report and found the best travel tripod for you.

 

Want to know more about Travel Tripods?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tripod_(photography)

http://www.weatherscapes.com/techniques.php?cat=general&page=tripod

https://ayearwithmycamera.com/blog/when-to-use-a-tripod-for-photography