Best Lightweight Travel Tripod

Best Lightweight Travel Tripod

Every photographer can appreciate the value of a good tripod, but not all tripods are suitable to take on the road.

This is why we have screen what the market offer and have picked the one that for us is the best lightweight travel tripod.

Bringing a good travel tripod on your photographic journeys can open up whole new shooting possibilities.

Let's take a quick look at some of the best lightweight travel tripods.

Essential Features for Lightweight Travel Tripods

Choosing a travel tripod isn't quite the same as choosing a tripod for studio work.

Travel tripods require some more specialized features.

Here's what you need to know to make the right choice.

Stability

Obviously, the most important feature of a tripod is its ability to stabilize your camera, so the tripod itself needs to be well-constructed.

Pay special attention to the head section where the camera mount is located, as this is an area where corners are cut on the cheaper models.

Most tripods now feature telescoping legs, so ensure that the clips which hold each section in place are equally sturdy.

No matter whether you're going to be shooting landscapes in natural environments or travelling through cities, you're going to want a tripod with sturdy, flexible feet that can rotate slightly to match the angle of the ground.

Some offer spikes to embed in the earth, but this can limit you if you're shooting in urban environments as they are far less effective on paved surfaces.

Depending on the kind of camera and lens configuration you're going to be using, you'll want to make sure that your tripod is weight-rated highly enough to support your setup.

Most are rated for 25 pounds or more, but if you're going to be shooting with an extremely large telephoto lens, you may require more strength.

Portability

Portability is also an essential element of a travel tripod, especially if you're going to be on the move all day.

Unfortunately, a lot of how portable your tripod is depends on what it's made of, which in turn affects how stable it will be.

A plastic tripod would be very lightweight and portable, but it wouldn't be very sturdy, while a metal tripod would be rock-solid but far too heavy to carry around for a day of shooting.

The best compromise is found in carbon fiber composite materials, which blend the strength and stability of metal with the lightweight, portable aspects of plastic.

The only downside is that because carbon fibre is a relatively new technology, tripods that use it tend to be a bit more expensive than other options.

Height Range

One of the great things about travel photography is that you never know what kind of incredible shots you're going to get.

It's important to make sure that your tripod is able to keep up with a range of circumstances.

A good tripod should provide you with lockable, telescoping legs and an adjustable central post for maximum flexibility in terms of height range.

Some tripods will even allow you to fold the legs outwards at an extreme angle to get your camera closer to the ground, although that's not exactly an essential feature.

After all, if you want your camera 6" off the ground you could simply rest it on your camera bag.

Level Guides

Shooting in the studio gives you great control over your environment, but you have no such luxuries when you're travelling.

You'll often be using your tripod on uneven surfaces you've never seen before.

That doesn't mean you should be forced to spend a lot of time in post-processing doing horizon angle corrections.

Instead, many tripods offer a feature known as a bubble or spirit level, which lets you ensure that your camera is properly leveled before you start shooting.

Weighting Options

As we already pointed out, when you're out in the world, shooting conditions are not always ideal.

If you've chosen an extremely lightweight tripod for extra portability and suddenly find yourself in a windy area with an unstable surface to mount your tripod, you'll want to make sure that your tripod isn't so top-heavy that it gets blown over!

Many tripods feature a system that allows you to hang a heavy object (such as your camera bag) from the central post, providing additional stability in less than perfect conditions.

Our Favourite Lightweight Travel Tripods

Manfrotto BeFree Compact

The BeFree Compact from Manfrotto is one of the smaller tripods that we looked at, folding down into a package just 15.4" long and weighing 2.4 lbs.

The trade-off for this smaller size is that it doesn't provide the same weight capacity that some of the other tripods do, although it can support 8.8 lbs which should cover all compact cameras and most lightweight DSLRs.

This tripod also has a unique method of folding the legs, wrapping them up above the tripod head.

This has some benefits and some drawbacks.

It makes for a more compact package overall and offers you the ability to individually adjust the angle of each leg, but it also prevents you from carrying your camera mounted on the tripod.

There is a quick-release plate that makes it easy to attach and remove the camera from the main body of the tripod, but it might force you to adjust your shooting style slightly.

MeFOTO GlobeTrotter

The GlobeTrotter has one of the most impressive maximum heights of the tripods we looked at, reaching up to 64.2" at the maximum and 16.1" at the lower end.

That extra height comes with some extra weight, as this is also one of the heavier tripods at 3.7 lbs.

This also allows it to support loads of up to 26.4 lbs, making it perfect for anyone shooting with a full-frame or medium format camera and a large lens.

In addition to being a strong piece, MeFOTO has packed in some great extras like separate height and pan locks for extra shooting flexibility, a bubble level mounted in the head, and the ability to convert the tripod into a monopod by removing the central column.

They've even included a handy carrying case, as it might be a bit too bulky to fit into some of the smaller camera bags on the market.

Gitzo GK1555T-82TQD Series 1

You'll be forgiven for not being able to remember the full name of this tripod, but you won't forget how carefully designed it is.

With a maximum height of 58.4" and a minimum of 12" you'll have the flexibility for almost all shooting conditions, and it folds down to just 14" long.

It also has a good balance of weight and support capacity, handling up to 22 lbs of gear while only weighing 3.1 lbs.

The legs fold up in reverse similar to the Manfrotto tripod we looked at earlier, but instead of blocking the tripod head the central column is inverted and the legs fold around it, allowing you to leave your camera mounted while you carry it.

It also features separate pan and height locks around the ball head for easy rotation when shooting panoramas or moving subjects, and you can quickly control the panning speed by adjusting the friction lock.

To top it all off, there's a bubble level for easy horizon levelling and an optional shoulder strap.

Sirui T-024X

The T-024X was the lightest tripod we looked at at just 2.1 lbs, so if maximum portability is your prime concern then this is a great option.

Despite being so lightweight, it still manages to have a height range from 58" to 8.2" and a folded size of 15.7", but it only supports up to 13.2 lbs so make sure you choose your gear carefully.

If it turns out that it's actually too light for proper stability during windy shooting conditions, you can use the hook on the central column to add a weight such as your camera bag.

If you shoot on uneven ground regularly, you'll appreciate the ability to adjust each leg at a different angle to get stable positioning no matter where you are, and the telescoping legs have a quick lock and release system for fast setup.

The central column is reversible to allow macro shooting, although you can also use the optional shorter central column to get right down to the ground.

3 Legged Thing Eclipse Leo

The Eclipse Leo from manufacturer 3 Legged Thing is a bit cumbersomely named but the tripod itself is one of the best we looked at.

It has a height range from 55" to an impressively low 4.75", is just 3.2lbs in weight and supports between 22 and 66 lbs, depending on the angle the legs are locked at.

It can also be switched into a monopod format by switching out one of the legs and attaching it to the rest of the central column, which is a unique take on the typical monopod conversion method that may not be to your taste.

The Leo comes with rubberized feet for stability on indoor and urban surfaces, but they can be swapped out for either spike or claw-format feet from 3 Legged Thing which are sold separately.

It also has a single bubble level set into the main tripod head which uses a ball head format, although flat tripod plate heads are available as well - but again, sold separately.

Our Best Pick

When we do a review of photo gear, there is typically one piece that stands well above the rest.

In this case it's hard to choose between the Eclipse Leo from 3 Legged Thing and the MeFOTO GlobeTrotter.

After much careful deliberation, though, we've decided that the Eclipse Leo is going to be our recommended travel tripod thanks to a couple of extra features that are available.

Despite being priced very similarly, the Eclipse Leo has a slight advantage in portability that makes it better suited to being carried around for a whole day of shooting.

It might seem like the half pound of weight won't make much of a difference, but after a day of hiking you'll appreciate any advantage you can get.

The Eclipse Leo also folds down into a smaller package at just 13.8" without sacrificing much in terms of its height range, which allows you to fit it into almost any camera bag.

Add in the solid carbon fibre construction and magnesium alloy fittings, and you've got a tripod that will give you great shots without being too heavy to bring with you anywhere.



Best Lightweight Travel Tripod

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About the Author Luca

Hi, I am Luca, founder and editor in chief at photographyambition.com. I am crazy about photography and I always have a camera with me. When I am not busy with my day job, enjoying my family or taking photos, I am on Photography Ambition to share what I have learnt so far.

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