Tripods are an easily overlooked and yet integral part of your photographic kit. Sure, a new tripod may not be quite as exciting as picking up a new camera or lens, but it can be just as important when it comes to nailing the shot.
The right tripod helps you to get the most out of the rest of your kit. Allowing you to stabilise your camera for tack-sharp landscapes, macro, and low-light shots, it provides a suitable platform for timelapses, long exposures, and video – and it also lets you hop in front of the camera for selfies and group shots.
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.
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The best travel tripods to buy
1. Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fibre: The best travel tripod under £200
Price: £179 | Buy now from Amazon
Manfrotto’s excellent Befree line of travel tripods has been around for a number of years now, with the Befree Advance Carbon fibre sitting in the upper end of the range.
On the surface, it’s a rather simple but solid setup. There’s a high-quality ball head with independent head friction and panoramic controls, along with a locking quick release that’s compatible with both Manfrotto and Arca-Swiss plates. The legs feature twist locks that have a nice chunky feel which makes them easy to use even if you’re in the dark, wearing gloves waiting to photograph the sunrise. There’s a respectable 1.50m maximum extension, and it’s rated to support up to 8kg, so it should comfortably handle all but the heaviest professional setups.
Where this tripod really sets itself apart, though, is in its construction. While the majority of tripods in this price bracket have an aluminium construction, the Befree Advanced Carbon Fibre, as its name suggests, is made from carbon fibre. This lightweight but durable material allows this tripod to weigh in at just 1.25kg, which makes carrying it, even over long distances, a breeze.
If you need a solid, reliable travel tripod and you’ve got £200 to spend, it’s really hard to go wrong with the Befree Advanced Carbon Fibre.
Key specs – Max Load: 8kg; Max height: 1.50m; Closed height: 0.41m; Weight: 1.25kg; Material: Carbon fibre; Head: Ball head.
Manfrotto MKBFRTC4-BH Befree Advanced Travel Tripod, Twist Lock with Ball Head for Canon, Nikon, Sony, DSLR, CSC, Mirrorless, Up to 8 kg, Lightweight with Tripod Bag, Carbon, Black
2. Manfrotto Compact Advanced aluminium tripod: The best budget travel tripod
Price: £69 | Buy now from Amazon
While it may not be the most rugged tripod on our list, the Compact Advanced is a more than competent companion for those looking for a lightweight tripod on a budget. While there’s certainly more plastic in the build than some of our pricier picks, it covers all the essentials, and for casual hikes and city breaks it’s more than capable provided you’re working under its 3kg max capacity.
The 1.65m maximum extension is pretty competitive and should reduce the need to crouch for eye-level shooting for most people. The 3-way tripod head gives you independent control over panning and tilting and, along with its levered arms, this makes the Compact Advanced well suited for panoramas and filming videos once you’ve got it level. Manfrotto’s quick release plate is a welcome addition, too, allowing you to quickly attach and detach your camera with a quick flick of the lever.
For a lightweight, budget-friendly performer, the Manfrotto Compact Advanced tripod is an excellent option. If you’re into faster-moving action or video you may want to check out the related joystick-headed Manfrotto Compact Action.
Key specs – Max Load: 3kg; Max height: 1.65m; Closed height: 0.44m; Weight: 1.42kg; Material: Aluminum; Head: 3 way head.
3. 3 Legged Thing Punks Anarchy Brian: The best travel tripod for full-height shooting
Price: £268 | Buy now from Amazon
Travel tripods tend to be products of compromise, with maximum height often sacrificed in the name of overall size and weight savings. The Brian is different.
From a closed height of just 0.41m the Brian extends up to an incredible 1.87m. The ability to pack such a versatile tripod inside a rucksack is truly remarkable and it allows even the tallest photographers to achieve eye-level shooting.
It’s sturdy too. With all-metal joints and carbon fibre legs it feels reassuringly solid and well balanced. And with a 14kg maximum load, it can comfortably support weighty DSLRs.
In typical 3LT fashion, you get a number of unique design cues, including two colourways with bright orange accents, bubble-textured grips, and 3LT’s Tri-Mount for accessory attachments. The head features 3 spirit levels along with a locking plate – although it is the slightly more fiddly screw-lock style rather than a quick release plate. As an added bonus the Brian also allows you to invert the centre column for low-level macro shooting, or remove one of the legs to create a monopod.
If you need full-sized versatility in a travel-friendly form factor, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Anarchy Brian is an excellent choice.
Key specs – Max Load: 14kg; Max height: 1.87m; Closed height: 0.41m; Weight: 1.45kg; Material: Carbon fibre; Head: Ball head.
4. Joby JB01507-BWW GorillaPod 3K Kit: The most versatile tripod around
Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon
It really is tough to beat Joby’s GorillaPod when it comes to flexibility. Upright it works great for table-top shooting, and with its legs curved, it’s been used to great effect by vloggers as a selfie stick. It’s these bendy legs, of course, that enable the GorillaPod to offer near infinite adaptability.
Made from a series of connected plastic spheres wrapped with rubber, they’re highly flexible and can be articulated to wrap around tree branches, lamp posts, fences, railings – whatever is close at hand. This also makes it easy to pack as you can shape it around the other items in your bag making it a great take-everywhere option.
While its short scale means it can’t cover all the same ground as some of the larger tripods on our list, its compact size does mean you can get away with bringing it to locations unsuitable for full-size supports.
One thing to be aware of is the load capacity however, as at certain angles the legs can struggle to hold heavier setups. If in doubt, the 3K’s bigger sibling, the Joby GorillaPod 5K is rated for loads up to 5kg.
Key specs – Max Load: 3kg; Max height: 0.30m; Closed height: 0.30m; Weight: 0.45kg; Material: Plastic; Head: Ball head.
5. Peak Design Travel Tripod – Aluminum: The most innovative tripod
Price: £329 | Buy now from Wex
Best known for its innovative backpacks, straps, and camera clips, Peak Design is a relative newcomer to the tripod space. Released in 2019 following a successful kickstarter campaign, this tripod has been designed fresh from the ground up with the traveling photographer in mind.
The first thing you’ll notice is its streamlined design and quite how compact it is when closed. Though it reaches past 1.5m fully extended, it packs down to less than 40cm. While it’s a little thicker than some of its rivals, it sits really comfortably on the outside of a rucksack. It features flip locks rather than twists, but they sit nearly flush so there’s nothing to snag when you’re sliding it in and out of a bag.
Unlike some of the other entries on this list, the Peak Design tripod doesn’t require you to fold the legs up over the head in order to reach its minimum closed height. Instead, it features a unique integrated ball head that recesses into the centre column when not in use. This makes it slightly quicker (and more intuitive) to set up, although you do need to extend the head again to regain the full range of motion.
The head also features a double locking Arca-Swiss compatible quick release plate. Something worth mentioning, however, is that because the ball head is unique to the tripod it’s not easily replaceable. If you want to upgrade the head later you’ll need to purchase an additional adapter from Peak – and you’ll lose the ability to sit the head flush with the legs.
In use, the tripod is rock solid and can comfortably support hefty professional equipment with its 9.1kg max capacity. If you find yourself in need of a little extra stability there’s also a hook within the centre column that you can use to hang your bag for a little extra ballast. The hook also doubles up as a smartphone holder too, which is a nice touch.
If you’re particularly weight conscious, Peak Design also produces a carbon fibre version that shaves the weight down to just 1.27kg – but be warned, they do charge a significant premium for it!
Key specs – Max Load: 9.1kg; Max height: 1.52m; Closed height: 0.39m; Weight: 1.56kg; Material: Aluminum; Head: Ball head.
Buy now from Wex
6. Manfrotto Large Pocket Support: Best tripod for stable shots without the weight
Price: £23.97 | Buy now from Amazon
Ok, so Manfrotto’s Pocket Support really stretches the definition of tripod – but trust me, there are three legs. Barely occupying more space than a regular quick release plate, the Pocket Support allows you to always have a stable shooting platform within easy reach.
The three legs can be articulated independently, held in place by tensioned springs. Given the size of the legs, there’s obviously not masses of room for adjustment, but you can fine tune the pitch of your lens and level the horizon providing you have a semi-level platform to place the Pocket Support on.
The biggest boon, though, is the ability to just prop your camera up on top of walls or rocks without risking damage to the camera or lens. You can pop it on and off easily enough (it can be unscrewed with a coin), but unless you need to attach the camera to a different tripod mount it’s fine to leave on all the time. You even get a little bit of movement in how it fits so you can ensure it doesn’t obscure battery or SD card access.
The only thing you really need to bear in mind is that 1.5kg load capacity. Piling on the weight can overload the springs which stops it from holding certain angles with mid-range DSLRs or long telephoto lenses.
The Pocket Support really is a clever little gadget and would be a welcome addition to any traveling photographer’s kit bag.
Key specs – Max Load: 1.5kg; Max height: 0.04m; Closed height: 0.01m; Weight: 0.07kg; Material: Metal; Head: none.
7. Gitzo GK0545T-82TQD Series 0 Traveler Carbon eXact Tripod Kit: Best tripod for build quality (at a price)
Price: £509 | Buy now from Wex
Universally known for its high-quality professional tripods, the Traveler series is Gitzo’s attempt at perfecting the travel tripod format, and having pioneered both the use of carbon fibre and the 180° folding leg mechanism, the manufacturer is pretty well placed to do so.
While there’s nothing particularly flashy about Gitzo’s Traveler tripods, they take the essentials and truly refine them. Indeed, this model has three textured twist locks that operate very smoothly and feature internal O-rings to stop sand and dust getting inside. The ball head also feels very sturdy and precise, and features a pan lock and Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release plate.
While it’s not the tallest tripod in our list, maxing out at just over 130cm fully extended, it manages to close down to a mere 31cm, fitting comfortably in most rucksacks. Once set up, it provides a fantastically stable shooting platform, and with a 10kg carrying capacity it’ll comfortably handle a professional setup – as you’d expect for the price.
As with all Gitzo products, it feels built to last with interchangeable, upgradeable, and repairable parts throughout. If you’re a serious photographer who demands the most from the kit in all conditions then the Gitzo is a sound investment – if your budget can stretch to it.
Key specs – Max Load: 10kg; Max height: 1.33m; Closed height: 0.31m; Weight: 1.29kg; Material: Carbon fibre; Head: Ball head.
Buy now from Wex