The best backpacking tripods may have a lot in common with regular tripods, but they also need to fulfill their own criteria. Generally, this means they need the attributes of being lightweight, compact, very robust, and cost-effective. You soon realize how important these factors are after lugging around a large, heavy duty tripod on an all-day hike. It’s not just about the weight factor, but also nobody wants the equivalent feeling of carrying a bunch of scaffolding tubes around with them all day.
Therefore, we have shortlisted a bunch of tripods which are robust and lightweight enough to strap to a backpack, while also working in all weather conditions. As typical of most camera equipment, the best quality examples will cost the most, but will also last you the longest.
1. Gitzo Traveler Series 1 GT1545TUS (Overall Winner)
It’s true, the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 GT1545TUS is in the premium price bracket, but it also has the best top-end features available and with proper care, will last you a lifetime. In this respect, the price is insignificant.
Standout features include tubes made of carbon, reverse folding legs, space-saving feet, and twist lock mechanisms. Load capacity is 22lbs, with a maximum height of 153cm and a minimum height of 22cm. Fully folded, the tripod is 42.5cm long and weighs a reasonable 1.06 kg.
Most of your money is going into the carbon design, but this also means the Gitzo is rock solid. And with three independently moving legs, it can work on the roughest of terrain. If you can afford this tripod, it’s an excellent choice.
The Manfrotto Befree Advanced strikes a happy medium between price and features, with the usual rock-solid Manfrotto build quality. There are a bunch of variations of this tripod, but the snap lock leg design is the most cost-effective.
It features a load capacity of 17.6 lbs., with a minimum height of 40.1cm, maximum height of 133 cm, and a load capacity of 8kg. This tripod can easily fold up into a backpack and offers a quick and simple setup, autonomous control knobs, side buttons, and quick release plate. The aluminium version is the most cost-effective, but if you want to go down the premium route, there is also a carbon version available, which is ideal as a travel tripod.
Being one of the heaviest tripods on this list, coming in at 1.8kg, the Benro Travel Angel II may carry slightly more mass, but its solid structure can be very helpful in windy conditions. It features a maximum height of 170cm, minimum height of 47.5cm, and a folded length of 62.5cm.
This tripod is fully carbon fiber, with twist lock legs and the center column can be turned into a monopod. The rubber feet and stainless steel spikes can fit most surfaces, plus the V1E ball head and Arca-type clamp can be turned in all directions and unlocked independently. Coming with its own carry bag, the Travel Angel II is a good mid-priced offering with plenty of pro-features.
4. ZOMEi Z818
For those who want a high-quality tripod without breaking the bank, the ZOMEi Z818 is a good option. With a load capacity of 35.27 lbs., a minimum height of 55.9cm, maximum height of 168.5cm, and a folded length of 46cm, the Z818 is both stylish and compact.
The ball head design moves very smoothly, linked to an Arca-Type release plate, with an integrated global level, pan lock, and can also be used as a monopod. The included travel bag is very convenient, as is the panoramic mode and anti-slip leg protectors and quick release plate.
In general, this is an extremely well-made tripod, which is very versatile and well worth the asking price.
The 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0 tripod looks extremely stylish for a mid-priced tripod, with plenty of high-end features. The load capacity is an impressive 29.94 kg, with a maximum working height of 146.6cm, minimum height of 20.8cm, and a total weight of 1.86 kg. The aluminium legs can be adjusted to many different angles with the numerous twist locks, while also having independent leg spread for rough terrain.
The included ball head fully rotates and is very easy to set into position, while the monopod can be detached, further extending the usefulness. Also coming with its own carry case, the Leo 2.0 is compact enough to go anywhere, while also being flexible enough to get to the lowest of positions and also high enough for the average size person.
6. K&F Concept TL2023 (Budget Winner)
Considering that the K&F Concept TL2023 comes in at a budget priced $39, it obviously has to win the budget category from price alone. Weighing only 1113g, this tripod has an old school design with an all-aluminium frame, maximum load capacity of 6.6lbs, folded height of 59.0cm, and working height of 58.0-152.0cm.
The flip leg locks are quick and easy to use, with the feet having anti-slip rubber and the central column a convenient hook. The head of the tripod is quite plasticky feeling and not as robust as the other tripods on this list, but as long as you treat it with care, it should last a long time.
You can’t complain much about the tripod’s features at this price point. And while it doesn’t feel as robust as the more expensive tripods, it does the job in the field, just in a very basic way.
Summary of the Best Backpacking Tripods
All the tripods on the list above cover the main factors of compact form, lightweight, and optimal load capacity. Some have added features like a ballast hook and have the options of being made from aluminium or the more expensive carbon fiber.
Twist or snap lock legs can be down to personal preference, but the main emphasis is on simple setup and a tripod solution that can take the rigors of being thrown about time and time again. You may have to pay premium prices for the highest quality versions, but they are also the most likely to last the longest.