Lightweight travel tripods should conjure up mental images of portable solutions which look the part, are light enough to carry around all day, and are compact in size. This wasn’t always the case, as in the olden days a travel tripod was either your main version, which weighed the same as a stadium lighting rig, or something so flimsy it just got left in a corner.
This simple piece of apparatus has come a long way, with travel tripods coming in all shapes and sizes, which can fold up more times than a contortionist and are available in either aluminium or carbon fiber models.
With so many tripods on the market to choose from, let’s whittle down some choice examples that are fully-featured and a good value for the money.
1. Peak Design Travel Tripod
Topping our list of lightweight travel tripods is the Peak Design Travel Tripod. It’s quite costly as lightweight travel tripods go, but you will always pay a dividend for carbon fiber models. Peak Design also produces the tripod in an aluminum version with all the same features for far less money.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod itself has a load capacity of 9kg, with a height range of 14-152.4cm and a total folded length of 39.37cm. It doesn’t weigh a massive amount either, coming in at 1.27kg, although it does look far chunkier than other tripod models. This tripod feels amazingly compact when folded down and is just about tall enough for the average-height individual. It also comes with a very compact and usable ball head.
Due to the carbon fiber construction, this tripod feels rock-solid in use with very good vibration absorption. The design also has flip-lock legs, which I find quicker to adjust than the twisty type. But this feature will be down to your own personal preference. In total, this is an extremely fine tripod which may be expensive, but will surely last you a lifetime.
2. Benro SystemGo Plus FGP18A Aluminum Tripod
The Benro SystemGo Plus FGP18A Aluminum Tripod is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive, but has everything you need in a lightweight travel tripod. The unit itself weighs in at a modest 1.6kg, with a working range of 37-154cm and four-section legs.
Each leg on the tripod can be moved independently, with a pivoting central column which can be set at all sorts of angles. Each leg has a twist-lock mechanism, which only needs a small turn to adjust and features interchangeable spikes and rubber feet. One of the legs can also be unscrewed and used as a makeshift monopod. Although the tripod doesn’t come with its own ball head, it at least has a built-in bubble level.
With a maximum load capacity of 10kg and very respectable vibration absorption, the Benro SystemGo Plus FGP18A Aluminum Tripod with its folded down length of only 46cm is a nicely-rounded backpacking tripod for any travel adventure.
3. 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0
Another very high-quality carbon fiber tripod is the 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0, which is possibly the most versatile option on this list. Each maneuverable leg can be detached or reversed, used as a monopod or a boom arm, or even fashioned into a tabletop tripod with an additional kit.
The design and colors of these lightweight travel tripods are very contemporary, making them look more like art installations than regular camera gear.
The 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0 is also extremely usable, with a huge load capacity of nearly 30kg, a large working height of 20.8-146.6cm, and a total folded length of just 37.34cm. The three-position legs feature twist locks, with a simple-to-use Arca-Type ball head up top.
The only real downside to this tripod solution is the twist lock design that needs to be released to fully extend the legs. In every other respect, it has the most versatile features for the asking price.
4. Manfrotto Element Traveller Tripod Small
The carbon fiber Manfrotto Element Traveller Tripod Small may not go as tall as the other tripods at 143cm or have the same load capacity at only 4kg. But it does have a very compact weight of 1.1 kg and a small folded length of only 32cm.
The Manfrotto has independently movable legs, which can be set in all types of positions. Plus, the central column can be adjusted for low angles. The ball head is very basic, but still very usable, including a built-in bubble level. And the twist-lock system is very smooth to operate in use.
This design may be more basic than the rest of the lightweight travel tripods, but it still provides all the necessities of a lightweight travel tripod at a reasonable price.
5. Neewer Portable 56 inches/142 centimeters Aluminum Camera Tripod (Budget Winner)
At just over $30, we thought we would take a punt with the Neewer Portable 56 inches/142 centimeters Aluminum Camera Tripod, for those who just want an occasional use or an entry-level tripod solution. This tripod has a height range of 47-142cm, weighing in at 1.24 kg, a load weight of 4kg, and a makeup of lightweight aluminum. It features a three-way pan head and quick release plate, with each leg having three flip locks for easy adjustment.
Added features include flat adjustable feet, a central column with hook for weighing the thing down, foam grips on each leg and a very handy carry handle. Although the Neewer has all the attributes of a good travel solution, its main components are made of plastic, which means it’s ultimately not going to last as long as the other solutions on this list. Also, the plastic handle for adjusting the tripod head height is never as long-lasting as a metal version, which means it needs more tentative adjustments.
However, if you only use a tripod once in a while and you don’t need it to be robust enough to be thrown off a cliff, the Neewer is so cost-effective, you really can’t complain about any of its features.
How Do the Best Lightweight Travel Tripods Measure Up?
High-quality travel tripods may seem initially expensive, especially when eyeing up the carbon versions. However, the best units are built to last and you will never complain about the initial cost when it keeps working in every type of environment.
The carbon fiber versions also have the advantage of being the most lightweight and the best at soaking up vibrations. Plus, owning a tripod made from carbon fiber has that extra cool factor, which we all secretly buy into. In other words, if you want a lifetime of seamless tripod workings, the carbon fiber versions are worth every penny.