A tripod is an indispensable piece of equipment for every serious DSLR photographer. But if you’re a photographer that travels a lot, you’ll often have second thoughts about taking a heavy, bulky tripod with you. Especially if you’re traveling by plane, where every ounce of baggage counts, you’ll want to pack your camera bag as light as possible.
Photo by Manfrotto
Fortunately, there are special travel tripods on the market that are designed specifically with portability in mind. You can easily take them with you on the road, as they are lightweight and compact. We’ve did some research and reviewed the 8 best models. We hope it helps you to find the best travel tripod of 2016 / 2017.
Carbon Fiber or Aluminum?
When purchasing a travel tripod, you can generally choose between two types: carbon fiber construction and aluminum construction. Carbon fiber tripods are lighter and stronger than aluminium ones, so when you’re on the hunt for the very best travel tripod, we definitely recommend going with carbon fiber. Carbon fiber tripods are priced a little higher than aluminium ones though. In our overview we’ve reviewed both tripod types:
The Best Travel Tripod 2016 / 2017 – Top 8
|Photo||Model||Weight||Support||Folded length||Max. height||Price||Rating|
|Gitzo GT1542T (Carbon Fiber)||2.2 lbs||15.43 lbs||16.73"||58.66"||$$$$||
|Mefoto C2350Q2T GlobeTrotter (Carbon Fiber)||4.6 lbs||26.4 lbs||16.1"||64.2"||$$$||
|Feisol CT-3442 (Carbon Fiber)||3.11 lbs||16 lbs||16.93"||72.8"||$$$$||
|MeFoto A1350Q1T Roadtrip||3.6 lbs||17.6 lbs||15.4"||61.6"||$$$||
|Manfrotto BeFree||3.1 lbs||8.8 lbs||15.8"||56.7"||$$$||
|MeFoto A0350Q0K Backpacker||2.6 lbs||8.8 lbs||12.6"||51.2"||$$||
|Dolica TX570B150SL||2.5 lbs||15 lbs||12.5"||57"||$$||
|Slik Sprint Pro II||2.6 lbs||4.5 lbs||18.5"||63.6"||$$||
A Closer Look At The 8 Best Travel Tripods
The Gitzo GT1542T is the absolute winner when it comes down to travel tripods. It is the lightest, yet most stable and durable tripod that we’ve come across so far. The Gitzo GT1542T has an all carbon fiber construction with exceptional build quality. It weighs just 2.2 lbs and folds down to 16.73 inches when fully closed.
The maximum height (with the center fully expanded) is 58.66 inches and the lowest height is 8.66 inches. This provides an excellent height range for most photographers.
The tripod legs are tightened using Gitzo’s patented G-lock, a twist lock system that works very good and keeps the legs in place at all times. The GT1542T also performs very well in vibration resistance tests, thanks to it’s carbon fiber construction and some magnesium parts.
There are only two downsides to the Gitzo GT1542T. First off, it doesn’t include a ball head. Some photographers consider this to be a plus, as they can use their own favorite ball head. Second downside: its price is rather high. The Gitzo GT1542T is the only tripod in this overview that’s priced over 500 dollars. While this is a lot of money for a tripod, this might be the only (travel) tripod you’ll ever need to buy.
- Lightweight Carbon Fiber construction: only 2.2 lbs
- Compact: folds down to 16.73 when fully closed
- Exceptional build quality
- Excellent height range: 8.66” (min) to 58.66” (max)
- Good vibration resistance
- Higher price range
- Ball head not included (can be purchased extra as a package)
MeFoto is a newcomer on the tripod market, but they offer an excellent range of travel tripods. The Mefoto C2350Q2T GlobeTrotter is their top model. It is a very well built carbon fiber tripod that folds down to 16.1” and weighs only 4.6 lbs. This makes it an ideal travel companion for many photographers.
A weight of 4.6 lbs doesn’t make it the lightest model in this comparison, but the GlobeTrotter does have a very high support capacity of 26.4 lbs. It is therefore an excellent travel tripod for larger camera bodies and lenses.
The maximum height of the tripod is 64.2”, while the minimum height is 16.1”. If you’re into macro and very low angles, than you might find this minimum length to be a little too high.
A high quality Q series ballhead with an Arca-Swiss compatible quick release plate is included with the tripod. It also boasts a separate head and pan lock, so you can accurately move your camera into any position.
A nice extra feature is the ability to use the Mefoto C2350Q2T as a monopod. This can be achieved by unscrewing one of the legs and attaching it to the center column.
- Folded length of 16.1”, very compact
- Supports very large cameras, up to 26.4 lbs
- High quality carbon fiber construction
- Can also be used as a monopod
- Very reasonable price for a carbon fiber tripod
- Less suited for macro and low-angle (min. height: 16.1’)
- Leg locks need good tightening
The Feisol CT-3442 is an excellent carbon fiber travel tripod. Weighing just 3.11 pounds and measuring 16.93 inches when folded, it is a very compact model. Despite its compact size, it offers an impressive height range, with a minimum height at 17 inches and a maximum at 72.8 inches.
The Feisol CT-3442 is very robust and has a high quality carbon fiber construction. It therefore offers a very good vibration resistance.
It also comes with an excellent CB40 ballhead, that moves smoothly but also offers good stability. If you already own a good ballhead, it is possible to get this tripod without the ballhead. This model is priced a bit lower and is known as the Feisol Travel CT-3441S.
What we don’t like about the Feisol CT-3442 is the non retractable weight hook at the bottom, which seems a little flimsy.
- Robust carbon fiber construction
- Lightweight: 3.11 lbs
- Extends to a maximum height of 72.8”
- Compact: folds down to 16.93”
- High quality CB40 ballhead included
- Weight hook at the bottom doesn’t retract
- Minimum height is 17”, so not a good choice for macro and low-angle
The MeFoto A1350Q1T Roadtrip is a compact and relatively lightweight tripod that weights about 3.6 lbs. It measures 15.4 inch when fully folded. The maximum height it can reach is 61.6 inch. It can support most larger DSLR bodies and lenses, as the maximum supported weight is 17.6 lbs. It includes a very decent Q series ball head and a quick release plate that is compatible with Arca-Swiss. A very nice feature is that this model can also be used as a monopod. This can easily be done, by screwing together the center and a tripod leg.
- Lightweight: 3.6 lbs
- Compact: 15.4 inch when folded
- Maximum height: 61.6 inch
- Maximum supported weight: 17.6 lbs
- Can be used as a monopod as well
- Becomes slightly unstable when fully extended (can be fixed by hanging a weight in the center, like a camera bag)
- Legs use a screwing mechanism to lock instead of handles
Check out this video to see how to convert the MeFoto Roadtrip into a monopod:
Manfrotto is considered to be one of the best tripod brands. They also feature a travel tripod in their product range: the Manfrotto BeFree. The BeFree is a light and compact tripod with a solid construction, but is priced higher than its main competitors. The tripod weighs only 3.1 lbs and has a load capacity of 8.8 lbs. Its length when fully folded is 15.8 inches and it can reach a maximum height of 56.7 inches. A decent aluminium ball head is integrated to quickly level your camera. The Manfroto BeFree also has a quick release plate and leg locks with adjustable tension. It comes with a padded carrying bag.
- Compact: folded length of 15.8 inches
- Lightweight: 3.1 lbs
- Maximum height: 56.7 inches
- Leg locks have adjustable tension
- Sturdy, all-metal design (aluminium)
- Easier to knock over because of its light weight
- Fitting it correctly in the supplied bag requires some practice
The MeFoto A3050Q0K Backpacker is the little brother of the MeFoto A1350Q1T Roadtrip. It basically has the same features: a Q series ball head with an Arca Swiss style compatible quick release plate. It also has a seperate head and pan lock for securing a camera angle. This way you can make precise 360 panoramas. It weights about 2.6 lbs, so it’s even lighter then its Roadtrip big brother. Unlike its big brother, it can’t be converted into a monopod, but it’s priced a lot lower.
- Very lightweight: 2.6 lbs
- Compact design, folded length: 12.6 inches
- Maximum height: 51.2 inches
- Q series ball head included
- Two leg angle positions
- Maximum supported weight: 8.8 lbs. Enough for most DSLR cameras, but less then main competitors
- Can’t be converted into a monopod like the MeFoto A1350Q1T Roadtrip
If you’re on a budget, then the Dolica TX570B150SL might be a good option Despite it’s relatively low price, this tripod offers professional quality. Thanks to it’s reversible legs, it’s possible to fold it down to 12.5 inches. On top of that, it weighs only 2.5 lbs. It can support most DSLR camera’s up to 15 lbs. The Dolica AX620B100 also has a ball head with a quick release plate, foam grips and an angle locking knob. A sturdy carry case is included.
- Lightweight: 2.5 lbs
- Maximum height: 57 inches
- Maximum supported weight: 15 lbs
- Legs can be locked in position
- Low price
- Twist lock: the leg segments can come loose when twisting them too long in the wrong direction
- Becomes slightly unstable when fully extended
Slik has updated their popular Sprint Pro model and named it the Slik Sprint Pro II. This tripod has been designed with the traveling photographer in mind. It folds down to 18.5 inch an weighs just under 2 lbs (making it the lightest tripod in this comparison) . The maximum height it can extend to is 64 inches. The Sprint Pro II includes a new designed SBH-100DQ ball head with a quick release system.
- Very lightweight (lightest in this overview): 2.6 lbs
- Compact: folded length is 18.5 inches
- Maximum height: 64 inches
- Well build, All aluminium construction
- 3 section leg design makes it fast to set up and fold down
- Supported weight is only 4.5 lbs
- Becomes slightly unstable when fully extended
- Quick release plate is a little small
We hope this detailed comparison was helpful to you. Good luck finding the best travel tripod 2016 / 2017!
More information on tripods