Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best travel tripod 2021: Stabilise your camera for less this Black Friday

Advertisement

Whether you’re planning a grand adventure, or have your sights set closer to home, these are the best travel tripods you can buy

Travel tripods are an easily overlooked and yet integral part of your photographic kit. Compact, lightweight and stable, find the best travel tripod and you'll be able to get the most out of the rest of your camera equipment while out and about.

A quality travel tripod will allow you to stabilise your camera for tack-sharp landscapes, macro, and low-light shots, as well as provide you with a stable shooting platform for timelapses, long exposures, and video. And, a tripod will also allow you to hop in front of the camera for selfies and group shots too. Sure, a new travel tripod may not be quite as exciting as picking up a new camera or lens, but whether you're a pro, enthusiast or amateur, it can be just as important when it comes to nailing the shot.

If you're new to travel tripods you'll find our handy buying guide below designed to bring you up to speed on the things you'll want to look out for while weighing up your options. Alternatively, you can scroll down and skip straight to our hand-picked round-up of the best travel tripods on the market.


Black Friday deals:

The GorillaPod 3K Pro Kit is just £74 in Amazon's Black Friday sale

The 3K Pro Kit takes Joby's classic uber-versatile GorillaPod tripod and beefs it up with rugged, reinforced aluminium leg joints and a proper Arca-Swiss-compatible quick-release tripod head. While it ordinarily sells for around £100, this Black Friday 3K Pro Kit is on sale for just £74.
Amazon
Was £100
Now £74

Save 25% on the Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fibre tripod

Manfrotto's Befree Advanced Carbon Fibre is an excellent all-around travel tripod. It's lightweight, sturdy and offers up to 1.6m of extension. While the Befree Advanced is a solid buy at its usual price of £225, this Black Friday it's just shy of its lowest-ever price at just £168.
Amazon
Was £225
Now £168

Save £50 on the Peak Design Travel Tripod this Black Friday

With a lightweight construction and a streamlined, space-efficient design, Peak Design’s innovative Travel Tripod is one of our favourite tripods for travel. While the Aluminium Travel Tripod usually retails for £330, this Black Friday it's on sale for just £279.
Amazon
Was £330
Now £279

The best travel tripods at a glance


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.

What about tripod heads?

The tripod head is the small, adjustable mechanism atop the tripod legs and is where you attach your camera. While it's easy to get caught up in the technical specifications of a tripod, you'll likely find it's the head that has the greatest impact on your user experience.

A wide range of tripod heads are available, with different models suited to specific kinds of photography. While we could easily dedicate a whole page to tripod heads alone, the most common varieties found on travel tripods are pan/tilt heads and ball heads. Pan/tilt heads can take a little longer to dial in but tend to offer a little more precision. Ball heads, on the other hand, are the quickest to get set up and level. Both make excellent choices and so ultimately it comes down to personal preference. You'll also find heads dedicated for video, these will usually offer independent pan and tilt controls and feature a control arm for more precise camera movements.

It's also worth paying attention to how the camera connects to the head. While the most basic tripods may require you to directly screw the tripod head to the camera, most modern offerings now include some form of quick release plate. Arca Swiss and Manfrotto Quick Release Plates are the most widely used standards and both allow you to attach and detach your camera with ease.

Do you need I need a carbon fibre tripod?

When it comes to travel tripods, the two most common materials are aluminium and carbon fibre. Both are suitably strong and durable, but carbon fibre tends to have an edge when it comes to weight and is impervious to corrosion. Carbon fibre models do tend to be pricier than their comparable aluminium counterparts, but if you're looking for a travel tripod to invest in, carbon fibre may be worth the additional upfront cost.

READ NEXT: The best camera bags you can buy

The best travel tripods to buy in 2021

1. Joby GorillaPod 3K Pro Kit: The most versatile tripod around

Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon

It really is tough to beat Joby’s GorillaPod when it comes to versatility. Made from a series of interconnected ball and socket joints wrapped with rubber, the GorillaPod's legs are highly flexible. It can be quickly adapted for tabletop shooting, curved into a selfie stick or articulated to wrap around tree branches, lamp posts, fences, railings - whatever is close at hand. This flexibility also makes the 'Pod easy to pack as you can shape it to fit around the other items in your camera bag.

The GorillaPod has been around for a few years now and so you may already be familiar with it in one guise or another. The 3K Pro Kit sees a fairy significant upgrade over its predecessors, however, now featuring aluminium ball joints and an Arca-Swiss compatible ball head. This beefed-up design results in a much sturdier and more durable feeling camera support.

Speaking of support, the GorillaPod Pro Kit 3K is rated, as the name suggests, to handle up to 3kg of camera kit. This makes it ideal for the majority of mirrorless cameras as well as modest DSLR setups. It's worth noting, however, that the overall sturdiness of the GorillaPod depends on both the weight of your gear as well as how you decide to orientate the legs.

If you're on a tight budget, Joby's classic GorillaPod 3K Kit is still an excellent option, but for many, this upgraded Pro Kit will be well worth the added cost.

READ NEXT: Which Joby GorillaPod is best?

Key specs - Max Load: 3kg; Max height: 0.30m; Closed height: 0.30m; Weight: 0.46kg; Material: Aluminum and plastic; Head: Ball head.


2. Vanguard VEO 2 235 CB: Best budget carbon fibre travel tripod

Price: £129 | Buy now from Amazon

While carbon fibre is usually reserved for premium-priced travel tripods, at just £130, Vanguard’s VEO 2 235 CB provides an excellent value option for those not looking to break the bank.

The VEO 2 is compact, lightweight, offers a respectable 1.45m of extension and yes, its legs are carbon fibre. It features a rotating centre column that makes it very quick to set up and also allows it to quickly convert into a top-down shooting position for macro work. The ball head is also nicely specced with a friction control knob, independent pan lock and Arca Swiss locking plate.

There are some concessions. It’s not the ideal choice for demanding photographers with heavier DSLRs and longer zoom lenses, and you will find a touch of flex to the thinner leg sections whilst fully extended. For photographers with mirrorless cameras and smaller DSLRs, however, the Veo 2 offers exceptional value.

If you’re looking for something a touch taller, shorter - or cheaper still, the VEO 2 range includes several other similarly specced tripods in both carbon fibre and aluminium.

Key specs - Max Load: 6kg; Max height: 1.45m; Closed height: 0.40m; Weight: 1.2kg; Material: Carbon fibre; Head: Ball head


3. Manfrotto Befree Advanced Carbon Fibre: The best travel tripod under £250

Price: £225 | 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 with a nice chunky feel that 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 around £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.


4. Manfrotto Compact Advanced Aluminium Tripod: The best budget travel tripod

Price: £70 | 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 individual pan and tilt controls allow for precise framing and Manfrotto’s quick release plate lets you to 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: 0.45m; Weight: 1.42kg; Material: Aluminum; Head: Pan and tilt.


5. Manfrotto BeFree Live Twist: Best travel tripod for video

Price: £169 | Buy now from Amazon

Whether you need a lightweight video tripod for travel, or simply want something compact while filming closer to home, Manfrotto’s BeFree Live is a solid option that won’t break the bank.

The key to any video tripod is a quality tripod head, and for the money, the BeFree's Manfrotto Fluid Head is very tough to beat. Pan and tilt movements are well controlled and smooth, giving video clips a professional polish. There are also independent pan and tilt locks for single movement shots as well as a central column levelling system that ensures a perfectly level platform on any surface.

There are a couple of compromises made in the name of compactness - the control arm is a touch shorter than on some video heads, and you’ll want to keep the centre column locked down for maximum stability with heavier cameras. All in all, however, the Manfrotto BeFree Live Twist is an excellent value option for video makers on the move.

Key specs - Max Load: 4kg; Max height: 1.5m; Closed height: 0.40m; Weight: 1.64kg; Material: Aluminium; Head: Fluid video head


6. Peak Design Travel Tripod - Aluminium: Most innovative travel tripod

Price: £320 | Buy now from Amazon

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 from the ground up with the travelling photographer in mind.

Design-wise it’s ultra streamlined with parts all clearly designed to fit together in the most space-efficient way possible. From a respectable maximum height of 1.5m, it closes down to a very pack-friendly 39cm. While it’s a little thicker than some of its rivals, at just 1.56kg it’s a comfortable carry and won’t weigh you down.

In use, the tripod is reassuringly solid and can comfortably support large, full frame mirrorless and DSLR cameras and heavy telephoto lenses. There’s a backpack hook for extra stability and this can also double up as a smartphone mount for mobile shooters.

The double-locking Arca-Swiss compatible plate allows you to securely attach and quickly detach your camera, even while wearing gloves. And the twist-lock ball head makes quick and accurate framing a breeze.

One caveat, however, is that due to the way the head has been designed, it doesn’t quite offer a full range of motion. Vertical shooting is only available in one direction and you can’t quite tilt the camera right the way forward. You can get around this by opting for a third party head but you’ll lose that impressive 39cm closed height.

If you’ve got particularly deep pockets a Carbon Fibre Peak Design Travel Tripod is also available.

Key specs - Max Load: 9.1kg; Max height: 1.52m; Closed height: 0.39m; Weight: 1.56kg; Material: Aluminium; Head: Ball head.


7. 3 Legged Thing Albert 2.0: Best travel tripod for full height shooting

Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon | Buy now from Wex

Travel tripods tend to be products of compromise, with maximum height often sacrificed in the name of overall size and weight. 3 Legged Thing’s Albert 2.0 is different.

From a closed height of just 0.43m, Albert extends up to an incredible 1.91m, creating an eye-level shooting platform for even the tallest photographers.

It’s incredibly sturdy too. Whist some carbon fibre tripods can feel a touch delicate, with chunky twist locks and sturdy legs, it feels very solid and remarkably well balanced, even whilst supporting a heavy DSLR. Flex is kept to an absolute minimum right up until the centre column reaches its maximum extension.

Albert also offers up the option to invert or remove the centre column for low-level shooting. One leg can be quickly converted into a monopod or boom, or all three legs can be removed for table-top shooting when paired with 3LT’s accessory Vanz tripod footwear.

If you’re on a tighter budget and working with lighter kit, then 3LT’s Punks Brian is also well worth considering.

Key specs - Max Load: 30kg; Max height: 1.91m; Closed height: 0.43m; Weight: 2.19kg; Material: Carbon fibre; Head: Ball head.


8. 3 Legged Thing Ray: Best compact tripod for heavier cameras

Price: £249 | Buy now from Wex

Looking for a compact travel tripod that’s sturdy enough to handle heavy pro-level kit? Meet 3 Legged Thing’s Ray.

Ray is small, lightweight and versatile. From 1.38m, Ray packs down to just 0.36m, fitting comfortably into most backpacks, and at a touch over 1.6kg it makes for a comfortable all-day carry.

While tripods that fit into this size bracket are not necessarily uncommon, their performance can often suffer when paired with heavier camera and lens combinations. Fortunately, Ray’s build is solid. With a 30kg max load and minimal flex, even when fully extended Ray can comfortably accommodate full-frame mirrorless cameras and even professional DSLRs.

For maximum flexibility, Ray offers a range of modular configurations. The centre column can be quickly inverted or removed entirely for low-level work. Meanwhile, you can detach one of the legs to convert Ray into a monopod, or remove all three to create a table-top platform using 3LT’s accessory Vanz tripod footwear.

Key specs - Max Load: 30kg; Max height: 1.38m; Closed height: 0.36m; Weight: 1.62kg; Material: Carbon fibre; Head: Ball head.

Buy now from Wex


9. 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 from 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