Do you love backpacking, but hate looking at the blurry photos you captured when you get home? Do you love to travel, but can’t seem to capture the experience as well as you would have hoped? Or are you simply a casual photographer who wants to level up your skills and take your photography to the next level?
Whatever the case may be, we have the perfect solution for you – a good quality, reliable and lightweight tripod.
Our team, consisting of seasoned and professional photographers, have tried and tested more tripods than we care to remember, and we have created a list of the best lightweight tripods for travel and backpacking.
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The Best Lightweight Travel Tripod On The Market
The first product on our list, and one of the lightest travel tripods on the market is the MeFOTO Backpacker Air Tripod.
While it’s true that you may be able to find a tripod that is technically lighter than the Backpacker Air, you will definitely struggle to find a tripod of similar weight with the same build quality and with all of the same bells and whistles.
Weighing in at less than 2lb in total weight, the Backpacker Air is perfect for the casual photo hobbyist that needs something strong, compact and portable. It’s equipped with a fixed ball-style head, a built in selfie stick, and a compartment to hold your smart phone.
Although the legs can be lengthened to an impressive 59.5 inches, the high-quality aluminum material is strong and rigid. With a maximum load capacity of 8.8 lbs, the Backpacker Air is more than strong enough to hold anything from a smart phone to an expensive, top-of-the-range DSLR.
One of the most impressive features of the Backpacker air is its ability to be broken down small enough to fit inside a carry on case or backpack. This is made possible by its unique HyperLock system, which allows the legs to be broken down into small sections for easy set up and dismantle.
Another neat gadget on this lightweight camera tripod is the little spirit level bubble which helps you make sure the tripod is completely level before you attach your camera. This, along with the spring-loaded hook and fixed ball-style head, ensure that you capture the best quality photos possible.
MeFOTO have released the Backpacker Air Tripod in seven different colors, ranging from black and white, to the more vivid and attention grabbing blue and orange.
Our Final Verdict…
Considering the price point, we think the Backpacker Air is an absolute steal. If you need something compatible, something strong and something that will get the job done without breaking the bank, this is the travel tripod for you.
The Second Best Tripod for Backpacking
As a backpacking photographer, choosing the best lightweight camera tripod is crucial if you want to make the most out of your expeditions. Not only does the tripod have to be able to do its job as a tripod, it also has to be light enough and compact enough to not be a burden while out on your adventures.
With that being said, the best lightweight tripod for hiking and backpacking, from our experience is the T-005KX from Sirui. Although it’s a little bit pricier than other tripods on the market, you must believe us when we tell you that you get what you pay for.
Cheaper tripods may look nice, they may be light, but when you’re out in the field they just aren’t cut out for it. When hiking, you need something strong and sturdy. The T-005KX is only 12 inches long by 3 inches wide, but it can extend up to a whopping 54 inches, and the aluminum material it’s made of is surprisingly strong. It’s even equipped with a carabineer on the center column to attach more weight in windy conditions.
The center column can also be removed if you need to take low angle shots. The legs can lock at three angles, allowing you to take shots from multiple different positions. Each as sturdy as the rest.
With all of the trimmings left on, the T-005KX weighs in at around 2 lbs., and can hold a maximum capacity of 8.8 lbs. Not bad at all for a 54.5-inch tripod.
Our Final Verdict…
When you’re out on your backpacking adventures, the terrains and the conditions are constantly changing. To combat this, you need a tripod that is built to manage in such differing environments.
Although you can find tripods cheaper than this on the market, we wouldn’t personally recommend using anything less for such high impact activities. We just wouldn’t trust it. So, in the simplest of terms, we think the T-005KX from Sirui is a beast of a tripod, and it’s well worth the money.
The Best Compact Travel Tripod Available
When we were debating over which of our chosen products was the best camera tripod for travel, there was only one winner in our eyes – The MeFOTO Aluminum Roadtrip Travel Tripod and Monopod.
Travel photography is all about making sure you are ready to capture the perfect shot at any moment. The greatest photo of your life could be just around the corner, and without the proper equipment at the ready, it could be lost forever.
The Aluminum Roadtrip tripod from MeFOTO also pairs as a monopod, and the two can be interchanged within seconds without the need for any special tools. It’s a little bit heavier than the previous two tripods that we have reviewed (3.6 lbs.), but it can hold a massive 17.6 lbs, making it the perfect choice for those who use a high-end DSLR or mirrorless cameras
In terms of its size, the Roadtrip tripod, with its legs fully extended can reach 61.6 inches, and the legs can be folded back a full 180 degrees, compacting it down to just 15.4 inches. The monopod can be assembled by screwing together the center column and legs, and is 64 inches in length.
Some of this tripods stand out features are its Q series ballhead, it’s Arca-Swiss quick release plate, and a built in spirit level bubble to make sure there are no uneven pans or shakiness. The head and pan hold your camera in place securely, allowing you to capture 360-degree panorama shots with precision and consistency.
The MeFOTO Roadtrip is available in 8 color variations, and comes with a protective carry case. To top it off, it has an incredible 5-year warranty.
Our Final Verdict…
MeFOTO are one of the industry leaders when it comes to making travel-friendly camera gear, and this tripod is no exception. It could easily be described as the best light weight tripod on the market, if you consider the fact that it doubles as a monopod.
If you are a travel photographer who takes photos for a living, then this is without a doubt the best choice for you. It’s compact, it’s light and it is truly professional-standard. MeFOTO, you have done a great job with this one!
The Best Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod Available
For the professionals who work in the photography industry, we present to you the Gitzo Traveller – Possibly one of the greatest tripods we have ever come across. Yes, it’s expensive, but bear with us a minute and we will tell you why we think this price is definitely justifiable.
First of all, the quality of carbon fiber found on this thing is some of the best in the world. Gitzo are known for producing some of the best carbon fiber tripods, but with the Traveller series, they have gone and upped the ante.
The new ‘Carbon eXact’ tubes are noticeably stronger than the previous Carbon 6X tubes of older models, but they don’t weigh any more, making this tripod not only one of the strongest in the world, but also the best lightweight tripod for travel.
Surprisingly, the Gitzo Traveller only weighs in at 2.8 lbs., but can manage a load of up to 22 lbs., which is considerably more than your typical aluminum tripods. The legs can extend up to a maximum of 52.4 inches, and can be folded a full 180 degrees, making them extremely compact and easy to carry.
The G-Lock technology that is unique to Gitzo allows photographers to have taller tripods, but without any loss of stability whatsoever. The ball head is extremely smooth and can hold any camera in place and take photos with absolute precision.
It also comes with a nifty little shoulder strap to help you move it around easier. Pretty cool.
Our Final Verdict…
It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. There’s nothing else we can really say about this one.
If you are in the market for the best of the best, then you can’t look past the Gitzo Traveller. Not only is it extremely strong and rigid, it performs like a dream and is stunning to look at.
If carbon fiber is for you, then we highly recommend you check this one out.
The Best Cheap Travel Tripod
The final travel tripod in our list is also the cheapest one that we managed to get our hands on. However, don’t let the price fool you. It’s considerably cheaper than the majority of tripods on this list, but it’s certainly not “cheap” in any sense of the word.
If you are looking for something relatively inexpensive, but sturdy enough to take with you all around the world, then the LA600 is probably the best choice for you. It’s certainly a contender for the best tripod for travel photography – For casual photographers, at least.
This Dolica tripod is made from high-quality aluminum that is strong, and holds up well in high winds. The maximum length of the legs is an impressive 60 inches, and the center column is removable, allowing you to capture lower angle shots.
It’s not the lightest tripod you will find, with a total weight of 4 lbs., but it’s far from heavy. It comes with a travel case which makes it effortless to carry around.
Unfortunately, the LA600 Pro is only available in black, so if you were looking for something more colorful and eccentric, you won’t find it with this. However, if you need a good, solid tripod for less than a hundred bucks, here it is.
Our Final Verdict…
Unless you are a photography professional, or someone who is extremely passionate about taking photographs, there isn’t really a need for a tripod that costs more than the camera itself.
For casual photographers who want to take their photography to the next level, the LA600 Pro is the perfect entry level tripod for traveling with.
If you are looking for value for money, they we would highly recommend you check this one out.
Still Not Sure What You Are Looking For?
We know how stressful it can be to find a tripod that suits your needs. With companies literally fighting for your attention, claiming their tripods are the best in the world, it can be extremely overwhelming. The best way to overcome this problem, we have found, is to learn a little bit more about the product you are interested in purchasing. That is the reason we create these buyer’s guides – to help you understand the products a little bit better, so you know exactly which one is the perfect choice for you.
Tripods are simple to use, but there are certain features and specifications that you need to keep in consideration when shopping around for one. Hopefully this buyer’s guide will make your decision a little bit easier.
How Exactly Do Tripods Work?
If you are interested in taking high quality photographs, a good tripod is an absolutely essential piece of kit. Unfortunately, the tripod is often shunned as “just an accessory”, and the camera and lens take all of the credit and limelight.
Of course, the camera and the lens make a huge difference to the overall quality of your photographs, there is no denying that, but even the best camera can produce blurry photos if the tripod you are using isn’t up to scratch.
Simply put, the tripod has two main jobs – The first is to provide support to cameras during low-light conditions, or fast-paced environments. The second is to take the weight of heavy cameras, and to reduce the level of vibration that cameras can often produce. Tripods support, stabilize and absorb shock. All of which are important when trying to capture the perfect photograph.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the basics:
1. Tripod Legs
One of the most important features of a tripod is its legs. Different tripods will have slight variations, and special features that make them unique, but at the end of the day, a tripod is still a tripod – it has three legs.
The legs are designed to absorb the weight and the vibration of the camera by evenly distributing the weight across all three of the legs. Also, finding the perfect balance is incredibly difficult by hand, but the mounting plate at the top of the tripod is perfectly balanced, and in line with the center of gravity, making sure every shot is consistent.
The thicker the legs, the more vibrations they can absorb, but as you can imagine, the thicker the legs, the heavier the tripod becomes. Lighter legs are more susceptible to external conditions such as wind, and they are not as stable if you are using a heavier camera. You will need to keep this in mind when deciding what sort of photos you will be taking, and under what conditions.
If you want something compact and easy to travel with, then you will require a tripod with lighter legs. If you need the best-of-the-best, you will undoubtedly need legs with a bit more girth.
2. Center Column
Deciding whether or not you need a center column will depend on the type of photography you wish to pursue. For more intricate photography, such as macro photography, a center column is essential as it will allow the tripod to be more flexible and adjustable.
However, for casual photographers, a center column can sometimes be nothing more than a cause of stress. Center columns work perfectly fine when they are low to the ground and locked in tight. It’s when you start to extend the legs that they start to cause issues – specifically shakiness. They are suckers for causing unwanted vibrations.
Luckily, a lot of the top models will allow you to remove the center column if needs be, giving you the best of both worlds. So, if in doubt, just purchase one with a removable center column and you will be sorted.
3. Construction Materials
One of the biggest factors that come into play when choosing a tripod is the material that it is made from. There are currently three main materials used to build tripods, and they are aluminum, basalt and carbon fiber.
Aluminum is a light material that was once the staple material for all of the major brands. Unfortunately, as lighter and stronger materials became available (carbon fiber being the prime example), aluminum tripods became less and less popular. However, it’s worth noting that aluminum tripods are considerably cheaper than any other material, and they are lightweight and easy to travel with. If you are looking for something cheap and compact, then you can’t go wrong with an aluminum tripod.
Carbon fiber is the new trend in the world of tripods, but it’s certainly not just a phase. Carbon fiber is incredibly strong, it’s up to 20% lighter than aluminum, and it isn’t susceptible to damage caused by cold or hot weather. The only downside is that it costs considerably more than aluminum, so unless you are serious about photography, an aluminum tripod will do just fine.
Basalt is kind of in between. It’s not as rigid as aluminum or carbon fiber, but it’s still a light material that does its job well. Basalt tripods are considerably cheaper than carbon fiber tripods, but that is where the advantages stop.
To Wrap Things Up…
Of course, every tripod is going to have its own unique flare and personal features, but the basics we have just mentioned are universal across all tripods.
With this knowledge in mind, you can check out our top five recommendations again, but this time, keep in mind what type of photography you are interested in, whether you want to sacrifice weight for sturdiness and of course, what sort of budget you have in mind.
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