The Best Travel Tripod

best travel tripodWith so many tripods on the market at vastly different price points, and yet apparently not a huge amount of difference in spec between each model, choosing the best travel tripod for your next photography trip can seem like a daunting task.

And given that many of the most essential features of a good tripod are unfortunately also precisely what you want to avoid in a travel kit, we shouldn’t pretend that choosing a travel tripod is a straightforward affair. Certainly, some compromise will be in order.

Nonetheless, by arming yourself with the right information, it becomes a lot easier to make good decisions about the kind of tripod you should purchase. Read our guide to choosing the best tripod for travel photography and half the battle will already be won.

Along the way, we’ll suggest some of the most important points to look out for when choosing a travel tripod, and even include a list of some of the best travel tripods available right now so you can use this as a starting point for your own research.

Bon voyage!

What Makes a Tripod a Travel Tripod?

Theoretically, any tripod can be a travel tripod. It just needs to travel.

In practice though, some tripods travel better than others.

Convinced that your dedication to the art of photography transcends any “minor” concerns such as the weight of a bit of extra kit, you eagerly cram your faithful old steel-tubed Manfrotto into your suitcase. But let’s see just how much use you make of that deadweight once you get to your final destination!

Put it this way: a tripod that gets left in the hotel room for the entire duration of your trip is not a travel tripod.

Here are Some Other Things a Travel Tripod is Not:

Unless you are the kind of person who especially relishes the thought of engaging in protracted arguments with law enforcement officers in the world’s major international airports, a travel tripod is not a tripod that is too long to fit into your checked baggage when folded away. 

True, some tripods will even shut down to a size small enough to fit into a carry-on bag. But given the somewhat paranoid age in which we live, and the lack of consistent rules, there’s no guarantee that the sturdy metal bars you are carrying will not be viewed as a potentially lethal weapon and duly confiscated before departure.

So even if you are up for a fight with the personnel running the x-ray machines on every stopover, there’s a high risk that you will eventually lose one of these run-ins, and be faced with the dilemma of either ditching your $1,000 Gitzo in the airport or being refused entry to your flight.

A travel tripod is not a tripod that already has some long-term problems that you’ve meant to take a look at for a while now, just as soon as you have the time. So, for example, a travel tripod doesn’t have loose parts that you’d tighten up if only you could find that allen wrench. And a travel tripod does not have any missing or faulty pieces patched over with gaffer tape.

This is because anything that’s even a slight inconvenience when using the tripod now will be amplified by a magnitude of 10 once on the road. So make sure that your tripod is in perfect working order before you leave, otherwise, that featherweight carbon fiber model you paid so much for could quickly end up feeling a lot more like a ball and chain: too much hassle to use, but too valuable to consider getting rid of.

It should go without saying, but a travel tripod is probably neither made of wood nor was it bought from an antique store. Even though such a tripod might be a pretty good solution for some really big analog field cameras when used close to home, it’s not the kind of thing you can throw into the hold of a plane with much confidence that it’ll come off the luggage conveyor unscathed at the other end.

Finally, given that halfway up Mount Kilimanjaro at 5 AM is probably neither the best place nor time to realize that you don’t like ball-heads after all, ideally, a travel tripod is not one that you’ve never used before.

Of course, it’s not always possible to field-test a tripod before purchasing. But at the very least you should try to visit a store and put your main travel tripod candidates through their paces before deciding on which to go for. If possible, once you’ve made the purchase, it could also be beneficial to take it for a test run closer to home before embarking on the big trip. While it might be too late to return the item at this point even if you do find some problems with it, at least you will be forewarned of any potential issues and can make plans to rectify them or adapt to them before your departure.

Naturally, the validity of the above advice somewhat depends on what kind of travel you plan on doing. If you’ll mostly be using your tripod on road trips where the subjects of your photos will be no more than a few yards from the nearest parking lot, you can likely continue using whichever tripod you would typically use, without investing in something new.

Having established what does not make for a good travel tripod, we are now in a much better position to consider what does. But this is where things become a little trickier, as a good travel tripod effectively has to meet two entirely contradictory demands: it needs to be (A) a good tripod, while also being (B) suitable for traveling.

Which Main Criteria Make for a Good Tripod?

  • Easy and quick to use
  • Strong
  • Tall, so that you can shoot from a high vantage point if necessary
  • Heavy enough to remain stable even when used in windy conditions

Which Main criteria Make for a Good Travel Item?

  • Easy and quick to use
  • Strong
  • Small
  • Lightweight

As you can see, then, 50% of our criteria for what makes a good tripod are in total opposition to those that make for a good travel item:

  • A solid tripod that won’t vibrate in the wind is a heavy tripod: a tripod that’s convenient to carry around for days (or weeks, or months) is a light tripod.
  • A tripod that will allow you to shoot from any point of view you want is probably going to be a pretty big and bulky tripod; a tripod that fits easily into a bag is going to be a short and compact tripod.

Something’s going to have to give. In fact, we could say that the best travel tripod is going to be the one which most successfully balances conflicting demands. It should provide just enough weight to hold things steady, but not so much that it’s a chore to carry around all day. It should also give just enough height that it permits you to shoot what you need to shoot, but small enough to fit in your bag and not be a hazard to others as you walk around with it slung over your shoulder.

Precisely where these compromises should be made will depend on the following primary considerations:

  1. The camera and lens setup you will be using
  2. The kind of photography you wish to do
  3. The frequency with which you will make use of the tripod
  4. How and where you will be traveling
  5. Your willingness to carry heavy and bulky items around with you all day
  6. Your budget

If you are a landscape, architectural, or night photographer, almost every shot you take will need to be done on a tripod. Likewise, if you shoot on an old analog field camera or similar, then a good sturdy tripod will be essential.

In this case, you should choose your tripod very carefully, you’ll need to accept the fact that carrying around a fairly heavy and bulky tripod is just part and parcel of the profession (or hobby). Like it or not, you need a serious tripod that is up to the strain of continuous heavy use.

At the other end of the scale are photographers who mostly shoot everything handheld – say portrait, reportage or street photographers – but who nonetheless occasionally also want to do some long exposure night shots, or try out a few landscapes here and there while on the road.

If this is you, you should carefully consider whether it’s worth the hassle of carrying a serious, full-sized tripod around with you for the entire trip. Although a short tripod such as a GorillaPod will not allow you to get every shot you want, nor just how you want it, a little creative use of the local environment (using walls, window sills, tables, chairs, rocks, trees, etc. to gain some height) may get you pretty close most of the time.

Obviously, this solution wouldn’t be satisfactory for a landscape photographer. But if only twenty percent or less of your images are likely to be shot using a tripod, it might be better to go for something really small and portable and accept the risk that you may have to forego – or even mess up – a few shots here and there.

It’s likely that most photographers will fall somewhere between these two extremes though: using the tripod for quite a few shots, but perhaps not so dependent on one that they will want to be bothered carrying a gigantic warhorse around with them the whole time. If that sounds like you, then probably your best bet is going to be a smaller and lighter tripod. True, it may not allow you to shoot every shot exactly how you want it, but will nonetheless be good enough for most situations you will encounter on your trip.

Things to Consider When Choosing The Best Travel Tripod for Your Photography

A tripod is such a simple thing: essentially three legs, perhaps with a articulating mounting head on top. Choose the wrong one though, and it’ll likely be such a nuisance to use that you won’t bother. Or it simply won’t be up to the job, even if you did want to use it.

Here we’ve compiled a list of the main points to consider when choosing a travel tripod. This way you can be more confident that you’ll end up with a tripod that you’ll want to keep on using for many years to come.

Size

No revelations here: if it’s big and bulky when folded down, it’s not a good travel tripod.

Make sure you consider the entire tripod when measuring up – including ball-head and central column if you’ll be using them. I’ve seen tripods that boast super-short statistics when folded but are effectively cheating on their spec, as the addition of the ball-head means the tripod is rather average in length. In one case the tripod wouldn’t even fit into its supplied carry bag without first removing the ball-head. Not very useful.

Height

Height is more subjective. For some photographers, a high point of view is not all that important. For others, a tripod that won’t reach up further than chest-height is practically useless.

Work out your needs, and if height isn’t a major deal breaker for you, you can likely save a considerable amount of weight by going for a slightly shorter model.

Weight

Again, this is pretty self-evident: lightweight design is king when on the move.

Build

A travel tripod needs to be not only lightweight, but also extremely well-made if it is to withstand the daily punishment of life on the road. While a cheaper brand/model may seem appealing – and perhaps even appear quite well made at first sight – how solid will it look after rattling about in the cargo-hold of a plane for several hours or bumping around on dirt tracks for days on end?

When put through the rigors of adventurous travel, good quality gear isn’t entirely immune from becoming loose over time, so it pays to check that everything is in order regularly. But cheap junk can easily disintegrate into its constituent parts before you even get a chance to pull it out of the bag. Don’t cut too many corners on build quality.

Tripod Head

A badly-designed tripod-head will cause so much wasted time and frustration that you will likely want to throw it against the nearest wall, bellowing profanities at the top of your voice as you do so – much to the amusement/bewilderment of local inhabitants.

The primary issue here tends to be locking mechanisms that don’t do their job correctly, causing the camera to slip out of position over time slowly. But an almost equally exasperating problem is a head that knows only two positions: either locked super tight or instead loosely rolling around like a sleepy drunk on a commuter train. With no middle ground between the two extremes, this renders the making of subtle, incremental adjustments to the position of your camera pretty much impossible: the moment you loosen the lock even slightly, the camera just nosedives from the weight of the lens. Which leaves you to begin the whole positioning process again from the top.

There are several different types of tripod head available, but by far the most popular among top-end tripods are ball-heads. A good ball-head looks tight and doesn’t move unless you want it to. Then when you loosen it, resistance is given up slowly, allowing small adjustments to the position long before the ball flops like a limp wrist.

If for some reason you don’t find ball-heads to your liking, you might also consider alternative designs such as a pan and tilt head. However, some photographers dispense with a head altogether, preferring to just mount a quick-release plate directly on top of the tripod legs. What you lose here in terms of control over angle and position of the camera (you’ll have to adjust the legs in order to make the camera level, and won’t be able to shoot in portrait-format), you’ll gain in speed and simplicity.

Perhaps even more importantly though, by foregoing a ball-head you will also skim an awful lot of weight off your tripod setup, as they tend to be solid great pieces of metal. Worth considering if you mostly just shoot square-on landscape-format images and want to travel with a bare-bones kit.

Weight Hook

Quite possibly the best – and also one of the simplest – solutions to the problem of weight vs stability is to not make the weight an intrinsic part of the tripod itself, but instead, something that can be added as and when it’s required. A tripod that is ultra lightweight when carried but has a hook for suspending a bag of rocks or other improvised ballast under it is a very good travel tripod indeed.

Pack a strong canvas tote or even a net/string bag in your camera case, and you’ll be prepared to take advantage of nature’s tripod stabilizers wherever you may find them. Of course, you can’t always be certain to come across just the right size and weight of stones, wood, or other heavy objects at every location. But, in the worst case scenario, you are likely to have a camera bag with you containing other moderately heavy items such as lenses. Or, at the very least, you’ll probably be carrying a bottle of water, phone etc. that can be used to add an extra degree of stability.

Central Column

A hook at the bottom of the central column will help to cut down on weight, but the design of the central column itself can make a huge difference with regards to height. A tripod with short legs will be more likely to fold away nice and small, but it will also restrict your point of view and mean you will have to stoop over to look down into the viewfinder. An extendable central column can make up for this loss of height without a corresponding increase in length when the tripod is stowed.

There’s a compromise to be made here though: a tripod is more stable than a monopod, but an extendable central column is effectively a monopod sitting on top of your tripod. And the higher you extend the central column, the more prone your camera will be to swaying around in the breeze or wobbling about from traffic vibrations.

Of course, if the wind gets up and the central column really starts to lurch about, you can always protract it, or even remove the column altogether if you have the correct wrench with you. So if height is an important consideration, then it’s probably better to go for a tripod with an extendable central column, this way you at least have the option of choosing whether to use it or not.

Leg Sections

While a greater number of leg sections will often translate into greater height when fully extended, this usually also means shorter leg sections, which will result in reduced length when folded away. So assuming that the extra sections don’t add too much weight to the tripod, the more leg sections a tripod has, the more suitable it is likely to be for use as a travel tripod.

Leg Locks

Although this may seem like a minor consideration, in practice tripod leg locks are perhaps the most important element contributing to user experience beyond head design and operation. It’s quite simple: if you don’t like the leg locks, you will not enjoy using your tripod.

Which of the several available types of leg locking system currently in use you go for on your travel tripod is simply a matter of personal preference. Some people (me included) love Gitzo’s ring locking system. Others prefer Manfrotto’s flip lock system (although, like many manufacturers, Manfrotto has also adopted Gitzo-style rubber rings on some of its more recent models). Finally, certain older tripods use a lever lock system.

Some argue that flip locks are bulkier, and tend to get caught on things. Others say that ring locks are more likely to wear out and become loose over time. Ultimately though, a good quality tripod will come with good quality locks, so it really doesn’t matter which style of leg lock you choose, just as long as it’s the one you are most comfortable working with.

If in doubt, try them both before buying: you certainly do not want to be messing around adjusting annoying tripod legs while the sun disappears below the horizon or the elephant you were just about to photograph wanders off out of view.

Mounting Plate

A quick release (QR) plate permits easy removal of the camera from the tripod. A QR mount is such a useful thing that I can’t really see why anyone would not want to have one on their tripod. There are many different kinds of QR though – indeed, almost as many QR systems as there are tripod manufacturers. This makes it impractical to go into the subject in any depth here.

Let’s just say that, when deciding upon which tripod to purchase, you should carefully note the type of QR system used and ascertain its compatibility with any other equipment you may own (tripod, monopod, gimbal etc.).

5 Best Travel Tripods

Armed with the above info, here’s our list of some of the best travel tripods on the market right now at different price points and offering different features.


Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod with Center Ball Head

Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler

Pros:

+ Strong

+ Lightweight

+ Well designed

+ Good extended vs folded length ratio

Cons:

– Price

– Ballast hook must be purchased separately

Gitzo is the Ferrari of tripods: exceedingly well designed, and manufactured in Italy, but with prices to match. Tripods are one area where you really do tend to get what you pay for though, so if you can afford to make the initial investment, it will likely be one that repays itself many times over in the long run.

There are plenty of Gitzo-a-like products on the market. Some are total junk, while others are actually very good. But few will compete with the original in terms of durability. A much cheaper product that superficially resembles a Gitzo, but doesn’t actually offer the same quality of build as one, may not make it through your entire trip. Whereas a Gitzo will likely still be with you many years from now.

The best travel tripods are totally stress-free to use so that they can be quickly pulled out and set up before the scene you wanted to shoot vanishes. Personally, I find Gitzo’s “G-lock” adjustment rings the easiest and fastest of all systems to adjust when on the job, and the Gitzo GT1545T employs a pared down and more compact version of this system which the manufacturer calls “Traveler G-lock.”

The GT1545T is well suited for use as a travel tripod for other reasons too. Firstly, the tripod features four contracting leg sections. This, coupled with the fact that the legs then fold back around the central column, means that the whole thing measures just a little over 16” when packed away. That’s really rather small.

Fully extended though, you’ll get a maximum height of 64.4” – comfortably tall for most people, even if a little stooping down may be necessary for some. Conversely, the GT1545T’s shorter central column allows you to position the camera just 8.6” off the ground for low angle shooting.

What’s more, despite its compact profile and slender build, the GT1545T’s load capacity is 22 lb: plenty sufficient for even a behemoth metal-bodied large-format field camera such as a Master Technika, never mind a modern DSLR made from lightweight magnesium-alloy. Despite this, the tripod itself weighs very little: 2.3 lb to be exact.

The bad news? There’s no hook for hanging a counterweight. However, this is actually not such a major issue, as Gitzo sells hooks separately which can be switched for the plug at the end of the central column. Just be sure to check with the manufacturer regarding part compatibility before purchasing the tripod and hook though, as there are several variants available.

Gitzo Lightweight Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod with Center Ball Head, Silver & Black (GK1545T-82TQDUS)
  • Carbon exact tubes; reverse-folding legs
  • Traveler G-Lock leg lock system
  • Arce-type compatible ball head & compatible with other brand plates
  • Short center column & Shoulder strap
  • Made in Italy


Vanguard VEO 235AB Aluminum Tripod with TBH-50 Ball Head

Vanguard VEO 235AB

Pros:

+ Small

+ Lightweight

+ Quick to set up and fold away

+ Price

Cons:

– Not suitable for bigger cameras and lenses

– Relatively short maximum height

– No ballast hook

The Vanguard VEO 235AB tripod can’t compete with some of the bigger (and considerably more expensive) options we look at here on either load capacity or maximum extended height. However, if an item like the Gitzo (above) soundly delivers on the “tripod” side of things, the Vanguard performs a lot better on the “travel” front. Which is not to say that the 235AB is not a very useful tripod, but rather that with its diminutive dimensions it’s just not one that will be capable of withstanding quite the same degree of strain as some of the others we review.

For a start, the Vanguard’s maximum load-bearing capacity is just 13.2 lb. That’s plenty for a Mirrorless or smaller DSLR setup, but clearly, the 235AB is not to be entrusted with anything heavier than this. Also, at just over 57”, maximum height is a good deal shorter than with the Gitzo too. But then again, folding down to just 14.9”, this is one of the most compact tripods we look at here. On top of that, a weight of 3.3 lb only serves to increase the Vanguard’s travel tripod credentials.

The Vanguard also offers one other interesting feature that makes it even more suitable as a travel tripod. Whereas Gitzo owners must fold all 3 tripod legs back over the central column in order to store their tripod, users of the Vanguard 235AB only need to move one element: it’s the central column that does the moving, flipping downwards to stow neatly alongside the legs. This effectively means that setting up takes just one-third of the time.

To summarize then, the Vanguard 235AB is perfect for an occasional tripod user who doesn’t want to be encumbered on their travels by unnecessary bulk and weight, and who doesn’t need to shoot with overly large cameras and lenses. There’s no ballast hook though, so it’s not for use in high winds.

Vanguard VEO2GO235AB Aluminum Travel Tripod with Ball Head for Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fujifilm Mirrorless, Compact System Camera (CSC), DSLR
  • Inverted 5 section aluminum legs that fold for compact carrying and rubberized twist leg locks-new open to click feature. Also, easy to clean disassemble and reassemble if needed
  • Sturdy ball head T-50 with large ergonomic knobs, separate pan lock optimized to support working loads up to 8. 8 pounds and Arca compatible quick release plate - QS-64
  • Secure head lock system and top plate on the central column and 2 section reversible telescopic center column. Shoot low by reversing the column or using the included low angle adapter
  • Independent leg positioning at 3 different angles (21°, 50°, 80°) for greater adaptation to uneven terrain and to shoot more creative pictures. Added retractable hook to assist in weighing down the tripod when desired
  • Round rubber feet convert easily to the included set of short spikes. Tripod folded height: 12 3/4" Extended height: 56 1/2" Weight: 2. 73 pounds. Max Load: 8. 8 pounds


Benro FTA28CV1 Travel Angel Series 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod with V1E Ball Head

Benro FTA28CV1 Travel Angel Series 2

Pros:

+ Strong

+ Lightweight

+ Doubles as a monopod

+ Price

Cons:

– Long when folded

– Relatively heavy

Still smarting from the price of the Gitzo (above)? The Benro FTA28CV1 comes very similarly specced but at a fraction of the price.

Benro products might not be at quite the same level as Gitzo’s, and the Chinese company can’t boast the same long European manufacturing history as Gitzo. Nonetheless, Benro is a well-known and popular brand which, during its 20+ years of existence, has fully demonstrated itself to be a serious and hardwearing option.

On height, the FTA28CV1 actually outperforms Gitzo’s above offering by a couple of inches, extending to a maximum of 66.9”. And it all but matches the Gitzo when it comes minimum height too, allowing the user to position their camera just 18.7” off the floor. However, where the Benro notably falls short (actually, falls long, very long) when compared to the Gitzo is in regards to its folded length, which is 24.6”. I.e. a good 50% longer than Gitzo’s GT1545T travel tripod. Not only this but at 4 lb., the Benro is much heavier than the Gitzo too.

But then again, at less than half the price of the Gitzo, it was obvious that there would have to be a compromise made somewhere.

The Benro makes up for the extra weight and bulkiness in other ways though: one of the legs can be unscrewed and joined up with the central column to create a monopod. This feature could really come in handy when traveling, as the main tripod can be left in storage while heading off on shorter trips (such as a particularly grueling hike), allowing you to just take the monopod with you when a tripod would be overkill.

At 22 lb, load capacity is identical to the Gitzo, which will be fine for everything from Mirrorless systems and DSLRs through to old analog tanks. And the carbon fiber build is tough enough to survive plenty of punishment, both on and off road. Finally, the central column comes ready-equipped with a ballast hook installed, so no extra expense is involved here, and the ball-head features the very popular Arca-Swiss style QR system.



Benro Travel Angel 2 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod w/ V1E Ball Head (FTA28CV1)
  • Designed to offer compact and lightweight camera support. Weighing just 4 lbs. and able to hold up to 22 lbs., the FTA28CV1 can extend from a minimum height of 18.7" up to 66.9".
  • The 4-section legs are held in place by twist locks and can be adjusted independently.
  • Equipped with interchangeable screw-in rubber feet and stainless steel spiked feet for increased stability. In addition, a removable leg can be combined with the center column to create a full-size monopod.
  • Constructed from 9 layers of carbon fiber, these legs maximize the strength to weight ratio of the tripod legs.
  • The V1E Ball Head has separate pan and ball locks, and an Arca-type compatible clamp with a quick-release plate.


Joby GorillaPod 5K Flexible Mini-Tripod with Ball Head Kit

Joby GorrilaPod 5K Flexible Mini-Tripod

Pros:

+ Strong

+ Ultra lightweight

+ Very compact

+ Price

Cons:

– Very short

– POV and framing will depend on the location

For photographers looking for a truly lightweight and flexible (literally) travel tripod solution, a GorillaPod is an obvious choice. While the GorillaPod 5K probably shouldn’t be entrusted with a solid metal-bodied medium format film camera, with a maximum load capacity of 11 lb it will easily support both Mirrorless format and mid-sized DSLRs without risk of disaster.

Sturdily constructed from stainless steel, machined aluminum, and ABS plastic, it’s also durable enough that it can be thrown in a bag or even stuffed in a pocket without worry. And weighing just 17 oz, this is clearly not a tripod that will give your back too much trouble over the course of your journey.

Of course, with a GorillaPod you’re always somewhat at the mercy of the local environment when it comes to point of view and framing. Unlike with a regular tripod, you certainly can’t just go plonking it down wherever you feel like it – at least not unless you’re happy to shoot from a really low perspective each time. And you’ll only get to shoot from a high vantage point if you can wrap your GorillaPod’s legs around a lamppost, branch of a tree, or other sturdy feature in your surroundings. So let’s just say that this is probably not the best option for photographers who are particularly fussy and demanding when it comes to composition.

If you can work with these limitations though, a GorillaPod such as the 5K with ball-head makes for a truly unobtrusive and agreeable travel companion. Certainly, if you’re not planning on shooting with a tripod very often, but nonetheless want to be certain that your camera is held rock-solid when you do, a GorillaPod makes a much better choice than even the highly compact Vanguard (above).

Sale
JOBY GorillaPod 5K Kit. Professional Tripod 5K Stand and Ballhead 5K for DSLR Cameras or Mirrorless Camera with Lens up to 5K (11lbs). Black/Charcoal.
  • Flexible:  Grip it.  Wrap it.  Stand it.  Wrappable legs allow you to secure professional camera equipment to virtually any surface
  • Stable:  Over two dozen leg joints with rubberized ring and foot grips allow you to bend and rotate 360 Degree for increased stability in difficult terrain
  • Durable:  Anodized aluminum construction delivers durability and smooth movement
  • Arca-Swiss system compatible quick release plate stays connected to camera for instant set-up


Sirui T-005X Aluminum Tripod with C-10S Ball Head

Sirui T-005X Aluminum Tripod

Pros:

+ Strong

+ Ultra lightweight

+ Very compact

+ Price

Cons:

– Short

– Relatively unstable

Other than the GorillaPod, the Sirui T-005X is by far the smallest tripod we look at here, collapsing down to just over 12”. Although it clearly wouldn’t satisfy the needs of a serious landscape photographer, and shouldn’t be used with anything bigger than a Mirrorless or smaller DSLR setup, the fact that the T-005X packs away so compactly, and weighs only 2.3 lb, makes it a fantastic choice for the long-term traveler who makes only infrequent use of a tripod.

Unusually for such a small tripod, the T-005X features a removable center column for low-angle photography, and even features a ball-head with an Arca-type QR mechanism. However, while the Sirui may have you fully covered for low-level shooting, as it can only muster a puny maximum working height of 54” even with its center column fully extended, it is clearly not going to be of any help in producing dramatic overhead shots.

These giraffe-like tripods (with necks as long as their legs) always make me a little nervous when I see them in use, prompting visions of thousands of dollars of state of the art camera kit crashing to the floor. Clearly, something that requires this much extra attention (can’t be used in high winds, need to look out for passersby knocking into it, etc.) would quickly become a nuisance if you had to work with it too often. But if used only occasionally, with care, and in the right conditions, there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t get the job done.

SIRUI T-005X Ultralight Travel Tripod with C-10S Ball Head - Black
  • Legs fold up by 180° - Extendible and removable centre column
  • Weight: 0.8kg (1kg with head) - Max. load: 4kg ; T-025X = 8 layer carbon fibre, super lightweight, stable, low-vibration
  • Height: 30.5cm-130cm, (10.5cm-95cm without centre column) - Closed size: 30cm (34cm with Head) - Tube diameter: 10-22mm
  • Best quality aluminium in 5 sections - Colour: black
  • SIRUI T-005X Tripod black, SIRUI C-10S Ball Head black with TY-C10 Plate, short centre column 9,5cm, bag


To Summarize

An inconvenient, badly-made, or unstable tripod is like a car without wheels or a house without walls. A tripod is such a simple bit of kit, and yet if it doesn’t do its job properly it’s worse than useless: it’s a deadweight that at best will fray your nerves, and at worst ruin your photos with camera shake.

For this reason, total budget-level tripods are usually a false economy even at the best of times. Better to buy something durable and well-designed right from the start, rather than a sub-$100 piece of trash now, and then have to pay up for the very same durable and well-designed tripod in the end anyway once your el-cheapo has left you in the lurch just a couple of months down the line. If this is true under normal conditions, it’s even truer when it comes to travel tripods, which will need to stand up to much greater strain.

However, choosing a travel tripod means compromising on a number of fronts: sturdiness vs weight; working height vs folded length; convenience of use vs compact design. Precisely where your limits lie on each of these matters is something you will need to work out for yourself.

What’s certain, though, is that a travel tripod should not be a nuisance to carry around with you for any length of time, and should be quick and easy to work with. Just as important though is that the travel tripod you take with you actually allows you to shoot the kind of photos you want to shoot: it’s no good opting for a super small and compact tripod like the GorillaPod 5K if in the end it never gets used because you quickly discover that you prefer shooting from normal standing height. Even an ultra-small and lightweight tripod will be a waste of money and precious baggage space if it doesn’t meet your needs.

In short, the best travel tripod will always be one that sees a lot of use without becoming a burden. Hopefully, by reading through our guide to choosing the best travel tripod you are now much better prepared to make your own educated choice as to which tripod you should take on your next trip. Happy travels!

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