Best Travel Tripods

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
135 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best travel tripods

Last Updated September 2019

Whether you’re an adventurous photographer who travels the globe or are in a foreign country with your family and are shy about asking someone to take a photo for you, a travel tripod is a necessity.

Not only will you be able to record all the wonderful things you saw on your trip (with you and all your companions in the picture), but you’ll also be able to show off your creativity through photography (especially when you want to take time-lapse photos or nighttime shots). Best of all, the travel tripod folds down to a portable size for carrying with you on a plane or for hiking with a backpack.

Travel tripods come in all different shapes and sizes. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a DSLR to capture your memories with, our shopping guide will provide all the information you’ll need to choose the right travel tripod for your camera. If you’re ready to buy, consider one of our top picks.

When flying with a travel tripod, you’ll want one that fits inside a carrying case. This simplifies talking it through an airport.

Key considerations

With any travel tripod you’ll select, it’s important to match the camera you own and the way you plan to use it to the tripod’s size.

Smartphone camera

There’s no need to carry a heavy tripod if you’re not going to use a large camera. If you’re only shooting photos with a lightweight smartphone camera, a small travel tripod is adequate. This tripod can be almost any height, but it won’t weigh much because it doesn’t need to support much weight, making it easy to carry with you anywhere.

Small camera

For a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera or a point-and-shoot, you may be tempted to try a tabletop tripod. However, this style of tripod isn’t going to work for every situation while you’re traveling. It doesn’t have much height, and, honestly, it often doesn’t fold down to a smaller size than a collapsible tripod.

For more versatility, a fold-down travel tripod works nicely for a small camera. Because the tripod doesn’t have to support much weight, you can save some money with this style of tripod.

DSLR camera

If you will be using a DSLR camera with your travel tripod, it needs to be able to support more weight. Depending on the lens you attach to the camera, the tripod may need to hold several pounds. Additionally, you don’t want a tripod made from flimsy material with a large DSLR camera. Should the tripod collapse under the weight of the camera, it could crash to the ground and break. Don’t let a cheaply made tripod ruin your expensive camera gear and your trip.

If you’re wondering whether it will take up a lot of space, fortunately, even tripods that support quite a bit of weight will fold down to a perfect size for travel.

DID YOU KNOW?

A travel tripod often will be able to support the same amount of camera weight as a standard tripod.

Features

When shopping for a travel tripod, it’s important to understand the factors that distinguish each model:

  • Materials: Carbon fiber is a great travel tripod material. It’s lightweight and can support quite a bit of weight. Aluminum works nicely, too, and it’s cheaper than carbon fiber. Plastic travel tripods are inexpensive, but they’re heavy and don’t support much weight.
  • Leg locks: An extendable travel tripod will have three legs consisting of sections that collapse into each other. As you extend the legs, you’ll lock them in place. Travel tripods will use either twist locks or lever locks. Both work nicely, although some photographers prefer one design over the other. Three to five locks per leg are common.
  • Ball heads: The ball head with its mounting plate is the area where you’ll mount the camera to the tripod. The ball head should allow you to tilt the camera or swivel in 360 degrees around the tripod, so you can shoot any kind of photo.
  • Travel size: Travel tripods have two important measurements to consider. First is travel size, which refers to the minimum size the tripod folds down to for travel.
  • Usage size: Second is the usage size, which is the range of heights at which the tripod can hold the camera. Ranges of 20 to 70 inches are common with travel tripods. Taller tripods will give you more photographic options, but the taller you make them, the less steady they become.
  • Tripod weight: As with the size, there are two important weight measurements with a travel tripod. The actual weight of the tripod will affect you when you travel, because it will be more difficult to carry, especially when hiking.
  • Support weight: A tripod will also have a measurement showing how much weight it can support. Especially with a DSLR camera, always consider the weight of both the camera body and your heaviest lens. Placing too much weight on the tripod could cause it to collapse.

A tripod specifically made for travel will have legs with sections that fold inside themselves to reduce the length when in storage.

Travel tripod prices

Travel tripods vary quite a bit in price. As a general rule, tripods made from tougher materials, like aluminum or carbon fiber, will cost more than models with a lot of plastic in them. Tripods that will support heavier, larger cameras tend to cost more, too.

Inexpensive: The least expensive travel tripods will cost $10 to $25. These tripods only will support smartphones or non-DSLR cameras, as they cannot handle much weight. They also will be limited to roughly 55 inches in height or less.

Mid-range: For $25 to $60, you’ll find tripods that extend to maximum heights of roughly 70 inches. Some of these tripods may be able to support the weight of a lightweight DSLR camera and lens. Aluminum is a common material in this category, although some of these tripods will have quite a bit of plastic.

Expensive: High-end travel tripods will cost $60 to $200. Costlier models will have high-quality ball heads and sturdy legs. Carbon fiber is a common material in this price range, although you’ll find some aluminum models. Maximum heights of roughly 80 inches are possible in this category.

Tips

Many photographic situations work much better with a tripod than when hand-holding the camera. We’ve collected some tips to help you make the most of your travel tripod purchase:

  • Create the sharpest photos. When using a telephoto lens, holding the camera steady while shooting can be difficult. The tripod gives you a better shot at sharp photos versus holding the camera by hand.
  • Put yourself in the shot. A tripod allows you to shoot photos or video with you and everyone traveling with you in the frame. Sure, you could shoot a selfie with a digital camera, but it can be awkward to frame the scene properly. Using a tripod for selfies fixes this issue.
  • Create a time-lapse series of photos. When traveling, you may want to create an artistic series of time-lapse photos of a famous landmark or a beautiful sunset. Use the travel tripod to keep the camera in the same position for the entirety of the time-lapse set.
  • Have better nighttime image quality. When shooting photos at night on your trip, it can be tough to obtain a sharp image. The camera needs to use a slower shutter speed to compensate for dimly lit conditions. With a tripod, the camera will remain steady when shooting with a slow shutter speed.
EXPERT TIP

When extended to a maximum height, a travel tripod may not be sturdy under the weight of a heavy camera or in windy conditions.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

If you want a portable tripod that works nicely for mounting a smartphone to shoot photos or video, the Hitch Phone Tripod is a low-priced choice. This tripod only weighs 0.8 pounds and has a Bluetooth remote control. If you use a mirrorless or point-and-shoot camera, the Joby GorillaPod Compact Tripod is a smart choice. This tiny tabletop tripod looks great, but it only can support up to 6.6 pounds of camera equipment. To save some money on a travel tripod, we like the MACTREM M-PT55 Travel Tripod. It folds down to 20 inches in length and weighs only 2.6 pounds. Also, the GEEKOTO 77-Inch Tripod comes in at a great price and is perfect for a lightweight camera/lens combination.

Some travel tripods have the ability to transform into a monopod. This can be helpful when traveling, as you only need to carry one piece of hardware instead of two separate items.

FAQ

Q. What does collapsed size mean with a travel tripod?
A.
This measurement refers to the minimum size the tripod can achieve. For someone who will be traveling with the tripod, this number is important. If, when folded down, the travel tripod doesn’t fit in your luggage, it’s not going to help you on your trip.

Q. Will a travel tripod work for hiking with a camera?
A.
Yes. Because the travel tripod folds down to an easily portable size, it works nicely for hiking with a backpack. You may be able to attach the tripod to the exterior of the backpack or place it inside. Plastic tripods may not stand up to rough conditions during hiking, though, so look for aluminum or carbon fiber.

Q. I only use my smartphone for shooting photos. Do I need a travel tripod?
A.
You can use a travel tripod that’s made to hold a smartphone in place, just like a tripod made to hold a dedicated digital camera. And with the smartphone on the tripod, you’ll have the same benefits you receive with other cameras.

Q. Do I have to use the ball head that ships with my travel tripod?
A.
Not necessarily. If the ball head doesn’t have the features you want, you usually can swap it out for a different ball head that you purchase separately. Understand though, some ball heads are extremely heavy. A heavy ball head may cause problems with a cheaply made travel tripod.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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