The best monopods give you extra support when using big telephoto lenses for extended periods, they can cut camera shake at slower shutter speeds in low light, and they are great for adding a little extra stability to video.
A tripod can be bulky and awkward to set up, while a monopod – though requiring a hand to steady it – is much quicker and easier to deploy. If you're rapidly changing positions, or in an awkward space on uneven ground, it can be a lifesaver.
A monopod is just what it sounds like – a single leg, to a tripod's three. With telescopic sections to fold up when not in use, a monopod can be dangled from a bag or even a wrist when not in use and then deployed at a moment's notice. It won't provide the kind of stability required for super-long exposures but is great for giving yourself a little wiggle room with shutter speeds at a moment's notice.
Different monopods also offer different features. Some have more leg sections than others, some have stabilizing feet. There are also recent introductions into the field with some really interesting features, like the rotating foot on the Benro MSDPL46C SupaDupa carbon fibre monopod (opens in new tab), or the crowdfunded MOZA Slypod Pro (opens in new tab), which can double up as a video slider.
If you need a bit of a primer, you can click to jump to the bottom of this page where we've put together 5 things to consider when buying a monopod, where we run through the main things to consider and specs to look out for. Otherwise, let's get cracking with the best monopods you can buy in 2023!
The best monopod in 2023
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3 Legged Thing has been refreshing its monopods lately with the Punks 2.0 range, and the Trent 2.0 is an upgrade to its tallest monopod. This poleaxe of a monopod can extend to more than two meters. More than anyone's really going to need? Maybe, but it's cool nonetheless. Able to support up to 30kg of kit, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Trent 2.0 also features redesigned leg locks that are easy to operate even in the cold when you're wearing gloves. It still measures a pretty chunky 60cm when it's packed down (an unavoidable trade-off for all that height), but if you don't mind carting around something a little bigger than most monopods, this is a good choice for big setups. It can also be bought as part of a video kit, with a Docz2 foot stabilizer to provide even more support.
Read our full 3 Legged Thing Punks Trent 2.0 review (opens in new tab) for more details
You may have thought that we'd pretty much reached a Fukuyama-style end of history with regard to the design of the monopod, but the Benro SupaDupa Pro MSDPL46C proves there's still innovation to be found. It's a clever monopod design with a few interesting tweaks. First, a clever rotating foot that makes it easier than ever to produce smooth panning movements. Second, a leveling head that offers 20-degree movement in all directions – useful if you can't quite get the monopod itself on level ground. What's more, the leg locks are all twist-style... except for the top one, which is a flip catch. This makes it very easy to use the top section for quick height adjustments.
All this is probably more tech than most monopod users need, and if you just want something cheap that works, there are more affordable options. If, however, you see yourself using your monopod very frequently for photography, video, or both, the Benro SupaDupa Pro MSDPL46C will suit you down to the ground.
Read our full Benro SupaDupa Pro MSDPL46C review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
Moza's original Slypod was an innovative 2-in-1 slider-come-monopod: a clever motorized device that could automatically extend at different speeds via a dedicated app. Here we have its big brother, the Slypod Pro, which is more powerful and sports a set of detachable tripod feet, meaning it can be now used vertically as a tripod (or tri-foot monopod) as well as a horizontal or angled slider as a boom fitted to a regular tripod. In its collapsed state it measures 650mm (without the tripod attachment), but thanks to the motor, it can be automatically extended a further 530mm to a total length of 1,460mm. The clever bit is that you can regulate the extension speed between 0.5mm/s and 40mm/s, depending on the look you’re after. The SlyPod Pro is of limited use for stills but comes into its own as a slider or jib arm for shooting video, making the high price much more justifiable.
Read more: MOZA Slypod Pro full review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
It's amazing that this Vanguard monopod is constructed from carbon fibre, given its extremely affordable price. Equipped with a spiked rubber foot for extra balance, as well as a hand strap and carabiner hook for easy transportation, the Vanguard VEO 2 CM-264 is also one of the most lightweight monopods of its class on the market, weighing just 436g. With a solid 6kg of capacity, it'll handle most DSLR and mirrorless setups, and its extension height of 160cm is more than adequate for most purposes. This is an extremely solid monopod for all different types of photography.(opens in new tab)
So, it's a monopod with three feet? Yes, we know it sounds silly, but in truth the design of the Vanguard VEO 2S AM-264TR is pretty clever, giving the monopod much more low-down stability and making it easier to get sharp shots at slow shutter speeds. It's a beautifully engineered product all around, with smooth twist-lock action that makes it easy to secure, and there's even a smartphone connector!
The only real disadvantage is that the tripartite foot at the bottom makes the whole thing bigger and bulkier. If portability is a real issue for you (e.g. you plan to take the monopod on some long and punishing photo hikes) then it might be worth picking one of the options on our list with a smaller footprint; the Manfrotto Element Mii at #2, for instance, is significantly lighter. Otherwise, the Vanguard VEO 2S AM-264TR is the monopod we're happy to recommend as our number-one choice.(opens in new tab)
With a maximum payload capacity of 3kg, the Manfrotto Compact Photo Monopod Advanced isn’t going to be holding anything heavier than an entry-level mirrorless or DSLR setup, with a lens no longer than 200mm or so. However, if your setup meets these restrictions, you’ll find this to be an ideal monopod for all sorts of applications. It packs down really well and is amazingly light, meaning it’s perfect for travel. It’s also pleasingly quick to deploy, with a quick wheel just under the tripod screw that allows you to rapidly attach your camera with one hand – which works perfectly for a monopod designed to exclusively take setups light enough to be used one-handed.
Part of a relatively new range from Manfrotto, the Element MII is focused on being two things: lightweight and affordable. These, it manages with aplomb. Weighing in at a slender 0.5kg and still able to hold up to 8kg of kit, the Manfrotto Element MII is more than enough kit for any roaming photographer or videographer. It's pretty simple, without fancy bells and whistles like a tri-part foot or quick-release plate, but the price is tough to argue with, and if you need a monopod from a reliable plate that you 100% know will be a good product, Manfrotto is a great bet there. We rather like the stylish red finish, too, though you can get it in black if you're a traditionalist.(opens in new tab)
The use of Gitzo’s carbon eXact fiber for the construction of this Traveler monopod is what makes it so light and easy to carry around. The six leg sections enable a max extended height of 142cm and a maximum payload of 12kg – more than enough to handle a pro-spec DSLR with a long lens. It also packs down to an impressively short 36cm, meaning it’ll easily fit even in hand luggage and is therefore perfect for taking on your travels, whether for work or pleasure.(opens in new tab)
No, that isn’t a typo up there – 3 Legged Thing’s Alan 2.0 monopod can really support a whopping 60kg of camera kit. This is far, far more than even the most deranged of gearheads could possibly need, meaning you can have absolute confidence that Alan will be able to handle your setup. Like the Vanguard, it also has a retractable foot for extra stability, but it also weighs just 615g, making it easy to carry around on your travels. Taller photographers may find themselves wishing for a little more height than 148cm, and it’s certainly one of the pricier models in the round-up.(opens in new tab)
The Velbon Ultra Stick Super 8 Monopod is so named for its impressive eight-leg sections. These, when fully extended, allow it to reach a maximum height of 156cm, and when fully retracted allow it to compact itself down to just 26cm. It’s also amazingly light, weighing just 340g. Having a monopod with this kind of versatility is certainly a boon, though it’s worth noting that the leg locks themselves are quite stiff and take some practice to get the hang of using – in our testing, we found one in particular towards the bottom gave us a lot of trouble. It’s also worth noting that the 3kg payload limit also restricts this monopod to entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras – if this describes your setup, this monopod represents tremendous value for money.
5 things to look for in a monopod
Buying a monopod doesn't have to be too complicated – fundamentally, all you're dealing with is a single-leg support for your camera – but there are a few things worth looking out for. It's worth thinking about the type of shooting you're doing and what you might prioritise based on that. Is it more important to you that a monopod is quick to set up or light to carry? How heavy is your camera setup?
Below, we've listed five key features to run through when shopping for a monopod.
1. Strength and stability
A monopod must be able to support the total combined weight of your camera/lens/accessories setup. If you're using a lightweight mirrorless camera and a small lens, this will be a pretty different proposition than if you're using a hefty pro DSLR with a telephoto lens.
Different monopods are constructed from different materials – most commonly aluminium or carbon fibre. Carbon fibre is stronger and lighter, but also more expensive. For a basic setup, an aluminium monopod will be more than adequate.
2. Reach new heights
How high do you need your monopod to go? This will depend on several factors, not least of which is how tall you are yourself! Monopods that reach greater heights are useful, but more expensive, so if you're short in stature, you can probably save money by picking up a monopod that doesn't extend so far.
3. Lock and load
Monopod leg sections will be separated with twist- or flip-style locks. Twist-locks tend to be more secure, but flip-locks are faster. Tripod users tend to prefer more secure locks, but for a monopod, you may be better off with something that can be deployed faster, in order to take better take advantage of the monopod's greater shooting versatility.
4. Plant your feet
Some monopods will have additional flip-out feet for a more stable support, or a fixed rounded foot. Monopods from Vanguard tend to be notable for this, as you've seen in our #1 pick, though of course it does make the overall setup more bulky.
5. Grip tight
At the top of the monopod there should be a grip – on cheaper monopods it’ll likely be foam, while more expensive models will use textured rubber. As the monopod won't stand up on its own without your assistance, it's important that you're able to keep a secure grip on it, so this is something worth paying attention to before you click "buy".
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