With one of the best monopods, you get a terrific balance between stability and portability. While it isn't quite the same as having a tripod, a monopod is sometimes just what you need in a pinch, when just a little more support is key to nailing the shot. A monopod is lighter than a tripod, and can be taken to places where a tripod isn't practical. Sometimes, one leg is better than three!
Monopods can be dangled by a wrist strap or clipped easily to a bag – some can even convert to a walking stick, perfect for those long outdoor hikes to a landscape location. While they won't provide enough stillness and stability for super-long exposures, they can radically expand the versatility of your shutter speeds, especially if you're using long and heavy lenses. They're quicker to deploy than tripods too, making it much easier to react quickly if the light changes or a subject appears.
You might think a monopod is a fairly basic bit of kit, but manufacturers have found plenty of ways to innovate and give themselves an edge over the competition. For instance, the Vanguard tri-footed monopods have been around for a while now – we know it sounds bonkers, but check out our #1 entry to see how it works! Then there's also the recent Benro MSDPL46C SupaDupa carbon fibre monopod with its rotating foot, or the crowdfunded MOZA Slypod Pro which can double up as a slider for video. You'll find both of these on our list, as well as plenty of other options from a host of different manufacturers.
If you're new to buying a monopod and want to know more about the key features to look out for, we're here to help. At the bottom of the page we've put together 5 things to consider when buying a monopod, so click to jump straight there if you need a primer. Otherwise, let's get cracking with the best monopods you can buy in 2021!
The best monopod in 2022
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 more bulky. 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.
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.
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.
Moza's original Slypod was an innovative 2-in-1 slider-come-monopod: a clever motorised 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
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 enables 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.
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 it 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.
No, that isn’t a typo up there – 3 Legged Thing’s Alan monopod can really support a whopping 60kg of camera kit. This is far, far more than even the most deranged of gear-heads could possible 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 600g, making it easy to carry around on your travels. Taller photographers may find themselves wishing for a little more height than 149cm, and it’s certainly one of the pricier models in the round-up.
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.
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 levelling 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.
Extending the iFootage Cobra 2 to its enormous maximum height of 180cm and unfolding its ultra-secure adjustable feet will transform it into a perfect base for 360-degree footage – giving you the height and stability you need with no danger of tripod legs creeping into shot. It functions great as a monopod, with a solid aluminum construction, four leg sections and a maximum capacity of 80cm. It’s worth being aware that it’s very heavy at 1.5kg, and even when packed away still measures more than 70cm in length, so it isn’t one for travelling light. As long as you’re up for carrying it, this superbly engineered monopod will serve you well for all sorts of photo and video applications.
Joby has long had a reputation for thinking outside of the box, and the GripTight PRO TelePod is no exception. It can function not only as a monopod, but also as a handgrip, a miniature table-top tripod or a stationary stand for lights and similar devices. If versatility is what you’re looking for then naturally you’re spoiled for choice – though be aware that it’s only designed for light devices like action cameras, smartphones or small mirrorless cameras. It’s maximum payload capacity is just 1kg, so you won’t want to mount a DSLR or anything similar on there. If you’re happy that your setup meets these requirements, then the GripTight PRO Telepod is a great monopod with a difference that can help you in a host of shooting situations.
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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