There’s lots to be said for owning a monopod. While a tripod is the most stable way to provide camera support, a single-legged monopod is faster to deploy and easier to transport. Here we look at ten of the best monopods at a variety of prices.
Rather than having to unfold and set up three legs every time you want to shoot, as it is with even the best tripods, you can simply rest your camera setup on a monopod when you need to, and, using one hand to keep the monopod steady, snap an image with much more stability than you would be able to achieve shooting handheld. Monopods are excellent for shooting in low light, reducing camera-shake, or simply providing yourself with a little extra support throughout the day’s shoot – this is especially useful if you’re on a hike.
Another thing worth noting is that tripods aren’t allowed everywhere – many popular tourist attractions forbid them for reasons of space and crowd control. Monopods, however, don’t generally fall under such restrictions, and this combined with their size and portability, makes them excellent for travel.
5 things to look for in a monopod
1. Strong and stable
It’s critical to make sure the monopod can support the weight of your camera/lens setup – check with the manufacturer before making a purchase
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!
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
4. Plant your feet
Some monopods will have additional flip-out feet for a more stable support, or a fixed rounded foot
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.
But that's enough ado: it's time for the list! We've picked a selection of ten monopods that we'd rate on their combination of strength, length, functionality, features, style and affordability. Whatever your needs, whatever your budget, there will be a monopod here for you. So let's get started!
1. Manfrotto XPRO 5-Section photo monopod aluminum
For strength, stability, versatility and value, this monopod can’t be beat
Material: Aluminum | Sections: 5 | Max load: 6kg | Extended length: 141cm | Packed length: 41cm | Weight: 0.7kg
Let’s get the negative out of the way – this is the longest monopod here when compressed. It extends high though, and while using four rather than five leg sections reduces compactness, it ups rigidity. Combine this with the thick 20mm minimum leg diameter and twist-lock clamps that refuse to slip under much more than the rated 20kg, and the Explora rivals even the mighty Induro for stiffness. Everything stands on a good-sized rubber foot which can be removed to reveal a decent spike. Factor in the reasonably light weight and respectable construction quality and you’ve got unbeatable value. If you're having trouble tracking it down, you can buy it here.
2. Vanguard VEO 2 AM-264TR
An amazingly well-featured monopod – for a great price too
Material: Aluminum | Sections: 4 | Max load: 6kg | Extended length: 163cm | Packed length: 56cm | Weight: 0.89kg
The Vanguard VEO 2 AM-264TR immediately stands out among the competition for its 3-leg stabiliser at the bottom – a Vanguard staple – which really expands the range of what photographers can with a monopod, providing a level of support that’s tough to beat. Should you not want to use the feet, they retract away, revealing a rubber nub at the bottom.
The rubberised twist locks are as smooth as butter – easy to loosen and tight when needed – while the rubber grip at the top is provides an excellent, comfortable hold. The Vanguard VEO-2 AM-264TR extends to an impressive 163cm and can take a maximum payload capacity of 6kg – more than enough for most DSLR and mirrorless setups. All this tech means it weighs a little more than comparable monopods and doesn’t pack down as small, so bear this in mind when making a decision.
3. Manfrotto Compact Photo Monopod Advanced
Designed for entry-level setups, this is a perfect first monopod
Material: Aluminum | Sections: 5 | Max load: 3kg | Extended length: 155.6cm | Packed length: 41.5cm | Weight: 0.35kg
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.
4. Gitzo Traveler
A premium monopod for a premium price
Material: Carbon fiber | Sections: 6 | Max load: 12kg | Extended length: 142cm | Packed length: 36cm | Weight: 0.4kg
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, despite the fact that it’s a six-section behemoth capable of extending to 142cm and carrying a maximum payload of 12kg – more than enough to handle pro-spec DSLR setups with long lenses. 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.
5. Benro Adventure MAD38C Carbon Fiber Monopod
Another higher-end model, with a unique adjustable rounded foot
Material: Carbon fiber | Sections: 4 | Max load: 16kg | Extended length: 158.5 cm | Packed length: 52.5cm | Weight: 0.5kg
Made from durable and lightweight carbon fiber, Benro’s Adventure MAD38C is also equipped with a round, vari-angle, rubberised foot that expands the photographer or videographer’s options for shooting angle while still providing optimal levels of stability. Quick-flip leg locks for its four leg sections make the monopod fast to deploy and simple to pack down, while the maximum payload it can support is a hefty 16kg, making the Adventure MAD38C a great choice for use with heavy pro-spec DSLRs and long lenses. If you’re planning some challenging shoots with distant subjects, this should definitely be in consideration, but really it’s a great choice for all stripes of user – its weight of 0.5kg makes it easy to carry, and it packs down to 52.5cm, which isn’t quite as short as other monopods in this round-up but is still very much travel-friendly.
6. Velbon Ultra Stick Super 8 Monopod
Extends long and packs down short – though has a few handling quirks
Material: Magnesium | Sections: 8 | Max load: 3kg | Extended length: 156cm | Packed length: 26cm | Weight: 0.34kg
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.
7. 3 Legged Thing Alan
A hugely impressive – and costly – combination of portability and strength
Material: Carbon fiber | Sections: 5 | Max load: 60kg | Extended length: 149cm | Packed length: 45cm | Weight: 0.6kg
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.
8. Sirui P-402S
Another premium multi-functional monopod with super-stable feet and sturdy locks
Material: Aluminum | Sections: 4 | Max load: 8kg | Extended length: 160cm | Packed length: 70cm | Weight: 1.4kg
This is another monopod with stabilising feet, and one thing that strikes you on looking at it is just how hefty those feet are. They’re extremely strong and make the Sirui P-402S a great choice for rugged, outdoor photography and videography. The monopod can be tilted in all directions while balancing on the feet, and the kit as a whole is hard-wearing and durable. Setups weighing up to 8kg will be absolutely no problem, and in fact it’s even possible to rearrange the unit containing the feet to make the Sirui P-402S function essentially as a mini-tripod. Of course, all this tech is seriously heavy and doesn’t come cheap, so check you’re comfortable with the weight and price before committing.
9. iFootage Cobra 2 A180
Hefty, but strong, with height that’s well-suited for 360-degree shooting
Material: Aluminum | Sections: 4 | Max load: 8kg | Extended length: 180cm | Packed length: 70.5cm | Weight: 1.51kg
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.
10. Joby GripTight PRO TelePod
And finally, a monopod and also much more – though only for small setups
Material: Aluminum | Sections: 3 | Max load: 1kg | Extended length: 69.8cm | Packed length: 10.2cm | Weight: 0.24kg
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.
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