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The best travel tripod in 2021: from full-size supports to bag-sized mini tripods

Included in this guide:

best travel tripods
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best travel tripods have a slightly different set of requirements to the best tripods. They need to be small when folded, enough that it’s easy to pack them into a bag, or at least hook them onto one. They also need to be light enough that carrying them around all day isn’t going to cause the user any serious strain, whether they’re exploring city streets or hiking over foothills.

And, ideally, they need to do all this while also doing what you’d expect from the best regular tripods – being sturdy, easy to set up, versatile, adjustable, and strong enough to handle the weight of your camera kit.

So, as you might expect, there are compromises to be made. A good travel tripod will be able to do all of the above, but may not reach the same maximum height as a more conventional tripod. Travel tripods will also often be constructed of carbon fibre – a superior material to aluminium, which allows for stronger and lighter builds, but costs more. A larger number of leg sections will help a tripod collapse down more, but again will add to the cost.

Of course it’s a compromise. Everything is. The trick when picking the best travel tripod is to figure out which features are essential for you, and where you can afford to make concessions, and plan accordingly. That’s why in this guide to the best travel tripods, we’ve made sure to cover a broad range of products, with tripods at different price points. No matter your requirements, no matter your budget, there should be a travel tripod here for you.

The best travel tripods in 2021

(Image credit: Benro)

1. Benro GoPlus Travel FGP18A

This is the best travel tripod for serious photography, but it's not small

Specifications
Material: Aluminum
Extended height: 165cm
Folded height: 46cm
Weight: 1.95kg
Feet: Pads + spikes
Leg sections: 4
Max load (legs, head): 10kg, 8kg
Reasons to buy
+Good folded length+Hefty maximum load+In-built monopod
Reasons to avoid
-You'll need to get a head separately-At the top end of the size scale

Ticking just about every conceivable box on our wish list, the Benro GoPlus has a modest folded length and generous operating height, coupled with a hefty maximum load capacity. It’s one of a handful of tripods to feature a pivoting center column which, enabling a range of locking angles in small increments, through a complete 180-degree arc. Bubble levels are fitted to the tripod platform for easy leveling, and interchangeable rubber feet and spikes are supplied, along with a padded soft case. One leg can be unscrewed to use as a standalone monopod. However, while it was once sold as a kit with a head, you'll now need to order a ball head to go with it (if you don't have one already). The Benro B0 or IB0 would be a good match.

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

The flagship Befree model is a light tripod suitable for a huge range of users

Specifications
Material: Carbon fibre
Extended height: 174.5cm
Folded height: 49.4cm
Weight: 2.06kg
Feet: Pads
Leg sections: 4
Max load (legs, head): 20kg
Material: Aluminum
Extended height: 151cm
Folded height: 42cm
Weight: 2kg
Feet: Angled rubber pads
Leg sections: 4
Max load (legs, head): 6kg, 6kg
Reasons to buy
+Excellent dual-purpose head+Very lightweight build
Reasons to avoid
-Some small design issues-Not as tall as others

With more and more creators working in both photography and videography, it makes sense to pick up a travel tripod that suits both purposes. The Manfrotto Befree 3-Way Live Advanced tripod is very clearly designed with this goal in mind – a lightweight photographer’s travel tripod paired with a three-way video head. 

The fluid head uses a hydraulic damping system to make it easy for the user to make smooth, fluid camera movements. The tripod, meanwhile, provides a good balance between capacity, weight and price. It’ll take 6kg of kit and only weighs 2kg itself. We’ve tested lighter and stronger tripods, but they tended to be more pricey than this one.

It’s not as tall as some of the other tripods on this list, and we did find during testing that sometimes the design interfered with routine operations like changing the camera battery. But for the vast majority of purposes, this is an impressive all-around package, and merits serious consideration for any travelling photographer or videographer. 

(Image credit: Peak Design)

Spectacular for both its design and its folded size, but not cheap!

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber or aluminum alloy
Extended height: 153cm
Folded height: 39cm
Weight: 1.27kg/1.56kg
Feet: Pads (spikes optional extra)
Leg sections: 5
Max load: 9kg
Reasons to buy
+Supremely portable+Ultra-low-profile ball head+Phone mount and bag included
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive carbon fiber version-Not the tallest-Some hex key fiddling

It's the first tripod Peak Design has made, and considering the carbon fiber version we looked at costs more than practically any of its rivals except a Gitzo, it had better be good. There is an aluminium version that's a massive 40% cheaper, however, which has all the same design features but just a little less vibration resistance. A couple of the other tripods here will go higher, but the Peak Design will still go to eye level for an average-height person, and it packs down to just 39cm in length. It's designed to cut out the 'dead volume' between the legs and the column when packed, which means it's not just short when folded but very slim too – you could put this IN your camera bag or cabin bag as well as strap it to the outside. The low-profile ball head is simple but brilliant, there's a phone holder hidden inside the center column and, best of all, this tripod feels seriously rigid.

Read more: Peak Design Travel Tripod review

(Image credit: 3 Legged Thing)

4. 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0 + AirHead Pro Lever kit

Small and mighty, the Leo 2.0 has cool features to match its cool looks

Specifications
Material: Carbon fibre
Extended height: 147cm
Folded height: 35cm
Weight: 1.85kg
Feet: Pads (interchangeable)
Leg sections: 5
Max load (legs, head): 30kg, 30kg
Reasons to buy
+Incredible 30kg payload+Just 35cm long when folded+Detachable monopod/boom
Reasons to avoid
-Lots of leg clamps to tighten

The Leo is no ordinary tripod. It folds down to just 35cm in length, but opens out to offer a maximum height of 146cm and a huge payload capacity of 30kg. It has a detachable monopod leg which can also be used as a microphone or camera boom, a Tri Mount system for adding accessories and an innovative two-section center column. You can buy the legs on their own but we’d recommend getting it as a kit with 3 Legged Thing’s new and improve AirHed Pro Lever ball head. We love (we LOVE) the optional Vanz kit, a set of three replacement feet/legs. You unscrew the regular legs and screw these in to get the toughest, gnarliest table-top mini tripod you've ever seen. The Leo 2 is not the smallest travel tripod you can get, and not the cheapest, but its ratio of folded length to maximum height, combined with its all-round versatility, make it one of the best.

(Image credit: Benro)

5. Benro Rhino FRHN05CVX20

A small tripod that's a lot stiffer than you would expect

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 139.5cm
Folded height: 35cm
Weight: 1.24kg
Feet: Rubber pads
Leg sections: 5
Max load (legs, head): 10kg
Reasons to buy
+Just 35cm long when folded+Good rigidity for size+Clever VX ball head
Reasons to avoid
-5-section legs – setup time-Small pan axis knob

This is the smallest of Benro’s four new Rhino travel tripods, but it’s remarkably stiff for such a compact tripod and Benro’s new VX ball heads and their secondary pan axis just under the camera plate are a triumph. Travel tripods have limitations – a lower working height and longer ‘unfolding’ time, but this goes with the territory and we can’t criticise the Benro for this. The Benro doesn't extend that high, and it soon gets wobbly if you use both center column sections, but with a single column extension or no center column it's as rigid as much bigger tripods.

Read more: Benro Rhino FRHN05CVX20 review

(Image credit: Joby)

6. Joby RangePod Smart

A tripod designed for vloggers and content creators

Specifications
Material: Aluminum
Extended height: 160cm
Folded height: 42,5cm
Weight: 1.69kg
Feet: Rubber pads
Leg sections: 4
Max load (legs, head): 8kg
Reasons to buy
+Includes horizontal / vertical phone clamp+Two sets of spirit levels+Useful extended height for presenting
Reasons to avoid
-Carry bag is a bit cheap and cheerful

For vloggers and content creators, choosing the right tripod can be a real minefield. Unless you're well versed in photography accessories (and even if you are!), the sheer volume of tripods and heads can be overwhelming. Enter Joby, maker of the GorillaPod range, to provide creators with a straightforward solution that ticks all the right boxes. The Joby RangePod Smart is the manufacturer's first full-size tripod, and is a worthy travel offering in its own right. However, this aluminum number is ideal for those who shoot on their phones; it includes a phone clamp with a pair of quarter-inch attachment points to mount your phone horizontally or vertically, so you can quickly switch between regular recording and upright shooting for Instagram or TikTok. With a quick-release Arca-Swiss plate, it's just as adept if you're using a DSLR or mirrorless camera – and its 8kg payload means it can handle chunky lenses no problem. With a maximum 160cm height it's also taller than many travel tripods – making it perfect for presenting to camera at near head height. 

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

7. Manfrotto Element Traveller Big

The Manfrotto is packed with features and very affordable

Specifications
Material: Aluminium
Extended height: 165cm
Folded height: 42cm
Weight: 1.62kg
Feet: Pads + spikes
Leg sections: 5
Max load (legs, head): 8kg, 8kg
Reasons to buy
+Good all-round design+Quick and easy to set up
Reasons to avoid
-No detachable leg for monopod-No head friction damper

Manfrotto’s Element series of travel tripods has something for pretty much everyone. There are big and small sizes to choose from, each featuring aluminium kits in black, grey, red and blue, as well as carbon fibre editions. The ‘big’ aluminium option we've featured here is still fairly compact with a 42cm folded height, yet a strong 8kg load rating. The ‘small’ edition only has a 4kg load rating and no monopod configuration. Despite being fairly inexpensive, the Element Traveller Big certainly isn’t lacking in features, and the lack of a telescopic centre column in the larger edition pays dividends when it comes to rigidity. The ball head has an independent panning lock and two bubble levels, but no friction adjuster. In our tests, this tripod proved rigid and resistant to vibrations; it’s a good performer and easy to use. It's one of the best travel tripods in this price bracket.

(Image credit: Vanguard)

8. Vanguard VEO 3T 235CBP

Super-portable and super-versatile

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 155cm
Folded height: 41cm
Weight: 1.6kg
Feet: Pads
Leg sections: 5
Max load (legs, head): 8kg
Reasons to buy
+Practical max height+Decent load rating+Detachable monopod feature
Reasons to avoid
-Not the shortest when packed

Vanguard states its VEO 3T range "includes everything you’d expect in a high quality travel tripod, with additional features that help anyone get the best result for their video with a camera or smartphone." Beefier models in the range can support an impressive 12kg, but we reckon this 235CBP version with its 8kg load rating is more than up to the job. The lower capacity also results in a more compact 41cm closed length, while carbon construction keeps total weight down to a reasonable 1.6kg. The included head has a removable pan-handle to allow greater control while filming, and a new Arca-compatible quick-release plate can hold a camera or smartphone up to 85mm wide, plus there's even a Bluetooth remote control for IOS or Android.

(Image credit: Gitzo)

9. Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler with ball head

The Gitzo Traveler is beautiful to use, but soooo expensive

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 153cm
Folded height: 42.5cm
Weight: 1.06kg
Feet: Pads
Leg sections: 4
Max load: 10kg
Reasons to buy
+Beautiful operation and finish+Excellent ball head+Light weight
Reasons to avoid
-Fearsomely expensive-You don't even get a bag-Sturdy, but so are cheaper rivals

Gitzo tripods are the Rolls Royces of camera supports, and the Traveler series combines light weight with superb build and design and disarmingly simple operation. The GT1545 Series 1 model has four section legs, but there is a GT1555 version with 5-section legs – it all depends on whether you favour speedy set up (fewer sections) over shorter folded length (more sections). The prices don't look TOO bad until you factor in the cost of the admittedly brilliant Gitzo 82TQD centre ball head. It's an excellent travel tripod, but its price stops the Gitzo from getting to the top of our list, especially since there are a number of equally good tripods that don't have the glamor of the Gitzo brand but are a lot cheaper to buy. But secretly, we all want a Gitzo, right?

(Image credit: 3 Legged Thing)

10. 3 Legged Thing Jay with AirHed Cine

A travel tripod for videographers. It's pricey, but it's the real deal

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 111.2cm
Folded height: 40.5cm
Weight: 1.41kg
Feet: Pads
Leg sections: 5
Max load: 14kg
Reasons to buy
+Levelling base+Compact when folded+Feels sturdy for its size+AirHed Cine head with detachable handle
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

It's not just stills photographers that need travel tripods. The Jay and AirHed Cine are a pretty specialised combination but they do cater for a growing population of series vloggers and one-person filmmakers who don't need a massive professional video tripod, but do nevertheless need a proper, portable support. The 3 Legged Thing Legends Jay has no center column (this is video, not eye-level stills photography), but it does have a levelling base – a huge time-saver for setting up panning shots and keeping the camera level. The AirHed Cine is as compact as the Jay and feels like the perfect partner. It has a firm but controllable fixed drag action and a screw on handle for precise control. The Jay is not too pricey on its own, but if you add the AirHed Cine the price takes a leap. The combination is really compact, though, and just oozes quality.

11. Manfrotto PIXI Evo

This is what table-top tripods look like in the 21st Century!

Specifications
Material: Aluminium
Extended height: 20cm
Folded height: 20.5cm
Weight: 0.267kg
Feet: Flat
Leg sections: 2
Max load (legs, head): 2.5kg, 2.5kg
Reasons to buy
+Small enough for a coat pocket+Two-section legs+Push-button ball head
Reasons to avoid
-Low maximum height

If your experience of old fashioned table-top tripods has been the pain of screw-in legs and wibbly-wobbly camera mounts, welcome to the 21st Century! The PIXI EVO is an advanced version of Manfrotto’s original PIXI model and is just as fast to use – you flip out the legs to use it as a tripod or push them back together to make a camera grip – with a ball head that’s released and locked with a simple push button. What the EVO adds is two-section legs (yes, really) and two leg angles for low-level shooting. You can get an optional smartphone clamp but its ball head fits directly into regular camera tripod sockets, and it can support compact cameras and small DSLRs and mirrorless models. Yes, the maximum height is restricted, but it’s super-fast to set up and you can keep it in a jacket pocket! This, or a mini-tripod like it, is the best travel tripod for those who don't want to carry a full size version.

Best travel tripod: Adonit Photogrip

12. Adonit Photogrip

This combined smartphone grip and mini-tripod is sheer genius

Specifications
Material: PC+ABS
Extended height: N/A
Folded height: N/A
Weight: 0.064kg
Feet: Flat
Leg sections: 1
Max load (legs, head): N/A
Reasons to buy
+Doubles as a smartphone grip+Trouser pocket sized tripod+Integrated Bluetooth remote
Reasons to avoid
-Balance issues with big phones

If you do your travel photography with a smartphone, this is the gadget you need. It’s a spring-loaded grip that opens wide enough to fit even a fat smartphone and clamps around it securely. In the base is a tripod socket for a regular tripod or the tiny pocket tripod included in the kit – you can also use this with the legs folded in as a camera grip. In the top is a Bluetooth shutter button that’s actually built into a tiny remote you can slide out to fire the shutter remotely! You do need to position bigger phones carefully in the clamp to stop the tiny tripod from tipping over, but otherwise this is sheer genius. 

Also read:

Rod Lawton

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.