Best travel tripods 2023: Lightweight, compact yet sturdy models

Woman with one of the best travel tripods while travelling at sunset
(Image credit: Getty)

The best travel tripods are an essential component in many amateur and professional settings because they offer stability while taking landscape and studio images, improve low-light performance, and give you the freedom to capture unusual or abstract angles.

The best travel tripods combine the stability, toughness, adaptability, and versatility of standard tripods with the added need of being lightweight. They can therefore be carried for more extended periods because they fold down to a size that makes them easier to carry. There are some differences in terms of height and maximum payloads, but generally, these days, the improvement in carbon fiber and light aluminum materials has contributed to travel tripods being some of the best tripods out there. 

In this guide, we'll examine the advantages and disadvantages of a variety of tripod types, offer buying tips, and highlight some of the trade-offs you might have to make when choosing a compact, lightweight setup. In the meantime, though, if you're not sure travel tripods are right for you, check out our guide to the best tripods for astrophotography. Or if you want to have a look at the best cameras for astrophotography or the best lenses for astrophotography to get the right kit this festive period to mount on that tripod.


Best travel tripods of 2023

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Peak Design travel tripod in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
One of the better portable options, but watch out for the hefty price tag

Specifications

Best for: Portability
Weight: 2.81 lbs
Leg sections: 5
Maximum payload: 20 lbs
Maximum height: 60 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Very light and portable
+
Bag and phone mount included
+
Fits into cabin bags 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive item
-
Not as tall as other options 

Peak Design provides some excellent, thoughtful and well-designed products designed for photographers on the move, and the Peak Design Travel Tripod is no exception. When we reviewed the Peak Design Travel Tripod, we thought it was excellently designed and came in a very neat little package — we could fit it into our cabin bags and rucksacks as well as strap it to the outside. 

They've even included a phone mount inside the package due to the rise of smartphone photography, but we were a little disappointed by the high cost. However, an aluminum variant is available for almost half this price.


Stock image of the Benro Rhino travel tripod on a white background

(Image credit: Benro)

Benro Rhino FRHN24C+VX25 Head

This choice from Benro is a fantastic addition to your kit, despite the confusing naming policy.

Specifications

Best for: Stiffness when extended
Weight: 3.8 lbs
Leg sections: 4
Maximum payload: 39.6lbs
Maximum height: 66.3 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent height
+
Included monopod
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Longer setup time 
-
Quite pricey

The premium end of Benro's travel lineup is represented by the Rhino series, and with a detachable monopod, an included phone mount, and studied carbon fiber tubes, this is one of the best tripods we've given a closer look at.

The braided material used to construct the carbon tubes increases stiffness, and at normal operating heights, the FRHN24C performs as well as some other non-travel-oriented tripods. This tripod is in a higher price range than some of the others on this list, but it would be a well-designed investment for many travel-oriented photographers.


stock image of the manfrotto befree advanced travel tripod on a white background

(Image credit: Amazon)
Excellent addition to the majority of photographers' toolkits, and it appeals to videographers as well.

Specifications

Best for: Travel filmmakers
Weight: 4.4 lbs
Leg sections: 4
Maximum payload: 13.2 lbs
Maximum height: 59.4 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight unit
+
Nice three-way video head included 
+
Suitable for many photography styles

Reasons to avoid

-
Some design obstruct DSLR operation
-
Maximum height smaller than others

Manfrotto provides an excellent range of tripods well suited to photographers of all disciplines, and we think the Befree 3 Way Advanced Tripod is an excellent all-around option. It's not too expensive but has enough versatility to keep both photographers and filmmakers happy, thanks to its excellent three-way fluid head. To ensure the camera moves smoothly, the three-way head also uses a hydraulic dampening system.

When we reviewed the Manfrotto Befree tripod, we noticed that a couple of design quirks meant that we had to remove the camera from the plate to get to the battery and card doors, but for the minimal financial outlay, this is a travel tripod that's worthy of recommendation.


Stock image of the Gitzo legende travel tripod on a white background

(Image credit: Gitzo)

Gitzo Legende Traveller Tripod Kit

A high-end product that you can take with you wherever you go.

Specifications

Best for: Design and looks
Weight: 3.1 lbs
Leg sections: 4
Maximum payload: 17.6 lbs
Maximum height: 64.9 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Lovely design cues
+
High-quality center ball head
+
Controls have a premium feel 

Reasons to avoid

-
One of the most expensive
-
Many travel tripods do similar for less money 

With the Legende series, Gitzo has taken a premium, aesthetically conscious approach to travel tripods and other camera accessories. We really like the look of the Legende Traveller Tripod Kit, which operates as nicely as it looks, with ultra-smooth knobs, dials and adjustments that have been well-engineered. 

The attention to detail is excellent, with nice little features such as the specially designed matte silver aluminum Center Ball Head and the leather strap adding to the discerning feel. We think this is a pretty good tripod to use if you have the money, but our one complaint is that there are many other tripods on the market and even on this list that can accomplish the same task for a lot less money.


Stock image of the Benro mefoto road trip pro travel tripod on a white background

(Image credit: Benro)

Benro MeFoto Road Trip Pro

Although admittedly not as packed with features as some others, this is a fantastic budget option.

Specifications

Best for: Quality/price compromise
Weight: 3.6 lbs
Leg sections: 5
Maximum payload: 17.6 lbs
Maximum height: 60 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Converts into a monopod
+
Spring-loaded clip secures phones in place
+
Excellent value for money 

Reasons to avoid

-
Aluminum construction
-
Not the lightest
-
Not suitable for heavy kit 

With a carrying capacity of 8 kg, this option from Benro holds less weight and is a more compact and less pro-style setup altogether, but that doesn't mean it can't compete with some of the other travel tripods on the market. It features five leg sections that can raise to 60 inches, which is impressive.

We really enjoyed the tripod's graduated panning scale, which lets you keep the tripod level while panning or photographing panoramas of the landscape. We found the twist locks to work well, but set-up time can be a bit longer if you have to go through and twist or unscrew each one. That being said, we got on with it well, and think it's a hassle-free option that is kinder on the bank balance for hobbyist travel image-makers.


Stock image of the Vanguard VEO 2 235 CB Carbon Fiber travel tripod on a white background

(Image credit: Vanguard)

Vanguard VEO 2 235 CB Carbon Fiber Tripod

One of the most popular and accessible travel tripods out there

Specifications

Best for: Image-making on the move
Weight: 2.6 lbs
Leg sections: 5
Maximum payload: 13.2 lbs
Maximum height: 57 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Very light
+
Vanguard quality impresses
+
Smooth operating ball-head 

Reasons to avoid

-
Can be a bit unstable with center column raised
-
Not the tallest tripod on offer 

The Vanguard VEO 2 is the newest in a long line of reputable and high-quality camera equipment from Vanguard. It is only available as a kit, so there is no need to buy a tripod head separately. We've used the VEO 2 extensively as one of our main tripods for outdoor use, and we like how easy, quick, and smooth it is to put up and operate. It has a quality feel from the carbon-fiber components that belie its relatively affordable cost. 

Weighing only 1.2kg, it does suffer slightly from having a limited maximum load of 6kg. Still, we've found in our use of the tripod that this is more than sufficient to host a full-frame DSLR camera and several prime and zoom lenses suitable for traveling. The three leg angles also make it easy to set up on relatively uneven terrain.


Stock image of the Joby compact travel tripod on a white background

(Image credit: Joby)

Joby Compact Advanced Kit

Out of all the travel tripods we tested, this was one of the cheapest and most versatile

Specifications

Best for: A range of lightweight devices
Weight: 3.2 lbs
Leg sections: 4
Maximum payload: 6.6 lbs
Maximum height: 64.9 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Accommodates multiple devices
+
Uses interchangeable quick release plate
+
Smooth operation  

Reasons to avoid

-
Can feel a little flimsy
-
Maximum payload a little low
-
Doesn't withstand strong weather 

JOBY has a well-known and ever-expanding line of affordable, lightweight, and easy-to-use everyday tripods aimed at beginner and entry-level users looking for something to get started with. Happily, the JOBY Compact Advanced Kit enables you to progress a little beyond a beginner level. With an interchangeable JOBY quick-release plate, a 1/4-inch standard tripod attachment screw, and five leg sections with a lateral tilt of -30 to +90 degrees, it makes getting exciting and unique angles easy.

The maximum payload is minimal, so there's no point attaching a heavy pro kit to it. But for the content creator or photographer looking to make stable visuals, there's no reason not to recommend this option — especially for the money.


stock image of the 3 legged thing punks corey travel tripods on a white background

(Image credit: 3 legged thing)

3 Legged Thing Punks Corey 2.0

Excellent value for money, with the appeal of having detachable legs

Specifications

Best for: Converting to booms or selfie sticks
Weight: 3.92 lbs
Leg sections: 5
Maximum payload: 30 lbs
Maximum height: 57.4 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Value for money
+
Holds a heavy payloads
+
Colorful designs 

Reasons to avoid

-
Maximum height isn't great
-
Looks may divide people
-
Perhaps too basic for pros

3-Legged Thing started as a grassroots business in the UK. Using his photography and lighting expertise, company founder Danny Lenihan developed extremely adaptable, lightweight tripods and other equipment for various uses.

Compact and made out of magnesium alloy, their Punks range is most suited to travel because they're so light. Amazingly, they can still support 30 lbs of weight, which is over 8 times their own weight.

Although we appreciated the tripods' bright colors, bold design, and overall functionality, some seasoned amateurs or experts might be looking for more bells and whistles, such as more intricate head systems.


Best travel tripods: What to look for

Travel tripods are not all created equally, and in this round-up, we’ve highlighted a few of the best options for different types of equipment, cameras and loads that take into account different photographers’ requirements.

With most travel tripods, there's always a balance to be struck, and increased portability frequently comes at the expense of the restricted maximum payloads. More money means a higher maximum load, but if you want to travel with professional-grade cameras and lenses, be prepared to pay more and choose slightly heavier gear.

Most of the budget or ultra-lightweight options also have phone mounts too, which is a useful addition for travelers or content creators that need to take images on the go. With the advance in camera technology when it comes to producing high-grade kit that doesn’t weigh much, most of the mid-range or even budget travel tripods will be

If you’re trekking or want to set up your camera on uneven ground, it’s worth testing out tripods that have multiple leg angles and the ability to adjust quickly. For astrophotography or photography that requires long exposures, look for carbon-fiber tripods that have an extra bit of security and sturdiness to prevent the kit from shaking in poor weather or wind. Personal preference is always important, so we'd always recommend testing out any tripods you're thinking about buying before purchasing to ensure it's the right fit for you. Here are some of our recommendations for the best travel tripods out there at the moment.

How we test the best travel tripods

In order to guarantee you’re getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best travel tripods to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every travel tripod through a rigorous review to fully test each product. Each travel tripod is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions and its performance in the field.

Each travel tripod is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each travel tripod and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use.

We look at how easy each travel tripod is to operate, whether it contains the latest up-to-date material technology, and also make suggestions if a particular travel tripod would benefit from any additional equipment to give you the best user experience possible.

With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on travel tripods, whether you should purchase a travel tripod or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.

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Jacob Little

Jacob Little is a photographer, writer and communications professional based in Bristol and Cornwall. His main inspirations come from outdoor adventure, travel, rural living and wild ways and crafts. Passionate about weaving the core principles of storytelling into his images, he approaches brand and copywriting work in much the same way. Conveying a compelling narrative is one of the main drivers behind much of his work.