Best lightweight tripods for travel 2019: compact tripods ideal for holidays

Compact and lightweight tripods that can squeeze into a backpack or suitcase

Best lightweight tripods for travel
(Image credit: Getty)

You may think that travel photography is all about location, composition, and what kind of camera you have, but it’s as much about staying perfectly still when you take that shot. Preventing camera shake (and the consequent blur) is everything in travel photography, and that goes double if you're planning to get creative and experiment with time-lapse photography, astro-photography, landscape shots, or anything else that requires long or repeated exposures. Cue the best travel tripod. 

Even if you’re going on holiday armed only with a smartphone, you'd be surprised how much extra quality and creativeness you can achieve with a little stability. For that reason, we've included in our list options for keeping smartphone steady as well as custom-made travel tripods for DSLR, mirrorless, and compact cameras.

However, once you’ve decided what kind of optical equipment you want to use while travelling, there are still many things to consider before you make that tripod purchase. So what should you look for?

Check out our guide below on how to choose the best lightweight tripod for travel.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TRAVEL TRIPOD

The travel tripod market is split to serve the kind of device you’re using, of course. For phones, it's largely a commodity market, because the tripod and the clamp that keeps your phone in place don't have to bear much weight. Consequently, these types of tripods can cost just a few quid and are easy to travel with.

Lightweight designs are what the rest of the market aims for, with tripods designed for DSLR and mirrorless cameras much larger, but often manufactured from very lightweight materials. Consequently, they can be expensive. In fact, at the top end of the market, just shaving a few grams of the weight usually explains the high price. 

Happily, in-between cheap smartphone designs and expensive top-end configurations for expensive cameras, there are a fleet of smaller, tougher travel tripods that are good for all kinds of equipment and scenarios. Amazon is usually the best place to head for travel tripods, as you can get hold of highly rated products for sometimes a fraction of the high street price. 

With that in mind, take a look at the best travel tripods below.

THESE ARE THE 5 BEST LIGHTWEIGHT TRAVEL TRIPODS

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Vanguard VEO 235AB

Great all-rounder, but lacks ultimate height

Specifications
Material: aluminium
Extended height: 147cm
Folded height: 38cm
Weight: 1.5kg
Max load: 9kg
Reasons to buy
+Easy to travel with+Quick to set-up
Reasons to avoid
-Lacks height

If you're after a reasonably heavy duty tripod for a DSLR or mirrorless camera using large lenses, look no further than this relatively lightweight tripod from Vanguard. This is a brand that tends to use aluminium, or for even more money, carbon fibre, but it usually stops short of providing full-length tripods. This design, weighing about 1.5 kg, is just 38 cm when folded, but reaches only 147 cm when it’s fully extended. So it's probably not the best choice if you’re a six-footer, though for most photographers it will provide more than enough height. The twist-and-lock legs are easy to extend and pack-up while moving, and the ball-head offers plenty of movement.

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Manfrotto MKBFRTA4BK-BH Befree Advanced

A tallboy tripod great for all kinds of landscape photography

Specifications
Material: aluminium
Extended height: 150cm
Folded height: 40cm
Weight: 1.5kg
Max load: 8kg
Reasons to buy
+Excellent build quality+Serious support for a DSLR
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively large

This Italian-made tripod is clearly aimed at semi-pro landscape and astrophotographers who need to travel. With ‘M-lock’ lever legs rather than twist-legs and a ball head, this aluminium-crafted travel tripod has three four-section legs and a tough central column. Those legs unfurl easily enough, and lock into place, and each leg can pan through 180°. In fact, the legs actually go backwards on themselves, reducing the footprint for packing it in a suitcase. It weighs 1.5kg, and has a quick-release ball-head, though it takes some time getting to know it, so practice before you head outside in the dark. It’s a bit of a specialist tripod, but it’s worth its weight.

(Image credit: Amazon)

3. XSories Deluxe

Small, affordable, and just good enough for any small camera or phone

Specifications
Material: plastic
Height: 18cm
Weight: 65g
Max load: 275g
Reasons to buy
+Easy to travel with+Very affordable
Reasons to avoid
-Plastic ball head

Here’s a great example of the kind of commodity tripod that dominates the market, and yet this particular one is exceptionally good at what he does. Firstly, it weighs almost nothing, clocking in at just 65g. It's also very slim, so can easily fit into a trouser pocket or jacket pocket. On top is a small ball head for flexibility, and a standard quarter-inch tripod thread that attaches to any compact camera, or any cheap smartphone clamp that can be had for a few quid. In practice, it's halfway between a bendy, Joby-style tripod and a rigid design. Although it can be used as a standard straight-legged tripod, there is easily enough give in the legs to wrap round something, such as a fence post or a tree branch. Don't bet on putting too much weight on the XSories Deluxe, but if you have a small camera, or phone (and a separate screw-on clamp), it does the job very nicely.

(Image credit: Amazon)

4. MeFoto RoadTrip Air

Tall yet small, this compact tripod is ideal for mirrorless and DSLR cameras

Specifications
Material: aluminium
Extended height: 156cm
Folded height: 28cm
Weight: 1.1kg
Max load: 6kg
Reasons to buy
+Versatile+Lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Selfie stick feature

Reasonably large tripods are all about design, specifically how long the leg sections are when completely unfurled, and how small they are when packed up and ready to be put in a suitcase. The MeFoto RoadTrip Air is clever on all counts, reaching loftier heights than most travel tripods manage while being exceptionally small when packed away. It does all this by having an extra section in each leg, five parts rather than the standard four parts, though that doesn't add any instability. Weighing just over a kilo, the MeFoto RoadTrip Air attempts to go for another market altogether by suggesting that the central column and the included smartphone clamp (and Bluetooth remote) can be used as a selfie stick. Clever stuff, but that’s probably a different market.

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Manfrotto PIXI Evo

Pocket-sized yet tough enough to support almost anything

Specifications
Material: aluminium
Height: 20cm
Weight: 260g
Max load: 2.5kg
Reasons to buy
+Solid build+Includes smartphone clamp or GoPro module
Reasons to avoid
-Angle of elevation is limited

There are few travel tripods around that can support absolutely any kind of camera. The core tripod is small, pocket-sized, and weighs just 260g. It has a standard quarter-inch thread adapter, so can be used natively with any DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera. It also comes in two separately available configurations; one with a smartphone clamp fitted on the top, and one with a GoPro/action camera-compatible module. However you decide to use it, rest assured that it’s easily strong enough to cope with anything. It's also very easy to position. Pressing one button loosens the ball head, so you can find your exact position, while releasing the button locks it in place. Clever stuff, but although the camera can tilt to a full 90°, the angle of elevation is limited; you can’t shoot anything above you, for example.

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