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Best Overall: Manfrotto Element Traveller Tripod at Amazon
"Allows versatile positioning on any surface, even when the ground is off balance."
Best Value: AmazonBasics Pistol Grip Tripod at Amazon
"Delivers on features and performance without having to feel like it’s a heavy investment."
Best for Compact and Mirrorless Cameras: Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit at Amazon
"Has a max weight capacity of 2.2 pounds."
Best for Portability: Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod at Amazon
"Makes aligning straight shots on uneven surfaces simple."
Best for Professionals: Peak Design Travel Tripod at Peak Design
"Delivers high-end stability and a powerful load capacity."
Best for Versatility: 3 Legged Thing Leo at Amazon
"Can be configured to run in a variety of different set-ups."
Best Splurge: Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Kit at Amazon
"A worthy investment for the serious travel photographer."
Best for Smartphones: Mefoto RoadTrip Air Tripod at Amazon
"Comes with a smartphone mount, and can used as a monopod or a selfie stick."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Manfrotto Element Traveller Tripod
Made of sturdy aluminum alloy, the Element Traveller Tripod (Large) from Manfrotto provides up to 64.5 inches of reliable support, resting on three legs that can be angled to allow versatile positioning on any surface, even when the ground is off balance. Leg adjustment is a breeze, thanks to the twist-lock mechanisms, and comes with an integrated lightweight monopod — just remove the tripod leg with the padded leg-warmer and attach it to the center column. It’s rated to support kits up to 17.6 pounds, ample for most mirrorless and DSLR cameras, and is mounted on a smooth-gliding aluminum ball head that swivels on a 360-degree axis so you can intuitively position your shot and lock your camera in place. The ball head mounts to a standard Arce-type quick-release plate with a standard quarter-inch camera screw that’ll secure your camera, even while using a massive telephoto lens. But if your preferred lens is really big, the tripod has a spring-loaded hook at the bottom of the center column to provide additional stability, and an integrated bubble level helps assure your positioning is on point. All this in a travel-friendly pack of only 16 inches high, with a modest weight of only 3.5 pounds.
Best Value: AmazonBasics Pistol Grip Tripod
At a modest price tag, you get a full-sized tripod that delivers on features and performance without having to feel like it’s a heavy investment. It provides a max height of 72.6 inches and collapses into a relatively travel-friendly 34.4 inches — with a carrying case included. But the pistol grip may be the tripod’s best feature. It's mounted on a smooth-rotating ball hinge — pull the trigger and it moves freely, even up to 90-degree angles. Release the trigger and it locks into place, supporting kits that weigh up to 11 pounds. The mounting plate comes with a quick-release to make it easy for on-the-fly adjustments, and a built-in level will assure your shots are properly aligned, with two locks per leg to account for uneven terrain. Rubber feet boost stability and grip and also come with retractable metal spikes to anchor the tripod — a godsend for shooting on sand, dirt, or loose soil. Note that it does weigh a bit heavier than other full-service tripods at 7.7 pounds.
Best for Compact and Mirrorless Cameras: Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit
The Joby GorillaPod looks like a traditional tripod mated with a three-legged octopus. Rather than employing fixed legs, they’re each constructed of rotating balls that allow you to wrap them around things — a fence post, a tree branch, the railing on a deck, which drastically amplifies your set-up options beyond propping the tripod on a flat surface. The 1K Kit is ideal for higher-end compact and mirrorless cameras, with a max weight capacity of 2.2 pounds and a removable min-ball head to affix to your camera’s tripod mount. If your travel photography ambitions include frames at eye level, however, you might find the modest max height less than ideal. But the flexible legs make it easy to get stable low-angle shots, and they can be centered and gripped with confidence, making it a go-to selfie system when needed. Joby also makes bigger ones for heavier set-ups.
Best for Portability: Manfrotto PIXI Mini Tripod
The sleek, PIXI Evo from Manfrotto features three legs that can easily be extended by the push of a button, making aligning straight shots on uneven surfaces simple while also adding a bit more height, which maxes out at 7.68 inches. Those legs also flay out to provide low-angle shots, and you can also fold them up and use the tripod in “grip” mode. These legs grow into the main knob, which pivots 360 degrees and locks into place with the push of a button, while the mountain plate stands on another ball, which rotates freely so you can easily frame your shot in landscape or portrait mode. Naturally, it packs down into a small, travel-friendly size, and weighs only 9.4 ounces, rated to handle camera set-ups up to 5.51 pounds — enough for mirrorless cameras with a variety of lenses. Bonus: it comes in three playful colors, including black, white, and gray with orange/red accents.
Best for Professionals: Peak Design Travel Tripod
The result of four years of research, this Peak Design tripod sets itself apart from the competition in almost every way. The pro-level device folds down to the diameter of a water bottle, yet delivers high-end stability and a load capacity that can accommodate the heaviest of camera/lens set-ups. The legs deploy without having to flip over the tripod and allow for rapid-fire set-up and takedown, with a secure, fast, and ergonomic camera quick release. The ball head moves smoothly in any direction, with a single adjustment ring rather than your typical, bulky knob configuration, and is compatible with all PD plates. The legs also spread out so you can position your camera inches off the ground, and it can be reconfigured to hang the camera facing straight down — great for macro shots. Though the tripod comes with a hefty price tag, a lifetime guarantee should provide some reassurance.
Best for Versatility: 3 Legged Thing Leo
The 3 Legged Thing's Leo won the Lucie Technical Award in 2017, which honors the year's photo-related innovations, and it’s easy to see why. Dubbed a “pro-level micro-traveler” tripod, it boasts a load-to-weight ratio of 21:1 and supports kits of up to 66 pounds. Its max height measures in at 51.5 inches, dropping to a minimum of 4.75 inches, with five parallel locking systems on each leg, so it’s easy to adjust the tripod to stay level on any surface. You can also detach one leg to serve as a monopod or as a camera or microphone boom. Yet unlike most other travel tripods, the Leo can be configured to run in a variety of different set-ups, with multiple mounting points integrated throughout, so you can use it to hold your camera, a light, a mic, or a playback monitor at the same time. The only thing it doesn’t come with is a mounting head, but 3 Legged Thing also makes one — specifically the AirHed Switch, which comes with an Arca Swiss-compatible release plate and can be bought as a combo package if you don’t already have your own. The company also offers a variety of different leg attachments to max out stability in different environments.
Best Splurge: Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Kit
Although it's easily one of the most expensive full-service tripods on the market, the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 is a worthy investment for the serious travel photographer. Made of ultra-light and ultra-durable carbon fiber, it features three, five-section legs with a 180-degree folding system that collapses the device into a tight, 14-inch package that can be stored in your day pack or carried on the included travel shoulder strap. And though it only weighs 3.13 pounds, its payload is a robust 22.05 pounds. Its max height measures in at 51.77 inches, with a minimum of just less than 12 inches. The standard mounting plate is supported by a high-end center ball head that glides effortlessly and locks into place at a variety of angles. Plus, a bubble level helps orient you against the horizon.
Best for Smartphones: Mefoto RoadTrip Air Tripod
Dropping more than $100 on a tripod for your smartphone may feel like an indulgence, but it’s a worthy splurge that'll assure you’re producing the best possible images and video. It’s also helpful to note that the RoadTrip Air from Mefoto is more than merely a tripod. Mind you, it works as a full-service travel tripod, with a max height of 61 inches and a minimum height of 11.4 inches, and weighs only 2.5 pounds. Its three legs extend by twisting them counter-clockwise and then pulling out the five-section telescoping legs to the desired length. Just twist clockwise to lock them in place. And naturally, the Arca-Swiss mounting plate accommodates most rigs, including mirrorless cameras and DSLR and action cameras up to 13.2 pounds. The RoadTrip Air also comes with a smartphone mount, and the center column can be retracted to be used as a monopod or a selfie stick, with an integrated Bluetooth remote to maximize your control.
Before making their final recommendations, our writers considered 10 different travel tripods overall, screened options from 9 different brands and manufacturers, read over 20 user reviews (both positive and negative), and tested 2 of the tripods themselves. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.