The best travel tripod is lightweight, compact, and keeps your camera steady no matter the terrain. Through my research, I found the Benro MeFOTO Roadtrip Pro to be the sturdiest solution to lower shutter speeds, use smaller apertures, and shoot at base ISO levels for sharp images at proper exposures.
- What to Know About Travel Tripods
- Why You Should Trust Me
- Who Needs a Travel Tripod
- How I Picked
- My Pick – Benro MeFOTO Roadtrip Pro
- Other Great Options
- Frequently Asked Questions
What to Know About Travel Tripods
- Lightweight: With a focus on materials, travel tripods shouldn’t weigh you down during trips or excursions.
- Compact: Unique design reduces a travel tripod’s size to fit in a backpack, bag, or suitcase.
- Sturdy: A good tripod is sturdy wherever you place it and should remain immovable even in windy conditions.
The Benro meFOTO Roadtrip Pro is the perfect marriage of portability, stability, and versatility among the travel tripods researched. While traveling, versatility is a sought-after feature for photographers and the Roadtrip Pro excels in this category. Capturing professional photos with a DSLR followed by a quick Instagram story with a phone becomes possible thanks to the tripod’s quick-release plate phone holder. Combine that with a built-in table tripod and conversions to a monopod or selfie stick and it’s no surprise this travel tripod takes home the crown.
Why You Should Trust Me
I’ve traveled all over the world with photography equipment, including a travel tripod, for the past several years. As a gear acquisition syndrome sufferer, tripods have been on heavy rotation. Let my back pain and exhaustion serve as qualifications to write this article. I’ve also got a fantastic guide for choosing a tripod for landscape photography if you’re interested in reading that instead.
Who Needs a Travel Tripod
Travel tripods are for anyone seeking to take better photographs while away from home. The camera used becomes irrelevant if it doesn’t remain steady when the shutter triggers. Don’t sacrifice a good photograph compensating for camera shake and motion blur when a good travel tripod is an “add-to-cart” away.
Camera in-body image stabilization and lens optical image stabilization technologies have significantly improved over the years. But they aren’t a replacement for a tripod in many situations.
Long-exposure photography: The IBIS and OIS technologies become obsolete when your shutter speed is more than about a second. Long-exposure photographs often require a couple seconds to several minutes to capture. Even the steadiest of hands won't get the desired results at these lengths, so a tripod is a necessity.
Bracketed exposures or HDR photography: One of my favorite techniques involves capturing multiple exposures of a scene and blending them in Photoshop. For interesting cityscapes, this sometimes means taking one exposure at sunset and waiting minutes until city lights turn on to take the second exposure. During this waiting time, it's essential that my camera doesn't change positions. By using a tripod, I know my camera is locked in place and my exposures will be aligned.
Panoramas: As with bracketed exposures, having your camera stationary for panoramas is crucial to produce great results. Your images won't stitch properly if you don't include enough overlap between exposures. Having a tripod allows you to effortlessly pan the camera while level. Most tripods even have graduated panning scales labeled to make capturing panoramas even simpler.
Selfies or Group Shots: Another benefit of having a tripod is being able to easily capture scenes with ourselves in them. Photographers often prefer being behind the camera, but sometimes we want to step into the frame—alone or with friends and family. Mounting a camera on a tripod allows us to compose a shot and use a timer or remote trigger to get in it.
How I Picked
During my research, I considered several important features. The best travel tripods were compared using the following criteria:
- Folded size: To fit in luggage for international and domestic travel, it’s recommended for a tripod to have a folded length of 26.5 inches or less. I’ve opted to set the bar even shorter for travel tripods since portability is key.
- Max height: You want a tripod to reach its maximum height without sacrificing stability. For portability, travel tripods typically have a reduced maximum height compared to regular tripods.
- Weight: It’s difficult to focus on taking great photographs when your back and arms are sore from lugging a tripod around. Therefore, the lighter the travel tripod the better, as long as it doesn’t sway or buckle under the weight of your camera and lens.
- Versatility: Tripod companies constantly look to innovate by adding useful features for photographers in the field. A good travel tripod has extra features to benefit users regardless of where or what they are shooting.
- Stability: A tripod is only useful if it keeps your camera stable. With varied terrain, you want to rest assured your tripod will stay put wherever the legs may stand.
- Build Quality and Materials: Nobody wants to replace their equipment on a regular basis. Travel tripods should withstand frequent travel and harsh weather conditions without breaking or becoming damaged.
My Pick – Benro MeFOTO Roadtrip Pro
The Benro MeFOTO Roadtrip Pro has a folded size of 15.4 inches. It wasn’t the shortest of the travel tripods researched—that went to the Benro Slim Travel Kit—but it was near the top of the list. At this folded size, you should have no trouble fitting it in your luggage or attaching it to the straps of a camera backpack.
The maximum height of the Roadtrip Pro is 61.6” or just over 5 feet tall. There are taller travel tripod options, but they often have longer folded sizes, so there are sacrifices. Max heights become important when shooting over walls or ledges for cityscapes. If you are a cityscape photographer, place importance on this specific feature when doing your own research.
Thanks to its carbon fiber design, the Benro MeFOTO Roadtrip Pro is 3.6 lbs.—lightweight enough to carry without tiring quick. As I’ll touch on in the next section, there are a few added features to this tripod system that make it a little heavier than other options.
If you carry tons of other photo equipment and want an even lighter tripod, the Peak Design Travel Tripod in Carbon Fiber is only about 2.8 lbs.
Versatility is where this MeFOTO travel tripod shines and a major reason why I selected it as the best travel tripod in 2022. It’s a 6-in-1 system: tripod, monopod, boom pole, selfie stick, high hat, and tabletop tripod. I appreciate having these options available, even if they aren’t needed on every trip.
The tripod supports camera setups up to 17.6 lbs, enough for a DSLR or mirrorless camera with a zoom lens attached. For extra stability, the anti-rotating legs have removable feet with adapter studs and a built-in straight screwdriver for adjustments. This helps if you’re using on terrain where you need to dig the legs into the ground.
Unless hidden, Benro omitted a hook on the center column to hang weights or a bag from. This is likely because of the conversion options that center around the column.
Build Quality and Materials
The MeFoto Roadtrip Pro comes in aluminum or carbon fiber options. While pricier, I recommend the carbon fiber tripod to reduce the overall weight. With weather and dust resistance, durable metal twist locks on the legs, and padded rubber grips, the build quality is solid and well thought-out.
Other Great Options
If you’re looking for more best travel tripods to buy, here are a few other recommendations for you to do research on:
- Peak Design Travel Tripod
- 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0
- Manfrotto Element MII
- SIRUI Travel 5C Tripod
- Manfrotto Befree Advanced
Frequently Asked Questions
Are travel tripods worth it?
Travel tripods are worth it if you’re serious about capturing the best images with a portable setup. For candid shots of your vacation, it isn’t a necessity. But for those looking to take photographs that impress, a tripod will steady your camera to lower shutter speeds, use smaller apertures, and shoot with base ISO levels.
What is the strongest yet lightest tripod material?
The strongest yet lightest tripod material is carbon fiber. Most travel tripods are made using carbon fiber because of its durability, strength and minimal weight. Aluminum tripods are cheaper, but typically heavier.
Can I bring a tripod as a carry on?
The United States Transportation Security Administration (TSA) permits tripods and monopods for photography as carry on items. However, some international airlines require you to check them with your larger luggage.
How much should a backpacking tripod weigh?
A backpacking tripod should weigh as little as possible without sacrificing durability and stability. The most popular travel tripods weigh between 2.7 lbs. and 4.54 lbs.