10 Best Lightweight Travel Tripods for Backpacking and Hiking

We’ve been working as travel bloggers for five years now, taking images around the world. A lightweight travel tripod is crucial to what we do, and we couldn’t imagine leaving for a trip without one.

We also reside in the Canadian Rockies and hike quite a bit. No one wants a heavy tripod to lug up a mountain, so we are frequently looking for the best lightweight tripods for hiking on the market.

Whether it’s on the plains of Africa or on top of a mountain summit, our lightweight travel tripod joins us everywhere.

Any photographer knows that a tripod is a staple photography item. They should be on everyones photography list. However, there are so many things to consider when picking out the lightest tripod, including budget, weight, and size. Fear not – we’re breaking down the best lightweight travel tripods for travel, backpacking, and hiking in this article.


Do I Really Need a Travel Tripod?


A lightweight tripod helped us get this shot

No. Not everyone needs a lightweight tripod or a tripod at all while they are traveling or outside. However, if you often shoot in low light situations (sunrise, sunset, night), then a lightweight and collapsible tripod will come in handy. It’s pretty much impossible to get a proper starry sky photo without at least a small travel tripod.

If you are traveling alone, or as a couple and want photos together a compact travel tripod is crucial. Sure you could ask someone to take your photo, but that never works out well. The ability to frame and set up your own photograph with you in it cannot be beaten.


Why Should You Consider a Lightweight Travel Tripod?


The Peak Designs tripod helped us get this shot

For the same reasons I mentioned above. Do you want to take your photography more seriously? Do you want to shoot starscapes? Maybe you want to shoot your own self-portraits if you are traveling, or stage a couples shot when no one is looking.

Does it have to be a lightweight travel tripod? No. But speaking from personal experience your travels will run smoother the less weight you carry. After just 15 minutes of walking a heavy tripod can really start to take a toll on your shoulder. As soon as we made the switch to a lightweight compact travel tripod I knew I would never return to a normal cheap tripod again.


Key Features of the Best Lightweight Travel Tripod


Material

Aluminum and carbon fiber are the typical material of choice for a travel tripod. Both are sturdy and strong, although the carbon fiber models will be even more lightweight. Carbon fiber tripods are also more expensive, so if you need something budget-friendly or plan on taking lots of photos in windy conditions and prefer a heavier tripod, then aluminum is the way to go.

Size

Measure your backpack or suitcase, then measure it again before you make a final purchase. Obviously, the smaller the tripod is once folded, the easier it is to carry from one place to another. However, sometimes the smaller tripods won’t give you the same sturdiness or height as other models, so it’s up to you to determine what your middle ground is. Make sure to pay attention to the maximum load limits listed here.

Weight

While you don’t want something so heavy it will hurt your shoulders after ten minutes of walking, you also don’t want something that’s so light it will be blown over by a breath of wind. Typically, the lighter the tripod, the more expensive it is, which is another factor to consider in your purchase choice. 

Strength and Durability

Pay attention to the load capacity of a travel tripod to make sure your camera rig will be supported and to get an idea of how sturdy it is in the field. For outdoor photography, you can also opt for a tripod with optional spikes on the feet to give you better grip in uneven and loose terrain. 

Leg Design

The best travel tripods usually either have either twist locks or lever locks. Both function well, and it comes down to personal preference for which design to choose. The benefit to lever locks is you can quickly see whether the legs are secure, while twist locks give a tripod a sleeker appearance. 

Sections

More sections usually mean more options in terms of height and setup, but fewer sections usually equate to a sturdier travel tripod. Again, it’s all about finding balance to get a clean shot while having the option for the adjustments you want to make. 


The Best Lightweight Travel Tripods – Quick Answer


1. Best Designed Carbon Fiber Tripod – Peak Designs Travel Tripod (Overall Winner)
2. Best Designed Aluminum Tripod – Peak Designs (Overall Winner)
3. Best Budget Tripod – Oben CT-3535 Folding Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod
4. Best Occassional Useer Tripod – Joby Gorillapod
5. Best Professional Tripod – Gitzo GIGT1545T Series 1 Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Best Lightweight Travel Tripods Guide Table


Lightweight TripodSpecsPrice
Peak Designs Travel Tripod
Build: Carbon Fiber (also an Aluminum option)
Tripod Weight: 2.81 lbs
Maximum Load: 20 lbs
Price: Check Here
(Check for Aluminum Also)
Manfrotto BeFree Live Aluminum
Build: Aluminum
Tripod Weight: 3.86 lb
Maximum Load: 8.8 lbs
Price: Check Here
Sirui Aluminum Travel Tripod
Build: Aluminum
Tripod Weight: 3.86 lb
Maximum Load: 8.8 lbs
Price: Check Here
Gitzo GIGT1545T Traveler Series 1
Build: Aluminum
Tripod Weight: 4.4 lb
Maximum Load: 33 lb
Price: Check Here
MeFOTO BackPacker S Travel Tripod
Build: Carbon Fiber
Tripod Weight: 2.2 lb
Maximum Load: 13.2 lb
Price: Check Here
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100
Build: Aluminum Alloy,
Tripod Weight: 5.4 lb
Maximum Load: 15.4 lb 
Price: Check Here
3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0 Tripod
Build: Carbon Fiber
Tripod Weight: 4.1 lb
Maximum Load: 66 lb
Price: Check Here
Oben CT-3535 Folding Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod
Build: Carbon Fiber
Tripod Weight: 2.5 lb
Maximum Load: 9 lb
Price: Check Here
Joby GorillaPod
Build: Plastic
Tripod Weight: 1.55 lbs
Maximum Load: 6.6 lb
Price: Check Here

The Best Lightweight Tripods (for Travel and Hiking)


Peak Designs Travel Tripod


Peak Designs Travel Tripod
  • Build: Carbon Fiber (also an Aluminum option)
  • Tripod Weight: 2.81 lbs
  • Maximum Load: 20 lbs
  • Extended Height: 60”
  • Folded Length: 15.5”
  • Ballhead and locking rings: Included
  • Includes: soft case, mobile mount, and bushing removal tool
  • Price: Check Here

After years of waiting, we finally got our hands on the coveted Peak Designs travel tripod. This baby is taking the tripod world by storm. Why? Because of it’s innovative and lightweight design making it perfect for traveling and packing up small. It’s definitely the best carbon fiber tripod for travel out there.

What makes this lightweight tripod so great? It’s compact and folds up incredibly small, lightweight at only 3.44 lbs, has amazing stability, and can fully deploy in under 10 seconds so you never had to worry about missing a shot. I also love that it’s mobile-ready, and has a special device to hold your cell phone on it, just in case you would rather take a phone photo! At $600 it’s definitely not cheap, they also have a cheaper aluminum model for those on a budget. Because of the size and how small it folds up the Peak Designs tripod is the best hiking tripod on this list and also the best lightweight tripod for backpacking.


Manfrotto BeFree Live Aluminum Travel Tripod


  • Build: Aluminum
  • Tripod Weight: 3.86 lb
  • Maximum Load: 8.8 lbs
  • Extended Height: 59.5″
  • Folded Length: 15.75″
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Carrying Bag and Allen Key
  • Price: Check Here

Photography and shooting videos while on the road just got a bit easier thanks to the Manfrotto Befree Tripod. Folded, the Befree is just under 16 inches in length, and a little less than four pounds. While it’s not as lightweight as some carbon tripods, it also doesn’t pack the same price punch. 

You can quickly set up your photoshoot thanks to the lever-style leg locks. There are also three separate leg positions, so you can get the angle and height of the photos exactly right. 

When the center column is extended, the tripod allows for a height range between 16 and 59.5 inches. The tripod supports up to 8.8 pounds, so it’s definitely not suitable for heavier rigs. You can easily get the camera on and off the tripod thanks to the Manfrotto 501PL sliding quick release plate. 

To help with finding the right angle, there are separate pan and tilt locks, as well as a bubble level, so you can adjust for uneven terrain. Tilt adjustment can be made between -90 to +65 degrees, and pan offers 360 degrees of movement. 

Since the legs are a bit small when fully extended, the Manfrotto Befree is better suited for indoor work or low impact outdoor work. For hardcore adventurers who need something that can withstand a bit of rough and tumble action, this travel tripod might not hold up so well in the long run. 

Pros
  • Small folded size 
  • Separate pan and tilt locks
  • Lightweight for travel
Cons
  • Small legs 
  • Small load capacity
  • Weak tightening system for central rod

Sirui Aluminum Travel Tripod


  • Build: Aluminum
  • Tripod Weight: 4.4 lb
  • Maximum Load: 33 lb
  • Extended Height: 56.2″
  • Folded Length: 15.7″
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Padded Tripod Case, Stainless-Steel Spikes
  • Price: Check Here

Built for travelers and outdoor photographers, the Sirui is a lightweight travel tripod solution to all your photography needs while on the road. 

When packed, the small tripod is 15.7 inches and weighs just 4.4 pounds, making it much easier to transport than many tripod options. Plus, it can support cameras up to 33 pounds, so even bulkier camera setups can be accommodated. 

The Sirui uses a 4-section support system, each with a twist-lock leg setup to help maximize your stability while still providing a range of motion. 

The independent leg spread extends your mobility even further. At the lowest point with the legs splayed out, you’ll have a minimum height of 5.5 inches, making this tripod a great option if you want to do low-angle photography. 

Although the Sirui is sturdy and good for outdoor work, it’s not weatherproof. If you want waterproof legs for wet conditions, you’ll have to purchase them separately. 

To help accommodate for all types of terrain, the Sirui has removable rubber feet that can be replaced with spikes to give more security to your set up. There’s also a hook included for you to hang a gear bag to provide stability with the added weight. 

Pros
  • Hook to hang bag for added weight 
  • Supports a lot of weight 
  • Independent leg spread
Cons
  • A bit short 
  • Not weatherproof 

Gitzo GIGT1545T Traveler Series 1 Carbon Fiber Tripod


  • Build: Carbon Fiber
  • Tripod Weight: 2.34 lb
  • Maximum Load: 22 lb
  • Extended Height: 60.2″
  • Folded Length: 16.7″
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Short Column, Shoulder Strap
  • Price: Check Here

This sturdy and versatile lightweight camera tripod is the perfect size to fit in your suitcase, but will still hold up fine to all your outdoor photography needs. 

Once packed, the Gitzo Traveler is 16.7 inches, and a shoulder strap is included for easier transportation. The legs of the tripod reverse-fold around the center column to achieve the compact size. 

Gitzo don’t compromise when it comes to strength and stability, either. The tripod is made from Carbon eXact tubing, which provides a sturdier structure than other tripod models that employ Carbon 6X tubes. The carbon fiber design also means that this tripod is just 2.34 pounds! One of the lightest travel tripods on this list!

You can safely mount up to 22 pounds of gear on the tripod, so even heavier setups are supported. However, the feet of the tripod are of a different thread size than other Gitzo models, which makes it difficult to find foot replacements for various terrain conditions. 

The biggest downside to the Gitzo traveler is the price; this tripod will certainly take a chunk out of your wallet, but you can expect high-quality and long-lasting performance. 

Pros
  • Very stable 
  • Carbon eXact tubing
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Poor foot design 

MeFOTO BackPacker S Travel Tripod


  • Build: Carbon Fiber
  • Tripod Weight: 2.2 lb
  • Maximum Load: 13.2 lb
  • Extended Height: 54.7″
  • Folded Length: 13.19″
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Ball Head with QR Plate
  • Price: Check Here

If you’re looking for a lightweight travel tripod but are on a tight budget, then the MeFOTO BackPacker might be the solution for you! 

This carbon fiber tripod is just 2.2 pounds, making it easy to pack and carry around wherever your travels take you. Once folded up, the tripod is just 13.2 inches long and can easily fit into many backpacks, suitcases, or equipment bags. 

The downside is that because the MeFOTO is super lightweight, it doesn’t hold up so well to windy conditions. You’ll have to be careful on breezy days and learn how to accommodate the slight flex of the tripod to obtain your photos. If you’re into star trail astrophotography you wouldn’t want to leave this out for hours on end unattended.

Even though it’s not quite suitable for windy conditions, the MeFOTO BackPacker is still sturdy, thanks to the twist locks and 5-section support. It has a load capacity of 13.2 pounds and a height range between 13.2 and 54.7 inches. 

The two-section center column and five-section legs also give you great mobility and positioning ability so you can get your perfect shot from any vantage point. 

Pros
  • Budget-friendly 
  • Lightweight 
  • Reverse fold legs 
Cons
  • Not good for wind 
  • Low weight load

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100


  • Build: Aluminum Alloy,
  • Tripod Weight: 5.4 lb
  • Maximum Load: 15.4 lb 
  • Extended Height: 68.1″
  • Folded Length: 28.1″
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Vanguard QS-39 Quick Release Plate, Tripod Bag
  • Price: Check Here

A bit bigger and heavier than the other options on this list, the Vanguard Alta Pro also happens to be one of the most budget-friendly, high-quality travel tripods. You can’t expect the same performance level as the superior carbon fiber tripods, but the aluminum Vanguard will still get the job done. 

Once folded, the tripod measures 28.1 inches and weighs 15.4 pounds. Its size and weight make it a bit difficult to fit into some suitcases or travel bags, but thankfully, a carry bag is included to help make transportation easier. 

The Vanguard can support up to 15.4 pounds, and thanks to the center column, you’ll have a full 360-degrees of independent rotation to capture all your shots. You can lock the legs at 25, 50, or 80-degree angles to allow for more range of motion. 

Each leg also has three sections and flip locks to allow for easy setup. The legs can be independently spread to help accommodate various terrain; they each have a foam cover, which also has twist-out spikes to help keep the tripod stable on soft ground. 

The Vanguard has a magnesium-alloy ball head and is compatible with 1/4”-20 mount systems. There’s 360-degree rotation thanks to the ball and joint socket, as well as a 90-degree downward tilt. 

If you’re okay with carrying around a slightly heavier tripod or desire a stockier tripod build, then the Vanguard is a good choice for you. However, if lightweight and small is what you’re going for, you’ll be better off spending a bit extra on a carbon fiber model. 

Pros
  • Sturdy 
  • Less expensive
  • Variety of leg angles 
  • Carrying case 
Cons
  • Heavier and bigger
  • Smaller quick-release plate 
  • Lots of knobs 

3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0 Travel Tripod


  • Build: Carbon Fiber
  • Tripod Weight: 4.1 lb
  • Maximum Load: 66 lb
  • Extended Height: 57.7″ 
  • Folded Length: 14.7″ 
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Microfiber Bag
  • Price: Check Here

If you have a heavy rig setup but also want a transportable tripod, then the 3 Legged Thing Leo 2.0 is probably the perfect choice. It’s one of the best travel tripods out there and can support up to 66 pounds, putting it way out of the league of other tripod options. 

The Thing Leo comes fitted with an AirHed Pro Lever Ball Head. The three legs and center column are also detachable and removable, allowing for maximum repositioning abilities while you’re out in the field. 

Each leg has five sections and has independent spread to achieve a variety of positions. When the center column is removed, the tripod has a minimum height of 8.2 inches, so you can still successfully capture those low-profile shots. 

With legs extended, you’ll have a maximum height of 44.1 inches, which can be extended to 57.7 inches once the center column is fully raised. 

A QR-OCTA Quick Release Plate is included with the ball head, which can be used to connect cameras and accessories that fit with a ¼ inch-20 mount system. Plus, the lock lever on the head can also be rotated and flipped when it’s open to accommodate right or left-handed photographers. 

The three legs fold in on themselves and can be flipped around 180 degrees, so the Thing Leo can pack down to a manageable 14.7 inches. The packed weight is 4.1 pounds, which is a bit heavier than some lightweight tripods, but the slick function and cool features make it worth it. 

Pros
  • High weight capacity
  • Lots of positions
  • Good quick release plate
Cons
  • Expensive 
  • Poor carrying case 

Oben CT-3535 Folding Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod


  • Build: Carbon Fiber
  • Tripod Weight: 2.5 lb
  • Maximum Load: 9 lb
  • Extended Height: 51.6″ 
  • Folded Length: 12″  
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Includes: Shoulder Strap and Carrying Case
  • Price: Check Here

The Oben CT-3535 is a great mid-range carbon fiber travel tripod. While it won’t quite come up to par with some of the fancier expensive models, it still accomplishes the job well in most photo set up situations. 

Once folded, the Oben CT-3535 is just 12 inches long and weighs 2.5 pounds. It packs neatly into an included carrying case with a shoulder strap and can also easily fit into most suitcases and bags. 

It’s a 5-section tripod with integrated twist locks, which keep the tripod securely locked in position and allow for quick readjustments. The legs can all be adjusted separately, and each can lock to 22.5, 24, 50, or 80-degree angles. 

Oben CT-3535 has a spiked foot or non-slip rubber foot option to help account for uneven terrain. This way, you can keep the tripod steady even on soft grass or rocky ground. 

For low-angle shots, you can use the reversible low-angle center column, which allows you to shoot at a minimum height of 8.6 inches. Once fully extended, you can get a maximum height of 5.6 inches. 

The Oben CT-3535 has a load capacity of 9 pounds, which definitely isn’t enough for heavy setups, but will do the job fine for many cameras. 

Pros
  • Affordable carbon fiber
  • Small and lightweight 
  • Included carry case
Cons
  • Small load capacity 
  • A bit short


Joby Gorillapod


  • Build: Plastic
  • Tripod Weight: 1.55 lbs
  • Maximum Load: 6.6 lb
  • Extended Height: 3.5″
  • Folded Length: NA  
  • Ballhead: Included
  • Price: Check Here

The Joby Gorillapod is a well known travel tripod that is great for any traveler who plans to only use a tripod occasionally. I personally think it’s best for vlogging as it has flexible legs that allow you to easily hold your camera in front of you while talking. It’s perfect if you plan to shoot more photos at ground level or can easily wrap the arms around something stable (like a tree) to grab a photo.

The GorillaPod ball heead allows you to precisely control the direction and angle of your camera and quickly attach and detach in a flash. It’s ideal for point and shoot cameras, mirrorless cameras, and basic DSLRS but doesn’t carry much weight beyond 6.6 lbs. Keep in mind there are many sizes and variations of the Joby GorillaPod so make sure to pick the one you need.

Pros
  • Portable
  • Grippy Legs
  • Good for First Time Users
  • Affordable
  • Vlogging
Cons
  • Height
  • Load Weight
  • Plastic Materials
Morocco
Shot from ground level with the Joby GorillaPod

What is the Best Lightweight Travel Tripod for You?


That all depends on your purpose. Every one of these best travel tripods listed here offers different functions and features to help you excel at your photography. We’ve personally tried all these brands and nothing comes close to Peak Designs in regards to weight and functionality. However, it’s not budget-friendly. Your first step should be recognizing your camera set up, your photography needs, and going from there.

If you’re out in the mountains and hiking a lot like us, splurge on the Peak Design Travel Tripod. If you are vlogging and more of a beginner photographer try the Joby GorillaPod and upgrade if need be. If you want something that’s in the middle go with the Oben CT-3535 Folding Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod or MeFOTO BackPacker S Travel Tripod.

Align your tripod purchase decision with your activities. If you’re hopping around the city all day opt for something super lightweight and easy to transport. If you’ll be photographing nature in unknown environments go for something sturdier and heavier. A tripod getting knocked over and ruining your camera would be no fun while you’re trying to photograph the Northern Lights of star circle astrophotography.


Will These Lightweight Tripods Work With My Camera?


Most camera have a hole at the bottom that allows them to be screwed to a tripod mounting plate. Check first, but even basic point and shoots will have them nowadays.

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