The Peak Design Travel Tripod promised to deliver the best travel tripod ever made — that’s a pretty tall order. However, Peak Design has provided innovative camera accessories such as camera bags, clips, and straps.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that they would deliver what may be the best travel tripod on the market. At the very least, its sleek design is robust, portable, and full of new features. After years of shooting, we love these tripods in both carbon fiber ($650) and aluminum versions ($380). So, what makes the Peak Design Travel Tripod stand out from other travel tripods? Let’s dig in to this full Peak Design Tripod review!
Quick Snap into the Peak Design Travel Tripod
It may be the best tripod for travel and photography ever made.
- Low Profile when folded
- Quick Release
- Build Quality
- Smartphone clip
- Reversible center column
- Smart Design Features
- Unusual Ball Head
- Tripod Level
- Hex Key Clip
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Peak Design Travel Tripod
Peak Design Travel Tripod Review
Peak Designs Travel Tripod Product Specs
- Folded Length: 15.5 inches
- Load Capacity: 20 pounds
- Maximum height: 60 inches
- Minimum Height: 5.5 inches
- Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Material: Carbon Fiber or Aluminum
- Quick-Release Plate: Arca-Type
- Vertical Tilt: 90 degrees
- Panning Range: 360 degrees
Peak Design Travel Tripod Design
There are a lot of elements and features in the Peak Design Travel Tripod. To give a better idea of the function of the tripod, we’ll break them down. Items, like the carbon fiber legs in a flat shape or a unique ball head, allow for a lightweight and small footprint. Other features come down to personal preference and your style of photography.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod features five-section aluminum or carbon fiber legs with quick-release latches. It has none of those twisting locks that can be troublesome and difficult to lock. Two-leg angles allow for a standard tripod height or low ground level shot that provides more stability. The legs extend to a maximum height of five feet, sufficient for most shooting, but taller tripods are on the market.
The feet on the tripod are tremendous and can grip most surfaces, including rock, where we do most of our shooting. The addition of a small hole on the bottom allows for quick water drainage if you place the tripod in water.
We’ve most of this before in quality tripods. However, what stands out the most in terms of the legs is their unique flat shape that allows for a low profile when folded in against the center column. It’s instrumental in the tripod’s small form and makes for a more natural surface to grip when changing camera angles.
Another stand-out feature of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is the reversible central column, which allows you to capture ground shots more easily. There is also a hook underneath the central column to attach a stabilizing weight in windy conditions or trickier setups.
Unique to the column is a hidden phone mount that is lightweight and easy to connect to the ball head. Another notable minor feature is the adjustment screw on the central column as it slides in and out from the body and aids in the tripod’s low profile. These little design elements add up to one beautifully engineered tripod.
Instead of the knobs and locking levers that many tripods have, the Peak Design Travel Tripod has a single ergonomically designed ball head. Only one ring is used to adjust the ball head and allows for quick adjustments. You’ll have 360 degrees of panning motion and 90-degree vertical tilt to make panorama shots and tricky upward angle photos possible.
I should note that the ball head is unique in portrait mode as it is limited in angles, by the way the camera mounts. One position will allow for low portrait shots while the other faces upwards. It can be frustrating at first, but it becomes second nature to know which way to mount the camera with the Arca-type L clip that can attach in either direction.
The ball head has a quick-release system compatible with Peak Design standard plates. Arca-type L brackets can also be securely attached to make the tripod compatible with Arca-type plates. I live in the Peak Design eco-system, so it’s not a problem, but the clip requires a hex key, included with the tripod, to remove the plate.
One last feature to note, or lack thereof, is the level on the ball head. The level sits right next to the quick release plate and only allows for measuring landscape photographs. Most notable is that when any camera is mounted, the level hides under the camera’s body. In use, it has little effect on my shooting as my mirrorless camera provides an in-camera level. However, the lack of a level may be a source of frustration for some shooters. The level feels like Peak Design included it to market an additional feature with little real-world use.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod comes with a protective fabric storage case. As stated earlier, a mobile phone mount is included, which is a nice feature given the prevalence of smartphones these days.
For maintenance and setup, the tripod includes a 2.5mm and a 4mm hex wrench and a bushing removal tool used to clean the components of the inner legs in case they get clogged with dust or dirt.
Carbon vs. Aluminum
Which model to buy, carbon or aluminum, is probably the most asked question and debate for anyone who considers the purchase of the Peak Design Travel Tripod. After using both tripods extensively, I would say it depends.
However, most photographers will be happy with the aluminum tripod. There is a difference of 300 grams between the two models, which is significant in hand.
In the scope of a $300 price difference, I find the carbon fiber a little difficult to justify. If I had a choice, I’d instead save the $300 for additional photography equipment like a VND from PolarPro, one of Peak Designs’ revolutionary camera bags like the Everyday Backpack, or my Peak Design wallet.
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Peak Design Travel Tripod
There’s no doubt that this tripod is for a lightweight traveler. It weighs only 2.8 pounds, and it’s not going to add much drag to your backpack but will provide you with a wide range of functions for your photography needs. Once packed down, the Peak Design is about the size and shape of a 32 oz water bottle, making it easy to slip into a travel bag and conveniently take out as soon as you reach your photo destination.
Although the Peak Design Travel Tripod won’t be the solution to absolutely every photography situation, it does an impressive job of being an all-around good travel tripod. As mentioned before, this thing is very lightweight, so carrying it around with you all day in Bali or the jungles of Costa Rica won’t wear you out too much.
The Peak Design is a great travel tripod that combines functionality in many areas with a lightweight and easy-to-carry design.
What Makes the Peak Design Travel Tripod So Great?
The low profile design and attention to detail set this tripod apart from its competitors. I love the little attention to detail like the easy-to-adjust ball head, telescoping adjustment knobs, carrying case, angled legs, and hidden phone mount.
Most photographers agree that fiber tripods are superior to aluminum ones. They are lighter-weight and more durable. When you’re traveling and need to watch how much weight you’re adding to your backpack, a lightweight travel tripod like the Peak Design is great.
Reversible Central Column
You can reverse the tripod’s central column to obtain closer ground-level shots. This feature brings the minimum height to 5.5 inches, which is lower than many models of travel tripods.
Some people love it, but others hate it, but it saves space and makes a more versatile tripod. If you’re new to using ball head tripods, it may take a bit of getting used to, but you might find this design even better. The Peak Design can hold various types of cameras, and GoPros, and has a mobile mount for even more options for photo setups.
Carrying Case and Service Tools
The tripod comes with a storage bag for protection. Although you might already have a spot reserved for it in your backpack, it never hurts to have a bit of extra protection for your camera equipment!
Peak Design Travel Tripod Areas of Use
Just because the Peak Design Travel Tripod is for travel tripod doesn’t mean that the Peak Design necessarily has to be used for travel. Even if you’re interested in doing local city photography or planning some weekend hiking trips, the Peak Design is a great choice.
Because it’s a more expensive travel tripod, it may not be the first pick for beginner photographers. Suppose you’re starting out experimenting with photography. In that case, there are plenty of other adequate and cheaper lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber blend tripods you can try out before deciding whether you’re ready to make a more serious photography equipment investment.
If you already have a bit of experience with photography and are annoyed with how cumbersome all your camera equipment is, then this is the tripod for you. The Peak Design lacks a fluid head, which is much better if you want to take videos since you can smoothly pan from one direction to another.
It’s still possible to take videos straight on, or you can purchase a separate adapter if you like the other qualities of the Peak Design but want to achieve a fluid range in motion while shooting videos.
Cost vs. Function of the Peak Design Travel Tripod
Peak Design often carries more expensive camera products, and the Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is no exception. If you’re looking for something cheap, this isn’t the way to go. Although it hurts the wallet, the benefits of the tripod can balance out the cost.
Since the Peak Design is compatible with many cameras and has a mobile mount, it’s also very versatile. You’ll be paying more upfront, but in the long run, you probably won’t have to purchase too many adaptors and extra parts for your setup.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod fits with other Peak Design products. If you already have different cameras, travel backpacks, and accessories from Peak Design, this travel tripod will be the perfect addition to your equipment collection. I’m a massive fan of the camera clip that always rides on whatever backpack I carry.
If you’re a photographer who has equipment from many different brands, there’s no need to worry. The tripod fits many other cameras, including mobile phones and GoPros. For specialized cameras, you can buy adaptors if you like the Peak Design lightweight tripod.
The tripod also comes with its carrying case, so even if you don’t have other Peak Design products, you’ll still have a safe and convenient place to store the tripod. Thanks to its small packed size, it’s not difficult to fit in any suitcase, backpack, or equipment bag you may already have.
The Peak Design comes with two hex wrenches to service the tripod, both are held with a tool holder on one of the legs. It makes it convenient to adjust the tripod and clean parts when necessary.
If you love your Peak Design Travel Tripod, there is a wide range of accessories you can get to help with specific photo setups. These include spiked feet to help provide a steady grip when photoshoots on sandy or loose soil, tripod sleeves in case of wet or muddy weather, and tripod hammocks for storing equipment within easy reach when doing a photo shoot.
Drawbacks of the Peak Design Travel tripod
The price is the first and most significant drawback to the Peak Design Travel Tripod. With so many great features (lightweight, versatile, etc.), you can expect a travel tripod of this grade to pack a punch in terms of cost.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod may not be the best idea for novice photographers or people who only take photos occasionally. However, if you’re already serious about traveling and photography, the Peak Design is probably one of the best pieces of equipment you can add to your photography kit!
The other major fault of the Peak Design is also one of its best features: the weight. Since it’s just 2.8 pounds, it fits nicely into almost all backpacks and equipment bags. However, it’s not designed for super heavy rigs and extensive clunky camera equipment. If you’ve got a big lens for wildlife photography, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Chances are, travelers are going to have lighter setups anyway, but it’s good to keep in mind that the load capacity is 20 pounds. While this is enough to accommodate most basic setups, it might not do the trick for specialized rigs and photo shoots.
There are a few other things about the Peak Design that some photographers might consider drawbacks. First, the five-section legs can become a bit of a hassle. When you’re excited to get set up and going, clasping and locking each section can feel like it takes too long. The ball head takes some getting used to when in portrait mode. It can be frustrating when you switch to other mounts with a unique camera plate as a hex key is required.