For your next big outdoor adventure, you need nothing less than the best lightweight tripod for backpacking. After hours of hiking, you’ve finally arrived at the perfect spot. You’re at the Midway Geyser Basin, and you’re about to take a fantastic shot of one of the most beautiful natural sites in America, the Grand Prismatic Spring. However, after you’ve wiped the sweat off your brow to take a moment to appreciate the spring in all its majesty, you soon come to realize that you’ve got a big problem: The tripod you lugged up to this rocky cliff keeps falling over like a fainting Justin Bieber fan.
There’s no way you’re going to risk mounting your $2,000 camera on an unsteady tripod. So after taking a few less than ideal shots, you head back to your cabin in bitter disappointment, your vacation officially ruined. Scenarios like this are why you need the best lightweight tripod for backpacking.
What You Need to Know to Find the Best Lightweight Tripod for Backpacking
With almost an infinite number of tripods to choose from, it’s easy to think that all of them are basically the same. However, that line of logic is like saying that there’s no difference between one pair of hiking boots and another. Experienced outdoor adventurers know better than that.
So what are some of the things that make the best lightweight tripod for backpacking stand out from the crowd? The first factor is weight. If the tripod is too heavy, you’re not going to want to lug that thing around hiking trails for hours at a time. Sturdiness is the next factor. Having a stable tripod is crucial to shooting long-exposure images, as the smallest shake can blur what could be an otherwise priceless once-in-a-lifetime photo. An excellent way to judge a tripod’s sturdiness is to look at its weight capacity.
Sections are the third factor to consider. As a general rule, fewer leg sections on a tripod usually indicates that it’s sturdier and more comfortable to set up. Finally, you want to pay attention to the leg locks. The two best types of locks are twist and lever locks. Twist locks are lovely if you prefer a low profile, while lever locks allow you to confirm that your legs are secure visually.
How We Found the Best Lightweight Tripod for Backpacking
To find the best lightweight tripod for backpacking, we looked at dozens of top-selling models and consulted numerous online forums. After deciding on the top eight choices, we compared their features, prices, and warranties. Most importantly, we read pages of customer reviews on each product.
We’ve found that the best insight into a product’s benefits and failures come from people who invested money in buying the product. These customers can range in expertise, but most are generally very knowledgeable about the type of product and can tell us things we won’t find on a manufacturer or retailer’s website. This insight is invaluable when it comes to making our selection for the best product.
Here Are the Tripod Contenders
Our search for the best lightweight tripods for backpacking yielded eight top candidates. Our chosen tripods are made from durable materials, fold to compact frames, and are incredibly lightweight. Each model also includes a ball head and plate for your camera. Some offer features like the option to create a free-standing monopod or a ballast hook that allows you to weight the tripod down to improve its center of gravity and sturdiness.
However, at the end of the day, you need a tripod that’s durable under all kinds of conditions. You also want a good warranty for your investment. Most importantly, you need your tripod to stay tight and not fall over a 1,000-foot cliff while taking your favorite camera along for the ride.
Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod
Most reviewers described the tripod as stable, small, and very durable capable of accommodating many different size cameras.
The first product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the Manfrotto Befree Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod. This tripod features a compact design due to its unique folding mechanism that allows the legs to fold precisely around the head, and it has a quick release plate attachment. Additionally, when the tripod’s in a closed position, it measures 40 centimeters long.
The Befree is also lightweight. Its legs are one hundred percent carbon fiber, ensuring great lightness along with durability. In fact, the tripod only weighs 2.2 pounds. However, don’t let its small size fool you. This tripod doesn’t compromise on the sturdiness needed for excellent picture quality. Plus, the aluminum ball head is strong and provides a fast and simple operation. The Befree can hold up to 8.8 pounds, and its aluminum leg locks guarantee long life even after the most stringent usage. Finally, Befree’s eye-catching Italian design gives it a sleek look that stands out.
However, one customer complained that the legs would not lock to support his Nikon D800 or D600 camera. There are also other complaints concerning the loose feel of the legs. Additionally, it has a six-month warranty with the option to upgrade to a 9.5-year warranty after registering the product.
Joby GorillaPod 5K Kit
Customers were impressed by this tripod’s incredible versatility and durability. One customer said that he’d taken this tripod to some of the roughest areas in the world and it’s held thousands of dollars worth of equipment with no issues.
The next product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the Joby GorillaPod 5K Kit. This tripod’s main feature is its incredible flexibility. The tripod itself is durable anodized aluminum. Also, the legs have over two dozen bendable joints with a rubberized ring and foot grips that allow you to rotate and bend 360 degrees with a 90-degree tilt, allowing them to adapt to any terrain quickly. Lastly, the Arca-Swiss system compatible quick release plate holds the camera securely while allowing for instant setup.
However, there were a few unhappy customers. One customer said that the tripod could not handle the weight of his camera. Another complained that the rubber rings on the legs became unstable after he left the tripod in his hot car for a few hours. Additionally, it comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100
One amateur photographer said that this tripod held up under years of outdoor abuse throughout her travels. She also praised the tripod’s smooth operating ball head.
The third product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100. This tripod features a Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC) comprised of a hexagon-shaped central column that adjusts from zero to 180 degrees. It has an anti-shock ring with a premium magnesium die-cast canopy. Plus, you can set the legs for 25, 50, and 80 degrees with convenient easy-release buttons allowing you to set up faster than ever. It weighs 5.38 pounds and can support up to 15.4 pounds of equipment. This model also includes a smooth 360-degree rotating ball head, bubble levels, and quick-release plate. Lastly, the tripod’s Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (ISSL) system will enable you to securely reposition the central column within a few seconds with one simple movement.
However, another customer claims that this tripod toppled and dropped an expensive camera on concrete. He further explained how the quick release locks on the leg extensions seemed to loosen themselves after a while.
MeFOTO RoadTrip Classic
One professional photographer said that this is the only tripod he can confidently set up anywhere. However, other customers had a few issues with this product. There were several complaints about legs falling off of defective units. This product includes a 3-year standard warranty or five years with online registration.
The next product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the MeFOTO RoadTrip Classic. This tripos is weather and dust resistant and has a 360-degree panning function that allows for accurate panoramas using a graduated panning scale that delivers precise image alignment. The RoadTrip Classic has a folded length of 15.4 inches, weighs 3.6 pounds, and has a weight capacity of 17.6 pounds. Not to mention it’s available in eight different colors.
This model also has two leg angle positions, providing extra flexibility, and the tripod legs can lock into place individually at two different angles. That will allow you to shoot under cramped conditions and on uneven surfaces easily, or at ground level. It also features a recessed a spring-loaded center-column hook that will enable you to hang additional weight to improve the tripod’s center of gravity, thus creating better stability.
The Precision Matched Q Series Ballhead is a dual action heavy-duty ball head featuring an Arca-Swiss style compatible quick-release plate. The tripod’s separate head and pan lock and Integral Bubble level features allow you to make adjustments that prevent uneven pans and unwanted head movements. Lastly, the compact tripod legs feature five leg sections that will enable you to adjust the height, and it has a twist leg lock with Anti-Rotation System that allows for stress-free setups. Plus, you can set it up as a monopod in seconds.
AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod with Bag
One customer (who happened to be a double-arm amputee) demonstrated the product’s ease of use in a video. He described the tripod as everything he could hope for and then some.
The next product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the AmazonBasics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod. This tripod features two built-in bubble view levels with a three-way head, allowing for swivel and tilt motion. You also have the option of portrait or landscape angles. Furthermore, it has a quick-release mounting plate that ensures faster transitions between shots, and it is compatible with most popular video, digital, and still cameras as well as various GoPro devices, smartphone adapters, and scopes. The tripod weighs only three pounds and extends from 25 to 60 inches when the center post is in the fully extended position. Also, the recommended weight load for optimum performance is 6.6 pounds.
However, another customer complained that the ball head would not secure in place, and claimed the replacement tripod had the same issue. Additionally, it includes a one-year limited warranty.
Bonfoto B671C Carbon Fiber Tripod
Many camera enthusiasts raved over the tripod’s durability and versatile setup options. One customer said it was the most accessible and lightest travel tripod that he ever used.
The fifth product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the Bonfoto B671C. This tripod features a portable, lightweight carbon-fiber design and four-section legs with a twist knob lock that adjusts height. It also has two-position leg angle adjustment locks that are simple to operate and have a unique design. You can unscrew the leg with the sponge grip to work as a stand-alone monopod. Also, the center column is removable and can join together with the monopod to extend its length.
Additionally, this model has a compass, two different quick release plates, and dual bubble levels. When folded, the tripod is 15 inches long and weighs only 2.5 pounds. Finally, it has a new generation aluminum-alloy ball head design that includes a pan and ball locks as well as a 360-degree scale that allows for fast and hassle-free adjustments.
However, this tripod didn’t stand up under scrutiny from some customers. One customer pointed out a possible design flaw, explaining how the camera mounting platform wasn’t level. He said this was due to the mount release lever blocking it from sitting correctly.
This product includes a one-year limited warranty.
ZOMEi Z668 Tripod Monopod
One customer described it as a compact, versatile, fairly lightweight tripod of excellent quality.
The next product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the Zomei Z668. This travel tripod features a compact design that allows the legs to fold around the head and a quick release plate. It measures 19.2 inches folded, weighs 2.6 pounds, and has a load capacity of 11.02 pounds. Its two-in-one design also converts into a full-size monopod by screwing the removable center together with a tripod leg. The Z668 is also very stable with a column hook located on the bottom of its center column allowing you to hang additional weight, thereby increasing the tripod’s center of gravity for better stability. Plus, it has separate pan and head-locks.
However, a few customers complained that the tripod became loose quite often during regular use. Additionally, one customer noted that the essential parts are plastic. Additionally, it includes a two-year limited warranty.
Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod
One customer said that this tripod was as good as tripods that cost six times more. He gave high praise to the tripod’s durable construction and mechanics and said he would not hesitate to recommend this model to other seasoned professional photographers.
The seventh product in our search for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking is the Neewer Carbon Fiber. This tripod features a two-in-one function that allows you to use it as either a tripod or a monopod. Its legs are new generation high-density carbon fiber that uses eight layers of staggered and laminated carbon fibers. The fibers are heated during a high-temperature curing process at different angles, resulting in a strengthened polymeric structure. Lastly, the tripod also has a quick-release leg locking function, and the universal ball head design has two locks, a quick shoe plate, and a 360-degree dial which allows you to angle your camera freely.
There were a few complaints concerning the durability of the legs. Several customers claimed the legs either became loose or fell off after limited use. This product includes a 1-year limited warranty.
So What’s the Best Lightweight Tripod for Backpacking?
Our pick for the best lightweight tripod for backing is the MeFOTO RoadTrip Classic. This tripod has every feature you can ask for: a center-column hook, monopod capability, compact design, sturdy ball head, and versatile leg options. Although it’s not the lightest tripod, coming in at 3.6 pounds, it’s still pretty close to the lightest. Also, it has an incredible 17.6-pound weight capacity and a very generous warranty. We hope this information assists you in finding your perfect traveling tripod. We wish you the best of luck in your search.