To help you capture stunning photos and videos on your outdoor adventures, the best lightweight tripods for backpacking weigh less than 4 pounds, fold down for easy carrying, and have features that make it easier to get the shots you want. To help find the perfect balance of specs and portability to suit your needs, I reached out to Pete LaGregor, founder of Photography Goals, for tips to keep in mind while shopping.
Most high-quality travel tripods weigh under 3 pounds and are made from aluminum or carbon fiber. “Aluminum versus carbon can make a big difference in both weight and price,” LaGregor tells Bustle. “Aluminum is typically far more affordable than similar carbon models. It is also heavier, which makes it less fun to carry, but that also means it will be a little more stable in windy conditions by itself,” LaGregor explains. If you don’t mind paying more, carbon fiber tripods are lighter while having up to five times more rigidity than aluminum ones. This helps the tripod absorb shock and vibrations, which can prevent blurred images. “So if you are looking for something purely for backpacking and are willing to spend the extra money, carbon is really the way to go. The weight savings means less fatigue, longer hikes, and probably more photos,” LaGregor adds.
When it comes to stability, a tripod with fewer leg sections is sturdier and most people choose one with three or four sections. You’ll also want to consider how much you can adjust the legs’ height. “I don't shoot a lot at full height so having a tall tripod is less important for me. But I do like to get very low and incorporate foreground objects into my landscapes, so having a tripod that gets low is important,” explains LaGregor. And if you’re shooting with a larger camera or using bulky lenses, don’t forget to look at each tripod’s weight capacity.
If you’re primarily shooting video, you may want to invest in a tripod with a fluid head that captures smooth shots. And phone photographers will likely appreciate a tripod with a wireless remote for amazing selfies.
Read on for the best lightweight tripods for backpacking that’ll fit your budget and your photography style.