The 5 Best Lightweight Tripods For Backpacking, According To Experts

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by Masha Vapnitchnaia
Srinivasan.Clicks / Shutterstock

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.


An Affordable Carbon-Fiber Tripod

  • Weight: 1.87 pounds

This carbon fiber tripod is relatively affordable compared to most options on the market, and it boasts a 4.6 overall star rating from Amazon reviewers. The ball head has independent control knobs and rotates 360 degrees for a smooth panoramic shot, and the quick-release plate is compatible with most DSLR cameras. If you want to take photos with your phone, you can use a smartphone holder (sold separately). The tripod also has a wide height range (from 6.3 to 54.3 inches) that’s especially great if you like to shoot low to the ground, and the legs can be positioned at three different angles.

While the five twist-lock leg sections will offer less stability than some other tripods, there is a weight hook where you can hang a small bag for improved balance. There’s also a built-in level. The tripod has a weight capacity of 8.8 pounds and comes with a carry bag.

One fan’s take: “Lightweight. Compact to carry in even my smallest backpack. Well made and sturdy. Easy to use.”


The Fan-Favorite Tripod With A Near-Perfect Rating

  • Weight: 2.8 pounds

This aluminum tripod comes with great features and has a large height range, all at an affordable price — so it’s no surprise that it’s earned an overall rating of 4.8 stars with more than 2,900 reviewers weighing in. The tripod’s mounting head can accommodate cameras, smartphones, and more, and the head tilts so you can capture low angle, high angle, wide, and portrait shots. It also comes with a universal phone holder that rotates 360 degrees for panoramas. Plus, the tripod comes with a wireless remote that works with Android and iOS phones up to 30 feet away (batteries included). The four-segment legs can be adjusted from 26 to 67.3 inches with clamp closures. There’s a hook for hanging weights for greater stability and a built-in level. The tripod has a weight capacity of 11 pounds and comes with a pack bag.

One fan’s take: “This is a wonderful tripod! It is sturdy and with all [its] possible adjustments, extremely versatile. It collapses to a relatively small package to carry, it has enough height to be really useful and at full extension there is still more height to be achieved with the crank that elevates the camera. “


The Best Travel Tripod On A Budget

  • Weight: 1.25 pounds

If you’re looking for a basic travel tripod, this aluminum one is an affordable under-$20 option that’s popular with Amazon shoppers, who have awarded it more than 39,000 five-star ratings. The legs have three sections with a lever-locking system and can extend from 16.5 to 50 inches. The three-way head tilts and swivels 360 degrees for portrait, landscape, low-angle, and high-angle shots, and there’s a level. Plus, the quick-release plate lets you can easily remove your camera. It’s compatible with most mountable cameras, but since the weight capacity is 4.4 pounds, this choice is not recommended for heavy DSLR cameras. To mount a smartphone, you’ll need to purchase a universal phone adapter. The tripod collapses down to 16.5 inches and a storage bag is included.

One fan’s take: “Super lightweight, but the real deal. I keep [it] in my backpack so that I'm never without a tripod. It won't support a DSLR with a big lens, but it's perfect for smaller cameras and smartphones. Rugged enough to be a primary tripod.”


A Flexible Tripod That Creates Unique Perspectives

  • Weight: 1.6 pounds

Though it doesn’t have a ton of height, the legs of this flexible aluminum tripod can be twisted around tree branches, fences, and just about anything else to create the perfect shot, and it can be used as a small tripod on its own. Jeremy Foster, CEO and founder of TravelFreak, is a fan of flexible tripods, noting “you might discover some cool perspectives this way.” The aluminum tripod has a maximum height of 14.6 inches and an 11-pound weight capacity, so it’s compatible with camcorders, DSLRs, and mirrorless cameras. However, if you want to attach a phone, you’ll need to purchase an adapter separately. The tripod has a ball head, quick-release plate, 90-degree tilt, a built-in level, and a numbered scale to help you repeat panoramic shots. Another hit on Amazon, this versatile tripod has a 4.8-star overall rating and more than 1,200 reviews.

One fan’s take: “This little tripod is so light and compact, it fits easily under the flap on my camera backpack. It easily supports the weight of my Canon 5D mk3, with a 100-400 lens attached. Even out in the field, its easy to use. The 3 flexible legs can be wrapped around wooden posts, tree branches and anything else to support your camera. An all round brilliant piece of kit.”


The Best Tripod For Videos

  • Weight: 3.6 pounds

What makes this aluminum tripod especially well-suited for video is its fluid head, which creates smooth footage during tilts and pans. The front tilt has a range of -90 to 65 degrees, and the tripod also has three angle options. There’s a leveling ball joint, a removable pan bar, and a quick-release plate. The tripod has four leg sections, according to the brand’s website, with twist-lock closures for stability. It has a weight capacity of 8.8 pounds, and a height range of 15.75 to 59.06 inches. The tripod is compatible with DSLRs and small camcorders, but you’d need to purchase an adapter to use it with a smartphone. A packing case is included.

One fan’s take: “Couldn't ask for a better travel tripod. Extremely light and compact, yet quite sturdy, with a fairly decent pan. The perfect sized tripod to just always have on you when you need one.”


Pete LaGregor, founder of Photography Goals

Jeremy Foster, CEO and founder of TravelFreak