Whether you’re trekking into the wilderness or heading out on a tropical vacation, the fate of your vacation photos rests upon whether you have the right tools with you. That's precisely why the best travel tripods are the key to getting clear, stable images that aren't constantly missing the one person in your group who agrees to take the photo.
Traveling with photo gear can be tricky business though — cameras and lenses are bulky to begin with and if you add a tripod to the mix, your bag gets even heavier. That said, even professional photographers agree the key to a professional-quality photo when you travel is a tripod.
What sets a tripod apart as great for traveling? While the sturdiest, most stable options tend to be bigger and heavier, you'll want to look for a lightweight version that's high-quality enough that it can stand up to the outdoors. In addition, keep in mind that the best tripods for traveling will also fold up the smallest, and take up the least amount of space your bag.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options that produce phenomenal images without making you feel like you have a ton of bricks in your backpack. Here is a list of the best travel tripods, from full-sized options to smaller smartphone camera stands and accessories.
1Best Overall: A Lightweight, Full-Size Tripod That Folds Up To Be The Most Compact
Built with high-density aluminum alloy, this popular travel tripod is among the most lightweight and compact selections on the market. It weighs less than 3 pounds and folds down into a small, 14-inch space, complete with a zip-up carry case. The breezy camera holder features a 360-degree panoramic swivel ball-head so you can easily and quickly rotate your camera to get the perfect shot. It's also more durable than previous models of the same tripod, as the CNC machine-crafted fork provides more stability than plastic forks. The legs have four separate sections with quick release flip-locks that are super firm and secure. Best of all, the impressive combination of features comes at a reasonable mid-range price.
- Weight: 2.89 pounds
- Folded Length: 14 inches
- Maximum Height: 55 inches
- Minimum Height: 15 inches
- Maximum Capacity: 26.5 pounds
2Most Affordable: A Slightly Heavier Tripod That Can Extend 60 Inches
This travel tripod weighs a bit more than the previous selection and at 25 inches, isn't as compact when folded up. That said, it is still one of the lighter, more compact choices on the market and costs less than half of its competition. It is also taller than some of the others, and can extend a full 5 inches higher than the best overall tripod above. It also features a crank riser and three-way head that lets you shoot in both landscape and portrait orientations. "I absolutely LOVE this tripod," wrote one excited Amazon customer. "I have no clue how such a versatile tripod can go for so low."
- Weight: 3 pounds
- Folded Length: 25 inches
- Maximum Height: 60 inches
- Minimum Height: 25 inches
- Maximum Capacity: 6.6 pounds
3Best Investment: A Carbon Fiber Tripod With All The Bells And Whistles
If you can afford to splurge to get the highest-quality, most durable tripod with tons of amazing features, this carbon fiber tripod is one of the best you can find. It's made from top-grade carbon fiber, a popular material with professional photographers that is exceptionally lightweight but stable. The legs are 4 millimeters in diameter, offering extra sturdiness with ultra-stable twist locks and TPU rubber feet that ensure it won't wobble. Its height range is among the widest, spanning from a mere 8.1 inches off the ground to 60 inches tall. The separate ball head and pan lock allow you to shoot securely at virtually any angle while the inverted central axis enables you to get as low as you need to in order to get your shot.
- Weight: 3.15 pounds
- Folded Length: 15.35 inches
- Maximum Height: 60.63 inches
- Minimum Height: 8.1 inches
- Maximum Capacity: 13.23 pounds
4Best Mini: A Tiny Tripod That's Perfect For Low-To-The-Ground Shots
This miniature travel tripod allows you to shoot low on the ground while still maintaining the strength and stability of taller stands. Made with injection-molded nylon thermoplastic resin, it's strong yet small enough to fit in your pocket. While the legs of this tripod aren't adjustable, reviewers say this stand can reach up to 6 inches in height. Unlike some of the cheap collapsible tripods out there, it's made specifically for SLRs with a 6-pound weight capacity and sturdy, fold-out legs. It also comes with a cool Velcro attachment you can use to stick your camera onto trees, poles, railings, and other objects. "This thing is amazing for backpacking," wrote one pleased Amazon user. "It is so much lighter than my full sized tripod. ... It's small, but can be velcroed to a fence, tree branch or whatever you have available. ... Overall, great value."
- Weight: 4.2 ounces
- Folded Length: 7 inches
- Maximum Height: NA
- Minimum Height: NA
- Maximum Capacity: 6 pounds
5Best For Smartphones: A Flexible Tripod That Can Be Wrapped Around Any Surface
Designed specifically for smartphones, this flexible travel tripod is the perfect thing to throw in your purse if you want amazing pictures on the go. The handy phone stand has bendy legs that offer versatility while still being sturdy enough to hold your phone. It's capable of holding GoPros or other small sports cameras too, and comes with a remote control that will shoot from up to 30 feet away. It is compact, simple to use, and super convenient. "This product is a gem!" wrote one Amazon customer. "It's really easy to set up, and the remote syncs with your phone bluetooth easily. There's no hassle of how to connect parts, and the legs are really flexible, which allows for great camera angles."
- Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Folded Length: NA
- Maximum Height: 10 inches
- Minimum Height: 7.3 inches
- Maximum Capacity: NA
Bustle may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which was created independently from Bustle's editorial and sales departments.