Ever since I started taking my photography more seriously and upgraded my former point and shoot to a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, I have been looking for ways to further improve my photos while backpacking. There are so many different ways that you can invest in your photography by buying accessories, different types of lenses or various filters. Most photography experts, however, will agree that the first accessory you should buy as an amateur photographer is a tripod.
However, when you think of tripods I’m sure images of large, clunky and metallic structures come to mind. These obviously aren’t ideal when going backpacking and trying to fit a finite amount of items into your travel backpack and minimise weight to avoid a sore back, neck and shoulders! I, therefore, started searching for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking to add to my packing list and was pleasantly surprised by the number of options available in the market!
With so many new products coming into the market, I’ve created this guide to show you the best backpacking tripod available today and help you add this essential photography accessory to your travel backpack!
Best Lightweight Tripod Comparison
|Joby Gorillapod Kit||Weight: 50 to 740g|
Capacity: 325g to 5kg
Height: 17 to 38.5cm
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|Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod||Weight: 190g|
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|AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripod||Weight: 500g|
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|K&F Concept Tripod||Weight: 1.36kg|
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|Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod||Weight: 1.18kg|
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|SP Gadgets POV Tripod||Weight: 198g|
Capacity: GoPro Hero
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Why should I take a tripod for travel?
Before we get into the detail about which product is the best lightweight tripod for backpacking, it’s important to consider what the benefits are of travelling with a tripod and ensure that you will actually benefit from having one with you on your backpacking trip.
Simply put there are many types of photographs that you will struggle to take without a good tripod. For example, night photography can be improved greatly with a tripod and if you’re planning to travel to somewhere like Iceland where you will wanting to shoot the Northern Lights then a tripod is an absolute must to add to your Iceland packing list!
Other situations where a tripod can be really handy include taking long exposure photographs, setting up a shot on a timer and eliminating blurry photos due to shaky hands!
If you simply want to take photos for the sake of memories and value keeping your backpack as light as possible, then it might not be necessary to travel with a tripod. However, if you’re looking to take your photographs to the next level and try out new shots with your camera than a tripod is a must-have accessory. Luckily, technology has come a long way and there are many fantastic lightweight options if you’re looking for a good backpacking tripod!
Considerations for Choosing a Lightweight Tripod
Now that you’ve determined whether you want to bring a tripod with you on your upcoming trip, it’s time to consider what are the most important factors for you when it comes to choosing which tripod to buy.
The main trade-off comes down to whether you prioritise weight and simply want a tripod to start improving your photography or whether you are a professional (or want to become one) and want to ensure you take the best photos possible.
In this article, there are recommendations for a number of super lightweight tripods that are perfect for backpacking trips and the amateur photographer however it will also highlight some choices that are better for more serious photographers though they do come at an increased weight!
The other important thing to keep in mind is both the weight of your camera and any potential lenses that you have or might have in the future. If your current setup is getting close to the maximum load allowed for a particular tripod then I highly choosing a model that allows for a higher weight. You never know when you’ll invest in a new lens and the last thing you want is to realise that your tripod can’t handle it while on the road!
Best Lightweight Tripod for Backpacking
Best Overall Choice: Joby Gorillapod Kit
The Joby Gorillapod (also available on REI here) is the best backpacking tripod if you want to stay as lightweight as possible while still enjoying the many benefits that a tripod can bring to your photographs.
The main feature of this tripod that makes it stand out against its competitors is its legs are a built from a flexible material that allows you to bend them and therefore wrap them against various objects.
This is a fantastic feature, particularly if you’re taking a lot of photographs in nature where it’s not always possible to find a flat surface. You can wrap the tripod around tree trunks, benches and much more which makes it easy to get a unique angle for your shot!
Despite the flexible material, the Joby Gorillapod is still extremely strong and stable so you don’t have to sacrifice those core qualities in order to benefit from the tripod’s unique legs!
The tripod comes in a variety of sizes with the model number referring to the weight of the camera. So a Joby Gorilla Pod 500 will hold cameras weighing less than 500g while the 1K will hold a maximum of 1kg cameras and so on. The Joby GorillaPod 1K (also available on REI here) is sufficient for most entry-level mirrorless cameras using a kit lens and weighs less than 200g making this the best travel tripod for a mirrorless camera.
If you plan on buying heavier lenses in the future or own a larger DSLR, you will probably need to buy the 3K version or potentially even the 5K version (also available on REI here) if you’re going to be purchasing some seriously heavy lenses.
The lightness and versatility of the Joby Gorillapod means that I never leave for a trip without it in my backpack and definitely recommend it as the best lightweight tripod for backpacking trips.
Alternative Choice: Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod
One of the other best lightweight tripods for backpacking is undoubtedly the Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod. This tripod is also incredibly lightweight, weighing only 190g and can handle cameras of up to 1kg. This means it’s a great mini tripod for mirrorless cameras and point and shoots but won’t be suitable if travelling with a heavier DSLR or lens kit.
A feature of this tripod that I quite like is the lock button system that ensures your camera is tightly secured to the tripod. You can also buy a version that comes with a smartphone adapter which can be useful.
I think this tripod is best used in situations where you know you will have a flat surface as it doesn’t have the flexible legs of the Joby GorillaPod that allow you to wrap the tripod around various objects.
This makes this a great backpacking tripod for vlogging as it’s ideally designed for sitting on a table, however, I would choose the GorillaPod over the Manfrotto Pixi Mini Tripod if you’re planning on hiking and taking a lot of nature shots where the flexible legs will be handy.
Best Value Choice: AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripod
If you’re after a more traditional tripod for your upcoming backpacking adventure but not looking to spend a lot of money then the AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripod might be a great option for you.
It weighs around 500g, meaning it is heavier than the previous options listed in this article. However, it comes with a packing bag that ensures it can easily fit into a backpack.
The main advantage of this tripod is that, while it’s 16.5 inches long fully packed, it can extend to a 50-inch height, making it great a full-size option if that’s what you prefer over the mini tripods. You also have the flexibility of extending one leg at a time, making this a great lightweight tripod for hiking or backpacking.
The 50-inch version isn’t recommended for heavier cameras but Amazon has also released a 60-inch version that is suitable for cameras weighing up to 3kg. This tripod is undoubtedly one of the best lightweight tripods for backpacking if you’re after a full-size option and don’t want to spend a lot of money.
Professional Choice: K&F Concept Tripod
If you’re starting to take your travel photography more seriously and want a tripod that can help you take even more professional looking photos, then the K&F Concept 62-inch tripod provides a great balance between functionality and weight.
Weighing in at over 1.35kg, this tripod is a lot heavier than others listed in this article so I would only consider buying this if you’re comfortable with adding the extra weight to your bag and value the additional benefits this tripod can bring.
The 62-inch version offers fantastic stability, a ball head that allows for 360-degree movement and folds down to 18 inches to ensure it’s still compact enough for a backpacking trip. It’s also extremely easy to use and you can quickly adjust the height of each leg while taking photos giving you maximum flexibility!
This tripod can support much heavier camera setups than the other tripods listed in this article so if you’re travelling with a DSLR or heavy camera lenses then this could be one of the best backpacking tripods for you.
Alternative Professional Choice: Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod
Another good option if a basic lightweight tripod doesn’t suit you and you’re after the reliability of a professional tripod is the Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod.
Weighing in at 1.18kg, it is lighter than the K&F Concept Tripod while still containing many of the same features that make it a great lightweight option for travel. It is easy to store and folds down easily into a carry case, has a 360-degree swivel head to ensure you can capture the shot you want and its non-slip rubber legs mean that you can place it on uneven terrain and still ensure you have stability in your shots.
A downfall of the Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod is that its load is only 5kg compared to the 10kg of the K&F Concept Tripod. That means as a professional photographer, if you have a number of heavy lenses or a DSLR, this tripod might not be the perfect choice for you. However, if that isn’t a drawback for you, then this tripod is certainly worth considering particularly if travelling with a lighter mirrorless camera!
GoPro Choice: SP Gadgets POV Tripod
If, like many travellers these days, you are leaving the heavy cameras at home and instead are capturing your trip purely through your smartphone and GoPro then the SP Gadgets POV Tripod (also available on REI here) might be the best lightweight tripod for you.
Compatible with the GoPro Hero series, the standout feature of this tripod is that it allows you to use it as a conventional tripod but also as grip pole. This allows you to easily get those ‘jumping into water’ shots that are synonymous with the GoPro cameras while also ensuring you can still use it as a traditional tripod.
The SP Gadgets POV Tripod comes with a ball head that allows for 360-degree rotation of the camera, a rubber handle to ensure that you can easily grip it and weighs under 200g ensuring it doesn’t add unnecessary weight to your backpack!
If you are beginning to take your photography more seriously then a tripod is undoubtedly one of the first accessories you should buy to complement your camera. There are many different tripods available to buy across a wide spectrum of budgets, however, if you’re looking for the best lightweight tripod for backpacking then you don’t need to spend a fortune!
If travelling with expensive camera gear, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads as they allow you to insure individual items and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning on a buying a tripod? What do you think is the best lightweight tripod for backpacking? Let us know in the comments below!