In this video, our friends and colleagues Chris Niccolls (and Jordan Drake) from DPR, take a look at four different travel tripods to try and find which one is the best. They take a look at four models by Manfrotto, Sirui, Gitzo and Peak Design and come out with some interesting takeaways.
- Peak Design travel tripod – 15.4″/39.5 cm long folded (you don’t need to flip the legs to get this closed length unlike the Gitzo and Manfrotto). 51″/129.5 cm open (center column down). 2.81lbs/1.27kg.
- Gitzo 1545T Kit – 16.7″/42.5 cm long folded. 54.5″/138.5 cm open (center column down). 2.34lbs/1.05kg.
- Manfrotto BeFree GT Carbon – 16.9″/43 cm long folded. 55″/140 cm open (center column down). 3.41lbs/1.54kg.
- Sirui N1204SK (with the K10 II ballhead) – 18.3″/46.5 cm long folded. 55.5″/141 cm open (center column down). 3.95lbs/1.79kg.
The peak design is the newest and most uniquely designed of the 4 (it is super compact although the Gitzo is a bit lighter). It is well made although the Gitzo still feels more substantial in the hand despite its reduced weight.
When it comes to stability all (maybe expect the super light Gitzo) are pretty close but do remember that you can (and should) put on some extra weight in the form of a heavy bag/sand or anything else that you can to make the tripod more stable if there is wind. Keep in mind that the Manfrotto and Gitzo models have a ring instead of a hook and it is off-center which is not ideal unlike the Sirui and Peak Design.
One feature which only the Sirui has is spiked feet (you can get them as extra for the Gitzo and Peak Design is working on making ones – but you will also need to buy them separately). The Sirui also has a single leg that can turn into a monopod (really nice touch) and padded feed which is great in cold environments.
Since we have done a very extensive tripod review series (we have a couple more on the way) we can say that we have somewhat of a different take on travel tripods from our own experience. First, as we mentioned many times before – our personal preference is going with the RC2 quick release system (the original one is actually better than the newly redesigned one by Manfrotto).
This is true in our view for almost all situations where you are shooting with small-mid size/weight bodies and lens combos, if you are using large/heavy and especially front-heavy gear, Arca swiss might be a better choice.
Raising the center column might bring a little bit more instability but in our experience, it is almost always more convenient (and more practical) than opening another section of legs (we always prefer not opening the legs all the way if possible as the last section is typically very thin and unstable (taller people and specific situations might make this impossible of course).
We have tested a different Sirui model from the one shown here called the SIRUI N-2204X (see review) since then it has a newer version called the Sirui N2204SK which has several improvements including a monopod option like the tripod that Niccolls tested.
There are of course more aspects and differences but at the end of the day, it really depends on your personal needs – how much you are willing to spend, how much are you willing to carry, how much stability do you need and personal preference about heads, quick releases, leg locks, and height.
Here are the prices for all 4 models:
- Manfrotto BeFree GT Carbon – $390 (with the head).
- Sirui N1204SK – $396 (keep in mind this is without the K10 II balhead).
- Peak Design travel tripod – $600 (with the head).
- Gitzo 1545T Kit – $950 with the head (or $630 without the head).
You can check out more videos from our photography gear guides section here on LensVid. We now have a whole new subsection dedicated to tripods for you to check out with new releases and reviews plus lots of info and videos.