Let's face it, everyone who loves traveling also loves to take photos and videos of their experiences.
Whether it's an amazing sunset in Bali or a night out in beautiful Istanbul, one of the most important pieces of equipment in my camera bag is a tripod.
In this article, I will review the Best Carbon Fiber Tripod for Travel.
I am Ali G, a Hong Kong-based professional photographer and traveler at heart. I have visited more than 30 countries and I also give travel and street photography workshops. A high-quality carbon fiber travel tripod is a must-have accessory for anyone who loves to travel and take photos.
A decade ago, only a unique breed of travel photographers would go that extra mile to lug a tripod on their travels due to the tripod's weight and bulk!
These were either professional travel photographers who needed sharp photos to submit to their editors or stock photo sites, or they were working on contracts with clients and needed the best possible shots without blur.
However, since the introduction of the lightweight tripod models in the last few years, I see more and more travel photography enthusiasts and vloggers carrying tripods.
This is a great opportunity for the average photographer and videographer to be able to produce professional-quality photos and videos.
Whatever may be your reason, a travel tripod is essential for a travel photographer. There are many different types and designs but we have focused only on carbon-fiber tripods in this discussion.
- Best Overall: Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod
- Best Lightweight for Travel Vlogger: Oben CTT-1000 Carbon fiber tabletop tripod
- Best for Travel Photographer: Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Tripod
The 3 Best Carbon Fiber Travel Tripods Reviewed
Here are my most recommended carbon fiber tripod for travel, together with their detailed reviews.
- Leg-section – 3
- Maximum load-carrying capacity – 19.8 lbs
- Locking mechanism – flip lock
- Best for – All-purpose travel photography
This is a three-section carbon fiber-made tripod. Please note this one does not come with a ball-head by default, but you can buy any standard ball head and pair it with this tripod.
The load-carrying capacity is 19.8 lbs which is more than enough for enthusiasts and professional DSLRs plus short-range (wide-angle) travel lenses.
The working height of the tripod ranges from 3.5-inches to 66.9-inches. However, the best thing is you can operate this tripod with one hand. The legs open and lock into position using Quick Power locks.
Another interesting feature of this tripod is that it comes with a bull's eye bubble level indicator that can rotate 360 degrees. This allows you to check it regardless of the shooting orientation of horizontal or vertical.
Speaking of which, the central column can be positioned horizontally as well. This allows you to mount your camera and use it for low-angle and macro shots, much more easily than other tripods.
- Leg-section – 3 section
- Maximum load-carrying capacity – 11 lbs
- Locking mechanism – twist lock
- Best for – Lightweight travel tripod for vloggers
Both the Oben CTT-1000 Carbon fiber tabletop tripod and the JOBY GorillaPod 5K are great lightweight tripods. They are both extremely useful for tabletop photography, videography as well as for travel photography.
For those who want a lightweight tripod to travel with, both of these work well. However, we picked the Oben CTT-1000 Carbon fiber tabletop tripod because it is a carbon fiber tripod. You could use this as a travel tripod, as a tabletop product photography tripod, and for vlogging purposes as well.
The best thing about the Oben CTT-1000 Carbon fiber tabletop tripod is that it is extremely lightweight. Each leg section opens up using a twist-lock mechanism. That allows the tripod to reach a maximum working height of 15.5-inches.
The Oben CTT-1000 Carbon fiber tabletop tripod comes complete with a ball head. If you don’t want the ball head, you can remove it and use the tripod legs on their own.
Due to its lightweight, this product easily fits inside any small check-in baggage. Yet because it is heavy duty and capable of supporting up to 11 lbs of load it can support a wide range of enthusiast and prosumer cameras.
- Leg-section – 4 section
- Maximum load-carrying capacity – 15.4 lbs
- Locking mechanism – flip lock
- Best for – Best for travel photographers
The Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 Carbon Fiber Tripod is an excellent carbon fiber tripod that you can tuck in your check-in baggage and use as a stable platform for time-lapse videos and long exposure photography on your travels.
Light enough to work as your main tripod for your international trips or weekend trips, it is only 3.5 lbs but can support up to 15.4 lsb of camera and lens.
One of the most useful things about this tripod is the Quick Power Lock feature that allows you to use only one hand to unlock the legs and set them up to their working height.
Let’s say you are working out of a wet area where there is a lot of dirt or mud. You can’t put your camera down on the ground. So, you have to grapple with your tripod with one hand trying to set it up while holding your camera in the other hand.
This is a big advantage because at times you cannot put your camera down when working in difficult situations or conditions.
Moreover as an added option, this tripod is also available with the MHXPRO-BHQ2 XPRO ball head with the 200PL quick release system. The easy-release mechanism of the ball head ensures that you can remove the quick release plate and reattach it very easily and very quickly.
Best Carbon Fiber Tripod for Travel - What to Consider?
When picking a tripod, any tripod, you need to keep in mind a few things. These tips will help you choose the right tripod. Almost half of the first-time buyers of tripods regret not having done enough research at first. This is where I'd like to help you!
Choosing the Right Tripod
The right type suggests that you choose a tripod that will serve your purpose perfectly. Let’s say that you are a travel vlogger, and you need something to stabilize your vlogging camera.
Similarly, if you are doing tabletop product photography, especially when you are working out of a small studio, a large tripod will be difficult to work with.
There is no point in buying a tripod that is best suited for landscape work. You need something smaller, lighter, and easy to operate. A carbon fiber-made table-top tripod is your best bet.
There are a bunch of options in the tabletop segment. You can buy something like a Joby GorillaPod for example. These have highly flexible ball joint legs. You can bend them, twist them, and pretty much set them up on any kind of surface.
You can even wrap them around a tree branch or a guard rail to shoot from a camera angle that would be impossible to achieve using traditional tripods! They are extremely tough and can support a decent-sized camera with a lens on.
If not using for tabletop content creation, then you should consider buying a tripod that when the legs are fully extended, the ball head reaches up to your chin level. This will ensure that when your camera is on the ball head the viewfinder is at your eye level.
A lower height means whenever you are using the tripod you are leaning over. This will put a strain on your back, something you should avoid over long periods.
If the tripod legs are longer, you can always adjust the height to match your eye level, but shorter tripods are difficult to work with.
The rule of thumb to buying a tripod is to ensure that the height of the tripod when fully extended should not be less than four inches from your height. When you add the ball head and the camera on top of it should come up to your eye level.
Speed is not everything in photography, but in some situations speed can make a huge difference. For example when the light is changing at sunset and you want to catch as much of the beautiful colors as possible.
The first things to consider are the base plate and the mounting plates. These two must allow you to slide in your camera smoothly when required. Next, the locking mechanism must be super effective in that you can lock your camera in position in no time.
The second is the telescopic legs. This is the part where you need to figure how quickly your tripod legs can extend and you can lock them up. Ideally, you should be able to do this with one hand by allowing one section to drop into position and then push to lock it in place.
Opt for a Ball Head
The ball head is a fluid support system designed to carry the weight of your camera and lens. It also helps to move the camera set-up in any direction and comes with a locking mechanism to hold the camera in a desired orientation and angle.
Ball heads are attached to the top of a tripod leg set-up using a bolt mechanism that sticks out. You simply screw a ball head onto the bolt of the base plate.
With the ball head comes a mounting plate and a quick release plate. The quick-release plate attaches itself to the bottom of your camera using a screw mechanism.
To mount your camera onto a tripod you simply slide the camera onto the mounting plate of the ball head using the quick release plate and lock it in place.
The quality of the ball head is very important and it should match with the build quality of the tripod legs. Cheaper quality ball heads are prone to get damaged easily and you will have to keep changing them. Good quality ball heads will last longer and are more reliable. The Sirui K10X is a good choice.
Carbon fiber tripods are lightweight and at the same time, they are very sturdy. They are the best mix when it comes to rigidity and practical usability. So, how heavy should your tripod be? I agree this is a tricky question.
You cannot possibly say as heavy as it can be because you don’t want to needlessly add bulk, especially if you're carrying it in a bag or on your back. Yes, weight can be useful too, such as when you are shooting in windy conditions. Lightweight tripods can easily be knocked over. You need a tripod that has the great build quality and is heavy, so a balance can be achieved.
Product photography tripods, as we had discussed at the start, do not have to be too large or too heavy.
Here are the most commonly asked questions relating to best carbon fiber travel tripod.
Is Aluminum or Carbon Fiber Cheaper?
Aluminum tripods are usually cheaper than carbon fibe, especially if you are looking at high quality, durable carbon fiber. However, Aluminum is also heavier than carbon fiber.
Another reason why aluminum is cheaper than carbon fiber, is because the molding process is much faster too. So If budget is the most important factor, you may want to choose an aluminum tripod instead of a carbon fiber tripod.
Is Manfrotto the Best Tripod?
Manfrotto is one of the top tripod brands in the world, and their products come with solid quality and affordable price. Quite a number of professional photographers are using Manfrotto tripods.
However, there are many great brands making impressive tripods too, such as Gitzo, Oben, and Really Right Stuff.
Related Travel Photography Articles
I have written several articles relating to travel photography, do check them out!
- Best camera for travel vlogging
- Best mirrorless camera for travel
- Best budget camera for travel
- Best lense for street photography
- Best camera for street photography
We have recommended the very best carbon fiber tripod for travel in the current market and the best overall pick is the Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Carbon Fiber Tripod.
It is lightweight, durable, suitable for all level photographers and very easy to operate. We have also recommended other great options suitable for different needs.
Simply check out the items that match your needs and you will be fine! Have a great trip and take lots of fantastic photos!
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A big thanks to Phottix for the professional lighting equipment provided to Ali G Studios.
The cover photo is © Ali Ghorbani and Ali G Studios
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