Tripods are game changers when you are taking photos on the road.
They will help you keep your camera stable, allow you to shoot long-exposures, and shoot in low light photography.
That said tripods can be expensive, so choosing the right one is important.
Here, I listed the best tripods under $200. This way, you will be able to purchase a quality tripod without breaking your bank.
What To Look For When Buying A Travel Tripod
Two of the most important features when buying a travel tripod is the weight and height of your tripod.
One of the most important things when buying a travel tripod is weight. As a travel photographer keeping my bag as light as possible is always the goal.
This is why I always go for a tripod that is between 2 and 3.5 pounds when I am traveling. This will keep my bag light but still give me the advantages of having a tripod to shoot with.
Remember, the taller and more robust you want your tripod, the heavier it will be. So you will need to make some compromises between how stable you want your tripod and how heavy you want it.
A great way to keep the weight of your tripod down is by purchasing a carbon fiber tripod. These can be around 1/2 pound lighter than there aluminum counterparts. Keep in mind that carbon fiber is typically more expensive, so you may need to increase your budget to do so.
Maximum and Minimum Height
Before you buy a tripod, there are a few things you need to consider.
The first is the maximum and minimum height of your tripod. If you like taking pictures fro a high perspective or you are over 6 feet, it is important you get a tripod that is tall enough.
If you need a tall tripod, I recommend one that at least 60 inches, ideally taller. Remember that tripods get less steady the taller they are, if possible, reduce how high you are using your tripod.
It is also essential you consider your minimum because this is usually how small your tripod will pack up, which means you will have to carry it at this size. For a travel tripod, I am for a tripod that is no larger than 20 inches and ideally around 12-15 inches.
Best Overall Travel Tripod: Manfrotto Travel Befree Live Aluminium Tripod Twist
Manfrotto is a well-known name in the tripod world, so it comes to no surprise that they are on this list. They are known for their innovative design that packs a combination of style and performance.
The Manfrotto Travel Befreee Advance is the best overall travel tripod if you are looking to spend under $200. It comes in just under $200 depending on your choice of twist or lever locks.
I prefer twist locks because they are thinner and easier to use, especially when you are traveling, but either option works well on the Manfrotto.
The Manfrotto has a maximum standing height of 59 inches and a minimum height of around 15 inches when folded up. This is perfect for a travel tripod as it will get small and compact and fit in a carrying case or in your bag but also tall enough for most photographers looking to shoot upright. If you want to go a bit taller than this, you may need to invest in a taller tripod or readjust your composition to get a higher perspective.
The tripod weighs just about 3.5 pounds, which is great for those looking for a lightweight option as they travel.
The new advanced Befree comes with a redesign locking system for the tripod legs and now has three set angles compared to only two. The locking system now uses a button located on the inside of the leg, which makes it very easy to grip and press.
The tripod legs and stability work exceptionally well. When fully extended, there is a slight wobble at high winds, especially if you extend the center column. Overall the stability and reliability of this tripod are exceptional and will cover you in most travel situations.
Best Ultra-Lightweight Travel Tripod: Benro Slim Tripod
The Benro Slim Travel Tripod is a simple, well-built travel tripod with no gimmicks or tricks. It does its job, its reliable, and lightweight. This is perfect for most travel photographers. Plus, you get the reliability and quality build from a trusted brand like Benro.
The carbon fiber option only weighs 2.2 pounds while the aluminum comes in at 2.6 pounds making it extremely lightweight and by far the lightest full-sized tripod on this list. In addition, it is also very compact; you can get it as small as 15.6 inches, meaning you could probably fit it in a backpack or camera bag with a side pocket of if you attach a sling you can easily carry it over your shoulder without it getting in the way.
The tripod legs use the twist feature to lock and release, which I prefer over any method because they are slimmer and easier to use. At the max height, the tripod extends to about 60 inches, which for me in most cases is more than enough.
The tripod legs use a shoulder locking system that allows you to lock the legs in three different shooting positions. I would say that the position of the legs is a bit limiting; with only three positions, it can be a bit frustrating in certain situations, but if you are not going for complex angles and perspectives that this should not be a problem.
A great feature is that you can remove the center column and place it upside down if you want to shoot very close to the floor. Many tripods don’t allow you to remove the center column, so having this feature is a big plus. This means that even though the minimum height is 15 inches, you can shoot as close to the floor as you need with this feature. You can enhance this feature by having a flexible ball head, which will allow you to move your camera to capture even more angles and perspectives.
Overall this tripod will get the job done without any questions. It is a durable, sturdy, and lightweight tripod that is perfect for travel and landscape photographers alike.
Best Monopod/Tripod Combo: ZOMEi 75” Tripod/Monopod
The Zomei Travel tripod is excellent for those looking for a very tall tripod that can also turn into a monopod. Sometimes tripods are too large to fit, or they don’t offer the agility that a monopod might so have the option to convert. When you are traveling, having the option to convert your tripod to a monopod easily can be extremely useful.
The process of converting the tripod is relatively easy, and I did not find any issues doing so. You need to unlock and unscrew all the tripod legs and attach them to the center column. I would say the whole process should take around 2-4 minutes.
This is also an outstanding tripod if you want a tall travel tripod; at max height is can reach 75 inches, which is relatively tall for a travel tripod. Overall, this tripod is pretty sturdy, but when fully extended, it is a bit shaky, especially if its windy. To counteract this, you can attach additional weight you can use the built-in hook on the center column. I love this feature because If I am traveling, I can just hook my camera bag or backpack onto the center column to increase the stability.
The tripod has a high load capacity of about 33 pounds, so you will be able to attach nearly any camera set-up you can think of. And the tripod only weighs about 3.5 pounds, keeping your backpack relatively light. Although this is not the lightest tripod, if you are looking for an extremely tall tripod/monopod combo, this is a great choice. It eliminates the need to carry two pieces of equipment and will only cost you $95, which is a bargain.
Best Miniature Tripod: Joby Gorilla Pod
If you are looking for a miniature tripod that you can use while you travel, the Joby Gorilla Pod is a great option. Although it is not your traditional tripod with collapsable legs, it does offer some great features that other tripods do not.
First, Joby offers several different models, all with different carrying capacity. If you are shooting with a DSLR or plan on using a zoom lens, I recommend the Joby Gorillapod 5K. If you have a lighter set-up, you can go with the Gorillapod 3K, but I would not recommend any smaller if you are using a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
The Gorillapod is made of ABS plastic, which is a reinforced plastic making it durable and lightweight at the same time. The legs are what separate this tripod from any other tripod.
The design of the legs includes plastic shots that allow you to bend and twist the tripod legs in any direction while still being able to hold a camera. You can keep the tripod legs straight for a maximum height of about 6 inches, or you can wrap the legs around an object to hold in place much higher. This versatility of this tripod is one of my favorite features.
You can use it as a normal tripod with the tripod legs in a triangle shape to support the camera. The second way you can use the tripod is handheld. By pushing the legs together, you can use them as a handle. Finally, the flexibility of the legs allows you to wrap it around nearly any object to shot from any position. For example, you can attach it to a pole, rail, fence, and any other surface you can think of.
With this style of adjustable joint legs, there is always a concern with the durability of the legs. Joby’s high-quality materials give it exceptional durability. Even after using this product for over a year, the legs function just like new. I will admit that there are a few joints on my tripod legs that are not as rigid and strong as before. Overall, this has not impacted my tripod’s ability to hold your camera or position the tripod legs.
This is not a lifelong tripod, if you use this tripod often and under extreme conditions, you will likely have to replace it after several years.
The Gorillapod also comes with a tripod head that uses the Arca Swiss quick release system. The tripod head uses a standard mount and can be removed if you want to attach your own tripod head. Another great thing about this tripod is that it comes with a quality tripod head while most budget tripods either do not come with one at all or come with a low-quality tripod head.
Overall, the Joby is an extremely versatile and reliable tripod that you can quickly get when you are on a budget. Although you won’t get the full height of a tripod with extendable legs, you can do everything else with this tripod.
Best Ultra Compact Tripod: Platypod
The Platypod is not a traditional tripod, but it offers the same stability that a tripod does but with a much smaller frame. The Playtpod is designed to hold a tripod head and camera and allow you to shoot very close to the ground or shoot in areas where tripods are not allowed or usually don’t fit.
The base is aluminum making it lightweight and durable. It comes with four small legs that give you an additional 2 inches of height. Also, you can purchase an accessory pack that comes with a strap that gives you the ability to attach the Platypod to rails and poles.
The Platypod is great for stabilizing your camera in places that tripods are usually not allowed or places where tripods do not fit. For example, the Taj Mahal does not allow tripods, but if you bring a Platypod, you will be able to capture a great photo of the Taj Mahal without sacrificing stability.
Overall, this product works extremely well. I have no issues with the quality or functionality of it. If you are looking for a small piece of equipment to give you stability, it is a perfect choice. The main disadvantage of this product is that to set up your Platypod higher, you need to get creative by placing it on something or strapping it to something which may require you to sacrifice your composition.