Looking for a lightweight travel tripod for less than £120? Andy Westlake assesses some lesser-known options to see which offers the best value for money

Travel tripods – at a glance:

  • Removable head

This allows swapping to a different head type, such as for video.

  • Quick release

Some tripods use easily available plates, which is handy if you need a spare.

  • Multi-angle legs

All these tripods offer three leg angles and reverse folding for improved portability.

  • Spirit level

A built-in spirit level helps to keep horizons straight. Ideally, it should be on the quick-release platform.

  • Weight hook

A weight hook allows you to hang a bag off your tripod for added stability.

  • Low level

Removing the centre column allows really low-level shooting.

MeFoto Backpacker Air

MeFoto Backpacker Air tripod

Price: £100

Website: www.mefoto.com/uk

Over the past couple of years, Chinese tripod manufacturer MeFoto has made a name for itself with its brightly coloured travel tripods. It might be tempting to take a look at the firm’s rainbow displays and dismiss them as gimmicky, but this would miss the point. MeFoto is a subsidiary of Benro and aims its products at a younger market, without compromising on quality.

Aimed at users of smartphones and lightweight cameras, the aluminium Backpacker Air is MeFoto’s smallest-folding model yet. This is due to its five-section HyperLock legs, which can be extended or collapsed with a single twist of each foot. The same mechanism is used in the removable centre column, which can be detached to form a selfie stick. Clip on your smartphone using the supplied clamp mount and trigger its camera using the included Bluetooth remote.

Each leg can be set to one of three angles, and the centre column can be inverted for low-level shooting, although as always this is rather awkward. The smoothly adjusting ball head can’t be removed, and has a single lock for its ball joint and panoramic base. Potential buyers should note that MeFoto’s specified 151cm maximum height is with the telescopic centre column fully extended, at which point it’s distinctly wobbly. It’s much more stable if kept retracted, giving a more realistic height of 110cm.

MeFoto Backpacker Air tripod – Specifications

Closed length: 26.5cm
Max height: 151.1cm
Leg-only height: 95cm
Min height: 28.4cm
Max load: 4kg
Weight: 0.09kg
Price: £100
Leg lock type: HyperLock
Leg sections: 5
Head: Fixed
QR plate: Arca Swiss

Sirui-T-005X

Sirui T-005X

Price: £90

Website: www.sirui.eu/en/home

The Sirui T-005X is the smallest tripod in the group when folded, thanks to five-section legs, a two-section column and a slimline head. However, the T-005X extends to 139cm, helped by rather narrowly angled legs and a long centre column. Unfortunately, these features make it a little wobbly, and it’s noticeably more stable with the second column section retracted, giving a 124cm height. The centre column can be unscrewed completely, and the head platform attached directly to the legs for low-angle shooting.

The tripod is very quick to set up, with clever sprung-angle selectors and twist leg locks that can be undone all at once. The removable C-10X ball head is particularly good, with a separate pan lock,
and a small quick-release clamp that accepts Arca Swiss-type plates. Rather than a weight hook, the T-005X has a carabiner, which allows it to be clipped to a bag or belt for carrying.

To top it off, the build quality and finish are superb. Indeed, the biggest letdown is a rather basic draw-cord carry-case. If you want a very portable high-quality tripod, particularly for a small DSLR or compact system camera, the Sirui T-005X is difficult to beat.

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Sirui T-005X – Specifications

Closed length: 32.5cm
Max height: 139cm
Leg-only height: 105cm
Min height: 19cm
Max load: 4kg
Weight: 1.02kg
Price: £90
Leg lock type: Twist
Leg sections: 5
Head: Removable
QR plate: Arca Swiss

Benro Travel tripod

Benro TMA28A Series 2 Mach3 Aluminium tripod

Price: £119

Website: http://www.benroeu.com/

As the name suggests, the legs are constructed of strong, lightweight aluminium. The spider and upper leg locks are made of durable magnesium alloy. It weighs 1.76kg, making it the heaviest options here. Benro quotes an impressive maximum payload of 14kg. Packed down, the tripod measures 52.5cm. That’s reasonable, especially when you consider its maximum height is 155.5cm at full extension.

With some tripods, the leg locks can be easily broken. Twist-lock legs are often reliable, though, and the Benro TMA28A’s appear to be very good. They’re rubberised and easy to twist open and closed. They also boast a feature that stops particles jamming them.

The leg angle locks have three positions in which the tripod can be spread out. The last is very wide, making it well suited for uneven locations such as a rocky beach. While the centre column can be turned upside down for low-level shooting, there is an additional small centre column that comes inside the tripod bag. For ground-level shooting.

It’s not the lightest or most compact tripod, but it holds the middle ground in practically all areas, making it a solid all-rounder. It’s steady, well made, has lots of extras as standard and does more or less everything an enthusiast photographer could ask of a tripod – all at a very affordable price.

Score: 5 out of 5

Benro TMA28A Series 2 Mach3 – Specifications

Closed length: 39.5cm
Max height: 155.5cm
Leg-only height: 135.5cm
Min height: 52.5cm
Max load: 14kg
Weight: 1.26kg
Price: £119
Leg lock type: Twist
Leg sections: 3
Head: Removable
QR plate: Arca Swiss

Camlink Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod TPCARB2500

Camlink Carbon Fibre Tripod 1.4m CL-TPCARB2500

Price: £90

Website: www.camlink.photo/en_us

Like Amazon (right), CamLink is offering a carbon-fibre tripod at a very low price. In this case, it’s
a four-section model with a one-piece column. While the CL-TPCARB2500 is not very tall, the manufacturer’s specifications claim the highest load rating in this group of 6kg. The centre column can be inverted for low-level work, and the removable head has a separate pan lock. There are even two spirit levels.

The low price comes from the extensive use of plastics where other tripods employ metal, including the central ‘spider’ and the twist leg locks. The chunky ball head uses a proprietary quick-release plate, and its large platform stops the legs from folding back fully. The small press-in leg-angle locks are a bit fiddly, too.

Unfortunately, with an enthusiast DSLR on top, the tripod simply isn’t very stable, even with the centre column retracted. The head is the main culprit, and the legs do much better when used with a different one. This model offers good value, but you’ll really need to use a more solid head to get the best results.

Score: 3 out of 5

Camlink Carbon Fibre Tripod 1.4m CL-TPCARB2500 – Specifications

Closed length: 39cm
Max height: 134cm
Leg-only height: 117cm
Min height: 37cm
Max load: 6kg
Weight: 1.26kg
Price: £100
Leg lock type: Twist
Leg sections: 4
Head: Removable
QR plate: Proprietary

AmazonBasics Lightweight Travel Tripod 52 inches

AmazonBasics Lightweight Travel Tripod 52 inches

Price: £55

Website: www.amazon.co.uk

The AmazonBasics Lightweight Travel Tripod 52 inches is probably the cheapest carbon-fibre tripod on the market, which presumably has a lot to do with the buying power of one of the world’s largest retailers. In terms of size and design, the AmazonBasics is pretty similar to the Sirui T-005X, with five-section legs and a two-section column, coupled with a removable ball head that has a separate pan lock. The column can be removed completely for low-level shooting.

Unfortunately, plenty of corners have been cut to achieve such a low price. The fit and finish are quite basic, and the bundled head isn’t great, as it tilts the camera when it’s locked. The quick-release clamp looks like it should be Arca Swiss-compatible, but it isn’t. However, where it counts, the tripod does hold the camera pretty stable, although it works best with the second column section down.

The Amazon tripod is incredible value, although I’d advise buyers to check it over carefully when
it arrives, and be prepared to return it if necessary. Personally, I’d also use a better head.

Score: 3.5 out of 5

AmazonBasics Lightweight Travel Tripod 52 inches – Specification

Closed length: 31cm
Max height: 135cm
Leg-only height: 110cm
Min height: 18.5cm
Max load: 3.6kg
Weight: 1.09kg
Price: £50
Leg lock type: Twist
Leg sections: 5
Head: Removable
QR plate: Proprietary