We spent 45 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you’re indoors, outdoors, or planning to travel, there’s no reason why you can’t produce the same professional-quality snapshots in each situation using your digital camera, camcorder, or cell phone with one of these nifty compact tripods. Designed to fit easily into backpacks and carry-on bags, they offer multi-sectioned legs, adjustable angles, and a range of available height options. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.
8. GoPole Base
The GoPole Base is capable of folding into 6 different locking positions, thanks to its bi-directional design that allows it to be set up as either a tabletop tripod for a GoPro camera, or as a support platform for GoPole devices without the need for any special adapters.
The Pedco UltraPod II is compatible with cameras, camcorders, and binoculars. Its removable D-ring Velcro cinch strap is designed to secure the unit to almost any post, tree limb, or staircase railing, making easy work of taking pictures in tough locations.
Setting the Mactrem Zomei Z818 apart from its competition is its ability to convert to a full-size monopod up to 72 inches in length using the spring-loaded hook built into the design of its center column. A portable carrying case is also included.
The multifunctional PolarPro Trippler is an extremely affordable and ultra-portable option that can transform into a tripod, extension pole, or grip for accommodating a variety of devices and ensuring the ideal snapshot in almost any indoor or outdoor setting.
The Bonfoto B671C is constructed with a carbon fiber tube for superior resistance against corrosion and heat. Its dual bubble levels provide extra stability when snapping photos on uneven terrain. It also comes with both aluminum and plastic quick-release plates.
The Davis ; Sanford TR553-P228 folds down to a length of 12 inches, while also being able to extend to a maximum height of 53 inches when in use. It can support a weight load of up to 10 pounds, making it ideal for accommodating both DSLR and point-and-shoot cameras.
Capable of fitting into most carry-on luggage and backpacks, the Manfrotto BeFree MKBFRA4-BH has an integrated aluminum ball head that keeps your camera securely locked in the desired position, while its quick-release adapter allows the legs to fold tightly around it.
Made for both ease of use and flexibility, the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB features 3 sturdy legs that are crafted from aluminum alloy and capable of being adjusted to either 25-, 50-, or 80-degree angles, maximizing its range of motion for taking low-level photographs.
If you’ve been a photographer for any stretch of time, chances are you already own a tripod. Whether this is a model meant to hold you over until you can afford something nicer or you already have a pro-level set of sticks is actually irrelevant to our topic here. That’s because compact tripods are a unique offering, and even if you already have several means by which you stabilize your camera, one of these more diminutive models is still a smart addition to your kit.
That’s because a compact tripod can often perform certain functions that a regular, full-sized tripod cannot. The most obvious of these is that it can get your camera closer to the ground. Even with their legs spread out, full-sized tripods can only bring your camera so close to the floor, making certain low or up angles more difficult to capture. Compact tripods, on the other hand, start out a lot closer to the ground, and when you spread them out they get extremely low.
You might be telling yourself that you never shoot low angles like that, so such an advantage would be wasted on you, but there’s another crucial benefit to a compact tripod that you could certainly use: they’re exceedingly portable. If you’re hiking into the wilderness to do some shooting, the last thing you want to do is try to figure out how to get your video tripod lashed to your camping backpack. A compact tripod is much easier to pack and will add a significantly lighter load to your haul, saving you valuable energy.
Compact tripods also make good knock-around models, as many are far less expensive than their professional counterparts. That means you can rely on your compact model as a tool for more rugged environments or shoots that could endanger your pro gear. For example, I recently shot a horror film, and one of the scenes called for a veritable bloodbath with a tripod on a dolly. I could have spent a bunch of time carefully covering my go-to sticks with plastic to prevent all that sticky fake blood from harming their joints, but I chose instead to reach for a smaller tripod I keep on hand for whenever I need a low angle. It got covered in fake blood, and I was able to wash and dry it without worrying too much if it would ever be the same. There’s freedom in that.
How To Choose The Perfect Compact Tripod
The compact tripod category contains a very wide variety of models, so choosing one from among them might turn out to be a slightly harder task than you would have imagined starting out. With an eye toward certain features and styles, however, you can easily take the options on our list and narrow them down to just one or two great models.
Because most compact tripods have stark limits to their weight capacity compared to full-sized units, the first thing you should do when shopping for a compact tripod is ascertain the heaviest weight of your usual setup. That means grabbing your camera, your heaviest lens, and anything you might want to attach to the camera for shooting, and putting it on a scale. If you don’t have a small scale like a food scale, you can hop on your regular bathroom scale without holding the camera and subtract that number from the number you see when standing on the scale with the camera in your hand. That should give you the weight of your setup. Then, make sure that the tripod you have your eye on can support at least that much weight.
Another important thing to look at is whether or not the legs of your compact model can extend. Some compact tripods are so small that they aren’t even built for any kind of height, and they’re intended rather for use tabletops and other flat, stable services. Any model with extendable legs will be considerably more versatile, and will probably be able to hold a heavier-set up.
Finally, take a look at the way those legs extend. Most tripods today utilize either screw locks or tab locks to secure their legs in an extended position. Screw locks are generally considered to be more durable, as there aren’t any appendages susceptible to damage. Users may overtighten these, however, which can damage their ability to hold a locked position. Screw locks are also a little bit more of a hassle then their tab-based counterparts. Tab locks today are a lot stronger than they were when they first came out, as well, and as long as you don’t wrench them in the wrong direction, they should hold up just fine.
Other Smart Camera Accessories
If you’re trying to reduce the size of your gear footprint as much as possible, compact tripods are a great start. There are some other accessories you can invest in, as well, that can make your photography and videography kit much smaller.
If you shoot video, the quality of your audio is paramount. Professional sound equipment can be bulky and expensive, however, and paying someone to run it can be a costly affair. Instead, you can get a small shotgun microphone that mounts on your camera’s hot shoe. That placement allows it to cleanly pick up audio from whatever the camera is pointing at with minimal background noise.
If you find your camera strap to be too cumbersome, you can invest in any number of alternative solutions, from wrist straps to harness systems. You could also use a holster if you find that you mostly rely on one lens when you’re out shooting.
The bag you use to keep all of your gear together can go a long way toward reducing your overall footprint, as well, especially if its interior is spacious and customizable, and its overall size is relatively small. And if you’re getting a compact tripod for use in the wilderness, there are great waterproof bag options out there that warrant serious consideration.