Post Summary: Peak Design Travel Tripod Review (5 Takeaways)
The Peak Design Travel Tripod promised to deliver the best travel tripod ever made — that’s a pretty tall order. However, Peak Design has provided innovative and quality camera accessories such as camera bags, clips, and straps.
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that they would deliver what may be the best travel tripod on the market. At the very least, it’s sleek design is both robust, portable, full of new features. After two months of shooting with both the carbon fiber ($600) and aluminum version ($350), we love these tripods. So, what makes the Peak Design Travel Tripod stand out from other travel tripods?
Quick Snap into the Peak Design Travel Tripod
Quite simply, it may be the best tripod for travel and photography in general ever made. Top marks all around.
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Peak Design Travel Tripod Review
Peak Designs Travel Tripod Product Specs
There are a lot of elements and features in the Peak Design Travel Tripod. To give a better idea of the function of the tripod, we’ll break them down. Items, like the carbon fiber legs in flat shape or a unique ball head, allow for a lightweight and small footprint. Other features come down to personal preference and your style of photography.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod features five-section aluminum or carbon fiber legs with quick-release latches. There are none of those twisting locks that can be troublesome and not sufficiently lock. Two leg angles allow for a standard tripod height or low ground level shot that provides more stability. The legs extend to a maximum height of five feet, which is sufficient for most shooting, but there are taller tripods on the market.
The feet on the tripod are tremendous and can grip most surfaces, which includes rock where we do most of our shooting. The addition of a small hole on the bottom allows for quick water drainage if you place the tripod in water.
We’ve most of this before in quality tripods. However, what stands out the most in terms of the legs is their unique flat shape that allows for a low profile when folded in against the center column. It’s instrumental in the tripod’s small form and makes for a more natural surface to grip when changing camera angles.
Another stand out feature of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is the reversible central column, which allows you to capture ground shots more easily. There is also a hook underneath the central column to attach a stabilizing weight in case of windy conditions or trickier setups.
Unique to the column is a hidden phone mount that is lightweight and easy to connect to the ball head. Another notable small feature is the adjustment screw on the central column as it slides in and out from the body and aids in the tripod’s low profile. It’s these little design elements that add up to one beautifully engineered tripod.
Instead of the knobs and locking levers that many tripods have, the Peak Design Travel Tripod has a single ergonomically designed ball head. Only one ring is used to adjust the ball head and allows for quick adjustments. You’ll have 360 degrees of panning motion and 90-degree vertical tilt to make panorama shots and tricky upward angle photos possible.
I should note that the ball head is unique in portrait mode as it is limited in angles, by the way, the camera mounts. One position will allow for portrait shots that are downward while the other faces upwards. It can be frustrating at first, but over time it becomes second nature to know which way to mount the camera with the Arca-type L clip that can attach in either direction.
The ball head has a quick-release system that is compatible with Peak Design standard plates. Arca-type L brackets can be also be securely attached to make the tripod compatible with Arca-type plates. I live in the Peak Design eco-system, so it’s not a problem for me, but the clip does require a hex key, included with the tripod, to remove the plate.
One last feature to note or lack there-of is the level on the ball head. The level sits right next to the quick release plate and only allows for the measurement of landscape photographs. Most notable is that when any camera is mounted, the level hides under the body of the camera. In use, it has little effect on my shooting as my mirrorless camera provides an in-camera level. However, the lack of a level may be a source of frustration for some shooters. Quite honestly, the level feels like Peak Design included it to market an additional feature with little real-world use.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod comes with its protective fabric storage case. As stated earlier, included is a mobile phone mount, which is a nice feature given the prevalence of smartphones these days.
For maintenance and setup, a 2.5mm and a 4mm hex wrench are included, as well as a bushing removal tool that is used to clean the components of the inner legs in case they get clogged with dust or dirt.
Carbon vs Aluminum
Which model to buy, carbon or aluminum is probably the most asked question and debate for anyone who considers purchase of the Peak Design Travel Tripod. After using both tripods extensively I would say it depends, however, most photographers will be happy the aluminum tripod. There is a difference of 300 grams between the two models and the difference is significant in the hand.
In the scope of a $300 price difference, I find the carbon fiber a little difficult to justify. If I had a choice, I’d instead save the $300 for additional photography equipment like a VND from PolarPro, one of Peak Designs’ revolutionary camera bags like the Everyday Backpack, or my wallet.
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There’s no doubt that this tripod is for a lightweight traveler. It weighs only 2.8 pounds, and it’s not going to add much drag to your backpack but will provide you with a wide range of functions for your photography needs. Once packed down, the Peak Design is about the size and shape of a 32 oz water bottle, which makes it easy to slip into a travel bag and conveniently take out as soon as you reach your photo destination.
Although the Peak Design Travel Tripod won’t be the solution to absolutely every photography situation, it does an impressive job of being an all-around good travel tripod. As mentioned before, this thing is very lightweight, so carrying it around with you all day in Bali or the jungles of Costa Rica won’t wear you out too much.
For the average backpacker and travel photographer, the Peak Design is a great travel tripod that combines functionality in many areas with a lightweight and easy to carry design.
What Makes the Peak Design Travel Tripod So Great?
The low profile design and attention to detail is what sets this tripod apart from its competitors. I love the small attention to details like the easy to adjust ball head, telescoping adjustment knobs, carrying case, angled legs, and hidden phone mount.
Most photographers agree that fiber tripods are superior to aluminum ones. They are lighter weight and more durable. When you’re traveling and really need to watch how much weight you’re adding to your backpack, a lightweight travel tripod like the Peak Design is great to have.
Reversible Central Column
To obtain closer ground-level shots, you can reverse the tripod’s central column. This feature brings the minimum height to 5.5 inches, which is lower than many models of travel tripods.
Some people love it, some people hate it, but it does save space and makes a more versatile tripod. If you’re new to using ball head tripods, it may take a bit of getting used to, but you might find that you like this design even better. The Peak Design can hold various types of cameras, GoPros, and has a mobile mount for even more options for photo setups.
Carrying Case and Service Tools
To keep the Peak Design safe, the tripod comes with its own storage case. Although you might already have a spot reserved for it in your backpack, it never hurts to have a bit of extra protection for your camera equipment!
Peak Design Travel Tripod Areas of Use
Just because the Peak Design Travel Tripod is marketed as a travel tripod, doesn’t mean that the Peak Design necessarily has to be used for travel. Even if you’re interested in doing local city photography or planning some weekend hiking trips, the Peak Design is a great choice.
Because it’s a more expensive travel tripod, it’s not recommended as the first pick for beginner photographers. If you’re just starting out experimenting with photography, there are plenty of other adequate and cheaper lightweight aluminum or carbon fiber blend tripods you can try out before deciding whether you’re ready to make a more serious photography equipment investment. If you already have a bit of experience with photography and are annoyed with how heavy and cumbersome all your camera equipment is, then this is the tripod for you.
Since the Peak Design can be compatible with numerous types of cameras, including GoPros and mobile devices, it can be used for various photography styles. The Peak Design lacks a fluid head, which is much better if you want to take videos since you can smoothly pan from one direction to another. It’s still possible to take videos straight on, or you can purchase a separate adapter if you like the other qualities of the Peak Design but want to achieve a fluid range in motion while shooting videos.
Cost vs. Function of the Peak Design Travel Tripod
Peak Design often carry more expensive camera products, and the Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod is no exception. If you’re looking for something cheap, this isn’t the way to go. Although it hurts the wallet the benefits of the tripod can balance out the cost.
Since the Peak Design is compatible with so many cameras and has a mobile mount, it’s also very versatile. You’ll be paying more upfront, but in the long run, you probably won’t have to purchase too many adaptors and extra parts for your set up.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod fits with other Peak Design products. If you already have different cameras, travel backpacks, and accessories from Peak Design, this travel tripod will be the perfect addition to your equipment collection. I’m a massive fan of the camera clip that always rides on whatever backpack I’m carrying.
If you’re a photographer who has equipment from many different brands, there’s no need to worry. As mentioned, the tripod fits many other cameras, including mobile phones and GoPros. For specialized cameras, you can buy adaptors if you like the Peak Design lightweight tripod.
The tripod also comes with its own carrying case, so even if you don’t have other Peak Design products, you’ll still have a safe and convenient place to store the tripod. Thanks to its small packed size, it’s not difficult to fit in any suitcase, backpack, or equipment bag you may already have.
To service the tripod, the Peak Design comes with two hex wrenches, both of which can be stored within a tool holder on one of the legs. This makes it convenient to adjust the tripod and clean parts when necessary.
If you absolutely love your Peak Design Travel Tripod, there is a wide range of accessories you can get to help with certain photo setups. These include spiked feet to help provide a steady grip when doing photoshoots on sandy or loose soil, tripod sleeves in case of wet or mucky weather, and tripod hammocks for storing equipment within easy reach when doing a photoshoot.
The first and most significant drawback to the Peak Design Travel Tripod is the price. With so many great features (lightweight, versatile, etc.), you can expect a travel tripod of this grade to pack a punch in terms of cost. The Peak Design Travel Tripod may not be the best idea for novice photographers or people who only take photos on occasion. However, if you’re already serious about traveling and photography, the Peak Design is probably one of the best pieces of equipment you can add to your photography kit!
The other major fault to the Peak Design is also one of its best features: the weight. Since it’s just 2.8 pounds, it fits nicely into almost all backpacks and equipment bags. However, it’s just not designed for super heavy rigs and big clunky camera equipment. If you’ve got a big lens for wildlife photography you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Chances are, travelers are going to have lighter setups anyway, but it’s good to keep in mind that the load capacity is 20 pounds. While this is certainly enough to accommodate most basic setups, it might not do the trick for specialized rigs and photo shoots.
There are a few other things about the Peak Design that might be considered drawbacks by some photographers. First, the five-section legs can become a bit of a hassle. When you’re excited to get set up and going, clasping and locking each section can feel like it takes too long. The ball head takes some getting used to when in portrait mode. With a unique camera plate, it can be frustrating when you switch to other mounts as a hex key is required.