After multiple award-winning bag releases, Peak Design, the worldwide leader in crowdfunding and everyday carry solutions, is proud to disrupt yet another product category—the camera tripod. More than four years in the making, Peak Design’s newest release, Travel Tripod, is a ground-up reexamination of camera tripod design to produce the world’s most portable, packable, and easy-to-setup tripod for professionals and first-time tripod owners alike.
Available both in carbon fiber and aluminum legs (MSRP: $599.95 // $349.95) the Travel Tripod will launch on Kickstarter (peakdesign.com/ks) for a pre-sale discount beginning May 21, 2019. The tripod will then be available for purchase online at peakdesign.com and through major retailers in time for the 2019 holiday season.
Unboxing and First Impressions
Why Is This Travel Tripod A Big deal?
Peak Design’s new Travel Tripod promises to redefine product category for years to come.
They boast that this Travel Tripod is the most portable, packable, and easy-to-setup professional tripod in the world. For years, traditional tripods have suffered a critical flaw: needless bulk and wasted space, the result of a spatially inefficient design. By redesigning the tripod from the ground up, they created the world’s most portable travel tripod—one that packs to the diameter of a water bottle, (roughly 3.25 inches), without sacrificing height, stability, or load capacity. The result is a tripod that deploys to 58.5 inches tall while taking up less than half the volume of its competitors.
But they didn’t stop there. The Peak Design Travel Tripod is radically faster to setup and takedown than traditional tripods, and features more ergonomic adjustment points, built-in mobile compatibility, and thoughtful usability details at every corner. Plus, it’s built for life on the road: durable, fully serviceable, and backed by the Peak Design lifetime guarantee.
Having gotten hands on with this tripod, both Matthew Saville and myself can confirm that the design is very sleek and our initial impression was kind of wowed by the fact there were no external dials/knobs/handles like most tripods have. We went in blind and found the ball head and lock/controls for it were built into the center column, eliminating any thing that could hook or catch on a bag or backpack.
“During my travels in 2008 I began wondering why on Earth my tripod was so big. The thing was full of negative space and knobs, and I felt like something designed for portability could do much better,” commented Peak Design CEO, Peter Dering. “I quickly realized that anything short of a complete design overhaul would fail to meet my criteria of the perfect travel tripod. It took years of development but the outcome is a camera tripod that seamlessly integrates into all aspects of travel and adventure.”
The Peak Design Travel Tripod is among the quickest-to-deploy and most intuitive to use tripods on the market. And this we can confirm, Peak Design developed a system of non-inverted legs that rapidly deploy along an aligned system of locking cam levers. With three swift hand movements, the legs can be fully extended and ready for action. It’s almost as quick to collapse and pack as well.
Peak Design also optimized the Travel Tripod ball head to operate more fluidly than traditional tripod heads while still prioritizing spatial efficiency. Travel Tripod eliminates bulky and confusing knobs with a single adjustment ring for simple and smooth 360-degree adjustment. Peak Design’s proprietary quick-release plate technology facilitates lightning-fast camera attachment—easily accommodating a full frame DSLR with telephoto lens—and is compatible with Peak Design carrying equipment and with Arca Swiss tripod dimensions.
In addition to a thorough rethinking of a tripod’s architecture and user interface, carefully considered material choices and construction techniques provide the stability and vibration dampening demanded by avid photographers. A built-in universal phone mount, bubble-level, hook for counterweights, and included soft case round out a packed feature list that fans of Peak Design have come to expect. Yes, you read right, inside of the center column is a smart phone mount so you truly never have to go without getting your shot!
The Pros – Benefits & Features
Pro performance. Half the size.
- Groundbreaking architecture eliminates dead volume
- Packs down to half the size of traditional travel tripods—to the size of a water bottle
- No protruding knobs
- Priced incredibly fair and equal to all other brands on the market
Lightning-fast setup and pack-down.
- Quick-locking cams allow you to unlock legs in 3 swift motions
- Legs deploy without flipping over for significantly faster setup than traditional tripod designs
- Unique quick-release allows instant, secure camera attachment
Intuitive, ergonomic ball head interface.
- Single, ultra-smooth omnidirectional ball head adjustment ring with no
- Simple locking ring for total security and stiffness
- Compatible with all PD plates and most Arca-type plates
- Removable pins for use with most Arca-type L-brackets
- Omnidirectional bubble level
Professional stability and features for demanding environments.
- 20lb weight capacity, optimized for use with full-frame DSLR + telephoto lens
- Stability and vibration dampening comparable to much larger tripods in its class
- Nonslip, shock absorbing rubber feet
- Built-in load hanging hook
- Low and inverted configuration modes allow camera to sit just inches off ground
- Anchor attachment points for carrying with Peak Design straps
Brilliantly integrated mobile phone mount.
- Built-in mobile mount magnetically stowes in center column
- Mount sets up securely and holds any phone/case
Durable, fully serviceable, and guaranteed for life
- All components are weather and impact resistant
- Slim, protective carry sleeve
- Allen key tool included inside a small pocket inside of the carrying case
- All parts are fully serviceable, cleanable, and replaceable
- In the box: Tripod (legs + ball head), soft case, Standard Plate, 4mm + 2.5mm hex wrench (4mm for tripod plate, short center column; 2.5mm for cam levers and ball head plate pins), bushing removal tool
- Weight Capacity: 9.1 kg (20 lbs)*
*Optimized for pro setups, up to full-frame DSLR + telephoto lens
- Collapsed Dimensions:
- Length: 38.7 cm (15.25”)
- Max Diameter: 8.3 cm (3.25”)
- Deployed Dimensions:
- Max height (center column raised): 148.6 cm (58.5″)
- Max height (center column down): 126.4 cm (49.75″)
- Min height (low mode): 11.4 cm (4.5”)
- Alloy: 1.56 kg (3.44 lbs)
- Carbon: 1.27 kg (2.81 lbs)
- Leg sections: 5
- Leg locks: aluminum cams
- Ball head, hub, load hook: Powder Coated A380 aluminum
- Legs: Anodized 6061-T6 aluminum (Alloy), Carbon F’n fiber (Carbon)
- Quick release, adjustment ring, center column knob: Anodized 6061-T6 aluminum
- Locking ring: Polycarbonate/ABS blend
- Feet: ShoreA60 TPU
The thing to keep in mind here, is the units we got to play with are technically pre-production and pretty much every issue Matthew and I encountered were “known” and addressed for production…and when I say issues, there were not many. Basically, the only issue is a common one among all travel tripods with 4+ sections on the legs. when they are fully extended there is a little wobble from the bottom section. That’s really about it.
The only other con, and that’s not even really a negative, is just getting used to the new style of Ball Head. For detail control freaks like myself, it was a little weird to get used too, and granted i’ve not had enough time to REALLY use it enough to be comfortable still, but that’s about it. Not much of a list, but it is what it is.
The Conclusion / Who Is It For?
The $599/$350 question? Given there’s just barely more than a 1/2 lb difference between the two models of these tripods, the question here is which to choose and what is it worth to you when you’re traveling? Granted the carbon fiber will be more vibration resistant while you’re shooting, so that’s a plus for the long exposure addict like myself. Either one will fit VERY easily in nearly any bag or luggage scenario you can think of. The only real issue is if you need multiple tripods like a timelapse photographer, that .63lb difference can add up quickly if you’re packing multiple units on your trip.
Regardless, both are absolutely fantastic and stylish looking tripods. That’s a weird thing to say right? Who’d have thought a tripod would be a style accessory? Well, honestly, we all felt like Peak Design knocked this one out of the park. Given the average price of comparable units on the market from Manfrotto to 3 Legged Thing, the price is definitely worth it for both models. This tripod set is fantastic for both the seasoned pro, and the budding amature. It’s small, lightweight, travels very well, and is super quick to setup and tear down so you never need to worry about missing your shot while on the road.
Honestly, it’s a “Travel” tripod, but it works great for pretty much everyone and anything except for those folks who need pinpoint precision like pano/compositors and architecture photographers. And even then, i’m sure they could find a way!
It’s my recommendation, that if you’re in the market for a travel tripod or even just considering a more lightweight solution, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is worth your time to research.
Until it’s available for retail this fall, be sure to check out the Kickstarter page and Peak Design’s website for all the details. Until then, if you have any questions or would like to see a deeper review, let me know in the comments below! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have and would love to hear your suggestions for some tests to put it through.
About Peak Design
Since 2010, Peak Design has been building innovative carry solutions with a simple overarching design directive: make the best things. The idea for our first product was born on a motorcycle trip through Southeast Asia and has since expanded to include a cross-functional ecosystem of bags, pouches, slings, straps, and clips. We’ve won applause along the way, but we’re most proud of the fact that we’re 100% crowdfunded and 100% employee-owned. We’ve raised $20.2 Million through 8 Kickstarter campaigns, allowing Peak Design to stay investor-free and focused on the things that matter most: designing great products, fostering happy employees, and taking care of our customers and the natural environment. Learn more at peakdesign.com.
*All images shared with permission from Peak Design. Do not share or use the images without direct written permission from the copyright holder.