How good is the Peak Design Travel Tripod?
We’ve been photographers for 30+ years and have seen and used our fair share of tripods. Our speciality is travel, so the tripods we usually carry, lumber around with us for 12+ hours a day, so they really need to pass certain criteria before purchasing. We always take into consideration 5 key factors –
- Standing height (without the centre column raised)
- Price (to a degree)
For the last few years, we have used a relatively unknown brand of carbon fibre tripod by Freelander (model C-820) which has met our above criteria. These tripods are not perfect but have been fantastic performers and have never let us down. We are the hosts of one of Sydney’s largest photography Meetup groups and we have never had any hesitation in recommending these to our members. How good would a tripod need to be to encourage us to replace these? Well, it’d have to be damn good!
Peak Design was kind enough to send us their Carbon Fibre Travel Tripod for this review however this review is completely transparent and the opinions expressed are ours alone.
The Tripod Floor at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku, Tokyo – Japan
We’re not going to lie – in general, we love Peak Design products and use many of them. They have always lead the way with innovative, high-quality, practical products for photographers in a market where there is a lot of competition. Besides that, if you’ve ever watched any of their YouTube videos, they are pretty cool and occasionally funny guys (at least, we think they’re funny).
Some of their products that we use are – The Peak Design Everyday Sling Bag 10L (both V1 & V2) camera bag is used almost exclusively in favour of our backpack camera bags these days. All our cameras are supported by the Slide Strap and on the odd occasion, we will use the Capture Clip, LensKit, Shell, and Clutch products, depending on our shooting requirements.
Depending on which model of Peak Design tripod you consider (Carbon Fibre or Aluminium) the overall weight will differ. The Carbon Fibre weighs in at 1.27kg and the Aluminium at 1.56kg, making the weight of the Peak Design tripod very impressive. We thought that our current Carbon Fibre tripods were light (1.8kg). In travel photography, every bit of weight saving is appreciated. As mentioned above, when we travel we can be walking 12+ hours a day and as we carry at least one tripod with us at all times, this is a definite advantage. You may find other tripods listed online that are lighter, just keep in mind that this may be due to a couple of factors, such as –
- does not stand as tall
- weight indicated does not include the head as they are sold separately
- inferior materials
Above: The Peak Design Travel Tripod is on the left and our current tripod on the right
In our opinion, this is where we think the Peak Design tripod really excels. It is sleek and compact in size. When closed it is a mere 39.4cm tall and 7.9cm wide. The height is similar to our current tripod at 40cm (see above), however, it is most noticeable between the width of the two tripods. Peak Design have been able to achieve this by streamlining and reshaping the legs to neatly fold in to avoid any dead space between the legs and the centre column. The ball head has also been redesigned making it more compact and sits snugly at the top of the tripod.
As stated above, you may find other tripods listed online that are shorter but take into consideration again the overall standing height plus the head of the tripod in your comparisons.
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A key factor to consider when purchasing a tripod is the standing height of the tripod. This is particularly important if your camera does NOT have an articulating LCD screen, as you will be constantly bending your back to compose your shots. The Peak Design Travel Tripod has a height of 130.2 cm/ 51.3in is comparative to our current tripod. When researching the specifications of a tripod you should always check the height of the tripod with the centre column lowered. Beware, many tripods in the market are advertised with the height being with the centre column fully extended. In our opinion, it is always better to have a tripod that is too tall rather than one that is too short.
As a rule we do not suggest ever extending the centre column of a tripod more than half way as this may introduce instability resulting in camera shake. If you really need to fully extend the centre column, the Peak Design tripod will attain a height of 152.4cm/60in (ours is 162cm/63.8in).
Regardless of which model of Peak Design tripod you purchase (Carbon Fibre or Aluminium), they both have a load capacity of 9.1 kg (20 lbs), making it perfect for any camera and lens combination up to full-frame DSLR with a telephoto lens. In addition, there is the added option to add more stability by hanging an extra weight off the centre column hook (see image below).
Our current tripod has a load capacity of between 6-8kg (13.2-17.6lbs), so in this regard, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is also pretty impressive.
All good things come at a price. The Peak Design Travel Tripods are not cheap, but in saying that, they are also not the most expensive either, especially when you take into consideration the quality and features of the tripod such as –
- quality of build and construction
- innovative design
- the compactness of the legs
- the low profile ball head
- lifetime warranty
Considering all this, it competes fairly well with the other big-name brands and as a matter of fact, we would consider this to be the best in its class.
The old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ really does apply here. When we compare the price of the Peak Design Travel Tripod to our current tripod, there is a huge price difference. In fact, we paid a quarter of the price. In saying that, our tripods are an unknown Chinese brand. They are also Carbon Fibre (although we can’t vouch for the quality of the carbon fibre). They also don’t come with much of a warranty (1 year), however, we have had them since 2014 and they are still going strong. So the price variance is a bit of a sticking point for us.
Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod with the Sony A7R III fitted with an L Bracket and FE 24-105 f/4 lens
In our opinion, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is the Rolls Royce of travel tripods. We have never seen a better-designed tripod in this class. The tripod is sleek, light, sturdy, high quality, and packed with features that every photographer loves in a tripod. If weight and size is an issue and you don’t want to compromise on quality and functionality, then this is the tripod to get. With the exception of the few items listed below in the CONS, this could possibly be the last tripod you will ever need to buy.
So if you are a photographer that wants a premium quality tripod that will last a lifetime and you are not concerned about the price, then the Peak Design Travel Tripod should be at the very top of your list.
- Extremely well designed
- Good standing height
- Mobile Phone adapter
- Lifetime Warranty
- Perfect for travel
- Expensive (for us anyway)
- Not ideal for panning or taking a series of shots for stitching a panorama
- Unlike our current tripod, does not convert to a monopod
- Again unlike our current tripod, removal of legs for cleaning or repair is more complex
For all the specifications click here
Packed Height- 39.4 cm / 15.5 in
Packed Width – 7.9 cm / 3.1 in
Height – 130.2 cm / 51.3 in with Centre Column down or 152.4 cm / 60 in with the Centre Column extended