Peak Design Travel Tripod
PeakDesign.com | $599.95(~$600 street)

Specifications

  • Max. height 131cm (51.6"), or 153.5cm (60.4") with center column
  • Min. height 34.5cm (13.6"), or 15.5cm (6.1") with included short center column
  • Folds to 39.1cm (15.4"), with unusually compact 7.9cm (3.1") diameter
  • Weighs 1.3kg (3.0lb) with accessories
  • 9.1kg (20.1lb) load limit
  • Two leg angles, four leg sections
  • Single, combined pan/tilt/roll control
  • Bubble level included
  • Swappable feet and head (with optional head adapter kit)
  • Smartphone holder included, stores in center column
  • Padded bag included, supports optional straps
  • Aluminum version available for $349.95 MSRP

Description

The Peak Design Travel Tripod is the result of a ground-up rethink of what a travel tripod should be, and in many respects it's a superb offering. It has the second-tallest maximum height of the group, and with a quick adjustment using the included hex tool (which stores in a convenient leg clip), it also offers the lowest minimum height of the group.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod's center column can be shortened courtesy of a hex bolt in the ballhead. Once done, it's extremely low to the ground.

And yet despite its generous height range, it is also far and away the smallest of the bunch once folded. That's achieved thanks to legs with an unusual angled oval cross section instead of the more typical circular cross-section used by most every other tripod, paired with a unique new ball head atop an extremely thin center column.

In use

You might think the center column, in particular, would make Peak Design's offering less sturdy than its rivals, but I actually found it to be the second-sturdiest of the group even at its maximum height, and almost as sturdy as the Gitzo. And it's also a little quicker to set up and stow away than any of its rivals.

With no pan lock or degree scale, the Peak Design isn't great for panos. The ballhead claws also prevent complete retraction unless oriented correctly.

Not surprisingly, given Peak Design's history of designing excellent camera bags, the padded bag that ships with the Travel Tripod is far and away the nicest of the group, putting Gitzo in particular to shame. No strap is included, sadly, but there are twin attachment points on both the bag and the tripod itself which work with many straps, and pair particularly well with the company's own Anchor Link attachment system.

Were this a review solely of the tripod legs, I'd immediately declare the Peak Design Travel Tripod the hands-down winner, but its unusual ball head is also part of the mix, and while it has advantages in some respects, it has significant drawbacks in others. You can avoid these by switching to a more traditional head, but can't order the tripod without Peak Design's head, and to mount anything else, you'll need to buy an optional universal head adapter kit.

Peak Design's white bubble level is harder to see than the rest, but its hex tool and holder are nicely designed.

On the plus side, the head is extremely quick to adjust, since it uses only one control to lock all axes. It also latches onto the included ARCA quick-release plate automatically when a camera is mounted, and has an extremely secure lock control to ensure it remains securely attached. (Perhaps *too* secure, as just once I had difficulty managing to unlock it again.)

But the combined pan/tilt/roll control means that you can't unlock just the panning axis for panorama shooting. Nor is there a scale to assist in panning the correct distance between shots, and while there's a bubble level, which has a white background, can be frustratingly difficult to see.

A hex bolt inside the ballhead removes with the included tool, separating the center column for low-angle shooting.

The three "claws" which hold the ball head to its ball, meanwhile, interfere both with portrait-orientation shooting at some angles, and with fully retracting the tripod's center column. (Struggling to fit the tripod back in its bag? So did I. This will be why.)

With those complaints aside, the included smartphone holder that stows inside the center column is a nice touch, as is the clever folding hex tool and the fact you can detach part of the center column for extremely low-angle shooting.

The removable sandbag hook hides a clever surprise: An expandable smartphone holder that you'll never leave at home!

What we like

  • Excellent build quality
  • Very sturdy
  • Exceptionally compact when folded
  • Generous maximum height
  • Quick to deploy and stow
  • Clever smartphone holder and stowable hex tool
  • Superb padded bag

What we don't like

  • Expensive, albeit no more so than the Gitzo
  • Ball head can frustrate, especially when shooting panoramas
  • Bubble level is tiny and difficult to see
  • Quick-release plate lock is difficult to release if overtightened