Peak Design Travel Tripod Review

Comparison & Conclusion

Contents

Peak Design set out to make the most compact and portable tripod ever made, and in that effort they have succeeded.  The innovative shape of the carbon fiber tubing has allowed them reduce the overall folded volume of the tripod while maintaining a very reasonable level of stability.  I am very impressed by the stiffness that Peak Design has managed to achieve in their tripod given the compromises necessary to make such a compact, fully featured tripod.  The PD travel tripod will be entering my personal use lineup for when the overall packed volume of my kit must be kept to a minimum.

While the PD tripod is by no means the stiffest tripod we have seen, this isn’t the point.  The bulk and weight is often what prevents people from carrying a tripod on a shoot.  If the PD tripod changes that for you, a small difference in stiffness doesn’t matter compared to the massive difference in photographic opportunities created by having a tripod versus nothing at all.

Pros

  • Compact folded size
  • Attention to detail in design
  • Good stiffness given the folded size
  • Excellent all metal flip locks
  • Quality accessories included

Cons

  • Doesn’t work perfectly with all Arca plates
  • Non-standard replaceable feet
  • Center column must be raised slightly to operate the ball head
  • No panning on the head

Compared To:

For a more complete list, see the volume weighted travel tripods ranking page.  Note that none of the figures shown below include the heads that are typically paired with these tripod legs, including the PD.  

PD CarbonPD AlumRRS TFC-14Leofoto LS-254CMeFoto RoadTrip CarbonGitzo GT1555T
Stiffness Nm/rad518.0456.01099.0537.0285.0598.0
Damping Js/rad0.170.190.280.240.180.34
Height in (cm)50.5 (128.3)50.7 (128.8)47.2 (119.9)47.1 (119.6)49.7 (126.2)47.5 (120.6)
Weight lbs (kg)2.388 (1.083)3.025 (1.372)2.332 (1.058)2.063 (0.936)2.396 (1.087)2.271 (1.03)
Folded Length in (cm)14.2 (36.1)14.1 (35.8)17.2 (43.7)17.4 (44.2)15.5 (39.4)14 (35.6)
Folded Volume (L)1.21.21.71.52.61.9
Price$600$350$835$259$300$700

PD Travel Tripod Aluminum – The carbon and aluminum versions of the PD tripod are identical except for the leg material.  Aluminum is heavier and less stiff than carbon fiber, but it is also much cheaper.  Both are excellent tripods, but the carbon one is clearly better.  I can’t say if that is worth the price difference to you.

RRS TFC-14 – The TFC-14 is the only tripod that tops the PD in the volume weighted rankings.  It is very stiff and quite compact.  It is also much more expensive and this doesn’t include the $300 more for a matching RRS head.  The TFC-14 doesn’t include the flexibility of a center column, while the PD does.  RRS makes a version using the same legs that does have a center column, the TQC-14, but it is much bulkier, heavier, and is a bit less stiff.  A comparison to this version may be more fair and is a comparison that the PD tripod wins, but we aren’t here to be fair.  It is the TFC version that presents the best competition to the PD travel tripod.  The TFC-14 performs wonderfully, but is significantly larger when folded than the PD tripod, doesn’t have a center column, and is much more expensive.

The PD tripod alongside the RRS TFC-14 and Gitzo GT1545T. The size difference is even more start in real life as the camera compresses three dimensions into two.

Leofoto LS-254C – The Leofoto LS-254C doesn’t have a center column which makes for another somewhat unfair comparison.  Despite being a smaller tripod when set up, the Leofoto is larger when folded up.  The cost shown here doesn’t include a head for the Leofoto either.  Note that in practice, Leofoto doesn’t have warranty or customer service support.  I’ve tried and failed to contact them for parts several times.  If you are willing to give up some flexibility and deal with any problems yourself, the Leofoto is a very good low-cost option.

MeFoto RoadTrip Carbon – The MeFoto RoadTrip Carbon represents your average low-end travel tripod.  It is roughly the same weight but much bulkier when folded up and only about half the stiffness of the PD.  The PD is a better tripod in just about every conceivable way.  You get what you pay for.

Gitzo GT1555T – Gitzo makes great tripods and this one is no exception.  It is roughly the same folded length and weight but is much bulkier than the PD tripod.  The stiffness performance is slightly better than the PD, but not by much.  The Gitzo is a little more expensive, which becomes much more expensive when add a head.  I would say the PD wins this one.

Who is it for?

If you are looking for the most compact, fully featured tripod available, this is it.  Nothing else comes close the combination of portability, versatility, and stability performance that the Peak Design Travel Tripod provides.

Where to Buy

Adorama    Find on Ebay    PeakDesign.com

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