San Francisco-based company Peak Design has made a name for themselves making crafty and innovative products for photographers, often changing the game in their respective categories. This week they launched the Travel Tripod on Kickstarter (their ninth campaign to date), a full-featured and portable tripod designed for all of us that are sick of the bulky and knobby pods of the past.
I was fortunate to test a prototype Travel Tripod this week and was amazed at how compact the new design is. In short, it’s one of the best products I’ve tested, leaning heavily on the philosophy of addition by subtraction. Smaller, lighter, faster, and vastly more portable make it a must-have for all photo nerds.
The Peak Design team built this tripod from the ground up, a project that took them four years of development and testing. The key challenge from the onset was to remove the negative space that comes with every other high-end tripod, helping reduce the packed size of the Travel Tripod to the diameter of a typical water bottle. With a total weight of under 3 pounds and no knobs to get snagged on other gear, this tripod is a huge improvement on all facets of portability.
Another major improvement is ease (and speed) of setup. Because the leg levers can be adjusted simultaneously, the time it took me to set up the tripod is roughly half of other models – allowing me to get shots much quicker. The innovative design also allows for macro shots attaching cameras at a low angle and includes a hidden clip to mount cell phones for the perfect selfie.
The build quality is impressive and clearly made for professionals with a weatherproof and impact-resistant design, and a lifetime warranty to back it up. I used it in rain, wind, and sand, and had no issues with wear and tear on any of the components. The materials are high-quality and the machined parts are refined to very precise tolerances, making all of the adjustments feel quite easy.
The biggest improvement of the tripod is the spatial efficiency. Instead of cumbersome knobs, the Travel Tripod uses levers on its legs and a ball head with a single adjustment ring to provide 360-degree movement for the camera, allowing you to quickly adjust angles or switch between landscape and portrait shots.
To securely lock the camera at any angle, simply tighten the ring. If this sounds easy, it is. Instead of adjusting four different dials it’s just one, and quite frankly it makes you wonder why this wasn’t invented earlier.
The tripod works well with the Peak Design ecosystem, attaching to straps, mounting with the Peak plates, and fitting snugly into their variety of packs and duffels. That said, the Travel Tripod still accommodates almost all other plates using their proprietary quick-release mounting system. Rated for 20 pounds and able to be raised 60 inches, the Travel Tripod is great for all professional uses including full-frame DSLRs and large telephoto lenses.
The tripod comes in two models – aluminum and carbon fiber – and has already raised more than $4 million on Kickstarter, a testament to how unique and well-designed the product is. After a week of hiking and shooting long exposures, I can’t speak highly enough of this Travel Tripod.
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