Hands on: Peak Design Travel Tripod review

Could this be the best travel tripod going?

What is a hands on review?
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Early Verdict

If you're looking for a quality set of legs that packs away neatly, Peak Design might have come up with the perfect option.

For

  • Clever design
  • Packs away neatly
  • Quality construction
  • Quick to use
  • Stable
  • Decent height for a travel tripod

Against

  • No spiked feet (but can be purchased separately for $25)

The Peak Design Travel Tripod is quite a big departure for a company known for its quality camera bags, straps and clever clips. 

You might think another travel tripod is nothing to get too excited about, but Peak Design has done things a little differently with its first ever tripod, travel or otherwise. 

Ripping up the rulebook, the engineers at Peak Design have spent the last four years designing and refining its tripod, with the company taking a step back to look at how it could eliminate the dead space that even the most cleverly designed travel tripods have an issue with. 

Peak Design's solution is a much more compact offering than most traditional travel tripods – in some cases, taking up half the volume when stowed. So could this be the ultimate travel tripod? 

Features

  • Carbon fiber and aluminum versions available
  • Max working height of 152.4cm
  • Max load of 9.1kg

Before we get onto the design, let's look at the basics. The Peak Design Travel Tripod will be available in both carbon fiber and aluminum variants, weighing in at 1.27kg and 1.56kg respectively.

Both tripods will support a maximum load of 9.1kg, which means you'll be able to realistically mount a full-frame DSLR and decent bit of glass on it should you wish. 

The legs are a five-section design, with cam levers to lock and release the sections, while the Travel Tripod sports a neat, built-in ball head which features a single adjustment ring to control a wide range of articulation that incorporates three portrait-mode cutouts instead of one. 

You can attach your camera quickly thanks to the inclusion of Peak Design's Standard Plate quick-release mechanism (which is Arca Swiss compatible), while should you want to shoot footage with your smartphone there's a neat little universal mobile mount hidden in the center column that snaps onto the quick release mount. 

The center column is reversible, so it's possible to position your camera low to the ground, while the tripod has a maximum working height of 152.4cm.

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Design

  • Folds down to 7.9 x 39.4cm
  • Can be stowed inside pockets of camera bags
  • Streamlined cam levers

This is where the Travel Tripod from Peak Design gets really clever. The company's designers have worked hard to try and avoid any wasted space when the tripod is folded away, and we have to say we're very impressed with the result.

Thanks to the six-sided shape of the legs and thin center column, the Travel Tripod packs down to a very neat 39.4cm (that's including the ball head). What's more, the diameter is only 8.3cm, meaning it will happily sit in most camera bag pockets that are designed to hold a bottle of water, and it goes without saying that it will easily stow away in a suitcase – it really is a well thought-out and clever design. 

The Travel Tripod can set up easily and quickly, thanks to the fact that the legs don't invert when folded away, and the easy to use cam lever leg locks. 

Performance

  • Nice and stable under a decent load
  • No spiked feet
  • Ball head works nicely

The Travel Tripod is impressively stable, even when fully extended (without the center column raised). Push down with plenty of pressure and there's a bit of flex, but in the real world, and with your camera attached, this is a stable set of legs. Even with the thin center column extended it still feels nice and rigid. The absence of spiked feet may be a disappointment for some photographers, but the wide rubber feet give a decent amount of grip. If spiked feet are a deal breaker, these can be purchased separately for $25.

The ball head also performs well, with smooth articulation, while it's handy to have the three portrait modes. The adjustment ring works nicely too, making it quick and easy to lock the ball head in position.  

Verdict

At the moment, the Travel Tripod is a Kickstarter campaign, with prospective purchasers able to select either the carbon fiber or aluminum alloy leg constructions. The carbon fiber option carries an RRP of $599 (about £470 / AU$1,095), while the aluminum alloy option is a more affordable $349 (about £275 / AU$500). 

Those willing to pledge money towards the campaign can currently grab themselves a discount on either model, at approximately $289 / £225/ AU$420 for the aluminum model and around $479 / £375 / AU$695 for the carbon fiber version.

Peak Design has already smashed its crowdfunding target, so it looks like it will easily hit its target of shipping the first full-production models by the end of the year. 

We'd recommend reading up on the Kickstarter process before pledging any money, but if you're looking for a quality set of legs that pack away neatly, Peak Design might have just come up with the perfect travel tripod.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.