Peak Design’s carbon fiber travel tripod completes any pro photography kit

For some, Photography is a hobby and a way of life; for others, it’s their livelihood. Whichever camp you see yourself in, it’s always a brilliant idea to equip yourself with decent gear that will last for as long as you plan to partake in this activity.

Peak Design Travel Tripod, the only one you'll ever need.
Peak Design Travel Tripod, the only one you’ll ever need.

Any photographer will tell you to invest in a decent tripod because it’s quite literally the foundation of a stable photograph. The one tripod that I recommend out of the many different types of configurations out there is the Peak Design Travel Tripod, and more specifically, the carbon fiber edition.

The tripod that replaced all others in my kit

Peak Design hit a home run with their Travel Tripod. Their engineering team spent a lot of time trying to make it as compact as possible while maintaining the structural rigidity and utilitarianism that professional photographers demand, and that’s precisely what you get with this piece.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod’s unique design means the legs tuck well into the center mass, leaving a small footprint that, when folded, compares to a circumference of a water bottle:

Peak Design travel tripod near a water bottle for comparison.
Peak Design travel tripod near a water bottle for comparison.

But don’t be fooled by the compact appearance; with a total of five sections separated by four levers on each leg, this tripod can elevate your camera more than five feet in the air to provide the height you need on your travels. The leg locks are lever-based, which makes setup and take-down quick and efficient compared to traditional twist-type leg locks:

Peak Design travel tripod lever leg locks.
Peak Design travel tripod lever leg locks.

At the end of each leg is a rubber boot that sets flat on any surface you stand the tripod on. These result in a firmer stance that doesn’t wobble like traditional rounder feet would:

Peak Design travel tripod feet (right) compared with ordinary tripod rounded feet (left).
Peak Design travel tripod feet (right) compared with ordinary tripod rounded feet (left).

At full extension, the Peak Design Travel Tripod measures 60.2 inches high, and when not extended and the legs laid as wide as possible, can measure as low as 5.6 inches.

Each segment of every leg on the Peak Design travel tripod is comprised of carbon fiber material, which is stiff and resilient. They support up to 20 pounds without any sort of wobble or movement, making it ideal for DSLR or mirrorless cameras. For additional stability, you can use the load hanging hook at the bottom of the vertical shaft, which you can use to hang your kit bag from for additional stability.

At the top of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is a custom compact omni-directional ball head that maintains a low-profile appearance when retracted:

Peak Design travel tripod compact ball head.
Peak Design travel tripod compact ball head.

Upon extending the ball head, you can twist the surrounding ring to loosen it and make adjustments as necessary:

Peak Design Travel Tripod ball head canted.
Peak Design Travel Tripod ball head canted.

Normal ball heads have a ton of different knobs for you to fiddle with, but Peak Design simplified this down to a single adjustment ring and included a locking mechanism so you can enjoy peace of mind that your camera won’t fall off:

The Peak Design carbon fiber travel tripod compared to an ordinary aluminum tripod.
The differences between the Peak Design travel tripod ball head and a bulkier ordinary tripod ball head.

While the Peak Design Travel Tripod is designed to work with an included Peak Design camera plate, there are two removable screws that you can take advantage of to use third-party Arca-type plates, or you can remove the custom ball head entirely to add an adapter for ordinary ball heads, which is sold separately. Here’s a closer look at the plate mount:

Peak Design travel tripod plate mount.
Peak Design travel tripod plate mount.

Peak Design paid attention to a lot of small details in the Travel Tripod that other manufacturers miss or just flat-out don’t implement. For example, there’s a hidden smartphone mount adapter in the vertical shaft that you can remove by simultaneously pulling and twisting the load hanging hook. This mount goes right into the ball head where the plate would go and it’s large enough to accommodate even the largest iPhones in a case:

Peak Design travel tripod integrated phone mount.
Peak Design travel tripod integrated phone mount.

On one of the Travel Tripod’s legs, users will find a convenient wrench. It has two different sizes, which can be used to tighten or remove camera plates, tighten or loosen the Travel Tripod’s screws during maintenance, and more:

Peak Design travel tripod uni-tool.
Peak Design travel tripod uni-tool.

Carrying the Peak Design Travel Tripod around with you is a breeze. You can either attach a strap to one of the many anchor points, or you can stow it in the included weather and impact-resistant carrying bag. Because of the diameter of this tripod, it easily stows in the water bottle section of any backpack, and every one of Peak Design’s bags have a place to put this thing.

Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a professional one, it’s hard to go wrong with the Peak Design Travel Tripod. Albeit costly, the company does offer a cheaper aluminum version for nearly half of the price of the carbon fiber one. Generally, carbon fiber offers more rigidity, but the material’s light weight can sometimes make the tripod top-heavy, which is why we suggest utilizing the camera bag hook to add weight.

Retailing at just under $600, the carbon fiber Peak Design Travel Tripod isn’t cheap, but neither is the build quality or the attention to detail. It’s obvious that this tripod was carefully planned by photographers for photographers who demand the best innovation and performance from their kit. The aluminum version of this Travel Tripod, on the other hand, retails for around $380.

You’ll notice that Peak Design went all custom on many of the features of their Travel Tripod, and that’s part of what makes it so expensive. That, and the fact that it’s guaranteed for life under the company’s no-hassle warranty. If anything fails for any reason, they’ll make it right, assuming you register your product at the time of purchase.

One thing I want to point out about this tripod for anyone on the fence regarding the price is that the build quality stands out to me. I’ve used many different tripods in my lifetime, many of which were either wobbly or lacking the features that Peak Design puts in their product, forcing me to carry more gear. I appreciate the compact ball head, the integrated mobile phone mount, and how small it folds away for travel.

My take

After having tested the Peak Design Travel Tripod on some of my photography journeys, I’ve noted some pros and cons to share:

Pros:

  • Exquisite build quality unlike anything I’ve ever used before
  • Very portable form factor with a convenient travel bag
  • Useful odds and ends, such as the mobile phone mount
  • Low-profile ball head with non-complicated controls
  • Sturdy legs that support up to 20 pounds of weight
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • A costly piece of equipment
  • Carbon fiber tends to be top-heavy unless you weigh it down via the hook
  • Carrying strap not included
  • Only one mounting plate included

How to get one

If you’re ready to add one of these advances piece of kit to your photography bag and lighten your load a bit, then you can acquire a carbon fiber Peak Design Travel Tripod from Amazon for around $600. For those on a budget, the aluminum version is a bit heavier and supports less weight but is only $380 by comparison. They’re functionality identical in all other cases.

You can always opt for a cheaper tripod, but without the non-worry of a lifetime warranty paired with unparalleled build quality, you just might be paying the same amount in replacing the cheaper tripod over and over as you would simply getting the Peak. Buy once, cry once, as they say…