The San Francisco-based company Peak Design prides itself on creating innovative products for photographers that redefine their categories, and today it’s back to disrupt a new niche: tripods. The brand’s new Travel Tripod is designed to be one of the most compact and easy-to-use tripods ever made.
First, the company determined that the biggest issue photographers have with traditional tripods is their unnecessary bulk and spatial inefficiency. When fully collapsed and packed, many or most tripods have a relatively large amount of dead space.
What Peak Design has done is create a tripod that eliminates as much dead space as possible. The Travel Tripod’s legs and center column nest together tightly when collapsed to achieve a packed diameter of just 3.25 inches (8.26cm), which is about the diameter of a water bottle.
In addition to being compact, the collapsed tripod is tidy and free of protrusions.
The compactness makes the tripod easy to bring around while worn or stored in a bag.
But despite taking up less than half the volume of existing popular tripods, the Travel Tripod can still deploy to be 60 inches (5ft/1.52m) tall.
“During my travels in 2008 I began wondering why on Earth my tripod was so big,” says Peak Design CEO Peter Dering. “The thing was full of negative space and knobs, and I felt like something designed for portability could do much better. I quickly realized that anything short of a complete design overhaul would fail to meet my criteria of the perfect travel tripod.
“It took years of development but the outcome is a camera tripod that seamlessly integrates into all aspects of travel and adventure.”
Deploying the Travel Tripod is both fast and intuitive, as one simply unlocks the three sets of cam levers — the four on each non-inverted leg can be pulled open together with one swift hand movement — to fully extend all the leg segments available.
The physical interface of the tripod has been boiled down to optimize ease-of-use and spatial efficiency as well. Instead of a system of knobs, the Travel Tripod uses a single adjustment ring around the 3.25-inch ball head to provide 360-degree movement. To lock the camera in place at any angle, simply tighten the ring all the way.
The top of the Travel Tripod features a proprietary quick-release plate that allows your gear (even a full-frame DSLR with a large telephoto lens) to be attached in a snap, and the system is compatible with Peak Design’s existing carrying equipment and Arca Swiss tripod dimensions as well.
“In addition to a thorough rethinking of a tripod’s architecture and user interface, carefully considered material choices and construction techniques provide the stability and vibration dampening demanded by avid photographers,” Peak Design says.
Other features of the Travel Tripod include a built-in universal phone mount, a bubble-level, a hook for counterweights, and an included soft case.
Peak Design has raised over $20 million across 8 Kickstarter campaigns in launching its products, allowing the company to stay 100% investor-free and employee-owned, and the Travel Tripod is launching through the crowdfunding platform as well.
The tripod will come in two varieties when it launches to the general public: an aluminum leg version for $350 and a carbon fiber leg version for $600.
Read also: The Best Tripods
After the Kickstarter campaign and its pre-sale discount ($289 for aluminum and $479 for carbon fiber, if the project successfully funds and delivers), Peak Design will launch the Travel Tripod for sale both on its website and through major retailers, and the goal is to get the tripod out in time for the 2019 holiday season.
Full disclosure: A pre-production Travel Tripod sample was provided by Peak Design for review.