MeFoto Aluminum Backpacker Tripod Review

I recently traveled to Thailand and Shanghai for a bit of filming and location scouting for some projects.  When preparing for the trip I realized I needed a travel tripod that I could comfortably walk around with all day and set up for some time-lapse photography.

I had a couple key things I needed in a travel tripod. I needed it to be comfortable to carry for miles, I needed it to be able to support an A7s and v mount battery and possibly an atomos assassin, and I needed something very small I could shove in a backpack and not worry about.

After a bit of research I found that the MeFoto travel tripod was perfect for me.  They come in a variety of colors but I choose the blue so it would stand out the most out of the nature backgrounds and be able to spot. 

 

What is it?

IMG_9965Incredibly light and compact travel tripod that comes in a variety of colors, and materials that I’ve been pleasantly surprised with in terms of true portability, strength and stability.

The tripod itself is made of an aluminum alloy.  It weighs in at 2.6 lbs, and carries a load of 8.8 lbs. its folded length is just over a foot at 12.6” and its maximum height with the column extended is 51.2”

The one I’m talking about here is the Aluminum one, however if you need to carry a lot of weight on this, they also make a carbon fiber model as well as a “globe trekker” model.

The Good-

  • Very light
  • very compact. 
  • Can easily support 10 lbs of equipment on it.
  • Comes with a great bag and shoulder strap.
  • Fits in a suitcase or a larger backpack
  • Adjustable angled legs

IMG_9962Overall– I actually really like this tripod and plan on using it for any project that doesnt require heavy gear.  The build quality is excellent, the feel of materials feels very solid, and it folds down into a size that is so small it could be mistaken for another piece of equipment like a large lens or sandbag.

I was able to travel with this either on my shoulder or in my backpack while I traveled through several parts of Thailand; from the party scene of Phuket, to the jungles of Khoa Sok, and the bright lights, and big city of Bangkok.  It never once weighed me down, or got in the way.

The Bad-

  • Alta swiss head
  • Twist lock legs
  • Awkward tension control

Not a lot of items in The Bad category. Some of the things I don’t like about it, though while not deal breakers, may stop me from grabbing it for every smaller project.

Never been a fan of the Alta swiss head tripod mount.  Just feels flimsy compared to other IMG_9970tripod heads I’ve used.  I know I’m spoiled by quick release plates but this one just feels like it could be a little stronger.  Theres lots of times I wasn’t confidant that it was locked down or not.  I realize that due to the size of the tripod the head needs to be a very small footprint.  It makes sense when you are looking at the overall design of the unit.

  

IMG_9960

The head (which can be removed but would throw the whole aesthetic off) has a ball head with an Arca-type quick release plate.  Theres a tension control for the ball head and a separate panning tension know as well.

When I was traveling I was mounting either a small rod plate or an iPhone mount to the tripod and it held up in all sorts of scenarios so in the end the point may be moot, and might just be chalked up to personal preference. After all I was able to mount a a7s, and a switronix battery with battery pinch without feeling like it was going to fall over

IMG_9963My other critique of the unit is the twist lock legs.  While they performed just as well as the tripod head, the actual twist lock didn’t give me a lot of confidence.  There have been times where I thought I had tightened all the legs but hen one or more of them would slip.

The legs can be spread independently and have 2 position leg angle stops for a variety of different shooting situations.  It also has rubber feet and I found that it really performs quite well. In the center it has a recessed hook for adding a little more stability to it but found that in my travel situations I didn’t have a need for it.

The last part of this travel tripod I had some issues with was the tension controls on the head itself.  There is a ball head that allows for pan and tilt and there are tension controls for these.  The only problem is if you are using anything larger than a point and shoot compact, or a cellphone device, it was challenging to reach these tension controls and know whether you were adding or releasing tension, and by how much.

The Ugly-

The design of the unit wont allow for any future fixes to the head I mentioned.
When folded, the entire unit folds neatly and perfectly together.  There isn’t a millimeterof room to add to the head or tension controls in future revisions from what I can see in this particular design.

 

Final Thoughts-

I’ve felt very comfortable using this in a variety of weather conditions and locations without any issues. 

Ive used this in extremely humid conditions of some rainforests and cities, indoors and outdoors.  While I haven’t gotten a single scratch on it, the type of material feels like it may be very prone to scratches. I wish it could also be used as a mono pod.  Wish the twist lock was more secure.

For comfort and weight- this is my new go to tripod when I can get away with it.  Easy toIMG_9488 place in carry on luggage and backpacks makes me feel safe that it will always reach its destination when traveling through airports.  In fact just recently I had a friend traveling overseas and he’s ran into some issues with any tripod over 22″ needs to be checked at airlines.  Thats something good to know- as I like to travel with as much of my gear on me as possible.

I was able to really weigh this kit down without issues.  At the heaviest I had mounted my  Sony a7s, Atomos Assassin and v mount battery with a 15mm rail riser without feeling like the unit may collapse.

Is this a professional product that is meant to be used with large cameras and rigs?

No it’s not. I don’t feel comfortable with the way the control knobs are positioned, nor to I trust those twist lock legs with a full rig balanced on it, not even with the Carbon Fiber Globe Trekker would I want to use for full productions.

Well what WOULD be good for production on the road?

I think for my next trip I’ll be investing in something a little more heavy duty.
Im looking at the Miller Air tripod that looks just as comparable but has a great head and control. If my kit keeps growing and I need more payload weight I’m also considering the Miller SOLO DV 20

Overall the MeFoto travel tripod an amazing tripod for the size and price and thing it could rival my vanguard alta, or heavy duty Manfrotto tripod to use as a daily tripod should the need call for it.

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