Gone with the Grins

The Best Travel Tripod For Mirrorless Cameras

The best travel tripod for mirrorless fuji cameras

It’s hard to believe but it has finally happened. My search for the perfect travel tripod has been put on hold. At least for now. I have been using the MeFOTO Backpacker Travel Tripod for about two years now, and I feel that I really know its strengths and weaknesses. Is it the perfect tripod? No. Is it an excellent tripod for travelling around the globe? Yes.

I purchased this tripod on a whim from my local camera store and have never regretted the decision. The first thing that sold me on this tripod was the size. This tripod is the absolute perfect size when folded. It will fit in pretty much any travel bag or backpack when folded which is not true for almost all of the other ‘quality’ travel tripods. The second thing I liked was the construction. This is an extremely well-made product that feels great in the hand. It’s hard to explain, but once you hold it you understand. The third was the price. While it isn’t a super inexpensive tripod, I feel that for the quality and features, you are getting an amazing deal. So without further ado, I introduce to you…

The MeFOTO Backpacker Travel Tripod.

The MeFOTO Backpacker Travel Tripod

First off, let’s go over the numbers. Boring I know, but it’s important to understand the size and weight of this beauty.

Specifications

Maximum Load 8.8 lb (Mirrorless cameras are ideal.)
Max Height w/Column Extended 51.2″ (A little short in my opinion.)
Max Height w/Column Retracted 45.7″
Minimum Height 17.3″
Folded Length 12.6″ (This is the amazing number.)
Number of Leg Sections 5
Leg Lock Type Twist Lock
Center Column Fixed Center Column
Tilt Range -45° / +90°
Drag Control No (This is not a video tripod.)
Panning Range 360°
Spiked Feet N/A
Separate Panning Lock Yes
Quick Release (QR) Plate Arca-Swiss Style (PU50)
Bubble Level Yes
Head Mount Thread Size 3/8″-16
Weight 2.6 lb
Hiking up Enchanted Rock in Texas with the MeFOTO backpacker was easy.

The author using the MeFOTO Backpacker on top of Enchanted Rock in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Size Matters

Whoever says that size doesn’t matter has never lugged a super large or heavy tripod around while either hiking in the jungle or marching from one end of Paris to the other. Plus, what’s the advantage of carrying my super small Fuji XT-10 mirrorless camera system around if I also have to haul a giant tripod?!? The size of this tripod is the number one reason that I bought it. You can find smaller travel tripods but they are either a) complete pieces of crap, b) so wobbly that you can never get a long exposure shot, or c) outrageously expensive. The MeFOTO Backpacker travel tripod hits the sweet spot on all of these counts. I love the fact that it fits in the water bottle pocket of my Lowepro Hatchback 22L backpack or in the main compartment of it. None of this strapping-a-giant-tripod-to-the-outside-of-the-pack nonsense.

travel-tripod-storage

Construction

As I mentioned above, the build quality on this tripod is superb and really must be felt and handled to understand. The joints appear to be machined aluminum, but it could be a cast aluminum alloy. It’s really hard to tell, but it’s good stuff. The legs are definitely made of aluminum. All of the knobs, as well as the leg releases, are rubber coated metal and of very good quality. You will find no plastic on this tripod. 

The MeFoto Backpacker travel tripod is very well made.

The MeFOTO Backpacker travel tripod is very well made, screams quality, and comes in a dozen different colors.

Stability

This is the elephant in the room for every travel tripod. Most travel tripods tout how small they are, but they never actually talk about stability. If you’ve ever attempted to do long exposure photography with a cheap, rickety tripod you know the frustration. I’m happy to say that this tripod gets it right… with a caveat. The tripod is very stable, especially when used with the recessed center-column hook, except when you fully extend the center-column. I’ve had mixed results with long exposure photos when fully extended which isn’t really a surprise. I find the tripod is already a little short even when fully extended so this sometimes can be a pain. However, I’ve had very good results with night time long exposure shots using this tripod and can still recommend it. Remember, any truly compact travel tripod is going to have to make trade-offs somewhere.

The MeFoto travel tripod features a center column hook to help stabilize the tripod

When you hang a backpack or other weight from the recessed center-column hook, the stability of the tripod is greatly increased.

Below is an example of a night time photograph shot with the MeFOTO Backpacker travel tripod at ISO 100, f4, and an exposure of 1/3 second.

The Citadel of Dinant overlooking the River Meuse in Belgium

Cost

At around $150 US, the MeFOTO Backpacker is a bargain. Yes, there are other cheaper travel tripods on the market, such as the Dolica TX570B, but they won’t match the quality and build of the MeFOTO. I’ve tried the Dolica which is very much like the MeFOTO and half the price, but it just isn’t as stable or of the same quality. A worthy competitor for the MeFOTO would be the 3-legged Thing EVO3 tripod, but I haven’t used it. It’s also worth noting that MeFOTO tripods come with a 3-year warranty but you can get an extra 2-years added on if you register your product.

The case for the MeFOTO backpacker travel tripod.

The MeFOTO Backpacker travel tripod comes with a well-made case.

Arca-Swiss Compatibility

When I first bought this tripod, I knew it was Arca-Swiss compatible, but I had no idea what that meant. I know now, and I am a believer in the system. If you have ever gotten frustrated trying to move the tripod plate between different tripods, only to discover they aren’t compatible, then Arca-Swiss is for you. The purpose of Arca-Swiss is to standardize the tripod plate so that it works on all brands. None of this proprietary crap that manufacturers love. Another benefit of the system is that 3rd party manufacturers can make products that work with all Arca-Swiss products. Case in point is one of my favorite camera accessories, the Arca-Swiss L-bracket. The L-bracket mounts to your camera and allows you to easily switch from portrait to landscape photos via the tripod without ever having to move the tripod head. It’s amazing for landscape photography. Once you’ve used an Arca-Swiss L-bracket, you won’t want to live without it.

The Arca-Swiss L-bracket is a great addition to a Travel Tripod.

The Arca-Swiss L-bracket lets you shift from vertical to horizontal shooting without adjusting the tripod head or the plate.

Must-Have Accessories

While this is an excellent travel tripod for mirrorless cameras, there are a couple of items that make it even better.
1) Orange paint: Yup, you read that right. I found that while operating this tripod, I was constantly grabbing and turning the large tripod-plate release knob instead of the head tension and lock knob to adjust the angle of the head. This led to several near heart attacks as I saw my camera starting to slide off the tripod. Not good. I remedied this by painting the release knob bright orange to instantly alert me that I was grabbing the wrong knob. It worked like a charm. I could have also used orange electrical tape, which you can find here. 

 

It's easy to confuse the knobs on the MeFoto Backpacker travel tripod.

It’s easy to confuse the tripod-plate release knob and the head tension and lock knobs. A little orange paint fixed that issue.

2) D-ring Screw Adapter: The second item that needed some attention was the tripod-plate. The standard plate on my MeFOTO Backpacker tripod came with the typical screw type that requires you to have a coin or screw driver handy. I upgraded it to one that has a flip down D-ring so that you can screw on the plate without any tools. I found one on Amazon.com for a few dollars. You can get the D-ring Screw Adapter here

A D ring tripod plate screw is a perfect addition for the MeFoto Backpacker travel tripod.

The D-ring screw replacement is a very cheap and simple fix that makes life easier.

Conclusion

After two years of use, I can whole hardheartedly recommend the MeFoto Backpacker as a travel tripod for mirrorless cameras. It works great with my Fuji XT-10 and the 18-135 lens which you can read about here. I’ve used it with my Nikon D7100 and an 18-200 lens, and it can work, but just barely. This is definitely made for mirrorless or smaller cameras. As I’ve mentioned above, my only real gripe is the maximum height of the tripod, but I feel the trade-off is worth it. MeFOTO is making excellent tripods, and you should take a look at them.

Here are some quick links to my favorites:

Fuji X-T10 Camera

Neewer Arca-Swiss L-Bracket

Fuji X-E1 Camera

Rokinon 12mm F2.0 NCS CS

Fujinon XF 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR

Fujinon XF 35mm F1.4 R

Fujinon 27mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens

MeFoto Backpacker Travel Tripod

Lowepro LP36434-PWW Photo Hatchback 22L AW

Lowepro Hatchback BP 250 AW II DSLR Camera Backpack (2016 edition)

Check out my review of the Lowepro Hatchback 22L here. To see all my travel camera gear recommendations, click here.

Please leave me a comment below about your favorite travel gear, or if you’d like to know more about mine.

Ethics statement:  The gear on this page are items that I actually own, use and recommend except when otherwise noted.