Many Travel Photographers are in a quandary whether to take a tripod or not for a trip. Well if I’m doing landscapes, night photography and architecture a tripod is a must-bring. It’s a challenging item to bring as it can be bulky and heavy. Manfrotto introduced their Off Road series to address the needs of travel photographers for a tough, but light travel photography gear ideal for backpacking or hiking. Recently I had the chance to use the Manfrotto Off Road Tripod. The one I tested is the red one and there’s a blue and green option as well. After using it in my recent travel in Palawan from El Nido, San Vicente and Puerto Princesa here’s my impression of Manfrotto’s new tripod.
Off Road Tripod
The Manfrotto Off Road Tripod is made of aluminum and the three-legged poles are covered in a somewhat grunge type artwork to reflect its “Off Road” theme. The ball head is built-in with a single lock knob and a bubble level indicator. The legs are extended via a twist-and-lock mechanism. Fully extended, it stands 40” folded its about 24”. The weight is light at only 1.5lbs! The feet are metal spiked like a trek-pole but there are rubber cover for indoor use or smooth surfaces.
It’s hard to beat 1.5lbs of tripod really so this is really easy to bring. I use a Manfrotto Active Backpack I and it attaches easily on its tripod connectors. The Manfrotto Off Road Tripod has three parts and extending the tripod is a bit of tedious work. It has no rubber grip that sometimes the legs get stuck that its too hard to twist. There’s a length indicator for each legs to keep each length equal, just don’t tug too hard as it can come off.
At first I was worried that this tripod can only handle my Olympus mirrorless camera but it handled my Nikon D7100 DSLR as well. Manfrotto claims the tripod has a load capacity of 5.5lbs so I guess regular sized DSLR would work. Once secured on its feet, the tripod is sturdy on regular conditions. Even the waves won’t be enough to topple it down once hooked deep in the sand. It kept stable with the waves. I haven’t tested on extreme wind conditions though.
If an ultra-light tripod is what one is looking for, it’s hard to beat Manfrotto Off Road Tripod in that regard. For ease-of-use? I can’t really say the same. It takes time to set it up which is one of the compromises of this tripod. If you’re shooting landscapes, remember to allot time to set up the tripod up until mounting the camera itself. The price is also a consideration here. It’s not yet available in the Philippines but the US$150 price tag will make you think twice unless weight and portability is a priority.
Off Road Trek Pole Monopod
The Manfrotto Off Road series also includes a pair of Walking Sticks with one of them acting as a monopod with a built-in camera mount with cover on one of the sticks. Both have comfortable rubber grip with wrist straps. The mechanism is the same. I haven’t used it as extensively as the tripod but since the materials are the same, it looked like a tough trek pole to use. The pair of Manfrotto Off Road Walking Sticks retails at US$100.