The Me-Foto Road Trip tripod review by Zev Hoover

The Me-Foto Road Trip tripod review

By  Zev Hoover

Hello everyone! I have had the MeFoto Road Trip tripod since December, but I didn’t really see any point in making a first impressions type review, because the true test of a tripod is how it holds up over time. I have used it for almost every photo shoot since I got it, and my sister has used it for over 100 days of her 365 project. it has seen quite a bit of use. Let’s jump right in. (note, all measurements and weights are calculated by myself, not from the manufacturer)

The folded tripod (shown here with banana for scale), comes in at a puny 40cm (15.5″ish) with qr (quick release) plate. it manages to get so small by inverting the legs upwards. a really nice design I think, as it means the center column is already extended and ready for use. it fits inside carry on luggage with ease, in fact I kept it in my personal item backpack when I have flown trans-continental with it.

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It comes with a lovely orange trimmed bag, a hex key for adjusting the leg tension, and spiked feet to replace the rubber ones if needed. the extra feet and hex key come in a nice little package that fits into an inside pouch of the bag. the rubber feet that it has work alright, but because the bottom leg section can turn, there really can’t be that much rubber on the ground plane, only a small section. this is an advantage of tripods with D shaped leg sections. more rubber on the ground = more grip = more stability. as you can see in the below picture, there isn’t a hex key. this is because security in Bergamo airport (Italy) confiscated it. No idea what they were thinking, and I doubt this is ordinary procedure anywhere else in the world. anyway, you don’t really need to adjust your leg angle tension on the go, so I should have just left it at home.

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The head that comes with the tripod is really quite nice. it has separate pan and ball locks, a ball friction knob, a bubble level and very smooth movements all round. It takes the Arca Swiss style qr plate, which isn’t my favorite but is pretty much industry standard and does the job. it locks onto the ball head with a knob, not a lever. this works flawlessly, and is very easy to tighten it to a point where there is no chance of the camera slipping, without busting your fingers.

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The only real disappointments with the tripod were with the qr plate. it doesn’t have the right rubber on top, so no matter how hard you crank it onto your camera, after a shoot or two (especially if you are shooting vertical) it will be loose. not a huge issue, right? just tighten it up. well, no. for some reason it requires a key or coin to turn it. this is the reason I don’t like Arca Swiss style plates, they all seem to not have hand operable knobs for tightening them on your camera. the turning problem can be solved by buying another brand’s plate, and if you are only using one tripod system, the fact that it needs a coin to operate won’t be an issue. but for me, it was a pretty big annoyance (as I do switch systems) so I went ahead and switched the plate holder from an old Manfrotto ball head and screwed it onto the lovely MeFoto ball head. perfect.

this is the original qr plate

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the Manfrotto plate holder on the MeFoto

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hand adjustability!

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The leg angle locks work perfectly, they can be either at a normal tripod angle (30 degrees ish) and the low down 80-ish degree angle. they are not sprung, so they don’t ‘click’ into place, but they feel very solid and work very well. the leg length locks also work well. it takes about a half of a turn to lock/unlock the legs, and they lock very solidly. I have used the tripod in heavy rain and snow, with no ill effects, and occasionally in sea water, but in those cases I always have been careful to not let the sea into the leg locks, other than on one occasion but I disassembled it and cleaned it afterwards (according to this fantastic guide on the MeFoto blog. shouldn’t every product come with a disassembly guide?). the leg locks feel as smooth and precise as new (which is to say, smoooth).

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One really cool feature of the tripod is that it can convert to a monopod! just unscrew one of the legs, take out the center column and put them together! it works very well, though I don’t really have much need for a monopod. speaking of the center column, the locking mechanism on it i not as nice as the ones on the legs. it feels like it takes about 3/4 of a turn to lock and unlock it, unlike the legs half of a turn.

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the carbon fibre version I have weighs in at 1.389kg (3.0625 pounds) with head. the tripod itself weighs 1.066kg (2.35 pounds) and the head weighs 323g (0.7125 pounds). the cheaper aluminum model apparently weighs 1.633kg (3.6 pounds). I am not sure if the difference of 0.5 pounds really is worth the difference in price of $140, but that is up to you. there certainly are more budget options in the world of carbon travel pods, but the aluminum one is a very good deal. also, for some reason the carbon isn’t available in all those awesome colors, which is a shame.

the tripod has a maximum hight of 153.7cm (60.5 inches), and a minimum of 38.7cm (15.25 inches) the monopod’s max hight is 161.3cm (63.5 inches) and its minimum is 71cm (28 inches). basically, the tripod is tall enough for any travel pod use, but maybe not short enough for a landscape enthusiast. a shorter center column would be a fantastic add-on. the monopod is tall enough for really anything, and I don’t know anyone who uses a monopod at anything but full extension.

over all, it is the nicest tripod I have owned (I have had a manfrotto 294 and an old aluminum gitzo) or used. for what I do, with the qr plate holder swap, it is pretty near perfect and I can’t see needing to upgrade unless my camera system gets a lot bigger. any light tripod will blow over easier, and not be as stable as a heavier one, but that is a compromise I am okay with making.

Thanks for reading!

Zev Hoover

You can purchase the Road Trip direct from MeFoto HERE, or at Amazon HERE.  You can see Steve’s early impressions on the Me-Foto tripod HERE. 

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33 thoughts on “The Me-Foto Road Trip tripod review by Zev Hoover

  1. Hi Zev, How easy was it to switch the plate holder to the manfrotto one. Do you know if you can buy manfrotto plate holders on their own without the ball head?

  2. Hi, I have a RoadTrip Model and I’m interested in changing the plate holder with one of Manfrotto, what model I must buy?
    Is it possibile to change the head of the tripod?
    What must I do? Many thanks

  3. Just a side note to anyone looking there are many aftermarket plates with thumb type screws that will tighten easier on the fly. I have one of the road trips on order and cannot wait. Thanks for the superb review. It was the final decision maker for me I a lightweight tripod purchase.

  4. Customs confiscated the hex key, but let you keep those nasty spikes that can be put on the legs and wielded as a kind of medieval weapon?
    Does that make any sense? To anybody?
    Maybe you were going to take the plane apart, slowly, hex by hex.
    /let me know when the world gains some sanity again…no rush.

    1. oh, I know. the silliness is beyond anything… I was half expecting them to take the spiked feet, but I guess anything over 1.5 inches long even if vaguely sharp is considered a weapon.

      1. It’s considered a tool and therefore confiscated though the official definition of what’s not allowed to be carried on is a tool that can be used as a weapon. Most security staff don’t appreciate or haven’t been taught the subtlety and just confiscate all tools. The spikes are not tools. Go figure.

    2. Well, in my case they wouldn’t allow the tripod itself as carry-on baggage. Even though it was a cheap and flimsy no-name that would hardly qualify as a tripod, let alone as a “weapon” 🙂

      But I had no choice, and had to check it in. And since my main luggage was already checked in by the time I got to the security check, the tripod had to travel separately. Amazingly enough, it actually survived that trip! 🙂

  5. I just took the Roadtrip carbon fiber model to Costa Rica for two weeks. I used it in the monopod configuration extensively on jungle hikes with a Nikon D7100 and 80-4000 zoom mounted on the standard head. The unit performed well. My only complaint is I lost the rubber off the foot on the monopod leg. Hope they will replace it.

  6. Nice write up. I have a Benro CF version. It does what it is supposed to do very well. Extremely handy with its convertibility and the extra feet. The Benro bag is the same as well.

    Also, can you do a size comparison on the banana.

  7. Nice review, I have the exact same one and just came back from St.Lucia having used it there. Climbed many hills and mountains there carrying the tripod in its small pack with no problem at all and I am 63. Very study, versatile unit. WC

  8. Nice review, thanks. I have a tripod that collapses in a similar manner from Feisol (their first generation tournament model) since a few years. When I started to read the review I expected this tripod to be lighter. My Feisol weight pretty much the same, has maximum height of ca 155cm (with the head) – but without the centre column. Yes – it is longer folded (still fits in carry-on), but I suppose quite a bit more stable (managed lightweight 4×5 camera just fine).

    I write this as I still hope to find a tripod for up to 1kg of weight that would be enough for a TLR (less height would suffice + the camera balances perfectly), but it seems a tough call.

    1. the fact that the mefoto has 5 section legs makes it fold smaller, but also makes it heavier and less stable. I would recommend checking out the Induro range, also the Oben CT-2441 and CT-2341.

  9. Is the center column always extended on the Road Trip model? Have you tried reversing it to get low, e.g., for a macro shot?

    1. yup, it retracts. and yes, it is reversible. I have used that feature on occasion, but it is much easier to just fold the legs upwards and use the tripod upside-down. you don’t have locking leg angles, but most of the time I do that I am in the woods, so the feet grip well enough to be no problem.

  10. I have one as well. Not long ago I hiked into a waterfall in East Tennessee. I set up my tiny Olympus on the Me-Foto right in the middle of all these photogs with huge tripods and cameras. They were looking at me like I was in a clown car. It was too funny. I’ve had no trouble with mine mounting the OMD system.

  11. I have one of their less expensive backpack models, just two weeks ago I was in Valley of Fire and a rainstorm came through and I tossed the tripod in the car, legs, extended not realizing one of the legs was sticking a little too far out, and sure enough when I closed the door the bottom piece of that leg bent like a cheap spoon.

    1. It it were a carbon instead of aluminium, it would have not bent, but simply snapped-off. This stuff is made as light as possible and can withstand only very little tangential force. Just the way it is. If you want a tripod to survive that kind of accident it would need to be robust wooden one – it would be several times the weight.

    2. Hi Rob – Brian from MeFOTO here – have you contacted our service dept about this? We can repair that tripod for you. Call 914-347-3300 or email us at info at MeFOTO dot com

    3. if you closed the trunk on YOUR leg it would come off too. the secrete to lightness is to only incorporate strength in the direction in which it will be getting stress, i.e for a tripod from the top down.

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