When you’re off to see the world, packing more means worrying more, and all that worrying can really take away the joy of exploring a place for the first time. Packing light gives you a less stressful and more meaningful travel experience, and this means bringing just the absolute necessities.
Most people want to document their travels and capture all those important memories, which is why having a DSLR, digital camera, or even just a smartphone, is imperative. And of course, if you’re going to be taking pictures, a tripod or monopod should definitely be on your list of essential travel gear as well.
Why You Need a Monopod
People have been very divided in opinion when it comes to the “selfie stick” or monopod. For obvious reasons, selfie lovers immediately embraced it. But there are also others who hate selfie sticks and everyone who uses them.
Whichever side you may be on, you cannot deny that you will need a selfie stick for your travels. Because how else would you include yourself in the photos? Sure, you can ask a stranger to take your picture, but what will stop them from running off with your camera or—on a less pessimistic note—ensure they’ll take a good photo?
When packing light, the best travel companion (if you plan to take photos) is a monopod, which—compared to a tripod—is slim, lightweight, and works with whatever camera equipment you choose to bring.
There are also a wide array of monopods that are specially suited for travel photography. They provide extra stability and allow you to shoot photos at angles and heights you wouldn’t normally have access to.
Buying a Monopod: What to Consider
Size and Weight
Obviously, lighter monopods are better. But don’t just go and buy the lightest monopod you can find. You may need something a little heavier and sturdier if you’re toting a heavier camera.
Maximum Weight Capacity
If you’re going to be using a DSLR, you may want to consider the monopod’s maximum weight capacity. Keep in mind that lenses and other detachable accessories will also add to the load.
Monopods are made of different materials, each with its pros and cons, which is why you need to think of what is most important to you when making your choice. Is it durability? Stability? Price? Weight?
Here’s a quick overview of the differences between monopod construction materials:
- lightweight and inexpensive
- not durable
- does not offer stability
- lightweight, compact, rigid, and stable
- less expensive than other materials, like carbon fiber
- does not dampen vibrations
- difficult to handle in extreme temperatures
- lightweight, compact, rigid, stable, and durable
- easy to handle in extreme temperatures (will not cause injury to exposed skin)
- can be expensive
- rigid and stable
- less expensive than other materials
- lightweight and compact
- less durable than aluminum or carbon fiber
- does not dampen vibrations
- extremely stable and dampens vibrations excellently
- very rigid
- expensive and heavy
- can expand, contract, or warp in certain temperatures
The selfie stick isn’t just an extension of your arm. Some are equipped with useful extra features as well such as an integrated Bluetooth shutter button to avoid the hassle of putting your phone or camera on a timer. Others also have a quick release feature to make mounting and dismounting your camera or phone faster and easier, while some have detachable “feet” to allow them to stand on their own, much like a tripod.
You can also choose the type of head (ball head, swivel head, etc.) you want for your monopod so that you can quickly adjust your camera to any angle you please. For people who want to take more dynamic photos, choosing the right type of monopod head is extremely important.
When it comes to traveling light, you mostly need to bring only those items that are essential to your survival. Clearly, monopods do not fit that criteria. But they are still an essential item for every traveler, in the sense that they can be instrumental to creating incredible, lasting memories of all those amazing travel experiences.
Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with almost 10 years of experience. When she is not out exploring the world, she likes to share her knowledge about photography and travel through writing for blogs.