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Manfrotto Off Road Tripod Review

Manfrotto Off Road Tripod Review

OFF ROAD is an ultra lightweight tripod engineered in collaboration with Fizan, an Italian market leader in poles for outdoor sports. It is the lightest tripod in the Manfrotto range and is perfect to be carried everywhere without being heavy and bulky.

consider its sylph like weight of 650g.  To put that into perspective, my winter weight shell jacket weighs just 100g less… Good huh?…

 

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It has been designed to perfectly respond to hikers’ needs being easy and fast to set-up and use. The tripod is extremely compact with a diameter of just 5 cm, easily portable in any situation.

 

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Part of the Manfrotto OffRoad collection, specifically designed for outdoor use; it differs significantly from the BeFree Carbon we also recently reviewed, which can be found HERE.  The idea behind the Off Road collection is to enable the user to take outstanding images, without the need to carry bulky equipment.

Lighter than ever before, the legs are made of a superior aluminum alloy which guarantees extra lightness.

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Twist-to-Lock mechanism, the tubes close telescopically with a simple Twist-to-Lock, lever-free mechanism. Each section can be easily removed for cleaning.

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Extreme portability, The walking sticks and tripods perfectly fit the backpack range; they’re easy to connect and transport.

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With the universal ¼” camera attachment and the new quick wheel it is possible to attach and detach your camera in seconds. The built-in ball head and the single adjustment knob are perfect for quick positioning of the camera and for easy locking all movements. The head also features an integrated leveling bubble that helps ensuring the correct shooting position.

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The tripod legs are made of lightweight aluminum tubes and close telescopically into four sections with a simple Twist-to-Lock mechanism. Legs can be pulled out easily in order to clean them in case of use in the mud/dirt. The feet have spiked bases however are provided with rubber covers for excellent stability on most types of ground.

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Compatibility:

The OFF ROAD tripod is ideal for Compact System Cameras, Action Cameras and all types of Compact Cameras but thanks to its payload up to 2.5kg/5.51lbs it can be easily used with several models of HDSLR.

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Colours:

The OFF ROAD tripod is available in three colours: red, blue and green to perfectly match the latest trends in outdoor products

 

The Highlights:

  • The first Manfrotto tripod for outdoor photography
  • Ultralightweight aluminium tubes with twist-to-lock mechanism
  • Removable leg sections for cleaning and durability over time
  • Ball head with quick wheel and integrated levelling bubble
  • Available in 3 different colour combinations

Checkout the Manfrotto HomePage for more details of this and all their great products

So before we get into this, here’s a little detail about just who Manfrotto are:

Manfrotto Off Road Tripod Review WalkHikeClimb

Based in Northern Italy at Cassola, Manfrotto designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of camera and lighting support equipment for the professional photographic, film, theater, live entertainment and video markets. The product line includes an extensive range of camera tripods and heads, lighting stands and accessories.

Manfrotto products are sold by its own distribution companies, Manfrotto Distribution, in China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus independent distributors in over 65 countries around the world! The unrivalled strength of the international distribution network and the team efforts between the company and the distributors is a key element in the success of the lines. The group owned distribution companies provide direct access to the market, trends and requirements which is essential in keeping the company at the forefront of development and innovation.

It has become a tradition of Manfrotto to continually invest in the latest technology together with constant assessment of the product range, production needs and consumer trends. This policy maintains the highest standard of quality at all stages and set the standards others follow.

Manfrotto Products are manufactured by the Manfrotto Supports and Manfrotto Bags units.

History

The Beginning

At the end of the ’60s Lino Manfrotto was a photo reporter in Bassano del Grappa for Il Gazzettino and Il Giornale di Vicenza. He was also engaged in industrial and advertising photography. The photographer’s studio equipment was cumbersome, heavy and did not facilitate the work of professionals. The market offered a wide range of studio flash-units and quartz illuminators, but completely neglected basic accessories such as stands, booms and clamps.

Thus, with the help of a collaborator, Lino Manfrotto made his first products, including a light and sturdy lamp stand, that was finally high enough. For a couple of years he produced just a few pieces to meet the needs of his photographer friends. Later he decided to present them on an international level, obtaining his first significant order from a Swiss distributor.

The garage became a production workshop. It was there that the first Manfrotto booms, telescopic rods and other stands were manufactured. He soon realized that the production capacity was insufficient to address all the orders from customers.

The 70’s

Manfrotto Off Road Tripod Review WalkHikeClimbIn 1972 Lino Manfrotto met Gilberto Battocchio, a technician working for a Bassano mechanical firm. The commercial and product soul had meet his technical counterpart. It was an all-important moment. Battocchio’s arrival turned Lino’s product into three-dimensional solutions. The two made a great team, and within just a few short years they had created a leading enterprise on a world level.

In 1974 the first Manfrotto tripod was launched. Innovative, light and versatile, Manfrotto tripods and stands achieved success in many markets. Articles such as the Superboom, Autopole®, and Superclamp® became an important part of every photographic studios all over the world. And the competition? They followed and copied, but were unable to match Manfrotto innovation, quality, performance and service.

The 80’s

The Group grew, and in 1986, Manfrotto already had 6 production sites in Bassano, he then expanded to Feltre, establishing another 5 plants in the space of two years.

In 1987/88 the Avenger brand was established and started production, responding to the needs of photo and cine markets. Product quality became the hallmark of this range, which could withstand extreme use, rough atmospheric conditions with high load capacities.

Innovative, quality products with worldwide brand recognition and a vast distribution network encompassing 140 countries with top-level personnel, attracted the interest of international investors. In 1989 the entire Lino Manfrotto shareholding was sold to the British Vitec Group plc, a multinational company listed on the London Stock Exchange. At the time it was operating in the broadcasting sector with American, German, English and French subsidiaries.

The 90’s

1992 saw the purchase of the French company Gitzo, a leader in the sector of tripods and heads for top end amateurs and professional photography.

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2000-2010

In 2004 the distribution company Bogen Imaging GmbH was launched in Germany.

In 2005 Kata, an Israeli company leader in the videocamera bags sector, was acquired. In the same year the group was also given licence to distribute National Geographic photographic bags.

In 2006 two new groups to the Bogen Imaging distribution network were added, one in Japan and the other the United Kingdom.

In 2010, Bogen Imaging changed its name to become Manfrotto Distribution in all of its territories which at the time were: Germany, France, Italy, UK, Japan and the USA. In the same year two new Manfrotto Distribution companies were created, based in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

In 2011 the company acquired the Lastolite brand, leading manufacturer of backgrounds and light stopping equipment for the photographic and video industries. Lastolite also became the distributor of paper backgrounds with the Colorama brand.

From Today forward

In recent years, the advent of digital technology has profoundly changed the photography and video sectors and is creating millions of new photo enthusiasts. Manfrotto has anticipated this trend and is capitalizing on its own experience in order to promote new solutions for photographers and videographers worldwide.

In 2010 Manfrotto underwent a brand evolution, expanding from its core among hobbyists and professional to the new photographic enthusiasts population of the “social recorders” – consumers who approach imaging through smartphone and smaller cameras, and for whom photo and videos are a key social currency to share in the rising virtual meeting place of social networks. With the help of a renown advertising agency the brand moved from its core of “Proven professional” to the more inspiring and exclusive promise of “Imagine More” – Manfrotto thus started its journey to become a Power Brand.

“Manfrotto Imagine More” spells out the mission to serve the imaging creative community in expressing and exploring their imagination more fully, whatever the level of technical competence. This mission is guiding the company into new products like LED lights devices, accessories for iPhone® photography, new video shooting solutions, new bags and gear equipping solutions that will serve many more imaging enthusiasts and professionals around the world – whatever their level of skills and gear, and whatever their imaging missions take them.

Having always been interested in Photography from the early 80’s, Manfrotto was, to me, a name synonymous with quality, desirability and of course cost! I diligently saved my pennies and finally bought my Holy Grail, the Manfrotto 055C with a two-way tilt-n-pan head.  A beast if ever there was one…

This provided me with literally years and years of faultless service and was gotten rid of in moment of weakness, something I still regret to this day.  It might have been heavy, it might have been cumbersome but it was an armored Ferrari; beautiful, powerful, a God amongst mere mortals.

Being stout outdoorsy types, the Off Road Series from Manfrotto appeal hugely.  In fact, I’d quite happily pop out now and spend my own hard earned cash, just £119.95 RRP.  I may well just do that!

So how do they work?

I don’t think (yet) I’ve found anything that comes close to the Off Road supports from Manfrotto and I’d have no hesitation packing them in my rucksack.  Even inside the box these things look awesome!

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Unlike the BeFree Carbon Fiber Tripod we reviewed recently, HERE, there’s no nylon bag; the Off Road Supports are rugged beard brutes ready for anything

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Simply strap them onto your pack and away you go!  Now one of the other major expenses with quality tripods is the head, possible one of the more important and overlooked items as lets face it, this is what keeps your expensive gear from an impromptu introduction with the ground.

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The fixed head provided with the tripod is actually very well made, and I’d go so far as to say I prefer it the version shipped with the BeFree Carbon.  It just feels better somehow, which is just a personal thing.  There are a couple of little touches which to me signify someone has really thought things through.

The single tension adjuster folds away when not in use:

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There’s an in-built spirit level and the knurled disc sits just proud of it’s housing, making attaching your camera a very simple affair.

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It’s by no means perfect however.  Realistically, something I did automatically I hasten to add, you’d want to attach your camera parallel to the “flow” of the plate rather than perpendicular.  The only issue there is that this obstructs the spirit level.  Maybe not so big of an issue with a more compact camera, but as the maximum payload for this thing in two kilos, I don’t think it would feel quite so supported, mounted with the bubble in view.

The legs of the trips are pretty much the same as any common or garden trekking pole.  The means they’re strong, lightweight and pretty robust to same the least.  They also adjust in a similar manner, at each joint:

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So with a quick twist you can adjust to suit your needs.  I also noticed when collapsing the legs it’s very easy just to concertina the legs back inside of each other and tighten all three at once.  No need for individual packing.

At the ends the trekking pole resemblance doesn’t end there:

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With the same bullet shaped end points which could be firmed pushing into softer ground.  Before you ask, they’re also supplied with rubber ferrules:

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So if you’re out and about in an urban setting or rock-hopping, the points won’t be skipping over hard surfaces:

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There’s no adjustment with legs positions in terms of width and footprint, what you see is what you get.

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This seems to be the simplicity of the Off Road Supports, everything you need in one great little package.  Talking which, weighing in at just a mere 650g!! They’re feather light without compromising durability.  It’s quite the stoke of genius, combining trekking poles with a tripod head.

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I love ’em!!

Checkout the “Specifications” tab for details around Minimum and Maximum heights.  The ball head itself whilst functional is surprisingly strong, capable of “safe” loading upto 2kgs; pretty impressive.  It is however relatively limited and doesn’t – as you’d expect – provide a huge amount of flexibility.  This is a good thing I feel; the OffRoad range are ultimately exactly that, outdoor companions, offering ease of use and lightweight portability.

Weight 650 g
Collection/Series Off road
Material Aluminium
Max Height 122 cm
Colour Red
Safety Payload 2.5 kg
Leg Angles 21°
Center Column no centre column
Attachment 1/4″ screw
Legs Tube Diameter 12.9, 14.5, 15.9, 17 mm
Panoramic Rotation 360

  • The first Manfrotto tripod for outdoor photography
  • Ultralightweight aluminium tubes with twist-to-lock mechanism
  • Removable leg sections for cleaning and durability over time
  • Ball head with quick wheel and integrated levelling bubble
  • Available in 3 different colour combinations

Need we say more:

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The Off Road Support from Manfrotto is nothing short of superb.  There doesn’t seem to be any dip that Manfrotto quality for something that’s so competitively priced, yet they feel hugely robust and confidence inspiring.

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If you spend, like us, a great deal of your time outdoors, up  mountains or just generally trekking about I think the Off Road is ideal and well worth a look.  If I were to drop a premium Carbon Fiber Tripod a few meters down a rocky crag I think my heart would sink.  With the Off Road, whilst I wouldn’t want to deliberately abuse them I wouldn’t be overly concerned.

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At just £119.95 RRP there also relatively cheap, especially when you consider its sylph like weight of 650g.  To put that into perspective, my winter weight shell jacket weighs just 100g less… Good huh?

My only niggle is the layout of the top-plate, I don’t think it’s as good as it could be:

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One further caveat, with a maximum payload of 2kg’s I’m not sure I’d be mounting anything beyond a compact camera system or modest DSLR body and lens.  I tend to shoot with prime lenses rather than a do-it-all system lens, or giant zooms; my outfit tends to be quite minimalist.  For a camera support that’s so compact obviously there’s a trade-off, but for me the pro’s outweigh the con’s.

So if you’re in the market for a go anywhere camera support that will become a default part of your every day carry, this might just be the one for you.  Lets face it, how could you resist something as gorgeous as this!

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