I bought my copy of Joby’s Gorillapod Focus 2.5 years ago, used for about 80$, off some private seller through a Swiss photography marketplace website. After some first tests, I was convinced that this great little tripod thing would be a lot of fun to work with during my coming two months of traveling. I did not have a fitting lightweight ballhead for it, though, so I planned on buying one in New York’s huge B&H megastore. I used it without a ballhead for like two days and even like that, due to the enorm flexibility of the «legs», it was performing quite well.
I bought Joby’s Ballhead X for the Gorillapod for about 70$ and used it for the following couple days. I wasn’t completely happy with it and later went back to exchange it for a Vanguard SBH-30. I had to go back again because they gave me a broken copy, but after that I’ve used the Vanguard ballhead for the rest of my trip.
The Ballhead X has some advantages in handling but all in all I’m glad I bought the Vanguard head, which is perfectly light, has two scales on it and has been holding all the weight I have put on it so far. The Gorillapod is designed for not more than 5kg (11lbs) so there’s no need for a ballhead which can carry a heavier payload.
Regardless of the ballhead I’ve used, the Gorillapod Focus was an awesome companion on my journey. If you have more space in your luggage, there may be better choices, though for backpacking it’s a great fit. It is quite solid for this small a size and holds everything in place really well (as long as you don’t exceed the weight limit). Also, it’s quite flexible because you can mount it to all sorts of streetlamps’ poles, handrails, barriers, you name it.
A year and a half after that mentioned trip, I took a bigger and heavier tripod with me on a similar type of backpacking trip. Even though I appreciated having a real tripod with me, it was definitely a huge burden. I had to bring a bigger bag, which was not very comfortable to carry for longer than five minutes. Another backpacking trip lies ahead of me and I’m still quite unsure what I’m gonna bring this time.