You’ve seen them everywhere, high and mighty over the crowds: The selfie stick has become a staple in tourist crowds and social media content creation. It’s had a complicated history, however. In 2014, the selfie stick had such a boom that it became a nuisance — so much so, in fact, that Disney parks banned them.
Nevertheless, the selfie stick’s usefulness can’t be denied, especially now that vlogging is not only popular but sometimes a legitimate and profitable career.
Additionally, the device’s design can serve many purposes beyond just selfies. Even professional photographers find creative uses for the selfie stick, like finding higher angles or getting their cameras into small, otherwise unreachable spots.
Monopod or selfie stick?
The selfie stick is a single pole that extends so you can take a picture of yourself at a distance. It has a handle on the thicker end for you to hold it, and the thinner area holds, for the most part, a phone. Selfie sticks tend to be around 20” to 30” and are equipped with buttons to control the phone’s camera.
What’s a monopod, then, and how is it different from a selfie stick? You might have seen the monopod around, being used by professionals, or you may also encounter it searching online for a “new” selfie stick. Or you possibly didn’t come across it online because you didn’t know the proper name.
From afar, selfie sticks and monopods look essentially the same and can serve similar purposes. However, the monopod tends to be thicker and stronger, and it’s designed to stabilize a heavy camera (like a DSLR) on the floor like a tripod, except it doesn’t hold itself upright. Monopods are mostly designed in the opposite direction of selfie sticks. The thick end of a monopod supports the camera, and the thin end is what usually stands on the ground. It's an attractive alternative to a tripod because the monopod is lighter and take up less space when traveling or hiking. Monopods can also be quickly set up and carried away much faster in scenarios such as documenting wildlife.
Some monopods, however, can serve perfectly well as selfie sticks. They’re either designed just like selfie sticks but called “monopods” by companies (the selfie stick did exist before the term “selfie” did), or they have attachments on both sides to be used in different ways. Since monopods are usually designed and manufactured by higher-end brands, they are sturdier and come in a larger variety of materials, like carbon fiber or high-grade aluminum. They may be especially of interest to people looking for sturdy, heavy-duty options.
Selfie stick buying guide
For frequent travelers, nature lovers, vloggers and aspiring and professional photographers alike, the selfie stick is an essential, invaluable tool.
You can find selfie sticks available for sale almost anywhere, from mall kiosks and tech stores to tourist attraction gift shops. If you want a piece of equipment that fits your creative needs and won’t lose hold of your $1,000 phone from the top of a mountain, be mindful of some of these factors.
• Compatibility and reliability. Make sure that the selfie stick you choose is compatible with your particular phone or camera model. Many cheap $5 to $15 options are still designed with only smaller phones in mind — and simply won't work with larger devices or cameras. Also, check the stick’s strength (and look for tests online), especially if you’re planning to use it with a digital camera. The last thing you want is your expensive device falling and breaking because you were too cheap to buy a decent selfie stick.
Finally, if you’re planning to use it with devices other than your phone, check whether the stick offers just a phone clamp or it has a universal ¼” screw for other attachments.
If you have a popular camera like the GoPro or an Insta360, you can check out the many offerings designed specifically for them.
• Extension reach. Look for the reach measurement (in inches) on selfie sticks to ensure it’ll cover what you want to do with it. If you simply want to vlog, you might not need much extension at all, just something to hold your device more comfortably. If you want selfies with your family, an average length of 15” to 30” will do; on the other hand, if you want to capture panoramas around you, like amusement parks or nature, you might want one of the longest sticks available, which can surpass 100”.
• Bluetooth and controls. An important feature in selfie sticks is the ability to control your phone or camera remotely, by using buttons on the stick’s handle. This used to be done through a cable plugged to the phone’s headphone jack, and some very cheap models still use this method. However, the technology has evolved, so that Bluetooth can be used to take pictures and control other functions of the camera. With the handles of some selfie stick models, you’ll be able to zoom in and out, turn on the flash and even change from picture to video.
• Additional features. Fancy selfie sticks come with added perks, such as compact tripod legs, flexible arms to make top-down shots easier, or even built-in lighting. In addition, some of the higher-end sticks integrate the stabilizing and target-following technology known as gimbals to ensure smooth movement when taking videos.
Best selfie sticks
1. Best overall: Quik Pod ULTRA
Different variations of the selfie stick have been around for at least 100 years, believe it or not. However, it was Wayne Fromm’s design and patent of the Quik Pod in 2005 that has survived through the stick’s recent evolution and commercial boom. While it’s vastly outsold now by countless (and cheaper) variations, the Quik Pod is still the heavy-duty and highly-functional product it was designed to be.
It’s not surprising, then, that Quik Pod models like the best-selling SPORT and its longest model, the ULTRA, set the standard in both strength and reliability. They're made out of hard anodized aluminum, and their extensions are supported by locking levers in each section instead of relying just on friction (as most cheaper models do). This means it won’t accidentally close down due to weight or wear.
Also, contrary to the unsubstantiated “military-grade” claims of many other products, both Quik Pod models actually have an 810 Military Standard certification for immersion, meaning it’s not only water proof, but also salt water proof. It’s designed to not just take a hit, but take a dive as well.
The ULTRA’s package comes with attachments for the GoPro, most modern smartphones and digital cameras, and a tripod add-on for stable shots. It’s also covered by a two-year warranty when bought directly from Quik Pod’s online store. It doesn’t advertise a specific load capacity, but considering the length, it might be less than its shorter brother’s (the Quik Pod Sport) 1.5 pound capacity. It can, however, hold over seven pounds when used like a monopod resting on the floor.
One big downside is that there are no controls on the handle itself; however, it does come with a small single-button Bluetooth remote that you can use to control your smartphone.
Retailing for about $70, the Quik Pod is expensive compared to most selfie sticks (and it’s been sold out periodically), but its ruggedness and all-around quality make it a worthwhile buy for even professional photographers and adventurers. Also, at 53”, the ULTRA’s extension is one of the longest in heavy duty selfie sticks.
2. Most impressive: K&F Concept Bluetooth Selfie Stick Tripod
Elevate your photography and videography game with the K&F Concept Bluetooth Selfie Stick Tripod. As a versatile and convenient accessory, it puts the power of capturing the perfect shot right in your hands.
This two-in-one marvel seamlessly transitions between a selfie stick and a tripod. In turn, it offers unparalleled flexibility in terms of your photography endeavors. Whether you're a solo adventurer, a group selfie enthusiast, or a vlogger looking for a steady setup, this selfie stick tripod has you covered.
One of its standout features is its built-in Bluetooth remote control. This feature allows you to snap photos or start recording videos with the simple click of a button. You won’t have to rely on timers or ask strangers to take your picture anymore. Instead, this selfie stick tripod empowers you to be in complete control of your shots. Compact and lightweight, it's an ideal travel companion.
- Offers excellent versatility
- Equipped with built-in Bluetooth control
- Designed with portability in mind
- May have a limited extension length
3. Editor’s pick: Atumtek All-in-One Selfie Stick Tripod
Versatile and low-cost, the Atumtek All-in-One is a prime example of how the selfie stick has recently evolved into a standard household piece of technology.
For a little over $30, the Atumtek provides 51” of extension, which is really long compared to the 20” to 30” of reach of most models in this price range. This makes it perfect for panoramic shots and for big family portraits during the holidays.
This length also makes the tripod feature more useful than on other models. Normally, tripods on selfie sticks are meant mainly for tabletop use, but since the Atumtek extends to a little over 4’ it can be used on the floor for the regular family and friends portrait.
Its head moves around 360° and moves 180° front and back or side to side. This means your phone can be adjusted to record vertically or horizontally without the need of an additional ball head attachment. There’s a small micro-USB rechargeable remote attached to the handle, and it can be removed when in tripod mode.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t support any other devices beyond a smartphone, and it can’t hold a phone with a very thick case. But overall, the Atumtek is a versatile budget-friendly option for just about anyone.
3. Best for low prices: Vproof Lightweight Aluminum Selfie Stick
There are hundreds of selfie sticks for under $20. So what makes the Vproof stand out in the category? Simply put, the Vproof provides what others in its price range do — smartphone-compatibility with a Bluetooth button to take pictures — with a lot more flair and reliability.
It’s a sleek, matte black 6.5” baton that easily fits into the pocket or any size bag. Most importantly, while many sticks in this price range are flimsily built and might not hold larger phones firmly (or even drop them), the Vproof has no such problem — in fact, its clamp’s holding strength has performed admirably in third-party testing.
What is a real downside, however, is that the remote is powered by a small CR1620 battery — which is replaceable but not rechargeable. The Vproof doesn't have any extra features but, for $14, it does exactly what it’s supposed to: holds your phone safely, lets you operate it remotely, and, as a bonus, looks great while doing it.
4. Best multipurpose selfie stick: Zhiyun Smooth-XS Gimbal Selfie Stick
Gimbals are devices that stabilize your camera or phone to eliminate the trembling or unintentional movements you make when recording video. When left static on a table or the floor, they can also be set up to follow you around independently. However, most gimbals are short, just a handle and the device, with little or no extension, so they aren’t exactly selfie sticks.
The Zhiyun Smooth-XS’s handle, though, extends by 10”, letting you take better selfies and much better vlog footage. You can also install the included tripod attachment to use it in tabletop mode for added versatility.
It’s charged by USB-C, so it’s easy to keep it powered up on the go; it does have a relatively short run time, though, at approximately five hours. Your phone connects to the stick via Bluetooth, and you can access its features through the ZY Cami app.
The controls, located on the handle, include a joystick to move the gimbal. You can move it side to side for a stabilized panoramic shot, or you can spin it clockwise and counterclockwise. Under the joystick, there is a record button and a mode button, with which you can change between locked mode (the gimbal stays looking forward even if you move it) and follow mode (it’ll move with you), among others. If you press the mode button twice, you can switch your phone from landscape to portrait mode. On the side, a small lever lets you zoom in and out.
While it’s not the most advanced gimbal out there, and it doesn’t come even close to the longest reach among selfie sticks, the Zhiyun is a well-balanced device that provides great functionality for occasional vloggers and travelers who just want to catch great, smooth footage.
5. Best heavy-duty monopod and selfie pole: Manfrotto Compact Extreme 2-in-1 Monopod
The tool traditionally called a monopod functions like a tripod but on a single leg. It’s used by photographers everywhere (especially on the sidelines of sporting events) to get clear images without the weight or installation hassle of tripods. Selfie sticks have also been called monopods sometimes, especially before their golden era.
Manfrotto combines the monopod and selfie stick into a single tool for extra convenience, with the Compact Extreme 2-in-1. It extends 51”, and is made of thick, strong aluminum with levers that lock the expanding sections into place. At 11 ounces and almost 15” long, it’s quite big and bulky, but the tradeoffs are worth it given the product’s durability.
Its main advantage is its dual function. You can attach a camera on the thicker side of the pole to use as an actual monopod, and then plant the thinner side on the floor with an included rubber attachment. Using this configuration, it can still work as a handle for recording yourself or taking selfies at a short distance. On the other hand, if you want to use it as a selfie stick, you turn it around and exchange the small rubber piece with the moving ball head, where you can place a phone or a camera of up to 2.2 pounds. It doesn’t come with a phone clamp, unfortunately, but you can get one from Manfrotto as well.
This Manfrotto model is not designed primarily as a selfie stick, and it doesn’t provide buttons to control your phone remotely. However, it’s a great option for video, or for taking photos with your phone’s timer feature.
6. Best selfie stick for GoPros: GoPro 3-Way Selfie Stick
The GoPro is probably the world’s most renowned adventure camera. As such, many selfie sticks have been designed specifically for it or have a dedicated attachment to hold it. The 3-Way, designed and sold by GoPro itself, packs a lot of features into a small package.
It has a grip, a foldable arm and a tripod. When fully extended (or unfolded), it has three large sections that can be tightened in any position you want. It can be L-shaped, fully extended or slightly folded for a close-up shot without having to lift up your arm too much. The tripod, which is hidden inside the grip, isn’t too tall (full extension is about 20”), but it can work as a tabletop tripod or for recording floor-level footage.
A new version, the 3-Way 2.0, features a sleeker design and more comfortable grip. But it’s noticeably more expensive for the same functionality, and has a shorter overall height when using the tripod.
7. Best selfie stick for 360 Cameras: Best360 Monopod Carbon Fiber
Recently, 360 cameras have become more and more popular. They can capture almost their entire surroundings, and in addition to other technical uses like creating virtual reality home tours for real estate, they can be used to make very entertaining adventure videos, especially in places such as mountain tops.
What makes these cameras particularly appealing is that there’s no visible selfie stick when you see the footage, so it appears as if the camera had been floating. This is because 360 cameras have a very thin blind spot, and if you line up a thin enough selfie stick, you’ll essentially make it disappear. That’s why many of these sticks, like the Best360 Monopod, are made of hard and stiff carbon fiber, a material that offers stability and durability even when thin in diameter. The much lighter weight of carbon fiber is also convenient when carrying and using it, especially compared to other models of the same length.
The Best360 extends 60” and comes with a tripod and a counterweight base. (Both the stick and the camera are very lightweight, so they could fall otherwise.) The biggest drawback is its price — it usually sells for about $200, understandable due to the premium price of carbon fiber. If you want the selfie stick by itself, without the tripod and counterweight, it’ll be about $100. And if you want a truly budget option, you can go for the aluminum, 47” Insta360 Selfie Stick for $18.