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| p.1 #15 · Compact, Light Weight yet Sturdy Tripod for Backpacking |
OK then given you original requirements: "compact (less than 2' folded), lighting weight (around 2 lbish) and has a load capacity for around 12 lbs" I suggest the Benro C1680T tripod: 1.4' folded, weighs 2.35lbs, max load 17.6lbs. I'm into my 3rd year of use with the next size up C2680T and recommend the Benro travel range for their quality materials and construction, reliability, and durability.
Unfortunately these models now only come in kit form so you get a Benro ballhead with the tripod, in the case of the C1680T the ballhead shipped is the B0 so the model number is C1680TB0. You can buy from HolgaCamera at $316.00 or dc-stuffs at $313.00. Both dealers are very reputable.
Since you have a flexible budget I strongly suggest you get a Markins Q3T ballhead and sell the Benro B0 that comes with the tripod. The Q3T has an outside diameter of 50mm (same as the B0) so the legs will fold back parallel to the center column. The Markins Q3T is not cheap but it's an outstanding product.
The C1680T tripod and Q3T head should give you years of reliable support.