You need to weigh up a number of different factors. You're planning on spending around $1k so you do need to get it right. If you're taller (say bigger than 6'1"/1.85m), I'd feel you were better off with the 2541. You won't feel the difference in weight, and it will be more manageable in use. If you're shorter, then the reverse holds. Either one, with either head will perfectly happily do what you want of it (within limits), both now and in the FF future, but obviously, heavier is better from an image point of view; then again, when you're traveling, the worst tripod you can possibly have, irrespective of cost is the one you don't carry around with you. The reality is, that when you're traveling, 98% of the time, you're not taking pictures, so weight/folded size is what really matters, and here the 1542 has a 5" and nearly one pound advantage over the 2541. That is significant, especially when flying, but it also means that it's the one you're more likely to pick up and take out the door with you when you're wearing shorts and flip-flops. You just need to take that little bit more care and exhibit better technique with the lighter tripod. The Markins and RRS are both really nice, and are appropriate choices. I feel both are better made than the Arca. Having used both Markins and RRS, I have a slight preference for the RRS - I think it's slightly nicer in use (and I may be imagining that), but it's $75 more expensive with a camera plate (incidentally, the QR clamp is the part that attaches to the top of the ball head - you then need a camera plate which you bolt to the base of your camera - that attaches to the QR clamp: nothing to do with releasing the shutter - that's a remote switch. My favored RRS QR is the one that comes on the BH-40LR). The ball diameters on both the RRS and Markins are essentially the same size, so both are similarly rigid, even with a longish lens. I do think the RRS looks a little bit nicer, but I'm picking hairs here. The RRS camera plate is nicer than the Markins. I'm not imagining that. The camera plates are interchangeable, between the two brands. For general traveling usage, I usually just use the shutter delay. Unless you're being ultra-particular and using high-res FF equipment, I don't see much advantage in getting a dedicated remote switch. Here's a question for you - will you have any future need for a decent 'non-traveling' tripod, when your cruising days are over? Do be aware that a good tripod is not just for Christmas. I still have and regularly use the Slik tripod that I originally bought 32 years ago. What if... you were to spend the grand on a heavier tripod, say a 3541 variant, which would be excellent for throwing in the back of the car and for shorter walks/more serious photography when you get to FF, and buy a cheaper lightweight set of legs for now? You would use the same head - they're transferable. I'm thinking Manfrotto/Oben/Giottos or something like that. It's just that $600 is an awful lot to spend on a relatively flimsy tripod, and the cheaper brands do that job similarly well. That way, you'd have a really decent tripod for the long haul and an acceptable fall-back for traveling/current use. Something like buying 'L' series lenses for your APS-C body - investment for the future. Just a thought. I usually use B&H in NY for most of my stuff, and have never had any problems with them (a trip there is a wonderful experience!) but you can buy Markins and RRS direct from their own websites. Hope these thoughts help you focus on what's right for you.