There seems to be a gravitation to small and light tripods today. While carbon fiber is light, and travel tripods are small, they can definitely be heavy on the wallet. A traditional aluminum tripod may weigh a bit more, usually 25%, the extra weight can give you better stability, plus leave enough money on the table to buy a solid tripod head.
I taught a night photography class this fall and noticed some of the basic principles of a good tripod being ignored. Here are some tips to rectify this.
1, Less is more. For the best stability, a tripod with three leg sections is better than 4 or 5 sections.
2, You should never have to raise the center column more than 2-3 inches to get to eye level. Better yet, not at all. Your tripod should be tall enough for your camera to meet your eye without having to bend.
3, Make sure that the weight rating for the tripod and head can take the weight of your heaviest combination.
4, Never, never, never pick up your tripod with the camera attached and sling it over your shoulder. You are stressing the weakest point of the tripod and camera. The quick release plate, and head can only take so much stress, and doing this will loosen up both or worse, snap off. If you have to carry your tripod with the camera, do so vertically so there is no stress on the head and camera.
Keep in mind that not all tripods are created equal. Follow the numbers, hight, weight bearing ability, how many leg sections. For most working photographers, I would recommend the Manfrotto 055ProXB and if you want to go lighter there is a carbon version. Heads are another ball of wax, but again, keep the weight bearing ability in mind.