Backpacking and trekking are two of the best activities, but photography is also one of the coolest. Combining these items appears to be a no-brainer, but determining what to bring and when has taken years to perfect.
If you are not much of a gearhead, and you are an adventurous traveler who has lived on a tight budget for most of your life, anything you spend on it should be worthwhile.
We will guide you all you need to know about the best hiking and backpacking photography equipment in this article.
Day hikes can range from 15 miles up a mountain in a single day to a casual walk in the woods. What to bring varies greatly, both in terms of trekking gear and photographic equipment.
When you just want to hike and aren’t interested in photography, you may use a small hiking daypack with hydration compatibility. Toss in a camera insert or a camera with a wide-angle lens. You may even skip the camera insert and wrap your 50mm in a sock and keep it on top of your clothing for quick access. The camera body is equipped with a wide-angle lens.
If you want to focus on photography, you should probably go with a hiking camera backpack. On your wilderness treks, you’re unlikely to pack that many lenses and camera bodies, and you’re unlikely to require your laptop.
There are a few more items you could require depending on the hike and the style of photography you’re shooting.
If you embark on multi-day hiking excursions, you know that sorting out camera setup is a top priority. It must be light and take up as little room in the pack as feasible.
We looked at a few hiking camera backpacks, but none of them had enough storage for backpacking gear (think 4-10 day trips). Consequently, you may employ a camera insert in conjunction with a Capture Clip.
When skiing or snowboarding, the backpack you pick is typically dictated by the climate and whether you’ll need to fasten your ski or board to the backpack.
If there’s no chance of snowing and you’re not planning on carrying your skis, you may use a regular Day Hike backpack.
If there’s a potential of bad weather or you’ll be doing a lot of climbing, the LowePro Whistler is a good option. The Whistler’s sole drawback is a large pack for a day excursion. If you use a mirrorless camera or want a smaller pack, choose its 350-edition.
The lighter and smaller your camera system, the easier it is to transport into the wilderness. While DSLRs have long been the industry standard, mirrorless and compact cameras are now the way to go when it comes to the most outstanding shots.
If you want beautiful photos and total control over the output, mirrorless cameras are the best option. Choosing which one depends on your budget and the camera ecosystem you want to invest in.
When you go from a Nikon D7000 DSLR to a Sony A7iii, the change is so dramatic that you can’t fathom going back – both in terms of image quality and size/weight.
For landscape photography: The Sony A7Riii (42.4 MP) is now about the same price if you want to capture the most beautiful landscapes.
For something a little smaller: The Sony a6500 and the FujiFilm X-T3 are excellent choices. They both feature a solid selection of crop-sensor lenses. Or you may invest in full-frame lenses and wait until you’re ready to upgrade to full-frame bodies.
Budget-friendly options: Consider taking one or two steps back and obtaining the Sony a6000 or the FujiFilm X-T2. Both may be acquired at reasonable rates and deliver outstanding results.
The Best Option: On the other hand, if money isn’t an issue and landscape photography is your thing, the Sony A7Riv, with its massive 61-megapixel sensor, is currently the best you can purchase.
Compact cameras have evolved significantly. If you’re going on a really long solo hike and can’t handle the extra weight, or if you need a second camera for some reason, this range of cameras can be the best choice.
You may now obtain remarkable control, optical zoom, and image quality in a camera the size of a deck of cards. The sensor size will, of course, be nothing like that of a bigger camera, but the size/weight trade-off is generally worthwhile.
Best pick: If you’re carrying a compact and want top-of-the-line images, the Sony RX100 vii is a fantastic performer. The disadvantage is that it is quite expensive.
Low budget options: The Canon PowerShot SX720 and the older Sony RX100 are both entirely feasible solutions for those of us on a lower budget.
Sports and waterproof options: For those needing waterproof, the Olympus Tough TG-5 is affordable and has a lot of great reviews.
There are also additional excellent mirrorless and compact camera solutions available. These are only the ones our staff has tested and used in the field.
You’re probably most interested in scenery or wildlife as a hiker. That’s a positive thing because it reduces the number and kind of lenses you’ll require. You can likely save your portrait, art, and macro lenses at home.
- A wide-angle lens (e.g., Sony FE 16-35mm f/4)
- A 50mm lens (e.g., Sony FE 50mm f/1.8)
- A telephoto lens (e.g., Sony FE 70-200mm f/4)
You will need a wide-angle lens more than two-thirds of the time, and it’s what will remain on your camera body. The telephoto lens is the one you’ll use the least. (Obviously, if wildlife is your major interest, this will be the opposite for you.)
A Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5, a Nikon 50mm f1.8, and a Nikkor 55-200mm lense may be carried for a DSLR such as the Nikon D7000.
A 50mm lens is commonly used to generate a range of photos. Another alternative is to bring two zoom lenses: one wide-angle to mid-range and one mid-range to telephoto.
Many of us traveling photographers stress this question. A tripod is nearly always required for a landscape photographer who photographs during the golden and blue hours, works with HDR, or performs any other long exposure photography.
At the same time, even the lightest portable tripod will add a significant amount of size and weight to your setup. Suppose you enjoy both HDR and long-exposure photography. In that case, you should bring a portable tripod with you, especially if you are visiting a new location.
It would be best to carry the lightest yet most solid travel tripod you can purchase. For instance, the Zomei Z699c is an excellent mid-range travel tripod. It isn’t very light but also doesn’t wreck your wallet. There are a plethora of lighter (but more costly) choices available. If money were no object, I’d go for Peak Design’s new travel tripod. It’s light, yet it has a long reach and a compact profile when folded.
Suppose you’re familiar with the location and know that the views don’t offer themselves to HDR or long exposure shooting. In that case, you might choose a little tripod or rely on your camera’s integrated image stabilization. Mini tripods, such as the Ultrapod II, are a good balance between having a tripod and not having one. They’re small and light, and you can use them in places where a standard tripod wouldn’t be able to.
Many factors influence what and when you take out on the trail. Sometimes it’s a tiny kit, and other times it’s a larger one.
When determining what pack to bring and what camera set up to use, here are some key considerations to consider. You may try asking yourself the same questions:
What you’ll need for a day trek is very different from what you’ll need for a five-day backcountry trip. Everything from the design of your backpack to the number of the camera lens you carry will be considered.
A large difference in gear exists between a short day trek (say, 1-5 miles) and a longer day hike (6-12 miles).
Not all of our wilderness treks take us to picturesque locations. Often all we should do is to travel and explore new places. Before backpacking your belongings, you must ask yourself the following two questions:
- Are you mostly hiking but bringing your photographic gear just in case you come across anything worth photographing (or because you can’t take the thought of being without your camera)?
- Is the vacation primarily focused on photography, to return with some portfolio-worthy images?
Suppose you’re a casual photographer who wants to capture the surrounding beauty. In that case, your equipment requirements won’t be the same as, for instance, astrology or a landscape photographer who enjoys shooting the golden hour with 10-stop ND filters.
Those heading out to capture wildlife snaps will also have distinct requirements.
While having the most up-to-date gear isn’t required on the trail, it does provide a degree of functionality and convenience.
As a result, some economic alternatives are mentioned in this post. It significantly impacts both the quality of your photos and the amount of weight you carry. Because of the technological advancements, a myriad of fairly affordable hiking gear and photographic equipment options are available.
So you’ve mastered your camera, backpack, and tripod. What more do you require? Here’s a list of the items considered to be vital in the profession.
- Extra batteries: If you use a CMOS mirrorless camera, your battery life is probably not excellent. Even if it is, bringing additional batteries is usually a smart idea.
- Extra memory cards: You don’t want to run out of storage space or be without memory cards in the situation that one of them malfunctions. Hence, it is important to keep extra memory cards.
- A camera jacket: Unless I’m going on a day trek in clear weather, I always have the Vortex Storm Jacket in my luggage. The weather in the highlands is extremely unpredictable, but the Storm Jacket allows me to photograph in almost any scenario.
- Filters: Unless you’re using a 10-stop ND filter, you should always have a circular polarizer filter on your wide-angle lens.
- Remote shutter: A remote camera shutter is required for any long exposure operation, particularly when working in bulb mode. Before you leave for your trip, make sure to check the batteries.
- Cleaning kit: This generally consists of a bulb air blower and a couple of lens wipes kept in a clean place.
- Power bank: If you’re going on a multi-day journey and taking a lot of images, bringing a power bank or two is an excellent idea. It can also recharge your cell phone or Navigation system.
- Dry bags: It is available in a variety of sizes. They store three 3L, five 5L, and ten 10L bags on hand for keeping anything from HDMI cables, chargers, and spare batteries to clothes. They’re also quite useful while going on rafting or boating adventures.
- Quick-release camera strap: A camera strap is sometimes necessary, but it can also be inconvenient. Because you’re frequently moving between tripod, capture clip, and strap-carrying camera, you’ll need something that’s easy to put on and take off. A fast-release camera strap might help you be more flexible. We’ve tested it for a few months, but our team is already impressed with its versatility and ease of use.
Doing outdoor photography has its own set of obstacles. The most significant of which is: figuring out how to carry camera gear while still saving room for necessary things and managing to keep your camera reachable.