A photographer's guide to hiking and camping
For outdoor enthusiasts and nature photographers, being technically prepared for a hike into the mountains or a wilderness camping adventure is a must. The most difficult problem that photographers face on treks like these is weight management. If you’re heading on a serious hike, you need to be prepared for the added weight that comes with carrying all the gear that you need in order to photograph the scenic vistas you’ll see along the way. The gear you choose definitely depends on the level of hike you plan on doing, but we’ve gathered a few of our top must-do tips for camping and hiking as photographers.
Protecting your gear
Being in the wild sometimes means being in unexpected environments, with natural elements like dust, snow, and rain making unexpected appearances along the trail. Your photography gear has to be well-protected, but at the same time it’s ideal to have easy access to your gear.
- Using a polarizing or graduated neutral density filter
By using filters on your lenses, you have a better chance at protecting your lens against dust, dirt, scratches and other smears. That being said, those spots and scratches may still show up on the filter. The benefit? The filter is flat, and easy removed which makes cleaning it easier. It’s also less costly to replace if damaged vs. replacing an entire lens.
- Ensure that you have a few waterproof and dust proof bags to store your gear in.
You can find these in a wide variety of sizes, materials and price points so the options are incredibly varied. But if you're not planning on jumping into a river, or being fully submerged in a lake- you can get away with a large heavy-duty ziplock bag inside your main camera bag for most situations as a "just in case" security measure.
You might have a wide assortment of lenses, camera bodies and other equipment at home- but when you’re hiking or camping your ideal goal should be to keep it as minimal as possible. Here are a few key things we suggest to include in your kit.
Although your camera body kit may vary depending on what you plan on shooting, a full-frame DSLR will allow you to capture every single moment with the most clarity and professional capability. But- you have to be willing to carry the weight. If you have multiple camera bodies, a great option is the Canon 60D since it’s smaller and lighter. If your primarily capturing still imagery, bring out your 5D so you get those additional megapixels and advanced features.
You can definitely bring a point and shoot camera, but if you’re a professional photographer it is not suggested as your limited in terms of what quality of content you can produce and whether or not it has RAW capabilities.
One wide-angle lens and one mid-level fixed range lens
Our suggestion is to try to limit to the essentials. Having a wide-angle lens will allow you to capture those scenic vistas your hoping to reach, while a mid level fixed range will take care of the rest. If you're a bird watcher or shooting wildlife, consider bringing a longer lens. Our favourite for budget? Tamron’s 70-200 f2.8 lens which is made for Nikon, Canon, Sony and Pentax cameras.
A tripod is an essential piece of equipment in our opinion for any nature photographer. For those dreamy golden-hour shots, a tripod can make all the difference. We have two suggestions for tripods. Either purchase an extremely small tripod that’s lightweight and easily packable or purchase a monopod that can double as a walking stick! Either works, it just depends on preference and willingness to carry some extra weight.
If you’re doing any long treks, we suggest bringing some sort of portable power to charge up your camera, phone and any other equipment you may need. This is great in case of emergency, as well as if you’re limited to the amount of batteries you own and choose to only carry one single battery. Goal Zero is any easy choice and widely available as a solar power provider.
What to carry it in
Whether you prefer a vest or a bag for camping adventures- it basically comes down to personal preferences. If your carrying quite a bit of gear (including a tripod) we suggest a larger photography backpack that’s equipped with multiple compartments for photo and personal gear. It’ll be a much more a comfortable way to carry everything you need. Our top pick for medium length hikes is the Lowepro Whistler BP 450 AW with it's dual ability to carry camera equipment and functional camping gear.
Alternatively, you can wear a chest mounted camera bag which is great for quick access of multiple lenses. However, be warned that you can find your view a little blocked when looking down a trail depending on the size of your equipment. They also tend to have a little less protection.
Another great gear carrier to have? Camera straps that make hiking with your camera out easy and hands free. This is a great option for comfortability, as well as ease of getting your camera for those quick moments. Our suggestion? Think Tank Camera Straps
The gear you choose to bring with you on your hike can make or break the type of shot you get. There’s nothing worse as a photographer or videographer than wishing you had brought a lens for a specific photo, but skipped it due to what you thought was an inability to pack it in well and light. Our goal with these tips is to ensure you have the best gear to capture those photographs during your hike, while making it comfortable and simple.
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