One of the biggest struggles we have while backpacking is deciding what camera gear to bring. Because we shoot with full frame DSLRs and professional lenses our gear gets heavy really fast. As a result we find ourselves struggling to decide what goes in our pack and what stays home each trip we take. We want to be able to capture as many our experiences as possible and the beautiful scenery we see without breaking our backs on the trail from carrying too much weight. We generally carry the same few items with us each trip with some variation depending on our specific plans for each trip and the type of wildlife, natural features, and views we expect to find along our way. I want to give you some insight on the camera gear we typically carry on our trips and why we decide to bring certain items in certain situations.
No matter what we expect to see or do along our route there are a few items we always have with us while backpacking. Think of this as the bare minimum gear we carry with us each time we do at least an overnight trip.
One Canon 5D Mark III or IV camera body. We carry at least one full frame camera body without a battery grip on every trip we take. We’ve considered carrying a micro 4/3 camera in the past, but we love the image quality our full frame Canons give us and think it’s worth the extra pound of weight. Plus, when you pair a 5D with a professional lens you have a fully weather-sealed system so we feel much more confident out in the elements with our gear. We have been looking into the new Canon EOS RP mirrorless camera for our trips, but still haven’t bit the bullet on that purchase yet.
Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II lens. We think this is the perfect walking around lens. It’s a little wide for capturing most wildlife and anything remotely far away, but it’s compact enough to easily carry, works great for landscapes, portraits, and interesting details we find along the trail.
An extra battery. Honestly, pretty self explanatory. They weigh almost nothing and take up very little space and there’s nothing worse than running out of camera battery on your second day on the trail only to come across the most gorgeous scenery you’ve seen on your trip.
Memory cards. A total of at least two 64gb SD cards and two 64gb CF cards makes sure we have plenty of storage for all the photos we take, as well as a backup in case something goes wrong. We always shoot on two cards just in case a card decides to fail.
Apple Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader. Nicole loves this thing. We have Adobe Lightroom Mobile on our iPhones and this device makes transferring photos from the camera to the phone a breeze. Nicole uses this when she really wants to post a picture while we are on the trail, because carrying a laptop just isn’t an option.
Peak Design Waterproof Camera Shell. Even tho our camera is weather-sealed it’s not a good idea to leave it out in the pouring rain or snow. That’s where this shell from Peak Design really comes in handy. It’s reusable, lightweight and fits over almost any camera/lens combination. What makes it even better is that you can still take photos with the cover on. It does eventually wet thru, but if it’s raining that much the camera is probably going in our pack anyways.
EXTRAS DEPENDING ON THE TRIP:
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L II lens. This is a beast of a lens to carry, weighing 3 pounds but we find ourselves carrying this lens on most of our trips. This lens is perfect for getting close enough to wildlife to get useable shots, but yet still small enough to carry in your pack or around your neck. Additionally this lens makes beautiful portraits. The background compression at 200mm and f/2.8 is gorgeous and when we combine this lens with our 24-70mm we have, in our opinion, the perfect combination of lenses.
Lightweight aluminum tripod. This is a must have if we anticipate shooting any time-lapses, long exposures of stars or waterfalls, or we want to get shots of both of us together on the trail. We don’t always bring one along because of the bulk, but it’s nice to have on those hikes with lots of gorgeous overlooks and waterfalls. If we do carry a tripod we carry the MePHOTO Roadtrip Classic Tripod which weighs 3.6 pounds and can double as a monopod as well.
10 stop Neutral density filter. The only time we ever bring this along is if we are passing by waterfalls or want to capture the motion in the clouds or water.
GoPro Hero 4. This is most useful if we are shooting video on our trip or want to get really adventurous and worry about breaking our larger camera gear. We aren’t the biggest fans of the still images the GoPro produces so we almost exclusively use it for video.
More batteries and memory cards. The longer the trip, the more batteries and memory cards we bring. We can usually get two days out of a battery and memory card if we are conservative, so any longer than 4 days and we need to pack more cards and batteries/charger if we anticipate being able to access electricity somewhere.