Professional-level Camera Gear for Hiking & Backpacking
One of the main reasons I backpack is to spend time in scenic locations in the wilderness. In order to capture some of that beauty, camera gear is one of the few items that I’m willing to carry extra weight for. I use a Sony full frame mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses that I can choose according to what I plan to photograph.
Camera body and lenses
- camera: Sony a7RII Mirrorless Digital Camera Body (22 oz)
This is a full frame mirrorless camera with a 42 megapixel sensor, so it’s capable of taking high quality images in varying conditions, including night sky photography.
- camera lens: Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (18 oz)
After using only prime lenses for a full year, I wanted a lens with some zoom capability so I chose this lens since it has a moderate wide angle at 28mm and can zoom in slightly to 75mm while not being as heavy as other full frame lenses available for my camera.
- camera lens: Sony FE 28mm f/2 lens (7 oz) This wide angle lens is what I (used to) take on most of my trips. For longer or more difficult trips where every ounce matters, this is my lens of choice. Otherwise, I like the Tamron lens listed above for more focal length options.
- camera lens: Samyang AF/FE 18mm f/2.8 lens (5 oz) This is a super wide lens that I use for night sky and star photography.
- camera strap: PeakDesign Slide Lite Camera Strap (2 oz)
This strap is more comfortable than standard camera straps and is easily adjustable with quick-adjustor handles. After dropping my previous camera in a creek on a backpacking trip, now I make a habit of keeping the strap around my neck while I’m hiking, even when it’s clipped into the camera clip on my backpack strap.
- extra camera batteries: Sony NP-FW50 battery (2 oz)
I always take at least one extra camera battery with me, two if the trip is longer than three days.
- camera attachment: PeakDesign Capture 3.0 Camera Clip (3 oz)
This camera clip attaches to the straps on a backpack to keep your camera easily accessible.
- waterproof camera cover: PeakDesign Shell, small (2.4 oz)
This cover can be used on the camera while you carry it on a backpack strap. I also use it for protecting the camera when storing it in my tent.
- tripod: Sirui T-024SK Carbon Fiber Tripod (2.2 lbs)
I don’t take this tripod on every trip, but if I’m planning to do night sky photography, it’s a must to take. This is one of the lightest full size tripods available. I especially like the high quality ball head as well as the ease of setup and making adjustments to the height of the tripod legs.
- tripod: Pedco Ultrapod II with an Arca plate add-on (4.2 oz)
This tripod is easy to use, ultralight and supports the weight of my camera. It sits fairly low to the ground and isn’t as useful as a regular tripod, but at the low weight, is better than nothing.
Carrying a camera while hiking
I’ve gone through several methods for carrying my camera while I’m hiking, including using a neck strap while carrying the camera in one hand, to trying out a couple of different styles of camera bags strapped onto my hip belt. My preferred method is a camera clip that attaches to a backpack strap so my camera is always accessible.
Using an ultralight tripod
Most of my photos are taken hand held since I’m usually hiking when I’m taking photos. However, a tripod is nice to have for shooting in low light conditions, and is required for shooting star photography. Instead of a full-size tripod, which is too heavy to carry on most trips, I use an ultralight tripod that only weighs 4 ounces. The downside is that it’s only about 6″ high, so you have to be creative with setting up compositions. I try to find downed trees or rocks to place it on so it’s up higher than the ground. The tripod includes a velcro strap for attaching to an object like a tree limb. In my experience, it’s not sturdy enough to hold the camera in position so I removed it from the tripod.
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