Backpacking With Photo Gear
Tips On What To Carry Into The Great Outdoors
Photos © 2004, Timothy Edberg, All Rights Reserved
"Geez, Tim, your photo gear alone is heavier than my entire backpack!"
This was a fellow backpacker I met in Glacier National Park. She was exaggerating...I
hope. But it is certainly true that adding a lot of photography equipment to
a loaded camping backpack adds significant weight.
So why do I take on the burden of a richly camera-laden pack when I go backpacking? Because I want my full photographic outfit available so that I can bring home my best possible images of the remote places I visit. A multi-day backpacking trip can take a photographer to locations far beyond the reach of a day's hike. Even if a backcountry camping journey doesn't travel any farther from the trail head than a day hike could, it still lets one shoot during the special dawn and sunset light at the campsite location, whereas a day hiker would need to be on the trail for hours in the dark to get to the same spot at the same time. I could lighten my load by taking just a camera and a minimal set of accessories, but that would severely limit my photographic options.
I'll share with you my method of packing a full photo rig for maximum comfort and productivity. If you go backpacking to shoot in the backcountry, you can always modify my approach to suit your own tastes. If you are new to backpacking, you should start with a lighter camera load until you gain experience.
It's impossible to wear the vest over the backpack while on the trail, of course. What I do is slip the vest loaded with gear into the top of my backpack's main compartment. The vest is floppy so it fits easily. It's the last thing into the pack so it's the first thing out when I need to get at it. (Having that camera mass high in the pack is good for proper balance, too.)