How to carry camera equipment *and* hiking gear?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by kundan_sen, Apr 29, 2003.

  1. I've searched at for answers for the past few days, and can't really pin it down, so decided to post after all.
    Here's the question.
    I have to carry a Lowe 65+ liter overnight backpack. And I need to carry camera gear.
    Since I'm just 5'3", the backpack pretty much covers my shoulders, my waist, my back, and goes way above my head. That takes care of most of the places I would normally have my camera - so I can't go with camera backpacks, or waistpacks, or belts.
    My camera gear includes
    • The last 2 lenses are about 6" long, the first 2 are tiny. The monopod became essential after I nearly broke my back carrying a heavy tripod down and up the Grand Canyon.
      I read Philip Greenspun's article on Camera Bags, and am glad that I already have the Tamrac M.A.S - this is my default option when outdoors, as the items are very easily accessible, and I can also carry a bottle of water on my belt.
      So, once the backoack is settled on my shoulders, the only open space I have is my chest. Now, this is what I have in mind. Seen the newer messenger bags that really hug your body, with the (wide) strap near the shoulder horizontal, while the same strap becomes vertical when it crosses the love handles? I need something that has 2 of these body-hugging straps, that are flat and thin, so my entire backpack can sit right on top of these (at the shoulders, and the waist). Now, I need a few straps/ loops to hook on my M.A.S system modules - one strong loop where the 2 belts cross each other, near the solar plexus, that will hold my camera, and a few loops scattered along the front of the belts to hook on the rest of the accessories.
      Does that sound ridiculous? Do you think anyone makes anything like that? I can't go for the option of packing my camera in the backpack, and stopping to take it out and put it in, as I shall be shooting when trekking. I can't go for a top-loading chestpack, because the ones I saw from Lowe, etc., won't let the backpack sit on top of them comfortably. I should be able to change lenses, film, etc on the go, without help from anyone else.
      Please advice!!!
      cheers :)
  2. Dear Kundan,

    to make your troubles even more absurd, let us throw in a newborn baby in your trekking load, and a mother in a wheel chair. Now what would you do to carry all your gear, and two fragile people to boot?

    This is not unrealistic, if you consider that people flee wars in such conditions regularly.

    So, what do they do? 1) go very slowly, carrying part of the load 1/2 a mile, depositing, retracking for the left behind mother, ...

    Then (on the second day) 2) they weed out their packs, and toss the silver knives into the ravine etc. And finally they arrive with nothing but their lives and spirits.

    So, what is in your 65 liter pack? 2/3 of it are excess in my book for an overnight. Just a tube tent and a sleeping bag + food will have to do. What is excess in your camera gear? I am so glad you do not take the MF and LF gear along on these treks ...
    But 4 lenses, with overlap to boot ... ????

    So, weed your equipment out. And carry just the camera with one lens around your neck, stuff the rest into the backpack and there you go.

    Packing as much (and a cellphone, laptop, GPS system etc) as you want to is tomfoolery in my eyes. Of course it cannot be done.

    Don't you have sense enough to see that something has to give?
    For your own safety, please do take that COMPASS along!
  3. A messenger bag is going to be pain as it will pull you're body in a different direction than the backpack.

    When I go backpacking I take a point and shoot camera, Ricoh Grv1. An Olympus Epic should work. I put this in my pocket or attach it with a "module" to the waist belt of my backpack and can take it out whenever I want. You could also get a small module to hold just the F100 and 105 on the other side of your waist belt. This will allow access to two cameras, one with a wide angle and one telephoto which covers 80% of your shoots. Everything else goes into the pack and if I need it the pack comes off, as I have a top-loader.
  4. There are people backpacking for days at a time with only 20lbs on their back. Do a google search on "light weight backpacking" and try to figure how to lighten you pack. If you give up some of the weight in you backpack, that might make way for the camera gear. Best of luck, David
  5. A few important facts are missing - what other gear and how much weight do you plan to carry? how long is your trip and what kind of mileage are you hoping to cover? what shape are you in?
    My guess is space will be the least of your worries. If it's a long backpacking trip - the weight will kill you.
    I did about 1/2 of the John Muir Trail with a 60lbs pack because I wanted to haul a complete camera system. The result was a knee injury that kept me from serious hiking for over a year, and a very sobering lesson in what equipment I REALLY needed.
    My advice would be to pick a lens or two that you work with most, get a lightweight tripod and leave the rest at home or in the car.

    Scenic Wild
  6. A two part answer.

    First for the cameras - I have several butt packs which can be reversed to carry on the front. One of the best alternatives might be a military surplus butt pack with clips rather than a belt which can clip to your waistbelt in front.

    Second, a 65+ liter "overnight" backpack sounds like a contradiction in terms -- I do overnight or multi-day hikes in Alaska (where I live) and the Yukon with less than half of that capacity. Unless you are going winter camping or are out for 8-10 days at a time, you ought to think carefully about what you are carrying. A one-person tent, a summer weight sleeping bag, food, cooking stuff and raingear shouldn't take up more than 25 liters.
  7. First, figure out if you are hiking to photograph, or photographing while you hike.

    If you're hiking for fun, leave most of that photo gear at home- take maybe a body and one (small) lens. Period.

    If you're hiking TO photograph, read the article at Luminous Landscape- the guy describes using a bivy bag instead of a tent, etc- in other words, minimizing hiking gear to make room for camera gear. Or, as an option, just cut back on how far you hike- make day hikes only, for example, with minimal gear required.
  8. The solution that's worked for me was to get a chest harnessed camera bag (LowePro topLoad Zoom). When I need extra lenses and want them readily available I put a couple of sliplock lens cases on the backpack's waist belt. Works with a daypack, kelty kid-carrier, larger backpack, whatever.
  9. Let me expand upon that answer a bit. You have two contradictory goals. One is to photograph- which, carried to the extreme, involves multiple heavy cameras, tripods, flash equipment, reflectors, and on and on. The other goal involves moving. Whatever you do that aids one goal will hinder the other. That's why it helps to decide which goal is the most important and make the second goal subordinate to it.

    Carrying extra gear may be awkward, but it is also a safety concern. Especially when hiking in the mountains, speed is safety, and getting caught in a thunderstorm above treeline is not a good experience. I've hopped streams, balanced on logs, and climbed over talus with a daypack that I just could not have done with a big backpack. With a lighter pack, you'll go more places, go farther and quicker, climb higher, see more, experience more.

    If you are planning to sell photos, go the gear-heavy route. You may find most of your photos are made within a mile of your car, and that's okay.

    If you are just photographing for fun, consider what will happen to those photos. I knew a lady in Colorado, who described how, after her husband died, she took his big box of hiking pictures and just walked out and dropped it in the trash. If you take just one lens, one body, or a point-and-shoot, you will miss some shots- but do you really need all those shots in the first place?
  10. This forum is really awesome. If there is any practice of "free exchange of knowledge", it's surely here.

    Thanks to all of you for your excellent answers. All of them make sense, and all can probably be combined.

    Clarification - my backpack says it's 65 liters, but all I shall have (as Frank pointed out) is a tent, a sleeping bag and foam mat, food, lantern, maybe 2 cylinders of gas, and some misc items. I'm sure there'll be lots of room left in the pack - and thankfully, it squeezes well.

    I did one misplanned 17-mile (round trip) hike with a very heavy pack, and thoroughly repented it. For heavens sake - we had Walmart flashlights and extra D-size cells for it! Since then, I have trimmed the tripod by 2 legs, shifted to LED lamps, and bought lightweight tents instead of heavy rentals.

    If I were to choose 2 lenses, I would probably just take the 24mm and the 70-300. Some friends of mine switched to digital just to cut down on this load.

    Can anyone point out a website or a book that will tell me the bare minimum I need to go backpacking for a day or two? The checklist at REI lists so many items, it's crazy.

    Once again, thanks a lot!

    cheers :)

  11. Start here:
  12. Kundan,
    Recommend you check out some ultralight backpacking sites. One of my favorites is This site also gets into a lot of the benefits of hammock camping, which I have discovered is a LOT better than a tent (no poles, no tarp, and a lot less space). I recently picked up a Hennessy hammock, and as long as you've got trees, you're set.
    There are plenty of ways to cut space and weight, but the first place I'd start is your camera gear. Either take the 105 or the 70-300, but both are redundant unless the 105 is a macro, and even then a good extension tube on the other lenses should suffice. Also, 2 fuel bottles? How long are you going to be out, and what are you taking to cook? If one bottle is for the lantern, chuck the lantern and get a nice headlamp instead. Personally, I like the Petzl Tikka; 3 LED lights and 3 AAA batteries that last for over 100 hours.
    Hope this helps.
  13. Maybe your best bet is Here
  14. As far as books go - one of the better ultralight hiking guides is Ray Jardine's "Beyond Backpacking".

    Scenic Wild
  15. I find it's just OK to carry your gear inside the backpack. This way, when you see a good photo op, you get a rest stop with your weight off your shoulders. Why can't you stop ? Are you trying to break a long-distance hiking record or are you trying to get some good photos ? With the amount of lenses you have, carrying them all in a separate bag would be pretty uncomfortable in the long run. On the other hand, if you just had a 24-120 (an excellent Nikon lens in my experience), you could have your camera out all the time in a waist/chess pouch. Tuan Terra Galleria photography.
  16. Good advice so far, but since you haven't told us much about
    where you'll be going, some of the suggestions may not be
    appropriate. For example, I've camped in hammocks, and they're
    great, unless it's cold. A down sleeping bag compressed by
    your body weight offers zero insulation beneath you in a
    hammock. There are places where a tent is unnecessary,
    and there are plenty of places where you don't need a stove
    or cooking gear (cold food works fine for a couple of
    days). There are other places where these items are
    very useful or even lifesavers.
    As for photo equipment, I'd probably leave the longer lenses
    at home, especially the 70-300. They're not long enough to
    do justice to most wildlife, but they are heavy and long enough to
    increase your need for a tripod and fast film. You can capture
    lots of scenics with a 24 and 50, without using lots of weight.
    I'd carry a tiny tabletop tripod instead of the monopod. It'll
    weigh less, and allow nighttime moonlit shots, campfire
    shots, "painting with flashlight" shots, star trails,
    self-portraits via the timer, etc.
  17. I'd look into getting a smaller and lighter body, a smaller flash (or better yet ditch it altogether), and a smaller selection of lenses. And I'd leave the monopod at home.
  18. That's no big deal! I do this regularly & I am 5 1/2 feet & 57 years old. But I also work-out. Use a waist belt, fanny pack system, lot's of'em out there. This won't hold the entire gear so... put the least used gear inside the pack.
  19. Hi Kundan, you're getting some good advice in this thread, but here's my two cents:

    One point I haven't read here is to consider what your comfort level is. They don't call it "roughin' it" for no reason! If you need to be comfy and dry and warm at all times it sure makes it hard to carry all your gear, hike solo, and have reasonable camera gear along as well. I've carried 80lb+ packs in Tasmania with camera gear (15lbs) because I'd never hiked there before, didn't know the conditions (I was told to expect snow at any time of the year), and had everything on my back that I needed for a month in Tasmania. I was 28 and in good shape, but carrying all that crap around hurt alot, and I passed by some shots because I was uncomfortable and just wanted to get to my campsite for the night. But on the other hand, I had one of the best months of my life, got many great shots, and survived none the worse for wear. However, I've been camping and backpacking most of my life, so if you are just getting started, go easy until you are ready for longer trips in more remote areas with heavy loads.

    Things to keep in mind:

    Decide whether you are primarily hiking or backpacking, as mentioned above, and adjust accordingly.

    Use the sternum strap on your backpack to hold a camera case (like the Lowepro) and keep your camera ready with a 24-105 type zoom handy - this will allow you to get most of the shots you are interested in.

    If you like wildlife, carry a decent 100-300 zoom in a pouch on your pack's waistbelt, as mentioned above.

    A lightweight tripod will do wonders.

    Don't plan to hike more than 10-12 km (6-8 miles a day) if you are attempting 'serious' photography. Unless you want to hike in to a location and then dayhike from there. I found a bungee-cord was useful to use as a strap to carry my tripod on my back while day hiking from basecamp. Not the most comfortable thing ever, but it worked, and I carry some bungee cords anyways. The more stuff you bring that is truly 'dual-purpose', the better off you'll be. For example, you don't need a spoon and a fork. Although the weight savings here is pretty minimal, it's the right mind set to be in. You don't need a lantern and a headlamp, a mug and a water bottle, a bowl and a pot, a rainhat and a sun hat, a bathing suit and shorts, you get the idea!

    The most important thing you need is your brain. Experience in hiking and wilderness settings will go a long way. It sounds like you are on your way, learning to leave the Wal-mart crap and heavy batteries at home. There is a lot of high quality light-weight camping gear available, but it is not cheap. Add camera gear to this and you understand why I have a large credit card bill.

    Your ability to withstand the elements when the weather turns sour will partially determine your success. "Mental toughness" will get you through certain situations where you didn't bring a full Gore-tex rain suit weighing 7lbs and are now soaking wet. But the sun will shine eventually and present you with an opportunity to use the extra 20mm lens you brought instead of rain pants, so go dry out, suck it up and enjoy yourself. Or learn from the experience and try again next time.

    Finally, a hiking companion who likes to carry a lot of gear and sleep in and read all day and cook while you are out photographing is a valuable asset. I'm still looking for one!

    Good luck!

  20. I expected some replies from this forum - what I have received so far is mindblowing. Working in New York City, it's tough to believe there are so many people eager to help me out for free!

    Thanks, everyone, for being so very helpful! :)

    So here's my summary of comments and/or progress in altering my plans:

    Frank - I (mentally) repacked my pack, and eliminated the 105.

    Robert - sweet. I didn't realize my Tamrac module can be mounted on the backpack belt. Now I know.

    David / Guy - I bought the book "Beyond Backpacking" from Barnes and Noble just now. That should help me pack better.

    Jeremy - you had me laughing in fits! I hope you were not really serious. Awesome link - specially because you did not give any clue on what it was ;)

    Tuan - nice suggestion - I did not know about the 24-120. I see a new VBR ED-IF model is just in. I may crave for it, but I doubt I'll buy it - I really like my 24mm 2.8 ED.

    Curt - awesome! I hope I can say that 30 years from now, when I'll be your age!

    Mark / Richard - you're right about the monopod - I realized I hardly ever needed it on hikes - just when I needed the 70-300, and those shots were not as good as the 24mm shots. You're also right about the 70-300 - the 105 macro is a better lens. So I'll keep all but the 24 and 50 at home.

    Everyone - once again - thank you for your help!

    cheers :)

  21. Try reading Freedom of the Hills from the Mountaineers. Look for your local chapter or equivalent of the Sierra Club or similar organizations and see if they have organized events or classes - backpacking, wilderness travel, or photography, etc. Spreading the weight between multiple folks, with common goals, can help. What you need and what you can tolerate can be experiential or you can learn from others experiences/mistakes.

    Your location can have a great deal of impact on what you really need or don't need. There are parts of the southwest where (with checking the weather in advance) little is needed in the way of shelter or rain gear. Other places, getting wet can be an invitation to disaster. Availability of water along the way can make a huge difference as can the availability of firewood or the need to have self contained cooking gear.
  22. Hi Kundan,

    I would second all the suggestions of taking a good look at all your backpacking gear and considering the lightest weight alternatives available. Much backpacking gear is simply way over designed and too heavy. However, don't go too far, as the ultra light weight approach leans quite heavilly on moving fast and not spending too much time in camp. If serious photography is your aim then you aren't going to spend all your time hiking. I interviewed Ray Jardine for a magazine article a few years back and I would throughly recommned his book
    mentioned earlier.

    I would ditch the monopod and get a small tripod something like a Gitzo G01. I have shot published images off this with my 24mm and it is fine with lenses up to 100mm ish if you don't extend the legs much.

    In terms of carrying the gear. I would get a waist belt system with enough pouches to carry your gear and then put it in the top of your sack. I wouldn't bother having the camera ready whilst you hike, as most decenet photo ops require that you stop and take sometime. If you want to take snaps along the way a P and S in your top pocket would be better.

    Finally I would take the 50mm, 24mm and 105mm, do you really need a flash?? The zooms are great for backpacking and the 75-150e, or 50-135mm manual focus lenses are great and available cheap second hand.

    Hope this helps.
  23. I've done it. You can have your toys if you really want them, and you shouldn't have to chose between hiking and photography. I've found that slowing down to photograph helps me enjoy the experience. 1. No flash. Available light portraits around sunrise/sunset are what makes hiking/shooting brilliant. 2. Do you like taking pictures of flower petals? If so, leave the zoom behind. Do you like taking pictures of animals? then leave the 105 macro behind. Personally, I find both types boring, so I'd probably opt for the 70-300 (for coverage) or neither. In my travels, the tele-zoom is the least used lens in my kit. 3. I share your love affair with 24mm. Never go anywhere without it. The same goes for your 50mm. For low-light photos, or environmental portraiture (i.e. head to toe shots) the 50mm is invaluable (and small). 4. As far as camera support 'pods go, a couple thoughts. If you love monnopods, they make a hiking stick with a 1/4"-20 thread underneath a screw off cap. I've seen them at REI. Myself, I love dusk photography (particularly of my campsights/companions). For that one needs a nice tripod. Here's the inside scoop on some good bargains. Cullman makes a great travel tripod that stands about 3 feet high and is lighter than air. It is a black metal alloy and includes a fair ballhead. It'll run you about $55 at B&H photovideo. For a full-height tripod that is almost as light (and cheap), I go with the Sunpak 3300-B. It comes with a bigger ballhead that may even be able to tackle the weight of your zoom lens, and has all kinds of other neat whistles and bells without needing to shell out $300. Best of all, it weighs less than 3 pounds. Now, where to put all this #$%%??? You've got a 24mm, a 50, and a 70-300 zoom, plus body. And *pod. mount the *pod externally with webbing straps (REI sells them for $1, they are invaluable). On the left side of your pack's waist belt you should have the bag for your body with one of the lenses attached (prefferably your zoom). On the right you can either have one large lens case that you can toss your primes in (the 24 and the 50), or you can lasso on a small-medium size top-loading camera bag. I use stuff by a company called M-Rock, but LowePro pretty much has the same stuff. In this bag you can rotate your lenses in and out depending on what you've got mounted on the camera, as well as keep some of your film and filters handy. This configuration is a bit bulky, but infinitely more accessable than having it strapped to your chest or, worse, having to dig through your bag. The more accessible your gear, the more pictures you'll take. The more pictures you take, the better the odds that you'll grab a few worth keeping (I'm still trying for that one :). So, how's that for a PhD dissertation. Good luck, Don
  24. Kundan,

    One of the best sites I have found that gives info about packing light for a backpacking trip is

    That'll set you up for sure. I regularly follow the advice given on this website to plan my backpacking trips.

    Good luck and have fun.
  25. Hey Kundan,

    Most of the stuff about your backpacking gear has been covered already
    .. there's plenty of places to look around and find what you need to
    get by with. For your camera gear, I would go with one camera body
    (maybe even buy an n80, a MUCH lighter body, and just about as much
    camera, especially for landscapes, as the f100) -- If weight's an
    issue, I'd leave the flash and the 105 at home .. that 70-300 (the
    one that is pre the "g" model) is a great lens, and lightweight ...
    add a 5T diopter, and you have a great macro lens, plus a 70-300 lens
    .. I use it ALL the time backpacking .. 2nd to the 24mm). I wouldn't
    replace the 24 with the 24-120 .. the 24mm prime is one of the best
    lenses anywhere, and you get a much better hyperfocal length. I'd
    definitely replace the monopod with some lightweight tripod.

    your question concerned how to carry it .. I don't go with an
    'outside' system. I drop my camera gear into a small lowepro fanny
    pack (I think it's called an offroad or something), and sit that
    inside the top of my (toploading) pack .. it's the last thing to go
    in. I have to stop every time I want to shoot something, unpack, and
    then shoot. I miss a few shots, but not many. if you're serious about
    your images, you don't want to be trying to compose images with a
    backpack on your back anyway. Secondly, that leaves me an option of
    making camp early, grabbing my fanny pack and tripod, and walking
    around looking to shoot.

    For what it's worth, I've done 2 week backpack trips in Denali,
    Wrangell-St Elias NP, and elsewhere, carrying the following

    24mm f2.4,
    Tokina 28-80mm f.28,
    nikon 70-300mm 4-5.6,
    nikon 400mm f3.5, 1.4 and 2x TC's,
    Sb80dx flash,
    5T and 6T diopters, polariser and A2 filter for each lens (except no
    polariser for the 400),
    5 GND filters,
    Gitzo 1329 tripod,
    Kirk Bh-1 ballhead.

    All my backpacking gear/food for 10-14 days. I have no idea how much
    it weighs .. a lot though. I adjust mileage accordingly. And I
    schedule a day off every 3 days to basecamp and shoot.

    the end result is there's no easy answer. Each system has it's pros
    and cons, and nothing works out easily. Backpacking and trying to
    shoot seriously is damned HARD. I can't agree more with the fella who
    suggested finding a buddy to hike with, who can help carry your gear
    and cook for you .. I did once, and that was easily the best
    backpacking/photography trip I've ever done.



  26. If you are insistant on carrying everything into the wilderness I
    would suggest looking into a Pack-Train (Mules) or even Llama
    treking. Rent yourself a couple of Mules or Llamas and let them
    carry all of your gear. I've done both and it is very freeing to not
    have to lug 90+lbs of gear all over Gods Green Earth. It makes
    the trip infinitely more enjoyable! Mules and Llamas both make
    great companions on an extended trips. They don't give you
    advise on how to proceed, they don't ask you if we are lost every
    time you pull out the map and compass, they are extremely low
    maintinence! I'd seriously suggest looking into it. It is definitely
    a viable option.

    Something else that you might want to consider is instead of
    being on the move...find the location where you want to spend
    some time. Fly in via float plane and set up a base camp to work
    from. (I have been doing this for years now ...and again it just
    makes the wilderness experience that much more enjoyable.)
  27. I agree to almost everything everyone said, but for the monopod. I don't know why I sense this negative energy in everyone when it comes to monopods. I have the Slik Carbon ProPod and the Velbon compact magnesium ballhead. The compbination weights about 1.2 lbs - by far the lightest - and has no issues giving me 3 stops down on my heaviest combination of lenses (listed on top of this thread). I have been using this for the last 1 year or so, and limit my super-heavy tripod to around the car. Most shots here used the monopod: (including the zoomed images of salt formations, and sunrise/sunset snaps). Since this is basically a light walking stick that allows the camera to sit on it as well, I find it useful now and then to prop me up, setup is a breeze, and with the 24mm lens, I can take at speeds down to 1/8 sec without any issues. So why is it that everyone is against the monopod? Of course, I agree, a table top tripod should come along, for those night shots of the clear sky and the self shots. But when on the trail, and stopping for photographs, why do you think a monopod will not suffice? -kundan
  28. Good subject. There's a point where backpacking and photography don't mix, it's too much gear, I have the flat feet to show for it.
    You just can't take everything with you, the general rule is carry no more that a quarter (or no more than a third max) of your body weight.
    For us light weight's that makes for some difficult sacrifices, you pretty much have to make a weight budget. I don't take more than 2
    lenses with me usually 20-35 and 35-135, sometimes just 20-35 and a 50mm micro, plus a polarize and my grads. But you could go with
    your 24, 50 and 105, or make a decision of no more than 3 lenses, I'd leave the flash behind. Your Tamrac camera bag w/ strap to hook
    thing on is good, my REI New Star pack has a hood that doubles as a mid size fanny pack, I'll use that and my Tamrac from base camp -day hikes.
    If I'm going to be climbing I'll drag my pack. I've tried lots of things to have my camera available while hauling a full pack, good shots are not often without a tripod, so I'll carry my tripod and camera on my shoulder or keep it in my pack. I'll take a Bodgan 3001 and 3437 head, or if I need to go super light I'll just take a Velbon Max i 343E- less than a pound. There's also the worry of leaving your "just in case" stuff in the car at the trail head, if you don't bring it there's no worry. I spend a lot of time in the East Sierra and have made friends at a few resorts so I can leave gear when I'm doing a combo road & BP trip.
    Camping gear : Light weight gear comes with a price, my tent / sleeping bag combo goes from 4 to 6 lbs, the new LED head lamp's are amazing, they last 100's of hours and are strong enough to hike at night. Clothes: shell, fleece and synthetic's, never cotton. If you want a full list of what to bring, sping - winter - fall, let me know.
    Some good books about backing packing photography are: Galen Rowell's "Inner Game of Outdoor Photography"/ W.W. Norton & Company, and Charles Cambell's "The Backpackers Photography Handbook" / Watson-Guptill Publications. I can't tell you how many early trips I messed up from bear fear and too much gear, build a strategy and test it out.
  29. For many years I traveled on foot or by canoe in Canadas nothern forests studying and recording forest conditions. In those days I had two items at the ready, a suvival weapon and a camera.My camera of choice was a rangefinder Leica with a folding mount Elmar lens shoulder slung. In todays world I have found a better solution ;a Nikon cp5000 digital. It gives me a zoom lens,manual operation,and fits easily in a shirt pocket. My film is replaced by 128 meg cards and my format is jpeg I can carry 2000 frames in a small waterproof box.The big problem is charging batteries to operate the system.I am currently in pursuit of a small hand crank generator or a solar generator which will do the job. The secret lies in using a minimum of power.Close off the lcd screen,use programmed auto,and cut off the flash. You would be surprise just how many things you dont really need if you are backpacking.Forget the tent,carry a light axe,a nylon sheet makes a fine leanto, Cut down on heavy foods.I am amazed that native people have not capitalized on their basic travel food pemican;a mixture of dried powdered meat,and dried makes a soup or a stew when suplimented by powdered potatoes. A length of fishing line a couple of hooks and natural baits will give you a varied diet. Have you ever eaten porcupine or marmot;delicious. Find yourself a friendly northern Cree companion ;you will learn more about forest travel from him than you will ever learn from any book.
  30. I scanned over most of the posts and agree that if you don't use Llamas to carry the gear you have to narrow down both camera and camping gear. That taken care of now you need to figure out a good way of transportying your camera and lenses. Being a light-weight myself I've found a system that works for me. I use a Dayna Designs backpack (multi day). Not wanting to take off my backpack everytime I wanted my camera out and finding when it is strung around my neck to tiresome (when it swings it takes more energy to walk). Using the very sturdy Lowepro S&F toploader 75AW (a smaller version works the same way) I use the straps it comes with to attach it to my backpack's shoulder strap and waistbelt as noted in my poorly, mouse drawn, diagram. I chose the S&F version because it has an AW cover and allows for modular lens case add-ons. One good thing with mounting it on the front is that you can rest your elbows on it when taking a picture adding extra stability. Also the load does not swing. One last thing I like is that it places weight infront of you not more behind (if you put it in the backpack). Things I dislike with this system is that the zipper does not keep out as much grit as I like. I'm thinking of having a flap sown over the zipper but that might make it more difficult to open. The other thing I don't like is that the camera case blocks clear vision of your feet. It takes a little getting used to but I can now cross rivers on a log bridge without any problems. Good luck in your quest. Take your time in figuring things out. Remember that there is no 'one right way' of doing this. Play (try) with different systems. I would do some dry runs before going out on a long hike. Pick a system, load everything up and walk around the block.
  31. One approach I have used with some succes is to use a Lowepro Off Trail 2 for my photo gear and stuff it in the bottom compartment of a Lowe Alpine Alpamayo Crossbow 75+20 backpack. It it a perfect fit, as if they were made for each other. This compartment of the pack is quickly and easily accessable by opening a single heavy duty zipper.
    After having set up the camp or dumped the backpack at the youth hostel/hotel/relatives house/whatever I can use the Off Trail 2 for shorter photo expeditions where I do not need to carry more extra clothes, water or food than what I can have in pockets or in pounces attached to the belt of the Off Trail 2.
    While walking with the backpack I can have some photo ability by carrying a SLR with lens either on a strap around my neck or attached with two shorter straps from D-rings on the shoulder straps of the backpack to the strap lugs on the SLR.
    Lowepro pounces for lenses, film or even water bottles can be attached to the hip belt of the backpack for easy access to extra lenses, film etc. however they tend to be crushed when setting the backpack down, so you should remove them before taking the backpack off, and wait with attaching them until you have taken the backpack on, which slows down taking the backpack on/off a bit.
  32. From your post, it sounds like your backpacking orientation may be about being able to readily photograph the landscape while on the trail backpacking. There are a great many non-photographer backpackers that after a slow morning rise and breakfast, break camp and then spend most of the day hiking down the trail. Late in the day after many miles of travel, they make camp, have dinner, and ease into the night. Backpacking is thus mainly about The Hike.

    There is another backpacking orientation which is about getting to some desired location whether to do photography, go fishing, climb nearby peaks etc, or just enjoy laying over in a particularly scenic locale. As a photographer that has backpacked extensively for more than two decades, I am of the latter style. All my planning goes into getting to those amazing places and then taking the pack off and doing my photography with my considerable gear WITHOUT the pack. Of course there is often interesting scenery enroute and if so we will certainly stop on the trail to capture images in those places if they rise above some level of worthiness. These days I also tote a tiny DimageX to snag for the record shots at any instant. Generally my trail hiking tends to occur during parts of the day when photography would not be productive, like midday, or when scenic background areas are backlit.

    Most photo gear carrying bags are built without consideration for the needs of backpackers. And the needs of backpackers are a bit different than someone simply hiking short distances from a road with a photo only bag. Backpackers need to carry extra gear like clothing, food, first aid, and many small items. For these reasons, long ago I began bringing day packs which carry all my day and photo gear. The main problem with that kind of system is that one then needs to place the day pack into the backpack while on the trail. And if on the trail, getting it out would be awkward and time consuming. Thus I customize my daypacks with sewed on quick release buckles which mate to like sewed on buckles on the back of my backpacks. When on the trail, I can quickly release the buckle snaps and go to work. Likewise putting it back on is a snap. Curently I piggyback a narrow Black Diamond L36 Stone climbers pack onto my big Lowe backpack. Some might complain that there isn't enough padding. There are many ways to pad lenses etc without resorting to a photopack's custom sectioning. For instance extra clothing can double for padding. -David
  33. Go to a big sporting goods store, or a WalMart, KMart or the like and check out the $15-$30 fishing vests. Lightweight, tons of accessible front pockets. The one I got is neat: the entire front panels are velcro fastened pockets, can hold my Canon 300 IS lens in one side, and an Elan7e in the other. The regular pockets can hold your 50 & 24mm lenses, and probably your flash. With your pack off, most of them have back pockets big enough to hold a jacket. I like my $20 fishing vest much better than any of the $75-$150 "photo" vests I've seen. The brand name is "Stream Designs".
  34. One thought on the monopod -- I carry a plastic folding tripod from REI which folds together with a velcro strap, and which fastens nicely on the top of my hiking staff for use as a monopod. That way I have the tripod if I need it, and can use a free hiking staff (I cut a 5 foot length of alder from the back yard and screwed a copper plumbing coupling to the tip).
  35. pvp


  36. A lot of people have given you some decent advice. First figure out how long you will be gone for. From one of your messages, you said two days. I do plenty of hiking in Wisconsin, and am planing a 10 day Glacier National Park trek in August. For two days you need one pair of pants, preferably hiking pants (REI convertable Safari pants for $50). They dry fast and a zip off into shorts. 1 to two technical shirts, non cotton shirts that wick away moisture is prefered since cotton stays wet and can cause you to overheat since it does not allow moisture to evaporate fast enough. Trekking poles, if needed. Water, food, water purifier if needed, stove if needed, tent, compressible sleeping bag, *extra socks*, rain coat and fleece, flash light, and first aid kit, and a hat. All that should come to about 20lbs give or take a few. After that comes the camera equipment. If you are trekking through a National Park, or just doing nature photograghy in general, and space is at a premium, then all you really need is a lens that covers at least 24mm, and one telephoto for the animal shots. That's it. Everything else is just dead weight. 2 lens, one body, and film. I only keep c.polarizers for filters. Everything else can be photoshoped. I have a 4200 cubic inch Mounstainsmith Realm backpack. What I've done for trips in Northern Wisconsin is pack my bag with all my essentials. I also have a Mountainsmith Day, lumbar pack. In the lumbar pack, I stuff my 2 lens and the camera body. The great thing about Mountainsmith is that all their bags can connect to other models that they make. So I essential have the bag with the camera piggy back my backpack. Now this works for me, as long as I'm in no hurry to get my camera ready to snap a shot. So if I'm doing just landscapes, it's perfect. If I'm anticipating a wolf or a bear to cross my field of vision, then it is a pain because you do have to have a buddy get the camera out, or just take off the backpack so that you can get to the camera. But, for hiking comfort and weight savings, this system works for me. Remember, just because someone has a lot of equipment means they have top always carry it with them. Less can be better. 40lbs on day 1 can easily feel like 80lbs on day 2 if not packed properly.

    Good luck and be safe.


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