How to pack for Backpacking?

Discussion in 'Nature' started by kenghor, Feb 16, 1998.

  1. Yeah it is old but still a useful thread, glad I've landed here. It's a good read and knowledge for adventurers ;)
  2. Since the thread got revived; I can't resist contributing. - The elaborated original question sounds like an absurd concept to me. A backpack capable to hold a serious amount of gear + camping & everything + food for a week for traveling abroad is a bit absurd. Airline regulations don't permit something of it's size as carry on and checking in photo equipment doesn't sound like a bright idea either.
    At vocational school they had a poster: "Don't ever carry what you could cart!"
    I'm no athlete / mountaineer / soldier type, but I do own huge backpacks. while they are a tad more convenient to carry than suitcases, I must say: From a certain load on my brain switches into pack animal mode and I am just forcing myself along, loosing interest in my environment that could urge me to make any use of photo gear.
    I also wouldn't be comfortable with a huge pack on board of foreign buses trains or ships. I recommend to split your stuff. Get a bigger daypack to hold valuables and essentials. For the rest I recommend a collapsible 2 wheeled hand truck and straps to hold your items in place on it. It is somewhat convenient to march from train station via supermarket to camping at the outskirts of town with such a device. If needed you can even BYOB that way. For an average or short person wheeled suitcases, one stuffed into the other for flights in and out, might be an alternative, I am unfortunately too tall to handle those conveniently. but I guess one dedicated to groceries is realistic; a bag of crisps takes It's space...
    The limiting yourself to a big daypack has 3 reasons:
    • You can read a book sitting with the pack on your lap.
    • The pack should be portable enough to carry it with you to the toilet (tree) or all day long, if needed.
    • AFAIK most buses & similar divide passengers from the majority of their luggage which is stored in a cargo compartment below the seating area or on a rack on the roof too. in trains you'll have to be able to lift stuff overhead. One pack holding everything would be too much to lift it on your own.
    Roger G likes this.
  3. maybe
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Please also keep in mind that this thread was started in February 1998, almost a full 20 years ago and before September 11, 2001. Airline regulations were quite different back then, and a lot of gear have improved over the years..
  5. I've done a lot of wilderness backpacking and canoeing coupled with photography. Over the years my photography equipment has been slimmed down to a single camera with zoom lens. Now I use the Lumix FZ1000 which is a great all purpose camera. No need to carry extra lenses. I hang the camera on the frame of the backpack so it is resting on my chest and easily accessible when the wildlife appear. My advice then is to travel light. Your back and legs will appreciate it.
    DavidTriplett and Roger G like this.
  6. Oh no wonder I was seeing something like he planned to pack "50 rolls of film". And I was thinking "really?". This was stuff we did eons ago. ;)

    Now please just bring along a survivor cell phone if one is carrying camel-fulls of stuff. Or, seriously, a do-it-all zoom lens.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  7. Having been both a serious backpacker and a semi-serious photographer I have a real appreciation for the conflicts involved in the OP. I won't try and regenerate all of the backpacking advice I've seen or given over the years. Rather, I highly recommend the most recent edition of Colin Fletcher's The Complete Walker. Be aware, he has some very specific and sometimes offputting opinions regarding the mix of backpacking and photography.

    Now, I see two approaches to wilderness travel combined with photography: 1) Photography is the prime activity, so one packs light for only one or two nights as required to get to a photo location and make the needed images, then return to vehicle or base camp. In this case one can carry most if not all of the camera equipment desired while maintaining capacity for minimum food and shelter. 2) Backpacking/distance travel by foot is the primary activity. This means food, shelter, and supplies for up to a week on the trail. If alone, then one can't share the load, and it quickly becomes an extraordinary burden. (I even find myself cutting the handles off toothbrushes and the borders off maps to save a few grams!) In this case I recommend the best mirrorless/fixed lens camera one can carry in addition to the enormous load. I've been on journeys where I started out with 65-75 pounds (30-35 kilos) in my pack, and there simply is nothing good to say about it. Adding the weight and bulk of even a lightweight DSLR and lenses is beyond consideration. A quality mirrorless/point-and-shot with adequate IQ and exposure control is the only way to go when weight is the primary consideration. One might also consider a solar charging panel for both emergency phone/GPS and camera, such as those sold by Goal Zero, so long as it weighs less than the batteries it replaces.

    Anyway, just thought I'd drop my two cents into this bucket...

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