My Photography Gear: Hiking and Backpacking with a DSLR
Hiking and Backpacking with DSLR Camera Gear| Words and Photos by Julie Boyd
My first camera was an old Canon SLR that shot 35 mm film. Well, it was actually my dad’s old Canon that he let me use when I took a black and white photography class in high school. I fell in love with photography during that semester, and before I knew it I was on my first trip to Yosemite trying to emulate Ansel Adams. In college, I began shooting color film, and by the time I graduated the quality of digital cameras was improving, so I bought my first DSLR, the Canon 20D.
Since then, camera technology has come a long way, and it continues to develop faster than I can save up to buy the next best thing. My equipment for hiking and backpacking with DSLR camera gear isn’t the most expensive, or the newest, but it is what works for me and my budget. I invested in good lenses, and a stable tripod, and combining those things with my artistry has yielded me some photos that I am proud of. For those who are curious, here is what is currently in my camera bag when I am on the road, or the trail.
My must-have gear for hiking and backpacking with DSLR cameras!
I chose the Canon EOS 6D SLR initially as a more affordable alternative to 5D Mark IV. While I do wish I had duel memory card slots for backing up purposes, I really love that this camera can shoot video and that it is Wi-Fi capable (see why below).
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II – Really awesome and versatile focal range. I probably use this lens the most!
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II – Great for portraits and zooming in for detail shots, especially when you want to separate your subject from the background. I also like to use this lens for a different perspective if I ever want to compress the background of a landscape with a foreground subject. If you don’t plan on shooting people in low light situations, I recommend cutting the price and weight and getting the f/4 version of this lens.
Canon EF 16–35mm f/2.8L II – My go-to landscape lens for when I want to shoot extra wide, epic scenes.
3. iPhone with the EOS Remote App
I love this app! It allows me to connect my phone to my 6D’s Wi-Fi and use it for remote shooting, which works great in low-light situations when I want to avoid camera shake. I have bought dozens of other remote shutter releases, and they have all broken, so this has been a perfect alternative. This set-up is also how we take couples photos of ourselves when we travel, as you can use the phone screen to compose your shot. Pretty cool! The Wi-Fi feature of the 6D also allows me to directly save photos to my phone, so that I can share them instantly on social media.
On most occasions I use the MeFoto Globe Trotter since it is compact, lightweight, and durable. Plus it comes in fun colors!
For backpacking trips or day hikes where every ounce matters, I recently invested in the Sirui T-25SK T-0S Series Travel Tripod. It weighs about two pounds, and it can support my DSLR.
Osprey Kestral 32: I searched far and wide for a camera backpack that has room for hiking gear and a water bladder. I have yet to find one that I like, so I decided to buy a day pack that I liked, and turn it into a camera bag. Inside, I put my camera body and lenses in this insert from Mindshift, which is inside an Osprey UltraLight Dry Sack for extra protection from the elements, or in the event that my water bladder leaks. One of the things that I also love about the Kestral pack is that I can attach my tripod to the back. This system does have two cons, however. The pack only has one small compartment for things like memory cards and lens filters, but I just use my lens cases, and put any extra bits and bobs in them that don’t fit in the larger compartment. Also, you have to take the entire pack off to change lenses, which can become burdensome at times.
6. Filters: Neutral Density + Circular Polarizer
These are great for bright days, waterfall shots, blurring clouds, and more. I use the Tiffen 0.6 and 0.9 stop neutral density filters, which aren’t the best as I have noticed that they do give off a slight green cast. You can fix this by adjusting your magenta levels in camera, or you can adjust the color balance in Lightroom. The Singh-Ray filters are reviewed by other as the best, and I have heard that they don’t have this issue, but they are quite expensive; starting at around $300 each. I also use a B+W Circular Polarizer, which is additionally useful for cutting the glare on water and other bright surfaces, and adding saturation and contrast to the sky.
I also use Lee Graduated Neutral Density Filters. These make such a huge difference in being able to capture the dynamic range in many low-light situations. I also use the Lee Circular Polarizer in tandem with the graduated filters. I did a lot of research, and decided these were the essential pieces I needed to get started.
7. Camera Strap
I rarely use a camera strap. I hate the way they hang around my neck and weigh me down. Instead, I use the Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip. This is a must-have for hiking as it allows me to hike hands-free while keeping keeping my camera accessible. When I do need to use a strap for safety reasons, I easily clip in the Peak Design Sling Strap.
8. Memory Cards
SanDisk Extreme 16GB because I prefer shooting on multiple smaller cards rather than one or two large cards in case one of them becomes corrupted.
Other stuff that is pretty great to have on hand when you are hiking or backpacking with DSLR cameras.
1. Spider Holster Memory Card Organizer: Keeps cards safe and organized.
2. OP/TECH USA Rainsleeve: Essential for protecting my gear on or rainy days or from misty waterfalls.
3. Microfiber Cleaning Cloths: You can never have enough have enough handy!
4. Peak Design Sling Strap: When I do use a camera strap, it is this one. I like the versatility of this strap since I can wear it in a more traditional way, or use it as a sling strap. I’m also a fan of how easy the straps are to adjust, which is especially nice while out on a shoot.
5. Osprey UltraLight Dry Sack: Protects my gear in the event that my water bladder leaks on a hike. Also, it is an added layer of protection if my pack gets wet from the outside.
6. Satechi WTR-A Wireless Timer Shutter for Canon EOS: So far this remote timer has served me well. It is essential for doing long exposures, night photography, and timelapses.
7. Rocket Air Blaster: Helps clean dust that might get inside your camera when changing lenses.
8. Headlamp: For sunrise and sunset adventures.
Do you recommend any hiking and backpacking with DSLR gear that’s not on my list? I would love to hear what’s in your camera bag in the comments below.
For more photography tips be sure to check out the blogs posts below:
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