I love hiking to beautiful vistas — the type of hike that gets my blood pumping and makes me stop a couple times to catch my breath. In-fact, I’ve grown pretty fond of taking photos of these vistas over the years, but when I first started hiking regularly, hiking photography was hard. Not because I didn’t know how to shoot, but because I didn’t know how to prepare to shoot. In other words, I didn’t have the right camera and carrying equipment to make taking photos on the trail a pleasure. That all changed when I found the right tools.
Here are 3 things that should be in every hiking photographer’s kit
Sea to Summit Tek Towel
For times when there’s light rain on the trail, a microfiber towel can come in handy to clean off photo gear — just make sure to carry the towel inside your pack so it doesn’t get wet along the way (for lenses, it’s probably best to use a purpose-made lens cloth). There are definitely other brands that sell Tek Towels, however Sea to Summit was the first brand I tried, and I never felt like I was missing out on any other brand / style. It’s one of those items I always keep in my pack even when I’m off the trail (it’s great for cleaning glasses and laptop screens).
Peak Design ‘Capture’ Clip
This is a must-have tool for anyone into hiking photography, and is the thing that increased my enjoyment of snapping photos on the trail the most. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro photographer or a weekend explorer, the Capture clip is life changing. Instead of hiking up the trail with a camera in hand (easy to drop), with a neck strap (uncomfortable during a long hike), or a side strap (camera gets knocked around when bouldering and traveling through brush), the clip keeps the camera in front of you, securely attached to your backpack strap. A quick-release button gives access to the camera, and a quick snap back into the clip secures the equipment. It’s super simple to use, super effective, and the most pleasurable carry experience I’ve ever had with my photo equipment.
I’m not a guy with fancy camera gear. I used to shoot with a Nikon D3300, an entry-level SLR. You can shoot great photos with just about any gear, and the lens (not the body) is what often makes most of the difference in clarity and quality anyway. The D3300 is made like a brick and stood up to a lot of abuse on the trail, but it’s also heavy and takes up a lot of room in the pack. For my hiking photography, I switched to the Sony Alpha 6000. It’s a mirrorless camera which basically means it has fewer parts and a smaller body. There are other differences, but that’s the most important one when it comes to hiking. Here’s how it breaks down: The Nikon D3300 weighs around 1.5 lbs, and the mirrorless Sony A6000 weighs around 1 lb. That’s a big difference when you’re carrying the camera for miles on the trail. Switching to a mirrorless camera was the second most impactful change I made in my hiking photography kit.
That’s it for today! Three super impactful pieces for your kit that will make taking beautiful photos on the trail effortless. If you’re a pro or amatuer photographer that likes to shoot landscape, I’m guessing you have some suggestions of your own. Please leave ‘em in the comments and share the wealth!