Backcountry Photography: What Gear Should One Take Along?
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Over the last few weeks I have been asked a few times about the gear I take along with me on backcountry trips. In an effort to make that info benefit more people I thought I would simply write a post about the subject.
As some of you may know I spend a considerable amount of time photographing trekking, mountaineering, camping and skiing outings which often take me high up or in the backcountry for extended periods of time. Once I leave the trailhead I don’t have the luxury of returning to my vehicle and I am committed to using only the gear I have on my back (and to carrying that gear!). Therefore it is imperative that I spend time thinking carefully about what to bring well before heading out.
“Passing Through”, Fay Glacier, Banff National Park, shot from summit of Mt Bowlen at 200 mm.
So what gear do I take along on backcountry trips? The short answer is “it depends.”
It depends on the duration of the trip, the location, how technical the terrain will be and on what I want to accomplish on that given trip.
Having said that, the following items always come along with me. I have become accustomed enough to carrying them around that I don’t think about the weight when I put them in the “definitely” pile:
- Canon 5D Mark II body (850 g)
- Canon 17-40 mm, f/4L USM lens (500 g)
This has been my workhorse lens since I started doing photography. I absolutely love its versatility. It is also quite sharp and relatively lightweight.
- Think Tank Skin belt and holster (800 g)
- Lenspen (10 g)
- Canon Zoom EF 70-200 mm, f/2.8L IS USM lens (1470 g)
- Think Tank pouch (200 g)
- Gitzo GT 1541 Tripod with GH1780 Quick Release Ballhead (1250 g)
- Singh-Ray LB Warming Polarizer (25 g)
- Genus Fader Filter (up to 10 stops)(100 g)
- Intervalometer (100 g)
- Transcend 32 GB CompactFlash Memory card (11 g)
- Dynamic Perception Stage One dolly (4300 g)
- Dynamic Perception MX2 Motion Controller (179 g)
- Dynamic Perception 2700mAh battery pack and cables (200 g)
- Up to two Induro Adventure AKB1 Tripod kits (1600 g each)
- GoalZero Sherpa 50 Adventure Kit (for recharging purposes)
- Sanho Hyperdrive (for storage/backup purposes)
So all in all my lightest setup amounts to just over 2 kilos (about 5 pounds). Typically an overnight trip will mean about 5 kgs of photo gear (about 11 pounds), with time-lapse-oriented outings adding a considerable amount of weight. I know that these figures probably lie at the “heavy end” of the adventure photographer’s spectrum, but that is what has worked for me.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject and what has worked for you.
“The Mark of Winter,” Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut.