How to Pack Your Camera for an Afternoon Hike

So you're going out into nature to do some photography. Maybe you're heading out to a scenic location to capture the sunset, or you're in search of wildlife. How do you bring your camera along and protect it, while still having it accessible? In this article we will talk about ways to carry your camera and have it ready for those surprise moments.

What to Bring?

The first thing to consider is what gear do you need to bring with you. Do you really need that “nifty fifty” lens? Those diopters? A battery charger? A remote flash trigger? Probably not. Bring only the gear that you need and leave the “just in case” gear behind. Every pound you bring along is a pound you have to carry for miles. But do consider bringing along:
  • A spare battery
  • A spare memory card or two
  • A lens cleaning cloth or two
  • A circular polarizer
Photographer at South Dakota Badlands - Steve Boyko

How to Bring It?

Next you have to consider what kind of bag you're going to carry your camera in when you're not shooting. A lot depends on the size of your camera. If you are using a point-and-shoot camera, then a fanny pack or something similar will work for you. An SLR will require a larger bag, especially if you're bringing an extra lens or two.
Personally I like using a sling bag (this one) because it carries the camera securely without requiring the use of my hands, and it doesn't flop or bounce around when walking or climbing. I can keep the bag slung across my back out of my way while I am walking, yet I can twist it around in front of me for access to any gear I need.
Some bags come with an all-weather cover built in, so if it rains you can slip it around your camera bag and protect it. I think these are really valuable when far away from shelter and I have used it a few times.
Be sure that your lenses and other gear don't rattle around in your bag when you're walking. Usually bags will come with resizable compartments, so use these to protect your gear.

Don't Forget the Strap!

The choice of strap for your camera is also important. I hope you are not using the stock “around the neck” strap when you are out in the wilderness. That strap is OK for occasional use but walking for kilometers with that around your neck is going to cause you a lot of pain.
I like to use a sling strap because it keeps the camera at my hip and ready to shoot. My camera stays in my bag until I am approaching an area I want to shoot and then it comes out of my bag and over the shoulder so I can walk around ready to go. Camera straps are very much a personal preference and I encourage you to try different straps to see what works for you.

And the Non-Camera Gear

What non-camera gear should you bring with you? Consider some items from this list:
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • A GPS
  • A thin rain poncho
  • Drinking water
  • An energy bar or two
  • Band-aids
Definitely put the liquid items in a Ziploc bag in case of leakage.
Now you're ready to hit the wilderness. Enjoy!

8 thoughts on “How to Pack Your Camera for an Afternoon Hike”

  1. A memory card or two? How many pictures do you take? I easily fit 900 on a 64 Gb card. I don’t it weighs nothing but just one more thing to think about.

    1. Hi David, I always bring a spare memory card in case A) the card in the camera fails (hasn’t happened yet), or B) I forget my card in my computer at home (this HAS happened).

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