Backpacking Gear for Landscape Photography

There's nothing  I love more than a backpacking trip, especially one that gets me to some really wild and rugged locations far off the beaten path. Having a good setup for your gear can make or break your trip in more ways than one...!

Here's a few photos and some gear lists for a backpacking trip I took with two friends up in Arctic Sweden. It's about a seven day trip or longer if you like to explore off the main valleys. Although you can stay in mountain huts along the way, I wanted to pack a tent and sleeping bag to allow for more flexible camping locations for photography. 

Let's start with clothes and build the base layer first...

First Ascent long underwear top and bottom. 
Icebreaker merino wool underwear
Balega socks and Farm to Feet Merino Wool socks
First Ascent quick dry t-shirt

Mountain Hardware down jacket
Kuhl Liberator quick dry hiking pants
Mountain Hardware Rain jacket
REI rain pants
First Ascent Merino wool blend stocking hat
Mountain Hardware rainproof gloves
Mountain Hardware Cap

For a great review of hiking pants on the market, check out:


Basic camera gear for backpacking...

Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 24mm TS-Lens
Canon 24-105 Lens
Gitzo 2531 Tripod
Kirk BH-3 Ballhead
Canon Intervalometer
3+ batteries
64 GB + CF cards
Lee Filter Holder and Adapter Rings
Singh Ray Lighter Brighter Polarizer
Zeiss Microfiber cloth

And here's the gear including food and tent plus sleeping bag and pad
REI Kilo + 0 degree sleeping bag
SL Q Core Big Agnes Sleeping Pad
REI Passage 1 Tent
Map, compass, multi tool, headlamp, matches, tape, first aid, personal care kit



Hiking Kungsleden: Abiskojaure to Abisko

The hike from Abiskojaure to Abisko would be our last day on the trail so it's bittersweet to say the least. Excited to greet the day's adventure but a bit sad for the last day out in the wilderness with friends. I was up around sunrise and just soaked in the soft light of the morning in the birch forest around Abiskojuare. Fantastic scenes and easy walking. Finally though it was time to pack up the tent and head North up the trail to Abisko. We took a few photos with Rob and his bike and started the day with a nice mix of sun and clouds. The terrain was gently rolling and we hiked in and out of the birch forest which colored the distant ridges in a bright gold as far as you could see. We passed a few hikers on the trail and a small herd of reindeer making their way along the edge of the forest.

We stopped and took a break or two and just enjoyed the mild weather and the scenery. Eventually we encountered a beautiful rainbow from some rain showers in the distance. We seemed to be following it and must have been in our view for about 15-20 minutes. Spectacular scene. I was unfortunately hit with some waves of nausea most likely from the water I had the night before. The water sources are quite clean and pure and the taste of the water is amazing. But, with multiple people gathering the water and handling the water around the cabins it's pretty easy to get a bug in the bucket so to speak. But, wasn't too bad and didn't slow down the hiking at all. But, did however keep me in the bed that night when I would have much rather been out taking in the Northern Lights show!

As you get closer to Abisko, the hiking trail mixes in with the snowmobile trail that is used in the winter season. And it's pretty easy to take the wrong fork that drops you off East of the STF mountain lodge where we were heading. We stayed on course though and eventually came to the last of the Dag Hammarskjold meditation markers. These markers are carved in a small boulder with a quote from Hammarskjold and a tall wooden post in the form of a cross. Hammarskjold was  Christian mystic of sorts and much beloved for his diplomatic roles including secretary general of the UN. This final marker reminded us that the longest journey is the one within. True enough. Very appropriate as we reached the end of our 120K + hike!

Just before you arrive at Abisko, the river is forced through a really rocky and narrow canyon that's lined with birch trees. Spectacular. And it's within easy reach of the mountain station at Abisko so it naturally drew a crowd of day hikers. And shortly after that we finally arrived at the end of the trail, the northern terminus of the entire Kunglseden. What a feeling it was and so we stopped for a time of celebration and photos. From there we made our way to the really nice mountain station and checked into to some outstanding lodging. They also have a gift shop and a wonderful restaurant. In spite of my sideways stomach, I enjoyed the Arctic Char, which is a local fish and maybe the best fish on the planet. Fanatic way to celebrate our time in the wilderness. The next morning I was feeling quite a bit better and we enjoyed a breakfast buffet that had just about any and everything you could possibly want.

As we headed down the road on the bus back to Kiruna, I think we were all caught up in reflecting on the trip that we just completed. I would say that I plan to come back to the area in the fall and do some hiking and photographing and especially spend some time at Abisko and experience the Northern Lights. Maybe even a winter trip would be a possibility? I think too that a return trip to Kebnekaise with more time to explore the region would be fun. That's the thing about adventure, there's always another one or two that flows out of a trip. For me at least, it's important to have another adventure on the not too distant horizon.

Hike from Abiskojaure to Abisko

Start Time: 10am

Finish Time: 3pm

Distance: 14K

Trip Totals from Nikkaluokta to Abisko

Total Trip Days Hiking: 7

Total Hiking Distance: 120K +