Hey what can possibly be more fun than photographing and backpacking? A chance to to have some adventure and spend some quality time photographing the landscape is something to savor. And so the preparing, planning and getting things together in advance is also a part of the adventure too. Really builds the anticipation. There are some tough choices to make along the way, how much weight are you willing to add for more comfort or more camera gear? Hard choices!
In the black Sea to Summit dry bag(above photo) is my sleeping bag. It's an REI Kilo plus downbag rated at 0 degrees. It's really light and very toasty which is the key for me since I tend to sleep on the cold side. I'd rather be a little warm and unzip the bag than not get much sleep due to being too cold. Not that that has ever happened...
Next to black dry bag is the tent which is anREI Passage 1. It weighs less than 4 lbs and is easy to set up, which is great in the event of bad weather. If I'm backpacking with a partner then I'm packing the REI Half Dome tent which is just enough for two people and also very light at 5 lbs. total. Both are great 3 season tents.
The green and orange dry bags are from Outdoor Research and are very lightweight and water proof. Food is stored in the orange bag and all the clothes that aren't being worn are in the green bag.
A recent purchase is the Big Agnes Q Core SL sleeping pad. It's been a great find and barely weighs a pound but sleeps comfortably and packs small. I've also used and have been a big fan of the Exped Synmat 7 pads which have a built in pump and sleep warm and comfortable. But they're slightly heavier and pack a little larger so I'm packing the Big Agnes for any trip where going light is a premium.
For the remaining gear you see the Petzl Tikka Plushead lamp which is really bright and perfect for backpacking. It's small and only uses 3 AAA batteries but cranks out over 100 lumens which is plenty bright. The small blue multi-tool is a Leatherman Squirtand it's just a fantastic tool that packs small and has the essentials. In fact I carry it with me everyday. Not pictured that I sometimes take with me if really powerful light is needed would be the Fenix LD 22 flashlightwhich is small but produces 200 lumens.
Other critical items are the map and compass, first aid kit in the zip lock and the always important toilet paper, toothbrush/paste and soap!
I don't travel too far without the Moleskine notebook and Space Pento take notes. You'll notice the pink duct tape, waterproof matches and passport that round out the rest of the items except for the lime green plastic business card holder to exchange e-mails and phone numbers with new friends along the way. I think the only item that's not in the photograph that is always included is the 32 oz. Nalgene water bottle. Don't leave home without it!
Next are the clothes so we're getting into weight and comfort choices here. Starting with the base layer items and working out from there, you'll see the black Smart Wool underwear. Perfect for backpacking and really comfortable. The gray socks are Balegas which is a wonderful brand I use for distance running and these are the Enduro 2crew socks. I've been rethinking the sock/boot plan lately and am definitely digging the thinner sock and lighter boot approach. These Balega socks are awesome, really comfortable and dry pretty fast. Also have a pair of thicker merino wool socks from Farm to Feet to wear in camp at night. Very comfortable and warm. There is the red First Ascent moisture wicking short sleeve shirt and the long underwear top and bottom by First Ascent in case of really cold weather. For the mid or outer layer there is the black Mountain Hardwaredown jacket. It's super light and packs small yet is really, really warm. The green Kuhl hiking pants are light and dry quick. Love em! Rain gear consists of the green Mountain Hardware rain jacket and black REI rain paints. Again, lightweight and breathable while repelling water is the bottom line. Last items are the First Ascent wool stocking hat, Mountain Hardware waterproof gloves, and Mountain Hardware cap. Finally you see the black North Face Storm Midhiking boots which are nice and light and also waterproof. The packed clothes will change based on location and anticipated conditions but that's a pretty good selection of clothes to meet the changing weather of the mountain world.
Camera gear. Talk about hard choices. I don't have a lightweight mirrorless system yet so still working with the heavy gear. The system is a Canon 5D Mark IIwith the 24mm TS-Elens as my favorite lens that I always bring. It's great for wide angles, near-far comps and also works well for panoramic composite images for large prints. The second lens is a tough one. Can't just take one lens so the second is either the 16-35 or the 24-105 and this time around I'm sticking with the 24-105mm for more focal length. Don't want to get too close to a brown bear for example...Also packed is the 105mm Singh Raypolarizer which is wonderful and the circular adapters for both lenses. The other filter that is packed will be the Lee Big Stopper, a 10-stop ND filter for long exposures. 4 batteries total, 40GB of CF cards, a cable release, and lens cloth are also essentials. Oh yeah, and the Gitzo 2531carbon fiber tripod with Kirk BH-3 ball head are along for the ride. For now, all of the camera gear is stored in a Lowepro holster camera bag and a small hard plastic container for the filter and batteries. But ultimately, I'd like to get thesmall pro ICU by F-stopfor the camera gear. There is always a gear list...
The backpack is a Baltoro 70Lpack which is pretty comfortable at the packed weight which for the upcoming trip which will be around 42 pounds. Not bad for a week of backpacking with no resupply and about 10 pounds of camera gear!
As always, packing is more art than science so these are just some ideas that have worked for me. Choose wisely and prepare carefully and expect to have a blast while backpacking and photographing.
Shoot some great light!