Combining Landscape Photography and Hiking

As a landscape photographer seeking to create art in the natural world my preferred method of exploring it is on foot. It is a way to combine my two big passions of hiking and photography. Although it would seem like these two activities easily mesh together, it becomes a challenge because of the weight.

The camera and other needed gear such as extra lenses, tripod and filters that a landscape photographer needs are heavy, about 10 to 15 pounds. Add that to the necessary gear one should take into the backcountry such as water, clothing, emergency equipment, first aid, etc. and you end up with a heavy backpack.

The big challenge is not only to find the right camera gear but also to find the right backpack. There are not a lot of people looking to carry a large amount of camera gear to photograph backcountry landscapes, so there are not a lot of companies making backpacks for this purpose. Camera bags are usually designed to hold cameras and not much else. Hiking backpacks are designed to hold hiking gear and not sensitive and fragile equipment.

I’ve spent years trying to find a way to solve this challenge. I’ve tried a lot of homemade solutions. Nothing really worked that would provide enough space and easy access for cameras and other gear comfortably.

Now, fortunately, a few manufacturers are rising to the occasion and making bags that are designed to carry photography and hiking gear. I use two different packs. One I use for heavy duty, winter hiking and travel is made by F-Stop Gear called the Loka. Note: This is an older version of the pack. I tried a newer version of the Loka which is now sold as an ultralight backpack, but found the quality was not good. Within a week a strap broke and a lot of the features that helped organize gear were eliminated, most likely to save weight. I also use the Lowepro Flipside Trek for light hiking. It is a small, comfortable backpack that can hold a camera, 2 lenses, tripod, and some hiking gear. This small pack is great for short or fast hikes where weight is an issue and I don’t need a lot of extra stuff for myself or camera.

Although, nothing will make the weight of my camera gear any less, at least dragging it around the backcountry is a bit easier now.