Essential Photography Gear for Hiking

Hiker atop ledge taking picture of group with SLR camera

Since hiking exposes you to sights and trails that you don’t usually encounter in daily life, many hikers tend to also dabble in photography to immortalize their experiences. However, as covered in a previous guide to backpacking, you don’t want to indulge in bringing so much photography gear that you end up compromising your comfort throughout the hike. To make sure you pare everything down to the essentials, here’s a list of photography gear that is lightweight, easy to pack, and will allow you to capture key moments from your outdoor adventures.

  1. Mirrorless camera
Hiker atop mountain taking picture with mirrorless camera

As mentioned in the previous guide, try buying a mirrorless camera if you want to travel light. It’s guaranteed to be more lightweight than a DSLR due to the lack of a reflex mirror between the lens and the sensor. Among the wide range of mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z5 is one of the best-performing models. On top of its ergonomic build, it has an EXPEED 6 image processing system to provide impressive image quality, autofocus performance, and low-light capabilities. Meanwhile, the Canon EOS M200 is a more affordable option if you're on a budget, packing a 24.1-megapixel sensor and advanced features like 4K video support and wireless connectivity in its compact size.

  1. Travel lenses
Picture of a variety of camera lenses atop mat

Most mirrorless cameras have interchangeable lenses, so if you want more variety in your shots, then you should pick your lenses carefully. For instance, travel photographer Jim Richardson recommends bringing a wide-angle zoom lens for capturing landscapes like mountain ranges and rainforests. The Canon RF 24-105mm f/4-7.1 is an excellent option for Canon cameras for its versatile zoom range, allowing you to capture close-cut portraits, too. This is best paired with prime lenses that tend to be lighter and smaller, preferably with a 35mm or 50mm focal length.

  1. Portable tripod
picture of hiker atop ridge with camera mounted on tripod

Another critical piece of camera gear is a tripod since it expands your possibilities, whether you need it for landscapes or a group shot with your hiking companions. Instead of lugging around a heavy metal tripod, Benro’s Cyanbird portable tripod is perfect for backpacking due to its lightweight aluminum and carbon construction. It’s only about 1.05 kilograms and can fold down to 46 centimeters in length. The Cyanbird can also support up to 4 kilograms and comes with a roll-up padded case for easier storage and carrying.

  1. Spare battery and SD card
picture of SD card being inserted into camera body

Regardless of the length of your hike, you don’t want to run out of battery life or storage while you’re on the trail. As such, experts recommend packing a spare fully charged battery and another SD card so you can freely take as many photos as you want. However, if you’re flying to your hiking or backpacking destination, there are certain guidelines for bringing camera batteries on the plane. For example, lithium-ion batteries should be installed inside the camera with the device turned off, while spare batteries must be included in the carry-on baggage to avoid posing a fire hazard.

Focus on photography essentials while still packing smart and light for your hikes. You can also invest in packing cubes to keep your camera, lenses, and accessories organized when storing them in your daypack. For more guides and resources on hiking and backpacking adventures, make sure to check out the rest of the blog posts here at Light Hiking Gear.


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