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Thread: Backpacking DSLR advice?

  1. #1

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    Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Hi all, I'm about to embark on a 4 day back country backpacking trip. I'm a pretty experienced backpacker, but never with my DSLR and lens in tow. Usually, I grab my point-and-shoot and hope for the best but this time, I'm considering going for the full kit.

    The weight is obviously a consideration but I'm committed to trying this. My question is whether anyone on the board has any experience in doing this? I'm excited but have reservations about carrying it, keeping it clean, safe and possibly shooting in some adverse conditions? Does anyone have any advice along these lines? Any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    John

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    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    John,

    I've done a little backpacking with the SLR. In general, your gear is already setup to keep dry - so I figured I was safe having the camera in my backpack. I usually pack the camera and a couple lenses - I try to pick out what I think will work best on the trip (usually wide-angle) - and pack it in one of my smaller camera bags and have it inside my hiking backpack. I opted to put it right at the top, so it would be relatively easy to get to - basically just under the main rain flap. Once I get on the hike, I had a sling/pouch type carrier that kept the camera with one lens on my chest so I could easily stop and take photos without having to take off the pack, but I could walk without having anything in my hands (key on rough terrain). Luckily, my buddy was also carrying his camera on the trip, and we both shoot Canons, so we made a deal to trade off on stuff - so one of us carried more lenses/accessories while the other carried other pieces, the tripod (small travel variety of course), etc... this really helped us get to have access to a lot more stuff without having to carry it all ourselves (or double up). We never had to, but we did discuss the fact that since we always carry a tarp with us on such trips (usually comes in handy at some point), that even if weather conditions were bad (ie: rain) that we could still setup a cover with the tarp and still get some shooting in.

    I think as long as you plan things out, get your hiking buddies involved in it too (hopefully), and generally take it easy, you'll be fine.

    Be sure to share the photos you bring back with you!

    - Bill

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    Rob Douglas's Avatar
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    Bill has excellent advise, especially if you don't have a dedicated camera backpack. Another good idea would be to pack your gear in doubled up large storage ziplock bags, just incase. I only do day trips with no camping involved so my lowPro 250 backpack is perfect for me. Just remember to keep the body face down while changing lenses in the field and keep a small towel handy just incase you're in a damp/wet environment.

  4. #4
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Rob - good point on the ziplock bags! I actually always have 1 or 2 in my camera bag by default, so I completely forgot to mention it. I also recently picked up a couple of these - I haven't had a chance to use them yet, but they seem pretty decent, and for the price I figured it was worth the chance.

    - Bill

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    I have the Think Tank modular/holster belt system for hikes. I used to be a wilderness instructor and know that whatever you have hanging exposed like a camera WILL take abuse, get nicked by trees, branches, rocks, sap droppings, etc. I also want to make sure my hands are free in case I need to use them for holding on going up or down, stopping to drink water… or even for trekking poles. I like the holster system as it allows the camera to be quickly accessed while protecting it and keeping it secure. Naturally, it goes without saying that if you are going to do water crossings, put it away in a dry sack!

    Ive read other backpackers say that if you keep your dslr in your main pack, you need a p&s readily available because sometimes you walk up to an animal or bird and could get a shot off before they are startled and take off. This way, use the p&s for the hike portion, and carry your DSLR for day hikes around base camp. (the modular belt system will allow you to attach a small fanny pack and water bottle carrier to the belt for photo ops from base camp)

    Depending on your backpack, you can either fit both the modular belt and backpack belt around your waist, or attach the holster to your backpack belt.
    Last edited by Harpo; 18th January 2012 at 01:28 PM.

  6. #6

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Thanks for the great advice guys. I'm going the local store today to find a holster or pouch that makes sense for me. If you have any specific brand/model recommendations, I would welcome them.

    Now my only concern is the extra weight and whether i 'm in good enough shape to carry it!

    -John

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Are you really roughing it and going without electricity for days on end? If so, bring extra batteries....

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    I use a b-grip strapped to a sway-stabiliser strap on my waistband. It comes with a raincover but i rather put it in the top/overhead pocket of my pack at the first drops of rain (easy overhead swap, out comes the raingear and in goes the camera). Grip works nicely for me.
    Last edited by Hero; 19th January 2012 at 05:04 PM. Reason: added link

  9. #9

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by peterindb View Post
    Are you really roughing it and going without electricity for days on end? If so, bring extra batteries....
    No electricity where I'm going, so I'm borrowing extra batteries from others. Fortunately, I know several other canon users!

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    More lenses means more flexibility, BUT more weight. I use a travel lens (18-250mm). Not too heavy. I can leave it on camera all the time (so no dirt on sensor, and also no need to take cleaning kit).
    You could strap a camera case to your chest (between the shoulder straps) to give it knock resistance as well as easy access.
    Pretty much any other kit is likely to be better off in the rucksack (or on the side for the tripod).

    Graham
    Doesn't hike anywhere near as much as he would like. The perils of marriage.

  11. #11

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    I just watched the video on B-grips's website. It looks pretty impressive.

  12. #12
    allenlennon's Avatar
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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    all great advice above me, but what i picked up from a photographer is to wrap the camera bag in a towel than place it into your backpack, so if water does get in the bag wether it was due to rain or condensation the towel will soak it first.

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    Rob Douglas's Avatar
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    I use small moisture packs like what comes in most electronics packaging. A towel or paper towel will hold the moisture against your equipment. The little moisture sacks absorb moisture and lock it in. I keep a few in my backpack compartment so when I go from hot outdoors to cool indoors and cold outdoors to warm indoors I have no worries.

  14. #14

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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Rob, great idea. Thanks everyone for the awesome advice. I ll let you know what I end up doing and how well it goes. And of course, i will share the images here assuming they aren't too embarrassing.

  15. #15
    Rob Douglas's Avatar
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    Looking forward to them John.

  16. #16
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by woty87 View Post
    assuming they aren't too embarrassing.
    Those are sometimes the best ones to share. You can sometimes learn a lot from the embarrassing ones!

    - Bill

  17. #17
    epmi314's Avatar
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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    If you are uber concerned about keeping the equipment dry you might check out he dry bags used by kayakers. These bags will keep moisture out for certain.

  18. #18
    Rob Douglas's Avatar
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    Ah yes! Hadn't even thought of that Scott. Good call.

  19. #19
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Backpacking DSLR advice?

    I would definitely get some silica packs to put into a dry bag. In the event that moisture does get inside, it doesn't get out as the bags are nearly air tight as well. I have one with my scuba gear (for any clothes/etc that I want to keep dry - the camera stuff lives in a Pelican case on the boat (but I wouldn't recommend hiking with a Pelican case)). You can actually use a good dry bag as a floatation device. But if water gets in, the same principle keeps it there... and even a tiny bit of moisture in the bag (ie: even humidity) can cause the dry bag internals to turn into a little sauna. The silica packs would take care of that.

    - Bill

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