Glacier National Park, Montana.

Ask Me: What Camera Equipment Do You Carry in the Backcountry?

In Ask Me, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   11 Comments

Mr. Lanza,

Been following you for a while, great site, great articles and amazing photography. I’ve been a lifelong outdoorsman and really enjoy hiking, backpacking, mountain biking and fly-fishing. I am also a professional photographer, working as a newspaper photographer. My question is: How do you juggle the obvious needs of equipment, time, and enjoyment of photography while doing things outdoors? I know you make your living this way, but I have been struggling with the choices of how much equipment to take, how much time to spend shooting images, and how much time the photography takes from my enjoyment of the outdoors.

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11 Responses to Ask Me: What Camera Equipment Do You Carry in the Backcountry?

  1. NancyP   |  July 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Cotton Carrier Vest for the DSLR! The vest fits well under a backpack, the camera is affixed to the midline chest near your center of gravity, and the camera is instantly available.
    My question: how do you rig your full-size tripod? Do you tie it “naked” onto the back by a gear loop or daisy chain, do you put it in a D-looped sack and attach the sack, do you put it inside the pack? Do you attach it to the front of the pack in a vertical position, or to the side in a vertical position, or hang it horizontally under the pack using the sleeping pad loops? I am shopping for a large pack adjustable for a short-torsoed woman, 60L-ish capacity, and am asking myself “how can this pack take a tripod” as one of the selection features, another being front / side panel accessibility to the other lenses, Lee holder and filters, etc. in the body of the pack.

    • MichaelALanza   |  July 24, 2014 at 7:15 am

      Hi Nancy, when I carry a full-size tripod (which is only occasionally because of the weight, and depends on the trip), I have an Oben AC-1400 tripod that comes with its own, protective case. It weighs 3 lbs. 12 oz. with the case, which is why I don’t always carry it. I attach it under my pack’s side compression straps. My alternative tripod, which I carry much more often when backpacking, is an 8-ounce Joby Gorillapod that’s designed to hold a full-size DSLR with a zoom lens. You may want to check out my backpack reviews at

  2. Exotic Hikes (@Exotichikes)   |  July 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    Great article! I primarily use my 18-200mm lens for all shots and it works fantastic!
    Just from a safety standpoint, I would think twice about approaching wild animals like the picture above demonstrates. It sends an unsafe message to those less experienced in outdoor life. Please read and share this if you would like:

    • MichaelALanza   |  July 24, 2014 at 7:16 am

      Thanks. No, I don’t want to encourage hikers to be unsafe around wildlife. That mountain goat was undisturbed when my friend and I slowly walked around it, so I grabbed that quick shot of it, and my friend snapped this photo of me photographing the goat. We quickly moved on.

  3. Andy Hendrawan   |  April 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm


    Here’s the camera clip that I’ve been using, it’s by Peak Design and it’s called Capture Pro Camera Clip ( It works really well for me.

    • michaellanza   |  April 9, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Hi Andy, I’ve used the Peak Capture and like it, except that I find a heavier camera bounces around too much when I’m moving. Does the Capture Pro prevent that?

      • Andy Hendrawan   |  April 9, 2014 at 7:57 am

        Mike, I think either versions would bounce more if we attach a heavier DSLR or a long lens. Mine didn’t bounce at all, most likely due to my camera and lens only totaled 22.5oz. So yes, this might not work well for DSLR camera..

  4. Andy Hendrawan   |  April 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I believe you can still get a DSLR quality pictures without carrying much of the weight by utilizing some of the newer ILC (Interchangable Lens Camera). I myself have been carrying an Olympus E-M5 (15oz) and 12-50mm lens (7.5oz), which not only gives me a wide angled 35mm lens equivalent of 24mm and some zoom to 100mm, but this pair is also weatherproof. By weather proof, it means that it’s rain, snow and dustproof on both the camera and lens, which to me is very critical for hiking, backcounty skiing and multi-days backpacking. I also carry an Olympus 9-18mm (18-36mm equivalent in 35mm) which is a very small sized lens and only weight 7.5oz and great for taking landscape pictures. Depending on needs, I sometimes also carry my Panasonic 45-200mm (90-400mm equivalent in 35mm), which weigh 13.4oz. And yes, Panasonic and Olympus lens are interchangeable in what’s called a micro four third format (m4/3). So for just 2.1lb, I’m able to carry 9-200mm (18-400mm 35mm equivalent), with the 12-50mm being weatherproof on my backpacking trip.

    Now as for carrying them. Since space is normally a premium during backpacking trip, I’ve been hanging my camera outside the pack on the backpack strap in my shoulder/chest area. Not sure if I can post the name/brand here, but I have pictures to show what it looks like during our last BSA backpacking/snowcamping trip with my whole family (wife, kids aged 8, 9 and 12 then). Picture of the clip here. . I can share the brand/model if it’s ok to post it here, but this clip works really well for me, especially since it’s very easy for me to un-clip using one hand if I need to take a quick picture during the hike.

    Btw, love your site and articles, especially on family related ones.

    Best Regards,

    • MichaelALanza   |  April 8, 2014 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing those suggestions, Andy. Feel free to tell us about the product you’re using.

  5. Tonya   |  April 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    I use a Leica V-Lux 30 point and shoot camera, 14.1MP. It weighs 7.72 oz. It has a high-quality zoom that has an equivalent focal length of a 24-384mm (Aperture: f/3.3 (W) – 5.9 (T) , available for use in both still and video capture. Extreme wide-angle and impressive telephoto images can be taken, not to mention macro capture. The lens also features a 16x optical zoom for non-distorted image quality, even when the frame is shot from extremely close-up. I continue to be impressed with this little camera!

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