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Photography Question 
Mahbub Djunaedi

How to pack your photogear in a hiking trip

Hi I'm new here.
I have a problem in packing my photogear in a hiking trip. Carrying one big backpack will be the most practical way but I'm not sure how you arrange your photogear inside. I want to be easily accessing my camera whenever I see some beauties while I'm trekking. This leads to puting my equipment on the top of a backpack but the weight of these photogear make the backpack has a high center of gravity. A condition that would be far from ideal since I don't feel comfortable carrying it.
I've tried carrying 2 backpacks, one for logistics and clothing which I carry on my back and the other is a photo backpack which I carry reversed on my chest. This also uncomfortable expecially when I'm walking downhill. I can not see what I'm going to put my foot on. The camera backpack block my downview.
I also tried to bring my shoulder bag. This is only good for a few hours before one side of my back aching.
Personally I love the shoulder bag since it is easier to access but I hate on side ache.
I wonder what kind of arrangement done by Galen Rowell and any other of you on your hiking trip.
Please help.

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6/7/2006 12:16:01 AM

doug Nelson   If you shoot digital, a compact model with a zoom might be your best bet. As a traditionalist who still shoots film, I am constantly amazed at the image quality these little digital guys are delivering. If you shoot film, the Olympus Stylus Epic is VERY light in weight and has an amazingly sharp 35mm lens.

I tried carrying an SLR and a couple of lenses on backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail and decided that the weight was a big liability that detracted from my enjoyment of the hike. The weight, exacting a cost in food and water you would have been able to carry, is only one factor. When you're living outdoors, you are in potentially very wet conditions. Electronics are very susceptible to dampness.

You might try carrying a tiny camera on backpacking trips and long hikes. Then, go back to best locations and car camp, toting in your tripod and best camera and lenses, making it a trip only for photography.

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6/7/2006 5:48:25 AM

BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/28/2002
  May I offer a suggestion. If your main backpack that carries food and other supplies does not already have a waistbelt, get one from Lowepro:

A Toploader type camera case, and one or a couple lens cases and you should be all set. Tamrac, another manufacturer, also have similar system. I slide the toploader case on one side of the waistbelt and the lens case(s) on the other. Depending on the camera you are using, choose the toploader case that is big enough to accomodate your camera (and grip) and deep enough for your most used lens (I use a wide to medium tele zoom) plus a little more space. This toploader camera case that I use, Lowepro Toploader 70 AW, usually can take care of one of my cameras and lens, a flash, 2 sets of batteries, a couple filters, and a few rolls of films. The backup camera can be put in your backpack. Nowadays I carry a small digital P&S as a backup instead.

I only carry one longer zoom. For the fast zoom (the big and heavy one), I will use the Lowepro Lens Case 4 (big enough for the 100-400mm lens with hood reversed and tripod ring). For slow zoom, usually the Lens Case 2 or 3 should be big enough.

If you have more equipment to bring, maybe a beltpack is a better idea. Hope this helps.

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6/7/2006 7:18:28 AM

Dennis Flanagan
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/31/2005
  I suggest a gear vest, it will not interfere with your backpack. Look at the vest the person in the far left is wearing. She uses it exclusivly when out shooting and doesn't skip a beat.

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6/7/2006 8:21:02 AM

Mahbub Djunaedi   Hi all,
I'm glad for so many advise from you. However investing in a new camera is apparently not on my list. I have one digital and one film bodies. I like the instant feedback offered by digital however tend to doubt its reliability in tough condition, especially dusty area. On most occasion I bring both bodies, 3 lenses, flash and a tripod. I don't mind to bring just one body to shave weight but do you think it's better to bet on reliability (battery life, ruggedness, etc) in turn of instant feedback?
Oh btw my backpack already have a waistbelt.
Do you know if they make a bag like tamrac's adventure but with a bigger upper compartment for holding 2-3 days logistics?
After inspecting my backpack I'm thinking of using the lower part (usually to put sleeping bag) as photo gear compartment. First alternative is to put my shoulder bag there but will have some empty spaces. Second is to create paddings but will need special skill to do these.
What do you guys think?

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6/7/2006 9:36:02 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Anggara: Lowepro, Tamrac, Tenba and a lot of the stuff sold in photo stores is nice but before you add to your back-pack wardrobe, check out my buddy Richard Stumm's equipment packs, etc. at Kinesis Gear And take a look at the product reviews he's gotten.

Take it light.

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6/7/2006 7:53:06 PM

John P. Sandstedt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/8/2001
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  Shoot a picture of all your equipment in whatever backpack you have. Transfer the image to your computer. Use an imaging program - go to Image>Image size. "Make sree Resample" is check. Change the resolution to 72 ppi. Click OK and save the image.

You made you backpack smaller and solved your problem.

OK - a poor joke. But seriously, the others are right on. You'll need to conserve all weight associated with photography to assure you can carry essentials like food, water, bug spray and sunscreen, etc.

Better to opt for your camera body [I assume you have an SLR] and a 28-200 mm zoom lens. While I didn't go backpacking, I did go to Hawaii, Italy and the Greek Isles with just my Canon EOS 3, Tamron 28-200 zoom, polarizing lens and lots of ISO-800 film in my Canon backpack. All the extra space was for snacks and water for my wife and me. In fact, I didn't even bring a neck strap; you might want to purchase athe kind of strap thatholds the camera "tightly" across your lower chest.

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6/12/2006 11:23:44 AM

Robyn Gwilt
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/15/2005
  I've just done a 42km trip over 5 days, carrying everything (food, clothes etc, not water) Biggest mistake was taking my 70-200 IS L USM Lens - waaaaaaaaaay to heavy!!! I really used my 17-70mm Sigma, which was geat for the panoramics, as thats what it was about most of the time! Ihad to force myself to take the big lens out at the end of the day and find something to shoot (as I was so tired!!) I can't emphasise enough how I'd not take a big heavy lens again - a wide angle, (mine has a great macro facility), and possibly a compact zoom - 28-300? Lots of memory cards and batteries.

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7/15/2006 1:34:19 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005

Specializes in packs, belts and cases for the traveling / hiking / working pro.


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7/16/2006 11:43:28 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  If your primary objective is the hiking trip...and practical concerns of comfort, weight distribution, food and other amenities are of major importance, your photo equipment should be minimal and stashed where you can get to it fairly easily when you remove the pack.
Take a single body (the most rugged one) with fresh batteries, a wide-to-telephoto zoom lens, some film and a few light-weight accessories you think you might need.

On the other hand, if your primary goal is to document the experiences of the hike photographically you would be wise to carry everything your pack will handle. You don't want to be in a situation where you say..."I wish I had my (whatever) for this!"
(...You can always rest later.) ;)
You can use a camera strap to sling the second body over your shoulder with your most versitile lens attached so you are ready for that rare moment while the rest of your gear is secured within the pack.

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7/16/2006 2:15:14 PM

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