Many people ask us about our photography gear for hiking so we’ve put together a list of the equipment we use.
In addition to the list of travel photography gear we use, we also share tips for taking photos while hiking.
If you’re like us, we hike to many of the locations where we want to take pictures so the weight of the camera gear and the space it takes up are big factors.
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy.
OUR FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHY GEAR FOR HIKING
CAMERA GEAR TIP: Inspect your camera before packing to make sure it’s functioning properly. Clean the lens. Make sure the memory cards and a fully charged battery are IN the camera.
Luckily there are two of us hiking together so we can carry two camera bodies – that way we don’t need to switch lenses in the field. These are the two cameras for hiking I use:
- Nikon D500 – this is my exclusive wildlife camera
- Nikon Z7 – this is my landscape camera
- Nikon D850 – this is my general purpose camera
Selecting the best camera for hiking and what you’ll be photographing is a complicated and personal process.
If you’re looking for a new camera, be sure to do your research to find what’s best for you.
- Best Cameras for Beginners
- Best DSLR Cameras for Travel Photography
- Best Compact Travel Cameras
- Best Cameras for Blogging
- Budget Vlogging Cameras
To determine which lenses to pack for hiking, you must know what images you want to capture. Will you photograph landscape, wildlife, waterfalls or all of the above?
These are the lenses we use for our photography:
- Nikon 24-70 mm F2.8: This is my primary landscape lens that gives me a wide angle as well as telephoto to get closer shots.
- Nikon 70-200 mm F2.8: This is a general purpose lens I use for everything.
- Nikon 200-500 mm: A good wildlife lens when animals aren’t too far away, and it’s not too heavy for hiking.
- Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens – My favorite new wildlife lens due to its small size and weight compared to the bigger 500mm lens!!
- Rokinon 24 mm F1.4: If you are interested in photographing the Milky Way, this is a wonderful lens to use.
Once I determine what I’ll be taking pictures of on the hike, then I’ll attach the best lens to the best camera for that scenario. I’ll also create a second camera/lens combo as a backup since there are two of us to carry gear.
A good sturdy tripod is worth the investment and can make a tremendous difference in the sharpness of your photos.
If you can splurge, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is AMAZING!! It’s so light, yet so sturdy, even with my DSLR camera and pretty heavy lens attached.
There are many quality tripods for hiking of varying sizes and capacities. Evaluate your needs and spend the money to obtain a good quality tripod to meet those needs. It will definitely pay for itself in the quality of your images.
Jamie loves the JOBY Grip Tight GorillaPod Stand to use with her smartphone because the legs wrap securely around any surface. It does a wonderful job stabilizing the phone when capturing video sequences as we hike. She uses the stand as a selfie stick as well.
Camera Filters for Landscape Photography
It’s easy to put a circular polarizer and neutral density filter in your bag for hiking.
Circular Polarizers bring out the color and depth of your landscape shots.
Neutral Density Filters help capture blurred motion with water and are good to use in high light conditions.
I started out using Tiffen and Hoya filters, and I had good success using them. BUT I became frustrated with the difficulty of using these filter systems and only got them out when I wanted long exposure shots.
Then I found the magnetic filter system by Kase, and my use of filters has been changed forever!
A well-designed backpack that fits is so important when hiking with camera gear. We recommend a pack that has pockets and allows you to organize the inside sections.
We use two different backpacks depending on the situation and/or gear we need. All of these backpacks are well designed with adjustable belts and straps to properly distribute the pack weight on our bodies while hiking.
The Lowepro 300AW Backpack is used for shorter hikes where we won’t need to use large lenses.
The Lowepro Flipside 500 AW Backpack is great for carrying two camera bodies with small lenses, or if we’ll need a large lens like our 500mm.
Finding the right camera backpack will be a personal decision:
A quick field cleaning is sometimes necessary to remove dust or water droplets on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.
A good camera cleaning kit should include
- lens pen
- cleaning fluid in a spray bottle
- air blower
- microfiber cleaning cloths
- soft brush
Remote Shutter Release
A remote shutter release helps decrease camera shake caused by the pressure of your finger activating the camera shutter. Using a shutter release helps you get sharper images.
You can also use the camera timer, but I find it very inconvenient.
I’ve used expensive and cheap models and find that most remote shutter release products wear out quickly. I always carry an extra because it’s frustrating when the shutter release goes out on you in the middle of a shoot.
NOTE: You will need to search for a remote shutter release for your specific camera model.
Memory Cards and Batteries
You will use the card over and over, so spending a bit more to get a better product, in the long term, will not cost you much more.
CARRY EXTRAS: You don’t want to miss any photographic opportunities due to forgetting to load a memory card or battery in your camera; draining a battery or filling a memory card (or two).
I encourage you to read the Do’s and Don’ts of Memory Cards by Peta Pixel. They share simple tips to keep your memory cards and images safe now and in the future.
When we’re hiking, sometimes we come across something we want to photograph, but by the time we get the camera out of the bag, the moment is gone!
This is one reason we love this camera clip by Peak Design! We were skeptical that it would hold our DSLR with a heavy lens, but it does.