7 Tips Hiking Backpacking your Large Format Camera

7 Tips for Hiking Backpacking Tramping Your Camera Gear

Hiking, tramping or backpacking with your camera can be fun. It’s a great way to open up your world to new exciting photographic opportunities. However, hiking with your large format camera presents unique challenges.

You need to keep your sensitive and expensive gear safe from water, dirt and impact damage. Here are some of my tips for hiking and backpacking with large format cameras

Time needed: 3 minutes.

How to bush-walk backpack or hike with a large format camera

  1. Minimise Weight:

    Plan the photographs you are most likely to make and reduce your camera gear to the bare minimum.

  2. Do not attach external bags to your pack:

    Keep the centre of gravity close to your body to prevent over-balancing or accidental snaring of external bags.

  3. Carry a light weight tripod:

    Carbon fibre weighs less than aluminium.

  4. Colour code your carry bags:

    Use colour coded waterproof inner bags to quickly identify items in your backpack.

  5. Place camera gear near the top:

    Place your camera gear near the top of the backpack for faster, easier, access and to minimise impact damage.

  6. Take dual purpose items:

    A great way to save weight and volume, take items which can serve more than one purpose eg use your rain shell to double as a focus cloth.

  7. Include lens cleaning material:

    Dust, rain and salt spray can easily accumulate on lenses and filters. Even in the outdoors you need lens cleaning tissue.

Your Safety

In your hurry to explore new territory, don’t forget about your basic safety as well. If you are traveling in remote areas you should notify a reliable person of your intentions including your expected return dates. They need to know what to do if your return is overdue.

You should also have a basic knowledge of first aid and carry a small first aid kit with you on your photographic travels.

Other things to consider are water, maps, compass personal GPS, Personal Location Beacon, protective clothing, shelter, and food. Don’t rely on mobile phone coverage.

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Reader Comments

  1. Charles Millen

    Hi Alex,

    I shoot predominantly 4×5 with a little bit of digital here and there. I note with interest the velcro wraps you have for your field camera and lens, did you make them or are they available somewhere? At the moment I just place the field camera, lenses and other associated items in a thin dry bag at the top of the rucksack. I think a few velcro bags to protect my LF lenses would be a great idea at the very least. I am constantly refining the kit / hiking gear to keep the weight down, it is a constant evolution.

    • alexbond

      Hi Charles,
      The velcro wraps are home made to the sizes I needed. I used soft foam sandwiched between two layers of light weight nylon ground sheet material. Sew your bag/wrap first leaving one seam open, then place the foam inside the bag/wrap and sew up last open seam. You may want to sew your velcro onto the respective parts of the wrap before adding the foam as this makes it easy to sew and handle. I immersed the finished bags in a waterproofing solution at the same time I was treating my sleeping bag. It makes the light weight nylon more water repellent which is helpful out in the field.

      You can find lens wraps on the internet, most I think would need modification. They are either too big or too thin to provide cushioning protection in a backpack. The wrap I use for my 4×5 is actually a home made foam/nylon box with a lid. Nice and light with easy access as it is made to fit my camera.

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