Learn How To Hike With A Camera With These 11 Pro Tips

Rilor Staff
Update: August 26, 2022
Table of Contents

The outdoors gives you the best and most fascinating views. From lush forests down to rolling grasslands, you can witness scenery like these once you head out and hike. 

Thanks to modern technology, we can now see beautiful things and have them on record. That's right. We have cameras these days. Our smartphones might be good enough, but the quality of DSLRs and professional cameras like GoPros will let you capture what you see in full detail, sharpness, and colors. 

But hiking with a camera isn't the simplest task. To ensure you have a comfortable excursion, check out the following tips on how to hike with your camera. In a nutshell, most of these tips involved a lot of planning. But we are sure that you can get through that. 

How To Hike With A Camera

Inspect Your Camera And Essentials

Before the big day, make sure that you allocate some time to check your camera. See if it has its memory card installed. You should also check if the batteries are fully charged. 

You might want to bring extra batteries and memory cards if your trip lasts for several days. Also, don't forget that your replacement cards are empty. You will never want to find it full after slotting it in your camera. 

Bringing a drone? Then you should check its components properly. See if there's a software update. If there is, you should fulfill it right away. A software update in the middle of the woods isn't something that you want to see. 

Try To Be Lightweight

There's no harm in bringing all your hiking essentials with you. However, taking your camera and extra accessories into account would change the dynamics of the trip. 

A DSLR doesn't weigh light. If you bring multiple lenses, that would add to the weight of your luggage. At this point, you should consider streamlining the weight of your backpack. You might want to invest in lightweight clothes and compact gear. 

Bring Only The Essentials

Part of the planning process requires you to imagine what you want to photograph during the hike. Do you want to take pictures of exotic wildlife? Are you eager to shoot picturesque lakes and rivers? Are drones allowed in your trail?

Your answer to these questions will define what type of camera and lenses you need to bring. At the same time, this would prevent you from overpacking. At first, you might think that you have to bring all your gear. But in reality, you might only need a single body and two lenses. Those burly zoom lenses might look cool, but they aren't always necessary. 

Research and see what type of setup other photographers bring in your trail. It will give you an idea of what essential hiking equipment you should bring in the hike. 

SEE ALSO: Common Hiking Mistakes to Avoid

Plan Your Shot & Know Your Trail

You have to make a detailed plan of what you want to shoot before going on a hike. In this way, you will get an idea of what type of lenses you should bring. It will also help you assess if you need a tripod or not. 

Furthermore, a detailed plan will let you know what kind of shots you can take. If you have unique photographs, you would need to see what others have shot. In this way, you can recreate the pictures from different angles. And who knows? You can get something that is beyond extraordinary. 

Understand the terrain of your hike; this will give you an insight as to when is the best time to take out your camera. After all, there's no need for you to hang your camera on your neck all the time; that's quite stressful. 

By the way, if you are going to hike in any US national park, keep in mind that drones aren't allowed without a permit.

Don't Forget The Weather Forecast

The elements can affect your trip, whether or not your camera is with you. But things get a little difficult if you have sensitive electronics like a camera. Of course, the label of your camera might say that the item is water-resistant. We can give such a claim the benefit of the doubt. But certainly, there's no such thing as a camera being fully waterproof, especially if you are drenched in the rain or in the midst of a water body.

DSLR cameras have a certain degree of water protection. And by saying that, I particularly mean that the camera is only suitable for exposure in light rains. If you are going to expose the device to strong downpours or storms, it will inevitably be damaged. 

But it is not the water that you have to mind here. The heat of the sun can be lethal to the components of your camera. It could damage the circuits and cause the device to malfunction. Dust and debris can also hamper the performance of your camera. It is important that your pack has a cover to protect your sensitive electronics when hiking in the rain.

Do You Need A Tripod?

Cameras and tripods are two sides of the same coin. But this doesn't mean that you should always carry a tripod all the time. You should have second thoughts about bringing one on a hiking trip. 

As I mentioned, you should streamline the weight of your pack when hiking. A tripod might add to the bulk and weight of your pack. If the trek takes place during the day, you no longer need a tripod. Moreover, if you want to take pictures of wildlife, then you can do it with a monopod. Alternatively, you can also use a gorilla pod or a tripod. 

However, if you are using a long lens, then a sturdy tripod might be essential. 

Be Attentive With The Regulations

Many hiking destinations are under the jurisdiction of various government agencies. If you are going to hike in any of these places, you need to comply with their respective regulations. 

Before your hike, make sure that you are aware of the existing rules and policies of your trail. Specifically, you should check whether or not there are stipulations for things like cameras and drones. As I've said, some areas don't allow drones. Other places will prohibit you from using tripods in certain areas. 

As a side note, don't forget to be mindful of hiking trail etiquette!

Use A Camera Backpack

Normal backpacks are not designed to cater to electronics, such as cameras and drones. They might work well with your hiking gear, but they won't accommodate your electronics properly. 

You have to consider using a backpack for cameras. Specifically, photo backpacks have specialized pockets that can fit different cameras, lenses, and other related accessories. They also allow item organization and provide protection to your gear. 

Of course, you have to consider if bringing this pack could add to the burden of your trip. Again, the key here is to ensure that you can identify your needs and narrow your hiking checklist to essential ones. 

Invest On A Landscape Lens

It is also a good idea that you buy a landscape lens. Among the lenses that you can get today, this one is the most useful for hiking, camping, and any other outdoor trips.

A landscape lens can enhance the quality of your photos. It also ensures that you can capture wonderful scenery that your kit lens can't get. Fortunately, numerous wide-angle lenses are available today. The most used ones are between 16mm and 32mm. But of course, feel free to get something that is within your preference. 

Bring Special Lenses, Too

Sure, a wide-angle lens is important. But it is not the only lens that you are going to need to make remarkable shots. For instance, a micron lens is essential for creating creative shots of plants and insects. 

Bring A Spare Camera

Many won't tell you this advice: if you are going to hike with a camera, make sure that you bring an extra one. 

Of course, that seems counterintuitive, given that you want to reduce as much weight as possible. Allow me to explain this matter. You see, I am not saying that you have to bring two burly DSLRs. You can get a primary DSLR and a compact camera. 

Today, there are mirrorless cameras that have the size of standard point-and-shoot cameras. They are small but produce high-quality photos comparable to the ones captured by DSLRs. 

Be Attentive To Your Surroundings

Don't forget to look back from time to time while you are proceeding to your trail. You might be in a rush because you want to take a photo of a particular location or scenery. There's a good chance that you'll miss something good because of this. 

Some exceptional compositions can take place in areas or subjects that you don't expect. Photographers have keen and creative eyes, so they would really know if something is worth capturing. But at the same time, these people aren't perfect. It is always essential that you keep track of your pace and remain observant of your surroundings. 

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