If you’re an avid landscape photographer, carrying your camera when hiking with all its gears and accessories is probably the most challenging part. The key is to ensure they are all accessible but also safe. You need to mount and dismount your camera throughout the hike quickly; that’s why your carrying and storage method is essential.
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to bags, straps, harnesses, and holsters to help you carry your camera for those great outdoor pictures. Before buying your carrying method, it is essential to first understand what you want from your carrying system and your hiking style and then choose your equipment. Read through our camera-carrying tips for hiking and come up with a system that suits you.
How to carry a camera when backpacking
Below are several camera-carrying options and some of our favorite brands to use when hiking.
Regular camera neck strap
You can carry your camera on your regular camera strap and wear it over your neck. Neck-straps are great for light backpacking and lighter cameras. Since the camera hangs over your chest, you don’t want to be carrying a heavy camera that could strain your neck. Standard camera straps are great because they are lightweight; therefore, you do not become exhausted too quickly. In addition, they hang over the chest, allowing you to take quick shots. Fortunately, you can wear most camera straps in multiple ways, such as on your neck or shoulder.
A great tip to avoid too much movement when using a camera strap is to place the strap around your neck and adjust it to where it feels most comfortable. Then close the chest strap of your backpack over and across the camera strap. This trick will reduce movement and prevent the strap from rubbing against your neck. It also keeps the camera stable from bouncing over your chest or upper abdomen while freeing up your hands. It also allows easy access by simply unclipping the chest strap to use the camera.
The Peak Design Slide Lite camera strap is a slide strap that allows for fast and easy adjustments. It has a nylon webbing that glides over your clothes during movement as a gripping side that prevents slipping. Its sturdy construction and material will offer support when carrying heavy pro cameras.
Hiking camera straps
Hiking camera straps reduce strain and stress on the neck by shifting the camera weight from your neck to the shoulders than regular camera straps. Hiking straps are also versatile; you can wear them on their own around your neck or shoulder or attach them to the backpack shoulder straps. In addition, the materials are more durable than regular camera straps such that they can carry heavier camera models.
The Think Tank Camera Support Straps have sturdy metal attachment clips for harnesses and backpacks. It can support one gripped or two standard DSLRs with lenses attached, making it for bulky cameras.
Camera waist bag
Waist bags or belts, also known as fanny packs, are great for more compact cameras that do not have too much gear, like GoPro cameras. There are a variety of waist bags that are spacious and also comfortable. Choose a waist bag with ample padding as they reduce pressure on the hips and lower abdomen area. However, since the padding makes this option bulky, the waist back is more suited for less strenuous outdoor activities or short-distance hiking.
The Peak Design Everyday Sling is the most recommended camera waist bag among backpackers. It comes in three distinct sizes, which makes it versatile for a variety of cameras. This sling-style bag is excellent for GoPros and drones. Its material is waterproof and has configurable FlexFold dividers to help with organization.
Shoulder camera harness
Carrying a big camera such as a DSLR camera while hiking using a harness is the best option to avoid putting stress on your shoulders. A shoulder harness centers the weight distribution of the camera from the shoulders to the abdomen or mid-chest. Therefore, reducing the strain on the shoulders and neck. The camera sits square on your lower chest or upper abdomen, making it more accessible.
Although the harness straps run over the shoulders, they do not interfere with the backpack straps. Since the camera is on the chest, it is best to have your lens cover all the time to avoid damaging your lens when moving through thickets.
The Cotton Carrier Harness has a military-style with a lightweight chest plate and over-the-shoulder straps. The Cotton Carrier harness has a Lens Stabilization Strap that fits over the lens and a camera tether to ensure your camera is secure. This model is dust and weatherproof since it has the G3 weather cover. It makes it convenient to use in any weather condition.
Hiking camera holster
Camera holster bags are all about versatility to allow the user to take out their camera much quicker. They come with straps or belts that you can use to attach your camera to a harness or your backpack. It also allows for front, sling, and back attachment. You can also connect it to your hip belt to remove weight from your shoulders and neck. You can also carry more than one holster bag on you by carrying it differently, for instance, attaching one to the bag strap or harness, another to a hip belt.
The Cotton Carrier G3 Strap Shot Holster is a great outdoor camera holster for hiking. This holster attaches your camera to any bag or belt for easy access and keeps your hands free and gear safe. It comes with extra security build-ins and several extra tethers so that your camera is ultra-secure. The extra hand strap helps when gripping your camera when taking shots. The only downside to this model is that the placing of the camera on a bag strap is too high and can be awkward when mounting and dismounting.
Camera hiking backpack
For storage purposes, you can always carry your camera in a backpack. Camera backpacks, however, have a few shortcomings, such as limited access to your camera. But storing a secondary camera and gear in your backpack will allow you to move freely as you rely on other carrying options.
Other than storage purposes, backpacking camera bags also keep the camera dry when backpacking since they are weatherproof. In addition, they have extra padding compared to regular backpacks to protect your camera and equipment.
The Think Tank Rotation 180 Horizon 34L Backpack is our most convenient camera backpack option. The camera pack fits at the bottom of the backpack, and you can pull it out to the side to access your camera and photography gear without taking off your backpack. It also has a waterproof material to keep your equipment safe in the rain or snow and has an abrasion-resistant nylon material that won’t scratch your lenses. The downside to this model is that your camera and lenses are at risk of breaking since they are at the bottom and carry the backpack’s weight.
How to Carry a Camera Tripod While Hiking
A tripod camera is one of the most challenging camera gears to carry when hiking or backpacking. Tripods are usually long and bulky, making them difficult to carry and store when hiking long distances or over rugged terrain. Fortunately, we have several tips to make carrying your camera tripod while hiking much more manageable.
The most common way people carry tripods around is using tripod straps. You attach the straps to both ends of the tripod, and you can carry it in different ways, such as over the back, sling-style, or over one shoulder.
We recommend trying the Optech Tripod Strap, which carries your tripod horizontally by your side or vertically against your back. The strap has padding for comfort around the shoulders. Unfortunately, if you’re carrying a backpack, the tripod strap can interfere with your pack strap. Also, if you do not adjust the straps to balance the tripod, it will bounce around.
Luckily, the MindShift Gear Tripod Suspension Kit has a balance system with extra support around your neck to hold more weight. It doesn’t solve the problem of a bouncing tripod, but the weight feels more balanced and steady.
Attach the tripod to your backpack
If you want a more compact carrying system for your camera tripod, you can attach it to your backpack. It is excellent for shorter and lighter tripods. There are a variety of camera backpacks with attachment clips and straps for the camera tripod. Some backpacks allow for tripod attachment at the front, top, underneath, or on either side of the backpack.
This method is excellent when long-distance hiking since the tripod will not be moving around and banging into things. It allows for easy access because the attachment styles are easy-to-open metal clips or velcro. Since the tripod connects to your backpack, the tripod’s weight will be well distributed, and it will feel less strenuous.
The Endurax Leather Camera Backpack Bag is an excellent camera backpack with a tripod side mount. Unfortunately, the side mount can make you feel uncomfortable since the bag’s weight is not well balanced.
You can get the Tamrac Anvil Slim 11 Photo Backpack with a front mount for a more balanced feeling. The front mount style is also great for longer camera tripods.
Carry the camera tripod inside your backpack.
For light backpacking trips, you can fit your tripod inside your camera backpack. There are camera backpacks such as the Vanguard VEO Shoulder Bag with tripod compartments that are also easily accessible. It keeps your tripod safe from the elements, and it is well-padded all around.
Some longer backpacks are adjustable to fit the tripod in the main compartment too. Unfortunately, you should keep your equipment list short since you will have less room for a camera, lenses, and accessories.
If you have an expensive tripod that requires protection throughout, you can fit yours in a tripod bag. The downside to all the other carrying options is your tripod will end up with scrapes and dents when passing through trees and rocks. With tripod bags, the trick is to get the balance between protection and bulk. The more the padding, the more bulky and heavy it will be. To get the most appropriate tripod bag, you should always consider the weight and length of your tripod and other gears. Finally, choose a tripod bag with durable zip and adjustable straps. You can carry them over the shoulder or attach them to your backpack using the strap.
The VidPro TC-27 padded tripod bags come in a variety of lengths while accommodating the tripod with the head. They also have an exterior zippered pocket where you can store some camera accessories like batteries.
How to Carry Camera Gear While Backpacking
We advise carrying the least amount of camera gear when hiking because it reduces exhaustion and also minimizes loss of equipment in case of an accident such as a fall or effects of weather like rain. Your most essential camera gear to carry while backpacking include; battery charger, memory cards, filters, lenses, tripod, and backup batteries. Here is a list of all the carrying options you have for your camera gear when backpacking.
Putting your camera body, lenses, and other camera accessories in a dry bag is essential to keep them dry in wet environments and the dirt out. Dry bags also provide extra cushioning for your equipment. The Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag effectively prevents water from reaching your equipment and has an adjustable strap that allows you to carry it easily over the shoulder. It is excellent for smaller cameras and camera gear, and accessories.
You can put your gears in these dry bags and pack them on the uppermost part of your backpack for accessibility. Another way to use dry bags is to strap them onto your backpack. Then, strap them securely against the backpack either on the side or at the top, ensuring its zip does not run loose.
Padded camera bag
Padded waist bags are great for equipment you may need along the way, such as extra batteries, memory cards, and lenses. They come in a variety of styles and sizes and with customizable partitions for organization purposes. The padding protects the equipment from external pressure, and the inner compartments prevent them from banging on each other during movement.
Depending on the style and model of bag you have, you can wear it around your waist, attach it to your backpack or holster. The chest mount is also popular; however, it may prevent you from watching your steps since these bags also be bulky.
Cameras are bulky and can be uncomfortable to use and carry during long hikes. Fortunately, all the options above will protect your equipment and ensure you’re also comfortable when hiking with them. Additionally, it is essential to also invest in quality bags and straps. The straps are not helpful if they are weak or do not have the proper attachment clips.