Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

suggestions for carrying camera gear in the backcountry?

So I am an outdoor wildlife photographer. For a long time, going outside and taking pics of wildlife is something I've done, but I've gotten more serious about it lately. This poses a problem of carrying photography gear around with me in the backcountry. 

I'm trying to figure out the best solution for carrying around a mirrorless body + 3-4 lens while protecting them against rain & impact. But still gotta carry hiking & camping gear as well. 

Any suggestions for a good, lightweight way to do this?

11 Replies

Hey Angie! 

I don’t know what would be a good way to carry that but I’m interested in finding out! I’ve been looking for a new way to carry camera equipment!

I suggest taking a look at Think Tank Photo as they have a number of different products that might work even if my particular solution doesn't.  I've been using their Digital Holster with my full frame DSLR over the past 7 years for both day hiking and multi-day backpacking trips and have been able to adapt it to carry with all the different backpacks I've used.  For me the holster works well as it is easily accessible on the trail, well cushioned, and has a rain cover (which has kept my camera dry in several downpours).  These photos show how I carry it with my Osprey Aether AG 70.




Get outdoors, stay safe, and happy trails!
Todd the Hiker

@AngiePaddlesandMore I agree with @Todd that Think Tank has some great options. Another company to look at would be f-stop. They have a mountain series that can carry camping gear and camera gear. Alternatively, you could get one of their ICU blocks to protect your camera gear and use any backpack that has an access panel that isn't the top. I have the Tilopa from f-stop and sometimes put the ICU from that bag into and osprey aether. 


Some light weight suggestions...I don't personally carry a camera as you describe but I and freinds have used these products so it is carry setup I would consider.

Peak designs capture clip. This allows you to hang you camera from your backpack shoulder strap as you hike. I believe there are weather proof covers that willwork with it.

Ultra Pod II tripod. The ultra pod I is also good if you have a smaller camera or to use with a phone (you need a suitable clamp for that.)

Zpacks multipack bag. This is can be worn a number of ways with or without a backpack including as a front pouch attached to the shoulder straps across your front from which it can easily be detached and carried as a satchel or waist bag. It is well sized but not enormous. You can get a spare straps to attach to a different pack.

Closed cell foam cut to pad lenses in the multipack as you desire. You can get this in various thicknesses. It probably hot glues together although I have not tried that.

Freezer zip locks or similar bag for keeping water and dust away from lenses and gear as appropriate. Carry spares. The multi-pack is nominally "waterproof" but you need a second layer of defense.

GX010503_Moment.jpgthis simple technique works well for me

REI Member Since 1979

I struggled with this same issue for a long time; especially with the big glass.  My current solution is as follows;

I do not use Photo back packs. I have tried a bunch of them and none of them worked well for hiking or skiing.  My preference is to use a high quality pack, like an Osprey. The camera and a medium size lens will be mounted to the front shoulder strap of the pack. The one I like, as others have mentioned is Peak Design. 

When out hiking or skiing, having immediate access to the camera is really important, the peak design clip makes this possible. I have carried a 70/200mm this way, but it is not a great solution if the lens is heavy pro design. Smaller lenses work great.

My other lenses are stored in their protective bags that the lenses came with; then placed into the pack, or mounted to the side of the pack.  The cases are more about protecting my back if I fall. No one wants to fall, but it happens. Having unprotected lenses in your pack will hurt if you fall backwards. 

Occasionally I will grab a pack with padded back. In this case, the lenses are wrapped in my clothes. 

I have not had much success hiking with a tripod. A carbon monopod  has worked. 

It is difficult to carry big glass (>400mm) and camping gear.  While not ideal, teleconverter are a compromise when hiking. They save weight and space. 

Expensive professional lenses take great pictures, but they are typically heavy.  Sometimes a quality plastic lens might make a better hiking companion. Sure you give up an f-stop or two, but also pounds….


Another backpack brand you might want to consider is Atlas. Like F-stop, they make photography specific backpacking packs. I have not used one but have tried one on in my local camera store. They seem decently comfortable.


Are you seriously thinking of take four lenses on a multi-day backpacking trip?   I'd suggest first to cut the number of lenses.

Then I see people here suggesting specialized photo backpacks.  That is NOT the way to go.  Fins something to pack the camera in that you can use for other purposes.  A fleece jack works best. Roll the extra lens in a jacked and the camera with one lens in (say) maybe a rain parka.  Smaller lensecan fit inside you extra pair of soak.   If it might rain use a ziplock bag.   The last thing you need is to cary a back pack strapped to the top of your backpack.

But if you are only doing a 5-mile day hike it is different, put the lunch and jacket in the photo-backpack

If you must buy a padded container look for a soft-side insulated lunchbox