What gear do you use (recommend) for long Backpack trips?

For all of you that backpack.

About a year ago, my wife and I did a 61 mile three night backpack loop in Yosemite starting and finishing at Hetch Hetchy ( 12,841 ft elevation gain).

My gear included my Sony A7, a Sony 24-105mm f/4 lens which I rented from Lens Rental, a Sirui T-2205X tripod with Oben BA-7T ball head (with another ballhead attached to My REI Hiker Staff used as a monopod), about 10 batteries and a MindShift Gear Ultralight Camera Cover 20 which is no longer made .

Overall I was happy with the gear and the weight, but I felt a bit limited with the lens choice. I didn’t want to take an extra lens with me, not only because of extra weight, but the fact that Sony sensors love to attract dust when changing lenses out in the field, no matter how careful you are.
Overall I loved the 24-105 range for day time shots, but I love night photography and with the f/4 limit, getting those moonless night pictures without a lot of noise was a big challenge for me, and I was a bit disappointed with most of the results.
(I don’t think the newest version of the A7 or the A7R series would have been such a problem as I experienced, but I have what I have). I think a 18 or 21 mm f/2.8 lens would have worked a lot better in some of the tight night shots I wanted to capture, but then again, I didn’t want the extra weight or dust on my sensor.

I have added my favorite night shot from a lake on our third night, but the 24mm f/4 just didn’t work for me from what I was seeing. The lake was small and the trees grew right up to the shoreline.

I currently have the Tamron 28- 75 f/2.8 and might get the 17-70 f/2.8 next year which would have worked for my lake milky way shot.

What gear do you carry or recommend that makes backpacking an enjoyable experience and not feeling like you are overburdened with the extra weight.

As for my backpack, I have the REI flash 65, pretty lightweight, but more durable that the lighter bags like gossamer gear. I split out our REI half dome 2 plus tent with my wife. I use the REI Mojave down sleeping bag and thermarest prolite plus pad.
In winter I use a larger bag for the extra gear needed for those colder temps. A Gregory Baltoro 75 Pack.

I love backpacking the Sierra, too, and I feel you about lens choices, Kevin. For me, the 16mm to 35 mm and the 70mm to 300mm range are the most useful in this area. You will get two very different images from either end of this range and for me, it comes down to deciding what kind of images you want to bring home. I am quite content coming home from a 3/4 day trip (that’s pretty much the longest I have been out) with one or two images. So, I like to previsualize what I would like to create. If your goal is a milky way shot, I think you should pour your effort in carrying the lens that will help make that image happen. If you find a photo opportunity that falls outside the capability of the equipment you have, being there to see it happen in person is not necessarily less ideal than capturing on the sensor.

I am not too picky with what I eat while camping, so my camera setup is: D750 with 2 fully charged batteries, Tamron 17-35 f/2.8-4, and Nikkor 70-200 f/4 PF. Support system: Feisol CT-3442 and Acratech GP-SS ballhead. What I like about the D750 is the ability to use the very lightweight IR remote trigger. I don’t carry filters, this has bitten me a few times (e.g. needing a CPL or an ND) but I can usually make peace with the situation.

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I have used a vello IR remote, which is nice if I want to include myself in the picture.
The ironic thing about backpacking to get night shots, is that I try to go out on very clear nights, so my daytime skies usually don’t have any clouds in them . I live in the Portland Oregon area, so most of my hikes and backpack trips are around Mt Hood, with one long backpack trip somewhere else, like Yosemite (where my sisters live near by), Alaska (where my son is going to school), or the Sawtooths in Idaho.

Here is one of my typical shots from a spot we go back to many times throughout the year.
I usually don’t get milkyway shots Mt Hood is usually to the west of us when we camp.

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I like to carry the least amount of equipment needed. carry a monopod w/ball head, two lenses a Nikkor 24-120mm f4 and a Tamron 90mm macro on a NikonD750. Light to tote and I am pleased with what I shoot.

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These days my favorite other than the canon 18-135 mm lens has to be my pixel 3 and iphone x whose lens has improved by leaps and bounds even for night photography.

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Here’s the main gear for my standard backpacking setup, but some items are switched depending on the weather.

  • Osprey Exos 58
  • Katabatic Gear Flex 22˚ Down Quilt
  • Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Sleeping Pad
  • Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Tent
  • Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Sony a7R III
  • Sony 24-105mm f/4
  • Sony 16-35mm f/2.8
  • Anker 10k mAh USB battery (best mAh/oz)
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