How to Properly Pack Your Photography Bag for the Outdoors

Thomas Heaton is a landscape photographer based in the United Kingdom and has grown exponentially in popularity since gaining steam on his YouTube channel in the early part of 2016. While known for giving a great professional insight into the world of professional photography, he’s also a great educator on handling yourself in the outdoors. In his latest video, Heaton goes through the entire contents of his hiking backpack and explains each items utility and how it fits together as a system.

As a landscape photographer, he must endure the elements and a be patient to get that perfect composition for his photos. In the video also goes on to explain many concepts regarding photography and the outdoors and how the way he packs is affected by the environment. While a lot of the video would be common knowledge to people who have spent many hours on the trail, this is going to be a great resource for any prospective photographers looking to start experimenting in the world of landscapes or adventure photography. It covers all the bases for the equipment and mindset you need to get out in the great outdoors. That along with the great teaching style and calm demeanor of Heaton is a recipe for success.

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1 Comment

Jon G's picture

Love Thomas Heaton's videos, but I'm not sure I agree with his photography camping list. Most people, if they follow a similar packing list, are going to find their pack far too heavy to be comfortable (>40lb with a DSLR and 2 zooms), and are going to be miserable on the mountain or any hike lasting more than a couple of miles. Because you're already carrying a bunch of heavy camera gear that ordinary hikers/campers don't have with them, some other sacrifices to your camping gear need to be made to get your pack weight down. Changes I would make:

- Ditch the full-size tripod for a high-end travel tripod (carbon fiber, <1.5kg), and simply don't go out in high winds
- Leave the camping stove and pots at home, stick to cold food that doesn't require cooking
- Bring fewer filters, only the essentials, or even just bring a circular polarizer, variable ND, and bracket your shots
- Plastic water bottles not aluminum
- Ditch the GPS unit. Get a backup compass on a sports watch. Pre-download trail maps on your phone.
- Stick to a one-person ultralight tent
- Get an ultralight sleeping bag
- Leave all the various stuff sacks at home
- Leave the second camp light at home, hang your head torch
- Add a minimal first aid kit (antiseptic wipes, antibacterial lotion, leukotape, anti-blister ointment, ibuprofen)
- Swap the 24-70 zoom for 2-3 prime lenses at your preferred focal lengths so long as the combined weight is lower.
- Make do with 2 drone batteries, not 3. Plan your flights.
- Leave the USB charger at home. Keep your phone powered down until you really need it.
- Get the smallest, lightest, but still comfortable pack that will fit everything you need. 68L capacity is probably excessive for 2-3 days. Personally I use a 50L Osprey Atmos AG pack.
- Use ultralight (<15oz) trekking poles. They'll help you to travel further, and faster, and keep you steady on your feet through uneven terrain.
- Tom didn't mention toilet paper and a lightweight trowel. I guess he's planning on not going #2 while outdoors? Not recommended for anything longer than a day hike.

Hope someone finds my suggestions helpful! If you pack light, you'll be glad you did. You'll be able to go further for longer and get to your shooting locations with time to spare, and with plenty of energy to focus on your photography.

If anyone wants to learn more about packing ultralight for an extended hike or backcountry camping trip, I highly recommend cleverhiker.com and its corresponding YouTube channel.