How to Pack Camera Gear for a Mid-length to Long Hike

Opening Instagram can be both a blessing and a curse when you follow a multitude of hikers and explorers. On one hand, summit pictures and seemingly flawless mountain scenes can be incredibly inspiring. Those same images can also make you feel like you should do a better job of lugging your heavy camera gear on your own trips - even if the added weight isn't ideal. How many of us have bought upgraded camera equipment just to leave it behind due to weight? Many of us have a camera, and camera gear can be super heavy, especially while hiking up mountains, which is why we so often opt for the iPhone and smartphone cameras as backup.

As I've transitioned into professional photography, relying on my smartphone is less of an option, and I've had to learn how to adapt. Camera gear takes over my hiking packs even before I have added my hiking essentials, but I believe I've figured out an excellent strategy for making it all fit. Here's the break down below:


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For most of my hikes, I will bring along my DSLR/ along with two lenses, polarizer, SD cards, intervalometer, cleaning kit and sometimes even my drone. I use an Incase for camera gear to pack everything together super small and well cushioned. You can see above how I am able to fit everything in the case except for the drone body. There are many different camera case sizes you can buy depending on how much equipment you have, and your pack size. 


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A lot of the hiking camping I do in Hawaii is only one night so I like to use the Deuter 45L + 10L. Since the camera gear is the heaviest part of my load, being able to keep it against my back and right above my waist makes carrying the equipment easier. Packs that can unzip from the middle (with a front u-zip) allow me to pack this way and instantly access camera gear without unloading the full pack. I would also recommend avoiding packs that can't carry a heavier load, or are lacking a hip-belt. With camera gear, support is needed! Since my the gear takes up a lot of space, I have invested in a really compact sleeping bag, sleeping mat and tent. I also always bring a 1.5-2L bladder, jet boil, change of clothes and jacket, and a few toiletries. 

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When I go to pack all my camera gear I insert my Incase first into the main pocket, then I fill the space around it with the drone, Jetboil, sleeping bag & mat and any other accessories/food I’m bringing. I use the bottom 10L pocket for my clothes and toiletries. Lastly, I fill all other pockets with food/snacks, headlamp, and any other small items I am bringing. I strap the tent onto the outside of my bag to create space, and sometimes when I want to bring my tripod I will strap it onto the outside as well.

I hope this helps and motivates you to take your camera out into the wilderness! Go get those epic pictures!

Recommended Packs for Photography Enthusiasts:

*All of the below packs feature either a front or back U-zip, plus added stability that better handles weight and will prevent camera gear from poking you in the back!

Deuter Trail 28 SL

Deuter Trail 30

Deuter Rise 32 SL 

Deuter Rise 34

Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL

Deuter Freerider Pro 30


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