My Ultra-Light hiking Photography setup

Have you ever spent an hour or two cleaning and packing up your photography equipment, either organizing it into a dedicated camera bag (Mindshift, etc.) or hiking backpack, and then let out an audible gasp when realizing it was well over 20+ pounds?

How in the world is this 7 mile hike going to go when the bag doesn’t even have water or snacks packed yet?

Depending on the length and intensity of a hike, this is the moment where I will have to make a decision: Keep my full gear setup, or ditch what I would like to take for what will actually make the hike doable. There’s no point in taking my full 22 lb pack if that would prevent me from actually getting to see what I set out to see.

After trying out making YouTube videos, I’ve now found myself owning a Canon M50, which is at least half the weight of my usual Canon R. But the real difference is in the lenses:

My lightweight setup now is my Canon M50 (w/ L bracket and adapter), EF-M 22mm f/2, EF 50mm f/1.8, and EF 85mm f/1.8. In terms of equivalent focal lengths to full frame, this is like walking around with a 35mm, 85mm, and 135mm kit. Should cover just about everything except extreme wide angle, and all of these three primes are exceptionally clear and sharp, while at the same time remaining unbelievably lightweight:

My ultra light, relatively inexpensive setup for those long, grueling, and/or inclement weather type hikes.

With my standard setup of a 16-35mm f/4L, 24-70mm f/2.8L II, and 70-200mm f/4L IS II, my gear alone was coming in at approximately 7 pounds. With this new setup, my camera gear alone is clocking in at 2.9 pounds.

That is some solid weight reduction! But, that’s not all…

On top of the camera and lenses, my tripod for the M50 is about one third the size and weight of my full Geekoto tripod for my Canon R. Say, another 2 pounds of weight reduction. Add in filters and cleaning materials, another pound. Moving from my trusty Mindshift pack to my regular drawstring lightweight bag saves another 3 – 4 pounds. Lastly, if I’m not taking my full setup and video setup, then you can deduct the weight of the M50 as well, as I would have been carrying that anyway.

So the total weight savings adds up to (4.1 + 2 + 1 + 3.5 + 2.5) = 13.1 pounds!!! That’s a huge amount of weight to not have to carry. Sure, if a hike is short or even up to 7-8 miles, whatever. But a 13 mile hike? Forget about carrying 13 pounds more than needed! My only exception might be if it is in a once in a lifetime type location (cough… PATAGONIA??? maybe someday.) But hey, there’s exceptions to every rule, right?

What do you all think? Do you have a lightweight setup or do you keep weight in mind all the time?

Happy trails,

Brian

5 Comments on “My Ultra-Light hiking Photography setup

  1. On my hiking excursions I always like to go light. Though that’s mainly because I don’t have much in the line of equipment; just my Canon Power Shot 420 IS and a lightweight tripod. I also have a waterproof muzzum backpack that I store my camera in as well as the other items i need for hiking.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It all depends on the hike. If the objective is wildlife and/or birding, I only take my Nikon 610 with the 200 – 500mm Nikon lens attached and carry this on my torso with a Think Tank digital holster. Amazing how long you can carry this heavy setup without tiring. If it’s a new hike I take the 610 with the Nikon 20mm 1.8 and the Nikon 105mm 2.8 in a Think Tank sling bag along with a light monopod/hiking pole with a small ballhead on top. On hikes that I have heavily photographed in the past, I usually just carry my Leica D-lux 7 point & shoot.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Like you I have the Canon M50 setup too. For my coast walking hikes I have the Ef-m 11-22 an excellent lens for capturing wide panoramic scenes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Rich – I have heard great things about the 11-22! It is a little pricey for me though, so I’ve been sticking with the 16-35 if I need to go that wide. Plus I’m not much of a wide angle shooter, but I can see why you like that option if you do frequently! I’m really enjoying the M50 when on lightweight hiking days.

      Liked by 1 person

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