How to Pack for a Photography Daytrip

When I’m going on a photography hike/hunt, I like to prepare and pack carefully. There’s nothing worse than being out in the field and realizing, too late, that you’ve forgotten that extra camera battery, or just as bad, that extra flash card wallet, back on your desk at home.

So I like to lay everything out the night before, since I usually start very, very early. (That’s when some of the best light is, right?)

For a day-long trip that will involve some hiking out away from the car, here’s what I usually pack:

  • Daypack
  • One camera body with two batteries
  • Extra CF cards
  • 16-35 f2.8 Canon zoom
  • 50mm f2.5 Canon macro
  • 70-200mm f2.8 Canon zoom
  • Tripod
  • Water bottle (or two)
  • Lunch & snack
  • Topo map and compass (if woods walking in new area)
  • Poncho, rain covers (Fotosharp) if any chance of rain
  • Sunscreen, bug repellant
  • Small first aid kit

If I hope to maybe shoot wildlife, I’ll add a 300mm f4 telephoto and a 1.4x teleconverter.

Getting deeply involved in shooting can also get you deeply lost, if you don't know the area well. Knowing how to actually use a map and compass can be a great skillset for any nature photographer. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

Getting deeply involved in shooting can also get you deeply lost, if you don't know the area well. Knowing how to actually use a map and compass can be a great skillset for any nature photographer. (Copyright 2010 / Andrew Boyd)

This is my basic setup. I find this is flexible enough to handle most things I’ll encounter. I wear good socks and hiking boots for a trip like this and add or subtract the rain gear depending upon conditions. If going to an isolated area, you also want to leave detailed information about your trip with at least one dependable friend, in case you run into trouble. This is the kind of small detail that could save your life, depending upon the circumstances.

My goal here is to maximize my chances of success with the photography. This setup just makes it more likely that I will succeed.

Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog

Related articles on the web:

5 Hiking Tips for Photographers at B&H Insights

Action and Adventure Photography Tips at National Geographic

10 Tips for a Great Photowalk at Digital Photography School

Creative Tips for Your Next Photowalk at Nuwomb

Posted in: How To

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

6 Comments on "How to Pack for a Photography Daytrip"

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  1. corina says:

    I’d add two things…
    – charged cell phone and hope that the area isn’t that remote for a signal to be received
    – lens cloth

  2. I like both of these additions. I find my cell phone never works when I get very far from the Interstate highways…

  3. Bayou Bill says:

    What? No handheld GPS? Clip it to your belt, and the “breadcrumb” feature lets you find your way back when you get lost. (But if you are hiking in heavy cover the reception may not be the greatest.)

  4. I was backpacking recently and one of the guys had a Garmin device with him. I had my map and compass. The Garmin was very cool, showed exactly where we were…except for one thing: Our trail wasn’t on the Garmin! (Not a problem for my ‘analog’ map.) I guess I’m old skool on this one…

  5. For a GPS you need an additional battery. Anyway, it is not that important anymore, especially on day trips. Before using a GPS it is very advisable to be able to be able to use traditional navigation with map and compass. My personal opinion.

  6. Anita Hua says:

    Photography is my favorite hobby and I have been into it since I was 18. I have joined various groups and I have learned a lot from them. I can still remember my first ever photography daytrip and what I just brought were my camera, tripod, water bottle, snacks, and extra memory cards and batteries.

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