Best Way To Carry Camera Backpacking
Jan 13, 2022 at 4:05 pm #3736873
I recently upgraded my picture-taking capabilities from a smart phone to a Sony RX100 VII. With the upgraded pictures comes an upgraded 10 ounces and a need to find the best way to attach it to my pack for ease of access and for weather and bump protection. I’ll admit to worrying a bit more than usual, given the fragile nature and cost. I have a Mountain Laurel hip belt pocket that will work from a size standpoint.
What sorts of solutions are working for you? Specially designed cases? A sternum pouch?
Thanks for the help – RussJan 13, 2022 at 4:28 pm #3736876
I used to use Zimmerbuilt shoulder strap padded accessory bags when my cameras were slightly smaller and those fit nicely. My current Lumix DMC-ZS series got a little too plump to fit, so I just started sewing my own based on the same excellent design. I’d suggest you send the dimensions of your camera to Zimmerbuilt and have them make a custom bag.
This is one of the ones I sewed:Jan 13, 2022 at 4:33 pm #3736877
Thank you Philip…what an excellent suggestion!Jan 13, 2022 at 4:42 pm #3736880JohanBPL Member
I use a Sony a6500, and do a lot of hiking with camera gear. Your camera should be super easy to store and keep dry with minimal added weight.
I would personally use a semi-hard shell case, like this. Although I can’t vouch for this exact product, you get the idea. 2.3 ounces.: https://www.amazon.com/Aproca-Travel-20-1MP-Digital-Camera/dp/B07QL4VVY8/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=sony+rx100+case&qid=1642116738&sr=8-4
Then you can use a heavy duty, slider ziploc bag for water protection. As long as you don’t plan on submersing the camera under water, a ziploc can keep moisture out really well.
There are some chest mounts, like you mention, that can make it faster to access the camera leaving it uncovered, but they tend to leave the camera vulnerable to bumps, dust, and moisture when store like that. You can also make your own harness to hold the camera when it is in a hard case, like linked above, to your chest straps. It just takes a little longer to get to the camera getting it out of the case.Jan 13, 2022 at 5:18 pm #3736882Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
I have something like what Johan has recommended, and I clip it onto my shoulder strap much the way Phillip has his. Works great—with two caveats.
1. It can sometimes get in the way when you are putting on your pack. Not a big issue, but it helps to put that arm in first.
2. If you leave your pack in camp to go filter water, and a bear is swimming in the lake, your camera will be back with you pack…
Not that it has happened to me.Jan 13, 2022 at 5:32 pm #3736883PaulWBPL Member
@peweg8Locale: Western Colorado
Check out the Lowepro Dashpoint cases. I have an RX100 II and it fits, with a little room to spare in my Dashpoint 20. (In a previous thread I mistakenly said I had the Dashpoint 10). I attach it to my shoulder strap as pictured above, but it can also be attached to a waist belt. It’s got plenty of padding so I don’t worry about bumps and bruises.Jan 13, 2022 at 5:39 pm #3736884
I’ve begun to go a different route: I started thinking very carefully about what I’m specifically interested in photographing, and I do not bother unpacking my camera until I’m in an area that allows me to work on those subjects. Having a camera always at the ready crippled me; I focused more on what might be around the next bend than what I already knew I wanted to work on…and that just led to a bunch of substandard images. Nowadays, I have an insulated compartment that I can stuff into the pack, and I just unpack my camera when needed. I keep a few rolls of film in a pocket somewhere, and a small notebook for details of the shots. That’s the whole setup, and it works well. For the quick “oh, that looks cool” photos, I just pull out a phone. When I’m done working, I put things back up.Jan 13, 2022 at 6:08 pm #3736892Ross BleakneyBPL Member
I have the same camera, and ended up buying a “Little Stuff it 3.0“, by Think Tank Photo. I’m quite happy with it, even though it is a bit heavier than I want. It is padded, and fits nicely. I wear it on the shoulder strap, but it is built so that you can use it on your waist belt if you want. It is easy to remove completely, in case you want to have it sitting there around camp but not in your pack (e. g. for sunset pictures). It is black, which is unfortunate (I wish it came in other colors). I put some orange tape it to make it easier to see.Jan 13, 2022 at 10:08 pm #3736926Brett ABPL Member
Philip, is that a hacked belt holster for your phone on the right shoulder strap?Jan 14, 2022 at 12:29 am #3736928Christopher SBPL Member
Depends how much protection you require
I would suggest looking at those retractable leashes made for tools on a tool belt – you could mount one of those on your shoulder strap going to the camera and worst case if you drop the camera it will just fall as far as the leash allows and hopefully not hit anything on the way down. In addition the pull of the leash should slow its fall. You probably dont want something strong enough to retract the cameras weight itself as it would make it hard to use.
If you want the ultimate water protection I like to use a real dry bag meant for water sport use – not a roll top. Roll tops are never rated super high for submersibility. The best I have found is by a friend company called “HPA”. I have their medium/small fanny pack size thing that I removed all the straps from which makes it quite lightweight and then it replaces one of my hip belt pockets. Its larger than a hip belt pocket and fits my FF mirrorless camera with a lens on it + one more lens. Fully submersible and has a real waterproof zipper. One of the big advantages is that when you fully seal it up it is also air tight like a balloon which means that if something bumps the side (and the camera is not physically touching that same side) the air itself provides a ton of padding / cushion. I added some thin pieces of XPLE foam to the bottom and sides.
There are many smaller cases similar to this you could use – any good ones are a TPU material with welded seams and a submersible certified zip.
This is what I am using ( no straps I believe it is 8 ounces):
(the black version is no longer shiny – its a matte black look that sort of looks like cordura)
One of these might work better for your smaller camera:
I have also seen people adding padding to these to create submersible camera cases:Jan 14, 2022 at 4:12 am #3736938
Lots of great ideas that are actually reasonably priced and should allow for experimentation. I think the Lowes pouch may be available at Bestbuy for a hands on look. That “Little Stuff It” is intriguing. I noticed they list the weight at .1 kg as did Lowes…looks like rounding and I don’t believe they’re as obsessed with grams as we are! The fishing pouches are interesting as well but seem a bit heavier.
Gonzo, I’m going to go for ease of access first, but keep your solution back of mind since I’ll have the mobile anyway.
Thank you all for the thoughtful responses.Jan 14, 2022 at 7:20 am #3736943
Well, ease of access is kind of the point of my storage system: the camera stays perfectly protected and totally out of the way until I need it…and then it’s literally in my hand until I’m finished working. However, I’m also not an “oh, that looks cool!” photographer with my serious cameras. Sure, I’ll pull out a phone for a snap of an interesting bird/flower/scene/whatever, but when I see something that I really want to work on, I usually have all the time in the world to drop my pack, grab the camera, and think about how I’m going to achieve the desired results. But, again, that’s just my style of working; I know it doesn’t work well for most people – usually, people just laugh at the idea of less camera gear – but I throw the suggestion out there when people ask because occasionally, it actually helps someone…and the less I’ve carried, the better my images have become.
P.S. Post some of your shots. It’s nice to see what kind of work people are doing.🙂Jan 14, 2022 at 11:44 am #3736978
I avoid putting my RX100 3 in a waist belt pouch… because… when taking off the pack and putting it on the ground, there is a chance of banging it against a rock… Also… if there is loose dirt or sand, that could more easily contaminate a waist belt pocket than a shoulder pocket. Personally, I just a small camera bag that I bought at Best Buy and attached a shoulder strap and wear that around my neck/shoulder… when I take off my pack, the camera is still with me for going to filter water or a day hike. No perfect solutions..Jan 14, 2022 at 11:51 am #3736980
I’ve hiked in the rain, paddled on the ocean with my backpack on the bow of my packraft, waded rivers and estuaries, thrashed through endless rain-soaked brush, etc, and my camera always survived. Sure, it got slightly damp a few times, but I think there is a little too much worry going on here about protecting the camera from moisture. That said, my most recent incarnation was made with 3 oz cuben fabric and a water resistant zipper, and I sealed the seams with aquaseal. This thing will survive anything short of saltwater submersion.
The thing that makes the top-zip design nice is that when you open the zipper the camera does not fall out of the pouch like it would with the clamshell cases. I run into a lot of animals on my trips and like to have the camera very handy for video. The convenience of having it on the shoulder strap cannot be overstated. And its location protects it from most bumps, so pretty much a win-win.
As to Brett’s question, yes, I modified a belt clip to attach to the shoulder strap the same way. I broke the belt clip part off and used a dremel to cut 4 slots in the case that I could thread the Slik Clip pieces through. There is a short section of grosgrain ribbon at the end of a strip of velcro to minimize the bulk where the strip faces the phone’s screen. Using the velcro allows me to pull the Slik Clips snug against the carrier. I’ve used this system for many years and the phone has never fallen out, even when going through dense brush. A bunch of my hiking/skiing/hunting friends have adopted the same setup and have had good success as well. It offers easy one-handed deployment and reinsertion of the phone.Jan 14, 2022 at 4:33 pm #3737003
Another solution might be a small fanny pack that can be worn with a backpack.
Some are made to use with a backpack… with the buckle in front.Jan 15, 2022 at 8:03 am #3737045J RBPL Member
I carry my P&S in a hip belt pocket, inside of a sleeve or case I made for it from Reflectix. It’s always at my fingertips, and it’s protected enough from minor bumps. I make a point of being careful when taking the pack off and laying it on the ground or a rock, never had a problem.Jan 15, 2022 at 10:01 am #3737054
Russ, what kind of stuff are you photographing with the camera in question? I’ve been thinking about the original question, and it occurred to me that without knowing what you’re actually doing with the camera, we’re really just throwing out answers with no direction as to a goal. You said “ease of access” at one point, but for what genre of subject matter?Jan 15, 2022 at 11:18 am #3737059
Thanks for the interest Bonzo. I guess if I’m honest, 99% of my photography has been whipping the camera out for items of interest as I stumble upon them. Certainly no artistic skill has been involved thus far. Backpacking first with cool photos second.
I want the ability to do this but the next level as well. I also think planning for pictures is a direction I’d like to explore as well….reflective alpine lakes. Sunsets and sunrises. The ability to get on a first name basis with the moose that wandered through my camp at Isle Royale last August. I have a buddy who has an rx100 and his pictures are so much better than mine and I’m jealous!
I’m going to experiment with a few of the ideas above, and your solution would work if I still have my mobile. So maybe I can still get the best of both worlds.Jan 15, 2022 at 12:09 pm #3737060
I have a buddy who has an rx100 and his pictures are so much better than mine and I’m jealous!
Don’t fall into that trap; equipment doesn’t matter, and believing that it does will impair your efforts immeasurably. The only time it has even the remotest impact is when you physically cannot achieve your desired results without specific pieces…and those situations are exceptionally rare.Jan 15, 2022 at 2:05 pm #3737071
“Don’t fall into that trap; equipment doesn’t matter, and believing that it does will impair your efforts immeasurably. The only time it has even the remotest impact is when you physically cannot achieve your desired results without specific pieces…and those situations are exceptionally rare.”
Er… sorry Bonzo but I don’t agree. My experience: I love to hike the canyons of Utah in the spring and fall. I used to use a simple point and shoot camera. But with the high contrast of deep shadows and bright light in the canyons, many of my pic were unsatisfactory: parts too dark to show details, parts too bright and washed out. But then I bought my RX100 III and learned to use the HDR settings. HUGE difference!!! RX100 did matter, did not impair my efforts (in fact, helped and learned a lot), and it was not a rare situation… in fact, very common for outdoor photography. But I do agree with the intent or your comment: not to expect a better camera to solve everything… but it can actually facilitate you being a better photographer because you spend money on a new toy which inspires you to learn how to learn how to take better pictures…Jan 15, 2022 at 3:19 pm #3737076
Yeah, can’t say that I agree with much in that assessment, DWR…but if you’re doing good work, that’s really all that matters. Problem is, most people aren’t, and as a result there exists a surfeit of technically decent photos with little to no substance. Of course, that’s just my opinion…but I see so much current landscape and outdoor work that is done on cameras that are advanced by multiple generations beyond the equipment of the past, and very little of it is worth having seen. Adams used a Contax III for some of his work. Kenna uses a Holga. I have better cameras than both of them and my landscapes are garbage… especially in comparison to their work. Sure, my shots technically <i>good</i> at times – mostly when I let a camera make a nice picture for me – but they are otherwise completely devoid of merit…but I don’t have a good eye for landscapes, so that’s no surprise, LOL.
Also, just to be clear: I’m not trying to single anyone out or say “You’re doing it wrong!” and point fingers. I give exactly zero f***s what someone carries…but if someone is going to carry something – anything – I would hope that they do so with awareness and purpose, and that they learn to generate good work outside of all equipment. My own path has been one of simplification: I carried an SLR for awhile, and then ditched that for a rangefinder with some bells and whistles. Then I got rid of that and went back to a simpler mechanical model. Eventually I moved past that and picked up a smaller, lighter, stupider point-and-shoot that doesn’t even give me a lens-swap option. My work has gotten better: I’ve learned to move and see with more clarity. Lately, I’ve started carrying paper and a few pencils instead of the camera. The point is this: see well, work well.
And seriously… someone post some work. 👍Jan 15, 2022 at 3:22 pm #3737077
Yes, HDR can be a total game changer. It’s implementation on modern phones is incredible.
Happily some of these capabilities extend themselves to video capture too. Even details in blocked up shadows can be teased out in post. This was filmed with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60, a DJI Osmo Action, and an iPhone XR. Even though the iPhone is a few years old, I think it probably captures the best video out of the three. I’ll be interested to use my 13 Pro this summer.Jan 15, 2022 at 4:02 pm #3737081
Even though the iPhone is a few years old, I think it probably captures the best video out of the three. I’ll be interested to use my 13 Pro this summer.
One of the best portfolios I’ve ever seen was shot on an early-generation iPhone.Jan 15, 2022 at 5:36 pm #3737088JohanBPL Member
I personally think a combo of a DJI Osmo Action, and a Smartphone with at least 2 camera modules, is far more than sufficient for people looking for the lightest weight setup that can handle a huge range of conditions. The phone is free weight, since most people carry it anyway. If you’re proficient with post-processing RAW files they are plenty good for online viewing and some levels of printing. Since some phones can shoot at a native ISO as low as 25 or less, it doesn’t take much effort to stack RAW files to get noise levels at base ISO that actually surpass single-shot full-frame base-ISO RAW images.
The Rx100 though, is a good step up in image quality from most smartphones, and in the photography world, a 10.5 ounce camera is considered a toy compared to even APS-C ILC gear, let alone full frame ILC gear. You don’t even need to use HDR with Sony sensors, as long as you’re shooting at ISO 100 in RAW mode. Even the tiny Sony sensors have enough dynamic range in RAW files to handle surprisingly well in high-contrast scenes.Jan 15, 2022 at 7:07 pm #3737096
Good points, Johan. Personally I add a super-zoom camera because of wanting to film animals. I’m just not going to get usable footage of wild deer, elk, mountain goats, and brown bears with a cell phone. The super zoom also makes for compelling perspective compression shots. But that camera does produce the lowest quality imagery.
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August 4 @ 5:30 PM US MDT: Member Q&A • Backcountry Photography & Cameras
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