Gear

Photography

I take my Canon EOS 6D full-frame camera on most day walks, with a Canon 24-105mm F4L lens. Where possible, I also pack my Canon 17-40mm F4.0L and Sigma 70-200m F2.8 lens. For family holidays where I’m not just hiking, I’ve recently added the Canon 28-300mm F3.5-5.6L, which is too heavy to take on a hike at 1.6kg – but it’s a great all-round travel lens and I’m surprised how infrequently I see this lens. I’ve also added the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 Contemporary (which just won out over the Canon 100-400mm L4.5-5.6L and the Sport version, which is much heavier) – it proved to be perfect for wildlife photography on my recent trip too Namibia.

I’ve added a much maligned drone to my photography arsenal, the DJI Mavic Pro (as it folds up neatly and is easy to add to one of my camera bags). I’m still learning how to get the best photos, but it enables a very different perspective. Unfortunately, there are both negative attitudes towards drones and limitations to their use in many national parks: to date I’ve taken a very pragmatic approaching, using it when there’s no-one around to use bother and no  wildlife to disturb.

Depending on how many lenses I take, they fit into a LowePro Mini Trekker AW (now discontinued) bag or the larger Flipside 500AW. Alternatively, if I’m hiking and need space for both a camera and extra lens + food and water, the f-stop have a range of camera bags that take different shaped inserts (the “Guru” bag with a Small Pro Internal Compartment Unit” allows for the camera gear plus space for food, drinks and spare clothing). Both bags have been used and abused for many years and still work well. If you’re looking for a bag there are many options on the market – make sure there is a sturdy waist belt, as this makes a big difference when hiking.

On overnight walks when every kilogram counts, I’ve gone through a few compact cameras over the years, and have settled (for now) on the Sony DC-RX100 III. It hasn’t got as large a focal range as other compacts I’ve owned, but it has  1″ CMOS sensor (the biggest for this size camera; the Canon GX7 II is very similar) and a 24-70mm equivalent F1.8-2.8 Zeiss lens (a quality lens that works well in low light). There are later and more expensive models (IV and V) – they have the same lens and sensor, so I don’t see the point of spending more on a secondary camera.

I have started always shooting RAW (I didn’t for many years) – it provides a lot more flexibility when post-processing in Lightroom, especially with photos that contain a large tonal range.

Technology

I use the Routie app on my iPhone and Pebble watch. It’s simple but lets me look at speed and distance on my watch, and review track route and statistics later on my notebook. I’ve just downloaded the Alltrails app and will give this a go on my next long hike. There are some pretty cool things you can do with any of these apps, by importing the “KML” file (gps coordinates) into Google maps.

If I need extra power on a longer walk I’ll take a Roamproof SOS 20K portable solar battery. It’s a little on the heavy side, but has the benefit that it will slowly charge from the sun while I walk.

On more remote walks, the ResQLink+ Personal Locator Beacon gets packed – hopefully I’ll never have to use it!

Hiking

dsc00297-lrI try and carry as little as I can on day hikes – a camera bag (see above) or a small 9L day-pack that I can take with me overseas in a bigger pack. I always travel overseas with only cabin luggage if I can.

I’ve still got a lot of hiking gear bought in my younger days when I had time to do longer hikes.

I replaced my overnight backpack with a Kathmandu 75L “Vardo X-Pac” a few years ago. I’ve only used it once (so far), but I’ve had issues with a few different Kathmandu products and won’t be buying anything from them again. An old MSR stove and set of pots is now looking rather worn and I’m looking around for what to replace them with, if anyone has any suggestions…?

A 20+ year-old North Face 2-person tent has lasted well. I’ve recently added a new ultra-light tent, the Big Sky Soul 1P tent (weighs just over 1kg) from Backpacking Light in Melbourne, who were very helpful.

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