Play, Shoot, Travel

What’s In My Bag: Photo Gear for Kalalau

April 30, 2015

There are a lot of logistics involved in planning a backpacking trip, especially when one of the goals of that trip is to take some really great pictures. You’re far from civilization, unable to stock up on supplies you don’t have, and not able to easily charge batteries or empty SD cards.You need to be prepared … but you also need to travel light. You want to carry everything you need but not a single thing that you don’t. It can be tricky.

With all that in mind, here is the list of what is (and what is not) coming with us on our Kalalau Trip. This list is still somewhat evolving but with our flight leaving on Saturday (woohoo!), most things are pretty well set in stone. I hope to come back and do an update post when we return with the things that worked, the things that didn’t, and what we’d do differently next time. I am by no means an expert on this but I have put quite a bit of thought into what I will be bringing – hopefully this can help someone out who is trying to figure this out for themselves.

So without further ado, let’s get to it!


The basics:

Canon 6D – This is the body that I use for most of my shooting. I have lots of thoughts on this camera but that is probably a subject for a different post. For now let’s just say that I adore it.

Canon 24-70 f/2.8L – The best all around lens I own. If I were only bringing one lens, this would be it. But I’m not only bringing one lens. I’m also bringing my  …

Canon 16-35 f/4L – Wide angle, baby!


The accessories:

Singh-Ray LB ColorCombo filter (thin mount) – This is a combo CPL and warming filter/color intensifier. This sucker was not cheap but damn, I love it. It lives on the front of my 24-70 almost all the time.

B+W 6-Stop ND filter – I’d love to bring along a 10-stop ND filter but 6-stops is what I have so that is what is coming with. I often stack this with the ColorCombo and that generally blocks enough light for me.

Lee ND 2-Stop Hard Edge ND Grad filter – This is by far the filter that I have used the least but I’m looking forward to playing with it more.

MeFoto RoadTrip Tripod – When I was looking for a tripod to use on hiking and backpacking trips I knew that I wanted something light, compact, sturdy, and inexpensive. Anyone that has ever tried to buy a tripod knows that those things pretty much never, ever go together. Having said that, the MeFoto Road Trip has met all of these needs pretty well. Sure, there are lighter, sturdier tripods out there but certainly not for under $200! I didn’t have $600+ spend on a hiking tripod. This one is fairly lightweight, gets the job done and the price was definitely right! It’s also super tiny when its all folded up, which is obviously a bonus.

The other stuff:

Anker 14-W portable solar charger – for charging the GoPro, phones, etc. The only thing this thing won’t charge is my SLR batteries which is why I’m bringing …

5 Batteries for the 6D – Dear god, I hope this is enough!

Anker 2ndGen Astro E7 Battery – The solar charger charges this battery which then charges almost everything else.

SmaTree Rapid USB Dual Battery Charger – Plugs in to the Anker battery to charge GoPro batteries.

GoPro accessories – Waterproof housing, various mounts, and the floating handle thingy (that is the technical term for it, I’m sure).

SD Cards – 4 64-gig SD cards plus a couple MicroSDs for the GoPro and an adapter for the micros so that they can be used in the 6D if necessary. All in a Pelican case.

Osprey Aura 50L pack – This is my general backpacking pack. I was needing a new backpacking pack and spent some serious time drooling over the F-Stop Satori EXP but at the end of the day I couldn’t justify the cost. Thanks to my REI dividend and a 20% off coupon, this thing was “free”.

Lens wipes and a microfiber cloth

Headlamps (not pictured) – These would be coming with anyway but they’re worth mentioning because they’re essential for night photography.

Rubber gloves – I have found that the best way to get filters unstuck from eachother is with a pair of rubber gloves. They weigh nothing so they go wherever I do!

Cable shutter release – My 6D pairs wirelessly with my iPhone but to simplify things and avoid draining my phone battery, I’m bringing a cable shutter release along.

Plastic garbage bag – We will be just a few miles from the wettest place on the planet. This will serve many water repellant purposes and weighs nothing.

iPhone – Because I hate math and use ND filters a lot, I use iPhone apps to calculate exposure. They’re awesome and easy. The iPhone is also great for wireless shooting with the 6D and framing shots with the GoPro. Plus, the best camera is the one that’s with you and this one is always with me!

GoPro time lapse robot – My husband has spent the last few weeks building a robot to take time lapse videos with the GoPro. It’s the metal thing on the left in the picture. Whether or not this thing is going to come along (I’m betting that it doesn’t) will depend on how we’re doing on space and weight. If this ends up coming with we will also be bringing a Sunjack battery charger and several reachargeable AA batteries.


Canon 70-200 f/2.8L – This is obviously an awesome lens but the damn thing is heavy and I am but one small-ish woman. This lens is coming to Kauai but it will spend the days that we are on the trail safely checked in with the folks at either the hotel or Kayak Kauai. I may be kicking myself for leaving this behind but, man, I have my limits!

Laptop – This will be hanging out in town with the 70-200. The second we get back to civilization I’ll be dumping all the photos from the SD cards onto it.

SLR chest mounts– I tried both the LowePro Toploader and MountainSmith Zoom. Neither of them worked for me. I have a very short torso and those things both took up a LOT of chest space! But that wasn’t the biggest problem. The biggest problem was that they made it so that I couldn’t see my feet. When you’re hiking 11-miles on a rocky, rugged trail with considerable exposure you need to be able to see where you’re going. Or at least I do. Because I’m a clutz. As of right now my plan is to just have my camera on the strap around my neck and put it in my pack when that doesn’t feel safe. That plan may change if I can come up with a better idea.

This sounds like an awful lot of stuff but I don’t think it should be too bad. The photography gear should weigh in at around 15 pounds and most of the rest of what we are taking won’t be very heavy. Unlike our adventures at home, a schlep on the Kalalau Trail doesn’t require much in the way of warm clothing or sleeping bags. I plan to spend most of this week lounging around in board shorts, a bikini, and loads of SPF 70 – and none of that weighs very much!

I’ll be back with an update on this post and how it all went down gear-wise when we return from our trip. I’m hoping to have good news to report!

[This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase an item from the link above, REI will throw a couple dollars in the tip jar. Thank you for supporting Peak and Pixel!]

You Might Also Like

No Comments

Leave a Reply