My AT Camera Gear: From “Fully Loaded” to “Bare Bones”



There’s no doubt that the gear hype among photographers is just as

mesmerizing, bottomless, and situational as with backpacking gear.

Whether you’ve taken the traditional or ultralight route,

there’s a camera set up out there that’ll meet each of your needs

while still producing amazing content.


With a smaller frame, and injury prone joints, my main focus while preparing for the Appalachian Trail has been keeping the weight in my pack down. That being said, my first attempt at putting a gear list together had me hauling over 5lbs of camera gear. 6lbs if you count the external battery I’d need to carry to keep it charged. I’ve toted that system to it’s fair share of summits over the years, and knew that I wanted to dial it down if it’s going to be living on my back for 4-6 months.

So, I asked myself:

What are my needs?

  • I need something to capture the countless landscapes, adventures, and amazing people I will encounter everyday.
  • I need to be able to set out without pounds of gear holding me down.
  • I need to not worry about my camera gear every time it rains.
  • I need to be able to charge my system without being required to stay in town an entire night.
  • I need  to be able to capture a moment without stepping too far outside of it.

“Without stepping too far outside of it?” 

What I mean by that, is that I want to be able to capture a moment while still being lost in it. I don’t want to lose that dreamy thought process a new experience brings to start configuring my camera settings. I don’t want to change everyone’s demeanor with the sound of a shutter, or to replace my spot within the circle with a big ass lens. If you’re into any kind of candid or lifestyle photography, you know what I’m talking about. There’s definitely a kind of perspective that you get from being the observer, but that doesn’t feel like my place this time around.

After following that thought process, I first decided to try a more compact setup. The Sony RX100 IV field tests were fun, produced great results, and definitely lightened the load compared to a DSLR. Still, the thought of carrying the protective cases, SD cards, card readers, cords, extra batteries, and the extra time in town to keep it charged felt like too much to keep track of.

So, if a compact system still feels like “too much”, what will I be using?

Moment Lenses

“Dude, that’s it?”

Yep. That’s it.

There’s a lower grade sensor, less megapixels, and a questionable aperture, but put a high quality eyeball on your phones camera and you’ll get some pretty surprising results. I mean, even with larger systems, it’s all about dat glass.

Moment Wide Lens

Considering the growing hype around the Moment lenses, I’ll mention that I purchased these myself. When I saw the footage that Dixie was able to get on her thru hike of the PCT this year, I was blown away. I wanted to see what I could do with them. They have been so fun to play with, feel solid in your hands, and weigh mere ounces all together. It’ll feel strange at first, but I’m sure that any quality lost in my photos will be gained through a peace of mind, a lighter pack, and a new creative curve based on working with the bare minimum and the present moment.

Taken using the Moment Macro lens.

Even with the fanciest gear, we run into scenes where the photos we take just “don’t do it justice.”

Yet, we still take the shot.

Even when we can’t recreate what we see with our own two eyes,

 a photo will bring back to that moment.


While hiking the Appalachian Trail, where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with, and how I’m feeling will be changing on a daily basis. I’ll be living outside of almost every thought process, comfort zone, and habit that I have. It only makes sense to change the way I pursue my passion as well.


We’re officially walking for water. Check out our campaign over at Charity: Water.

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Comments 2

  • Holly : Jan 10th

    Thanks for this post, Kelsy! I am definitely going to look into Moment lenses for my Colorado Trail Thru Hike this summer. Which 3 lenses did you purchase? I see three listed on their website and am just wondering what you ended up going with!

    • Kelsy Filler : Jan 10th

      Hey Holly! I can’t wait to see the shots you get on the Colorado Trail! Definitely one of the next trails on our list.

      I ended up choosing their wide lens, macro lens, and telephoto lens. I really love them so far. The macro is definitely my favorite because it feels like you’re attaching a literal microscope to your phone. I’ve just been running around taking pictures of every flower and bug I come across, hahaha.


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