My Gear: Part 2

The Tech

My last gear post covered some of the big essentials: pack, tent, and sleep setup. For this one, we’re going smaller, getting into the various tech things that come with me on the trail.

The Photography Gear

Up first is a set that a lot of people may find utterly impractical when every ounce matters. Can my phone take good photos? Yes. Does it come backpacking with me? Yes. Do I use it to take photos while backpacking? Yes. Do I still carry a traditional camera with me anyway? You guessed it…yes.

The Camera

I have multiple cameras, but the one most likely coming with me on the High Sierra Trail is a Canon EOS R6 Mark II. It’s a mirrorless camera, which unsurprisingly means there is no mirror inside the camera body like there is in a DSLR. The camera body itself weighs in at around 2lbs with its memory cards and battery in place — definitely not ultralight, but a lot lighter than some cameras out there, plus it’s small enough that I can shoot it one-handed if the situation calls for it.


My precioussss

Yes, there are many lighter and smaller cameras out there, but I like this one, at least for the time being. Also, if I decided to look outside the Canon ecosystem at this point it would be a very effortful and probably expensive endeavor, since I would have to swap out lenses and other components.

The Lens

Which brings us to the lens. While I have a lot of lenses, I often just take one backpacking: a 24-105mm f4 zoom lens. I find this one has enough flexibility and range to cover most scenarios I encounter, and just having the one means I don’t have to deal with switching lenses.

The Rest

Accessories-wise, I usually have one or two macro extension tubes, which extend a normal lens to give it better macro capabilities. I sometimes carry a polarizing filter and/or other lens filters, some basic cleaning equipment when I remember to grab it, and of course memory cards and batteries. While on the trail, the camera and attached lens live in a Hyperlite camera pod, which happens to a) perfectly fit my setup and b) perfectly fit into the side pocket of my backpack (a Granite Gear Blaze 60). I can get at it easily if I need to, and in the meantime it’s out of the way and protected.


One of the macro tubes in action • Palo Alto, 2021 • photo by me

I’ve developed and tweaked this setup over many years, and while it may not work for everyone, it works well for me. If any other photographers are reading this, I’d love to hear about your rig!

The Phone

Ah yes, the aforementioned phone that takes good photos. I have an iPhone 12 Pro, several models old by now but which still suits my purposes just fine. In addition to various photography apps (shoutout especially to Camera+ and Spectre), I also use CalTopo (for navigation), the Garmin messaging app (for communicating with the civilized world), and PictureThis (for plant identification) as my main backpacking companion apps. Also, of course, the alarm clock, for when I decide to torture myself by getting up in the dark at some hellishly-early hour to go watch the sunrise.


I almost fell in the stream taking this • Shenandoah National Park, 2022 • photo by me

The Garmin

My Garmin inReach Mini is named Clare, after Clare Hodges, a trailblazing National Park Service ranger from back in the day when park rangering wasn’t really a thing that women did. For my birthday recently, my dad gave me a new and improved Garmin inReach Mini 2. This one will still be Clare; it’s a whole Dread Pirate Roberts situation.

My dad also has an inReach, although we may or may not have both of them along for the HST. His is named Bob, after the autopilot on the sailboat we used to live on, and the spirit of Bob similarly moves from one physical device to the next as upgrades occur.


Clare 1.0

The Kindle

This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a Kindle. It has books on it. I read them. The noteworthy bit is that my Kindle is twelve years old (I don’t know if anyone else will actually find that noteworthy, but I think it’s cool when people manage to keep their devices for a long time in our age of planned obsolescence and constant upgrades).

The Batteries and Cords

Gotta keep all the other stuff going! I carry an Anker battery pack and short cables for charging the aforementioned phone, Garmin, and Kindle. Sadly, my camera batteries are not USB-rechargeable, so I just have to carry around a bunch of those.

The Solar Panel

A different sort of tech than the others on this list, but one that can enable the others. We first deployed this fun little addition on the Uinta Highline Trail, strapping it to the top of a pack to charge as we hiked (as long as we were hiking in the sun, anyway). The charge the solar panel gathers can then be used to charge our battery packs, which in turn charge the rest of the gadgets and gizmos. For short trips this may not be necessary, but for longer ones it’s very handy being able to recharge en route, as opposed to having to carry enough battery packs to last the whole trip.


Apparently I don’t have any close-up photos of the solar panel • Uinta Highline Trail, 2021 • photo by me

My Dad’s Stuff

We have a lot overlap in our gear; most of what I’ve listed above is stuff that either we share or he has his own as well. In addition to the aforementioned, he also has a Garmin Fenix 6 GPS watch. I hear it has all kinds of nifty features and stats it can show you.

Up Next

But wait, there’s more! As we get closer to the trip, we’ll start to dial in our strategies for things like clothes and food, so stay tuned for those gear lists later on. There are also other miscellaneous things that will come along, like the first aid and fire starter kits. So much fun gear to play with!


Feature image: Shenandoah National Park, 2022 • photo by my dad

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