For nature and landscape photographers we are inspired by the outdoors. This means, for most of us, our love of photography was initiated by the love of "gods country". This could be that we first fell in love with hunting and fishing or maybe camping and hiking. Either way it's safe to say if you are a nature photographer you should have a connection with nature. One of the best ways to immerse ourselves in nature is camping, but being miserable will often produce miserable images. This weeks post I will discuss some of my favorite camping gear that could potentially improve your photography. In order for me to make wonderful images, I need to be as comfortable as possible. This means I have to have a stable body temperature, be well rested, mostly dry, and food in my stomach. I basically have to be "mostly comfortable". Now I use the term mostly, because it's inevitable that we will run into cold or hot temperatures. We'll get rained on, we'll be wading in rivers or lakes, laying in mud, fingers will feel like they are freezing off, or the hunger bug will strike. To help battle these conditions, here is a list of camping gear that will keep us "mostly comfortable" in the backcountry.
1) Number one for me has to be sleep. I only sleep about 6 hours a night anyways, but if I don't get that, I turn into Mr. cranky pants. In order for me to get a good nights sleep in the backcountry, I have to have my Big Ag. Insul. Q-Core Pad. This is the most comfortable backpacking sleeping pad I've tried. It's 3.5 inches thick, It packs up to the size of a water bottle, it has an R value of 5, it's worth it's weight in gold, and did I say it's comfortable? This will keep you in a deep slumber and not drive your hips or shoulders into the ground!
2) After sleep, I need to have food and water. If I don't, it usually leads to headaches and me being unmotivated. To do this I use a MSR WhisperLite Universal Stove. This stove can use most any kind of fuel. The most common are the little propane fuel bottles and white gas. The fact it can use different fuels is great because when traveling by air, you have to leave your fuel at home. This requires you to get fuel at your destination and leaves you at the mercy of the local camping or hardware store. It can even use unleaded gasoline!
For a water filtration system I use the Platypus GravityWorks Filter. This filter is awesome because it filters and stores large amounts of water in a relatively short amount of time. It comes with 2-4 liter bags. One for dirty water and the other for filtered water. Once you filter your first batch of water, you then can fill the dirty water reservoir again and head back to camp. This gives you 8 liters of water for your campsite. I also carry a Platypus Hoser 3.0L Reservoir for my backpack. When I fill that up and head back to camp, I have an amazing, eleven liters of water!
3) Warmth and overall comfort. This means using quality outerwear, like the Arcteryx Theta AR Jacket which will block the wind and keep you dry, even in the most extreme of weather conditions. A lightweight quality sleeping bag like the Sierra Designs Arrow Rock 15 Degree 600 Fill Down Sleeping Bag , will keep warm and toasty during the chilly nights. A good pair of Mountain Hardwear Mens Mesa Convertible Pant, will keep you warm in the early morning hours, and then you can zip off the legs for a comfortable afternoon hike!
All of these little conveniences will allow us to stay in nature longer, all the while being comfortable! I think camping gear is often overlooked. We sometimes spend thousands of dollars on a camera body or lens, but we don't have the things to provide us with food, water, warmth, and sleep. Not only will this keep us happier, it will allow us to immerse ourselves in the places we need to be to make wonderful nature imagery!