The spring Texas Landscape Safari is less than eight weeks away and weather should be perfect for some great shooting in the Hill Country at the end of April. After a cold and wet winter all the rivers should be flowing freely and the waterfalls should be in the best shape we’ve seen in the past five years.
As the TLS draws near most folks like to know what kind of gear to bring and how much weight they can comfortably carry. This is especially true if these folks are new to the Texas Hill Country.
So here is a list of what I pack for a typical day hike and shoot.
- Canon 5D Mark II with EF 24-105mm f/4L zoom attached.
- Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L zoom with lens hood.
- Singh-Ray CP, Vari-ND & ND Grad filters.
- Black Rapid R-Strap & Clips.
- Bubble level, CF cards, lens cloths.
- Garmin Dakota 20 GPS on one strap.
- Motorola MR350 Two Way Radio on the other strap.
- Emergency Thermal Mylar Blanket.
- Hiker’s First Aid Kit.
- LED Flashlight & Hunting Knife.
- Emergency Food & Lots of Water.
- Trail Snacks (for energy).
- Gitzo Traveller Tripod & RRS Ballhead strapped to the bottom of the pack.
This much gear weighs in a little under 20 lbs and fits comfortably in my Moose Peterson designed MP-7 pack. The nice thing is, the weight decreases during the hike as I consume my water supply and trail snacks.
I caution folks about carrying too much weight in their packs. I’ve done these hikes and climbs several times in the past few years and every extra ounce of weight you carry takes that much more energy. When you’re out shooting in nature, the last thing you need to be thinking about is how sore your lower back is from carrying all that gear.
In fact, during the summer and fall TLS I generally carry only one lens (24-105mm) on my 5D2 and a few filters in my pockets. I load my pack up with as much water as I can carry along with some apples for energy. One thing I tell all my attendees; if it’s a choice between a lens or a bottle of water, always take the water. The Texas sun can be a relentless companion in the Hill Country and folks that don’t respect its strength soon find themselves dehydrated and exhausted. Not a great combination for a nature photographer.
Good advice Jeff, I even keep those kinds of supplies in the car. It is an old Alaska trick and the winter news at least once a year here in the NW proves it to be a good thing to do. The flowers this year should be fantastic with all the water you have had this winter, should be a really great trip.
Great post Jeff. I was wondering about the emergency supplies on your list. Have you ever had to dip into those for any reason? I’ve never thought to carry those when I head out but I’m thinking maybe I should!
Thanks Sabrina. No, I’ve never needed to use the emergency rations or the thermal blanket (Thank the Lord) but they add so little weight to my pack and offer so much protection that I carry them with me all the time. I have needed to dip into my reserve water supply several times when hiking in the summer. I’ve also used my first aid kit more times than I care to admit after slipping on rocks and scraping my arms or legs. Like the radio and GPS, my other emergency supplies are insurance against the day that the weather turns really bad during a hike and I can’t make it back to my car before dark. I hope it never happens, but if it does, I know I’ll survive to see my wife and four daughters again.