What’s in Your Backpack


The other day I was reading a post about what camera lens (lenses) nature photography types carry in their bags. (See Graf Nature Photography). So I thought I’d expand on that idea a bit and just rummage through the ol’ backpack and see what sorts of things we find in there.

I have a Lowepro pack that is several years old. It has held up really well for me. It isn’t real big cause I like to travel light if possible. It does the job for day hikes – too small really for multi-day type treks.

OK, let’s see. On top I have the camera of coarse – a Nikon D200 digital. I usually carry it around with a 35 – 70mm lens attached. Stuffed next to it I have a 19mm wide angle lens and a 2X tele-extender for some variety. Right now on the other side I have a 70 – 300mm lens. I don’t use this lens very much so it is the first thing I jetison on hot summer days when I need space for more drinks.

Digging down a bit we find a little case with close up lenses. I call these things diopters, but I’ve heard them called all sorts of things. They look like clear filters that you screw onto your lens. They let me turn my ‘normal’ lens into a macro. There are three of varying strengths that can be stacked to multiply the effect.

Ah, but what’s this? I have ditched one of the diopters and replaced it with a gradient filter. Gradient filters darken one portion of the frame to help balance light in situations like say a view from a mountain top with dark pines covering the slopes below but bright sunny sky above. The gradient darkens the sky portion of the frame so that the camera can handle the entire scene without blowing out the sky or losing the trees in darkness.

In the top flap of the bag is a pouch that I use for plastic bags. I always carry a couple of zip lock freezer bags. Sometimes I’m out wandering around and it starts to rain. Rain ain’t good for the camera. So I put a plastic bag around the camera body and I let the end of the lens stick out the opening. Then I zip the bag tight around the lens barrel. Sort of a poor man’s waterproof case.

I also carry garbage bags. Unfortunately many people find trashing the woods to be a satisfying experience. This kind of thing really chaps my hide. Sometimes I collect up all the cans, bottles, food wrappers, and articles of clothing and haul them out so that others aren’t subjected to the same eyesore.


I use the pocket on the front of the pack for small sundries. In here I always carry my notebook and a couple pens for writing down stray thoughts. As my body wanders through the woods, so my mind wanders who knows where. My memory is way bad so I like to write my thoughts down. Let’s see…lens cleaner and papers, ow! – hunting knife, bug repellent, waterproof matches, compass, space blanket, topo maps, extra memory card – that’s about it.

Hanging from a ring on the side is my GPS dealie. This thing is fun to play with, but I don’t ever rely on it for navigation. It is too much of a hassle to use properly and the signal down deep in the woods (where it is needed most) is pretty non-existent. I rely on my own sense of direction and in unfamiliar territory; my compass and topo maps.

Finally there is empty space. Places to put food and drink mostly. I know that real hiker types carry vitamin enriched power bars and specially formulated re-hydrating drinks. I, on the other hand, carry a couple cans of pop (or soda or “coke” depending on which part of the country you are from) with which I wash down Ho-Hos and chocolate bars. Yum.



Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “What’s in Your Backpack”

  1. fencer Says:

    Thanks for this…

    Nice to understand how you get around in the woods and take those great photographs. Another couple of very interesting ones…


  2. forestrat Says:

    I just realized that I forgot to mention another thing that is always in my pack – a polarizing filter. Actually I have one for every lens. I forgot about it because I use them so often that they become part of the lenses.

  3. Bernie Kasper Says:

    I carry way too much Mark, hope you have a great Thanksgiving today :)

  4. Mark Says:

    WHAT??! You have an empty space for food or drink? I am completely jealous. I also carry garbage bags – for similar reasons of hauling out any trash I might find, as well as emergency rain covers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: