I consider myself a pretty light hearted guy but there is a couple of things I do take seriously, namely my photography and outdoor equipment. These are the two things I completely rely upon when I’m out in the field and need to be able to trust, particularly when I’m days away from civilisation. Concerning my hiking and outdoor essentials, I’m honoured to have recently partnered with the Australian owned and operated Mountain Designs who are very supportive of the work I’m doing. Fresh back from New Zealand, here is a brief review of some of the gear I took over with me as I got amongst the almighty mountains of the South Island.
I’ll be honest, hiking as a photographer kinda sucks. Carrying food, water, clothing and shelter up a mountain is one thing but throwing in a few extra kilos of oddly shaped cameras, lenses and tripods is straight up burdensome. Thankfully, technological advancements are helping shed the weight off the essentials meaning when it comes to hiking bags, you don’t necessarily have to sacrifice too much size.
I’ve learned the hard way about cramming too much gear into a small pack so the 75L Surmount is a bag I’ve found great to use from single to multi day hikes. Water resistant, a comfy hip belt, multiple pockets and 3 internal access points makes this pack a great all rounder and perfect for storing various items and camera equipment. Shooting time lapses as well as stills, I generally travel with two camera bodies and 3 lenses which fit fine in this pack along with all my other gear.
A few general tips: When packing your bag, the key is to have a balanced load. Keep your heaviest items just above the middle of your bag closer to your back. Keep your lighter gear toward the bottom and frequently needed items (such as camera and snacks) should be up the top or in the side pockets. Consider packing your side pockets first before your inside equipment takes up the room. Emergency equipment should be kept in a safe and easily accessible compartment. Ensure your hip belt is fitted correctly and nice and firm as your hips should bear most of the weight, not your shoulders.
Let’s face it, nobody wants a bad nights sleep, for this reason your sleeping bag is something you really don’t want to skimp on. Two things I want in a bag is warmth and also something light weight and compact. the Large Travelite 360 ticks all the boxes and blew away my previous excuse of a bag.
Coming in just at 1kg and very compact, it was a pleasure hopping inside this down bag each night particularly as the outside temps began to reach 0 degrees, it was certainly the place to be. The ventilation zips came in handy as I woke up on two occasions surprisingly warm and the down can also be adjusted to suit conditions however I fell back to sleep before needing to do that. When it comes to packing, I use to dread rolling up my old bag but this little guy is almost a pleasure to re-pack as it compresses easily and fits snug inside the compression sack.
Whether it’s laziness or plain stupidity, I’m notorious for underdressing when it comes to the cold. This trip I was determined to be different and with my first decent down jacket I was well prepared. I’m going to straight out say that I love the Bern Down Jacket, we connected straight away and had a special bond like two old high-school friends. Ultra light, compact and super toasty, we were virtually inseparable for the entirety of the trip. Coupled with some Super Dry base layers, I’ve never been more comfortable on a hike and when out shooting in cold climates.
If you follow my Snapchat you’ll know that I have an obsessions with coffee, so one thing I also love about this gear is that it’s eco friendly with ethically sourced duck down with a percentage of the down made from recycled coffee beans. Win!