South Africa has many beautiful mountain ranges to conquer, from the majestic Magoebaskloof Mountains to the overarching Drakensberg. For photography enthusiasts, hiking these mountains provides a fantastic opportunity for mesmerising new shots.

One of the first lessons to learn when you start hiking is to pack light. Whether embarking on an overnight or day hike, it is crucial to only take with the essentials to lighten your load. If you don’t, chances are you won’t enjoy the journey.

Cameras & Lenses

The camera you take with depends on your skill level and style. If you’re a beginner hiker, a quality action camera like the GoPro HERO 7 Black or compact camera like the Canon PowerShot SX740 HS won’t disappoint.

For hobbyist photographers, a DSLR like the Canon 7D will work great as you can pair your chosen lens with it. Zoom lenses tend to be more practical when hiking and in particular wide-angle lenses like the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM for landscapes. If you’re more into focussing in on birds and other wildlife, a handy telephoto like the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM III will make you proud even though carrying it’s more of a mission.

Don’t forget to take your smartphone. Although exploring the great outdoors often leaves us longing for a world without technology, it’s great for using specialist apps that enhance your gear (like with the Syrp Geni Mini time-lapse device). And, if something goes wrong and you need help, you might regret not taking your phone with (depending on the signal coverage of course).

Batteries

Everyone says it and it’s because they mean it – take with spare batteries! What’s the point going where you’ve never gone before, camera gear and all, and not having enough battery power to take the shot? Keep in mind that in colder weather batteries tend to go down quicker, which may happen as you summit. Perhaps, investing in a solar-powered charger is the answer?

Memory

Take with extra memory cards with enough room for quality images, or even the 2TB Lacie DJI Copilot BOSS USB-C External hard drive if you’re taking the scenic route.

Camera strap

Not only is the Peak Design Ultralight Leash right on trend, but it’s small, flexible and comfortable. Use this mirrorless trap as a sling or neck strap. For heavier DSLRs, the BlackRapid camera strap range excels in comfort and accessibility.

Backpack

Your backpack should be lightweight, comfortable and include a rain cover to protect your gear from rain or the early morning mist. Ideally, it should also have a waistband, chest harness and space for your tripod.

The Lowepro Whistler 350AW II has a waterproof barrier with a drain hole that lets you separate wet gear (like clothes) from the main compartment. It has enough space (and dividers) for a larger kit, some spare clothes and water. The Lowepro Photo Hatchback BP 250 AW II is a versatile backpack that converts from photo to general use and weighs only 900 g! It too has a weather-resistant outer fabric and comes with padded dividers for keeping your gear safe and snug.

Tripod

Carbon fibre is lighter than aluminium. When you’re hiking, even 500 g can make a difference as everything you pack adds up. For sharp, clear photos invest in a lightweight and sturdy carbon fibre photo tripod like the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Travel. It weighs a mere 1.1 kg! For a more affordable option, we recommend the MeFOTO RoadTripd Travel tripod. Even though it’s made from aluminium, it only weighs 1.6 kg and has the added benefit of converting to a full-size monopod.

Cleaning gear

Take with essential cleaning gear like an air blower and microfibre cloth to remove any smudge marks that may ruin your shot.

Nice-to-haves

Other gear you may want to take with include binoculars, a drone if you’re keen on taking aerial footage, compact audio like the RODE VideoMic Go, and even ND/polarising filters to balance light and dark in your landscapes.