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20 Essential Landscape & Outdoor Photography Gear Suggestions

We list the 20 essential items every landscape or outdoor photographer needs when getting ready to head off up a mountain or to explore the countryside in pursuit of a stunning photo.

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Seascape

 

The saying goes: 'There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad preparation so we don't really have an excuse to not venture outside even if rain's forecast to fall from the sky! After all, you can capture some cracking moody weather shots if you do brave the elements. On the flip side, a sunny day with lovely blue skies can be just as rewarding, too, even if your kit bag will have slightly different items in it. 

Talking of kit bags, what do you actually need to pack when you're heading out for a photography hike/walk? Well, the first step is to get the 'essential gear' down to a weight that's manageable so, for example, you may have a great full-size tripod but realistically, it'll be a pain to carry up a mountain so you might want to swap it out for something lighter and more compact. You then need to remember to leave room for food, water, first aid, suncream...all the small items that take up quite a bit of room when you start adding them to your camera bag (which is another item you need to think a bit more carefully about, too). 

 

Scotland Highlands

 

To help you create a checklist for your next photography walk out in one of our glorious National Parks, we've put together our own suggestions on what we'd pack, what we'd secure the items into (type of backpack) and the clothing we consider essential.

Now, you'll notice we link through to various other sites from this article so you can learn more about the items featured and, if you like, make a purchase. ePHOTOzine is supported by you, our audience, and when you make a purchase through the links we feature on-site, we may earn affiliate revenue. It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these affiliate links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

Right, the checklist...

 

Bonus Tip: Do Your Research

Boats on Holy Island

 

We know this isn't something that will go in your camera bag but it's really important that you do your research before heading off with your photography gear. A quick Google of where you want to go will bring up walks, photos captured by other photographers and maybe even tips on the best time to visit. AllTrails is a great website for finding walks as is the Ordnance Survey website where you can discover walking routes as well as purchase maps to help you plan your trips. ePHOTOzine's Gallery is also bursting with inspiration with photos captured right up and down the UK, from coast to countryside, and you can search for specific locations using the tags options.

 

1. A Good Backpack Designed For Photographers

Sedona Wanderlust Backpack

Above: Vanguard Sedona Wanderlust Backpack

 

Investing in a high-quality camera backpack will ensure your camera gear is safe and it'll also last you for years to come so they're a worthwhile buy, even if they're not an inexpensive item. You want a strong, well-made camera bag that's water-resistant, has a good amount of padding in the straps/on the back for comfort and internal dividers will keep camera gear secure. If you have a separate section for personal items, all the better and having multiple access points can be useful so you don't have to remove all of your kit to get to a specific item. Waist straps are useful for added comfort when walking and a side strap for fastening a tripod to will mean your hands remain kit-free. We've reviewed many camera bags over the years but Vanguard has created some of our favourites with the Vanguard VEO T 45M being one of the latest we've put to the test which has room for a DSLR or large mirrorless, and up to 5 extra lenses, plus accessories.

 

 

2. DSLR Vs Mirrorless Camera

Nikon D6

Above: Nikon D6

 

This is a debate that will rumble along forever and there are pros and cons to choosing either style of camera but whichever type you choose, a weather-resistant model would be beneficial. If weight/size is a main concern, mirrorless cameras will win but if you own a DSLR, don't think you need to run out and make a new purchase for your landscape trips as the best camera is always the one that's with you (which might even be a smartphone for some people). 

You might want to consider purchasing a rain cover, too, but invest in a heavy-duty one that's well made as cheaper ones tend to be no better than a clear zip sandwich bag! 

For more tips on choosing a digital camera, have a read of this: Top Essential Tips On Choosing And Buying A Digital Camera

Another camera option would be to pack a drone to capture angles that just aren't possible when you're tethered to the ground. Various drones are available now with some able to fold neatly into a camera bag alongside lenses and accessories. 

Find Your Perfect Camera Today

 

3. Landscape Lens Choices

Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM lens

Above: Sony FE 24mm f/1.4 GM lens

 

Investing in quality glass is always worthwhile so if you can, spend the pounds. You then have to decide if you want to use prime or zoom lenses (or both)? We have a great article that talks through the positives and negatives of both options but lens choice is subjective and every photographer will have their own reasons for choosing either a zoom or prime lens. You won't need to carry quite as many lenses if you pack a zoom that goes from a wide-ish focal length to something much longer but then again, packing a wide-angle prime can make you work harder for your photo, moving your feet and taking the time to consider the composition. 

We'd recommend the following lens types: Wide-Angle Zoom, Mid/Standard Zoom and a Telephoto Zoom. 

Find The Perfect Lens For Landscape Photography

 

4. You'll Need A Tripod

Vanguard VEO 3T+ 264CB

Above: Vanguard VEO 3T+ 264CB

 

Choosing a tripod to take with you on your photography walk can be a bit tricky as depending on where you're going, what distance you'll be travelling and how long you'll be out for will change your tripod choice. Full-size tripods are great as they tend to offer the most stability and are really well constructed. However, they tend to be on the heavier side and aren't always ideal for long hikes. Travel tripods are lighter, more compact and offer more versatility but aren't always quite as sturdy as a full-size model (not that they'll fall down if a breeze blows through). 

When deciding on a tripod to take with you, you'll need to consider:

Size - If you're travelling a long distance and want to stow the tripod for part of the journey, being able to fit it in, or onto, a backpack will be a key feature. You can actually get tripods that compact down to 30cm or less, which will easily fit into a hiking rucksack.

Weight - Depending upon how much walking you do, the weight of your tripod will be more or less important to you. However, always aim for the highest ratio of weight to load. In other words, look for the lightest tripod rated for the highest weight. Outdoors are often rough environments and every pound counts. 

Compactness - Tripods with lots of leg sections tend to be longer when folded, so this is something to bear in mind if the overall length is a factor. Some tripods fold their legs upwards, encasing the head, further shaving inches off the length. Look at how the tripod folds when choosing.

Flexible Design - Look for interchangeable feet, tilting centre columns and ball heads to enable you to take pretty much any terrain and scene on. A tripod that comes with additional spiked feet is recommended as you will often end up on loose soil, dirt, and other surfaces that will be uneven and require sharp spikes to secure the tripod, and attached gear. You can buy spare spiked feet from manufacturers if you don't have any.

Find Your Ideal Tripod 

 

5. Lens Filters

Landscape and Water

 

Some may call it 'old-fashioned' but we say camera lens filters are tried and tested methods that you can rely on for creating amazing effects, you just need to learn how to use them correctly. 

There are many questions such as 'square vs round?', 'what filter size do I need?' and 'will I need a stepping ring?' all of which we've answered in our epic guide to filters where we share 45 top tips on using camera lens filters in photography but the filters which are essential for landscape photography are:

Polarising Filter - A polarising filter can be used to minimise reflections off water/wet rocks and you can also use this filter to deepen blue skies. 

ND Filters - ND filters can be used to capture images of various subjects but their over-arching use is to reduce the amount of light that reaches your camera's sensor. This is particularly useful when you want to produce the popular blurry, soft-like waterfall images.

ND Grad Filters Neutral Density Graduated Filters (or ND Grads for short) are extremely useful filters that can vastly improve landscape images where both the land and sky are present in the shot. With graduated ND filters, the ND effect of the filter is only used on roughly one-half of the filter so you can use them to balance the exposure of an image with a bright sky and darker landscape. 

UV/IR/Protector Filter - UV, or ultraviolet filters, absorb ultraviolet rays that you can't physically see but can make landscape photos hazy and indistinct while the IR filter blocks infra-red rays. The filter is especially useful if your camera does not have a built-in IR filter on the sensor.

You can also purchase protector filters that are designed to be completely clear, with no UV or IR light-blocking properties. The filter protects the front element of the lens from scratches, dirt, water and other foreign matter, and can also make it easier to keep your lens clean, as you can simply remove the filter and clean that instead of the lens. It is best to pay a little more for a good UV filter; multi-coated ones are designed to help maximise light transmission. 

Buy Lens Filters On Amazon UK*

 

6. Multiple Memory Cards

Sandisk Extreme 128GB, Class 10, U3, V30, 150MB/s

Above: Sandisk Extreme 128GB, Class 10, U3, V30, 150MB/s - £18 on Amazon UK

 

You can buy various types of memory cards nowadays which have different read/write speeds and come in a variety of sizes. Some photographers use just one or two large memory cards while others opt to use several smaller ones so if something did go wrong, they wouldn't lose all of their images.  Whatever method you choose, we suggest you have different compartments for full and empty memory cards so you know which are which and always transfer your images onto your computer to a backup drive when you get home. It's also a good idea to format memory cards when you've removed the images you want off of them. 

 Have a look at some of the following if you want more information on memory cards:

Buy Memory Cards On Amazon UK*

 

7. Take Your Smartphone 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

Above: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G

 

You probably won't be without your smartphone anyway but it's on our list as they have a multitude of users with the obvious being you can contact help should you need it. You can also download various useful apps and if you want to capture a quick snap, edit it in something like Snapseed and get it on Instagram quickly, your smartphone will be a very handy tool. You also have access to maps for help with routes. 

Find The Perfect Smartphone For Photographers

 

8. Consider Using A Map

Ordnance Survey Maps

Above: Ordnance Survey Map*

It may seem archaic to some but you can still purchase and use paper maps, and a compass, for navigation and they can be particularly useful when you're venturing to areas where phone signal might be weak. Another option is to make use of an Ordnance Survey Map* which can be used on iOS, Android and via your web browser, so you can plan your route at home and take it with you on your smartphone. Plus, you can download the maps so you can view them even when you don't have a mobile signal. 

There are over 500,000 routes to choose from or you can create and record your own when out capturing your landscape photos. 

Subscriptions* are available in One Month, One Year or a Year subscription format that auto-renewals and prices start at £3.99 for a month's membership which is ideal for when you're planning on heading out on a one-off hike with your camera. There's also a 7-day free trial available. 

Visit The Ordnance Survey Website*

 

*It doesn't cost you anything extra when you use these links, but it does support the site, helping keep ePHOTOzine free to use, thank you.

 

9. Always Make Room For A First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit

You won't realise how important it is to carry plasters and other first aid items until you need one halfway up a mountain as a blister is making your life hell! You can purchase hiking specific first aid kits but a basic one should do just fine. We'd also recommend taking blister specific plasters as they're a godsend! 

Buy A First Aid Kit From Amazon UK*

 

10. A Head Torch Is Useful For Sunrise/Sunset Photography

Coast

 

If you're planning on photographing a sunrise, you're going to be up before the sun is (obviously) so you'll need something to illuminate your way. A torch on your phone, or a handheld torch, might seem OK to use but when you're tackling uneven terrain, you're going to want to keep your hands free so having a torch you can wear on your head will be ideal. You can also have a lot of fun using them for light painting, too. 

Buy A Head Torch From Amazon UK*

 

11. Always Carry Spare Batteries

Sony Alpha 1 ILCE-1 & Battery

Above: Sony Alpha 1 ILCE-1 & Battery

 

They're small so don't take up too much room but you'll be glad you have spares should you find you need them. If it's cold, keep them warm in an inside pocket if you can as cold batteries will lose their charge quicker. 

Buy Camera Batteries From Amazon UK*

 

12. Sun Protection Is Important

Sunset

 

Even on days when it doesn't feel warm, UV levels can be high so it's important to slap on the sunscreen before heading out and always make sure you have a bottle with you that has a good Factor level. 

Buy Sunscreen From Amazon UK*

 

13. Hats & Gloves For Sun & Snow

 Bassdash WintePro Insulated Fishing Gloves

Above: Bassdash WintePro Insulated Fishing Gloves

 

Don't forget your extremities! In winter, a fleece hat or similar - especially if it can cover your ears - will work wonders, and although gloves seem awkward when using cameras, it is important to keep your hands warm somehow. Either fingerless gloves or those with a flap that can be pulled over your fingers – (mitten style) can be good, but remember, fleece or wool gloves will get saturated and cold if it's wet. So waterproof gloves are also worth considering. In the warmer months, a sun hat will be exchanged for your woolly number, keeping the sun's warmth off the top of your head. 

Buy Gloves From Amazon UK*

 

14. Food & Water

ThermoCafé by Thermos Stainless Steel Flask, Blue, 1 L

Above: ThermoCafé by Thermos Stainless Steel Flask, Blue, 1L

 

If you're planning to be out for a few hours, leave room in your camera bag for some food and drink. Take some high-energy foods, a good sandwich, cereal bars, fruit (bananas release energy quickly) and even chocolate won't do you any harm either. If you have room for a small flask, tea/coffee or even soup will give you a boost and don't forget to pack a bottle of water to keep you hydrated. So you can keep your bum dry, you might want to strap a sit-mat to the outside of your camera bag or even a gardening kneeling pad will do. 

Shop Flasks On Amazon UK*

 

15. Base Layers

Men's Beru Overhead Base Layer Top Ash Black

 

In Winter, a few layers of thinner clothing will trap more heat than a single, thick coat, and looser clothing will trap more warm air than a load of tight layers. A base layer that's designed to wick away moisture from the body is a good place to start, add a second layer, pop on a fleece then a windproof/weatherproof layer on top of it all and you'll be ready to face the elements.

In the warmer months, layers are still a good idea as you can add/remove them easily but you won't need quite as many and a slightly thinner coat will probably do. 

Remember, when you're out walking, activity generates a good deal of warmth, so a 6-mile walk in cold weather may only need moderately warm clothing. Photography, on the other hand, often means hanging around waiting for the light, composing pictures etc., and this lack of activity can mean you get colder more quickly, so it's really important to dress well for the conditions.

Shop Regatta Base Layers*

 

16. Waterproof Jacket 

Men's Calderdale IV Waterproof Shell Hooded Walking Jacket Deep Forest Black

 

It is really important that your outer layers are breathable, otherwise, moisture will condense inside your clothing and it'll get really uncomfortable. A durable water-resistant finish will keep you protected against rain showers and a hood is always handy. A few pockets are always handy as are adjustable cuffs and a waist with a toggle to nip it in. Regatta has plenty of choice when it comes to jackets and coats so do take a peruse by clicking the green button below. 

Shop Regatta Jackets & Coats*

 

17. Waterproof Trousers

Pack It Waterproof Overtrousers Bayleaf

 

When heading out for a hike rather than a short walk, waterproof overtrousers are a good idea, or a single insulated waterproof outer trouser can be substituted. They can be quite inexpensive and when rolled, don't take up too much room in your bag. Again, look for a material that sheds moisture and breathes so you stay dry inside and out. We're also big fans of an elasticated waist so they're easy to take on and off. 

Shop Regatta Waterproof Trousers*

 

18. Good Walking Boots/Shoes

Walking Boots

You can now purchase a wide variety of walking boots/shoes from the traditional style to something much more modern and colourful. Shoes are a very personal thing with no one style suiting all but we do recommend you try them on and good ankle support is always something we, personally, look for when purchasing new walking boots/shoes. It's also a good idea to invest in a waterproof pair so you don't have to worry about puddles when out walking. 

Shop Regatta Walking Boots*

 

19. Spare Socks

6 Pairs Wicking Breathable Cushion Comfortable Casual Crew Socks Outdoor

Good walking socks, with a thin lining sock, will help keep your feet warm, and if you have room in your boots, a pair of Alpaca insoles will keep your toes toasty-warm. Boots are generally preferable to Wellies as they are better lined against the cold, although neoprene-lined wellies are better than ordinary ones for keeping feet warm and dry if you're wading through water. Even in Summer, you still want a good pair of socks when you're out walking as blisters are something you really don't want!

Shop Hiking Socks On Amazon UK*

 

20. Power Bank

Pxwaxpy Solar Power Bank

 

Power Banks are lightweight so won't add too much weight to your backpack but will provide much-needed power to electronic devices when battery levels drop low. Some Power Banks are also shock/splash-proof making them suitable for your rucksack even on slightly soggy days. 

Buy A Power Bank From Amazon UK*

 

Have We Missed Anything?

If you can think of anything else that should go on our landscape photography checklist, please do let us know in the comments below. 

 

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