Hiking in the outdoors can really make you appreciate the beauty of nature, and even more so during Winter months when less people venture out and the shapes, colours and light all takes a different turn than usual. It’s no wonder that many of us who enjoy hiking also enjoy photographing the places we visit; I know I certainly do.
Standing outside waiting on the perfect moment can be challenging enough at times, but it can be even more difficult when you add Winter weather into the mix. While you might still get a little wet, or a little cold, I find the following items can make the whole experience much more enjoyable for you, just as they have for me.
Warm winter gloves
You’ll find it hard to do much without having feeling in your hands, so make sure to keep them warm and operational by bringing a warm pair of gloves with you on your outings. Get yourself a pair that fit snugly and close nicely at the wrist in order to keep the wind out. Tucking the end of your gloves under your sleeve can keep your hands even warmer.
Mitts tend to be even warmer than gloves for those to prone fingers, but sadly they aren’t as dexterous and make changing camera controls more difficult.
I personally use a pair of Mountain Equipment Guide Gloves to keep my hands warm, but I do sometimes have difficulty changing camera settings as they are rather bulky.
A steady tripod
The rain and wind often get stronger in Winter seasons, so don’t risk your camera blowing over in high winds. Heavy tripods are often shunned for being harder to carry but they have their own merits, especially when the wind has more weight to push against.
Certain tripods provide a hook where you can hang your camera bag, allowing you to keep it off the ground while adding weight and stability to your tripod setup at the same time.
A decent light source
Winter brings with it shorter days and longer nights, so make sure you have a way of illuminating in front of you before you set off – there’s no point stumbling around in the dark! And even if you’re only planning a quick sunset shoot, don’t be caught off guard without a torch as the sun sets much quicker in Winter compared to brighter seasons.
Higher end torches provide brighter light and in varying options. Headtorches are invaluable as they leave you with two free hands to work with instead of just one.
An extremely useful feature of many headtorches is the ability to swith to a red light, which preserves your night vision and doesn’t make your pupils re-adjust to a flood of white light from your torch. By keeping your night vision you can better compose your images by improving your sight through the already dark viewfinders of your camera for those astrophotography opportunities that the darker skies bring.
A really warm jacket
You don’t really know just how warm your jacket is until you find yourself sitting in the middle of nowhere on wet ground with a biting wind blowing down on you all while you wait on your timelapse sequence finishing.
Down insulated jackets are unbeatable in terms of weight to warmth ratio but are higher in price. Fleece however is cheaper but doesn’t perform as well at keeping the warm air trapped inside. It’s a matter of personal preference and those who have been winter camping before know just how cold it can be, but I always prefer to bring a jacket (or jackets) that is too warm than one that is not warm enough. You’ll thank youself for carrying it when you have to stand still for an hour!
Don’t bother with having to press the shutter release button on your camera every time you want to take a photo. Get a cheap intervalometer and create your own sequence of timings, which are then taken automatically.
Getting one with a long lead means you can have it in your coat pocket while keeping your hands warm.
Batteries are a part of the system that often go unmentioned until someone forgets to charge theirs and everything goes down the drain. It’s the battery that every other part depends on (assuming you’re using a digital camera), so don’t forget about it in your kit list.
They also weigh very little, so bringing multiple spares is the best way to ensure that you don’t miss the epic sunrise because your battery died taking photographs of stars the night before.
Is there anything you don’t leave without? Do share with us in the comments!