What’s In My Camera Bag? A Travel Photography Gear Guide
Travel Photography Gear
I’ve been working as a travel photographer & blogger for 9 years, so I get a lot of questions about what kind of travel photography gear I use. Take a peek inside my camera bag!
Now, when you’re reading through this list, please keep in mind that I’m a working professional. I carry a lot of gear these days. More than I started with.
Most travelers don’t need backup cameras, drones, and multiple lenses.
If you’re just interested in a good portable camera for traveling, make sure to check out my complete guide to the best travel cameras for every budget.
I also share some more budget-friendly gear options at the end of this post, and you can check out my personal Amazon Shop to see all my photography & travel gear.
My Travel Photography Gear (2020)
Sony A7R III – Main Camera Body
I was a Canon fanboy for years and started my backpacking adventures back in 2010 with the Canon 7D. However, when Sony came out with their smaller (and superior) mirrorless A7 line, I made the switch.
Since then I’ve been using Sony cameras & lenses for the past 4 years.
Sony’s camera & sensor technology is often ahead of its competitors these days — in fact, even Nikon uses Sony sensors in their cameras!
The Sony A7R III is built for high-end landscape photography with a massive 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor. This sensor is HUGE! But the camera body isn’t, which is pretty incredible.
Frankly, this is far too much camera for most travelers though.
If you’d like examples of more budget-friendly options, make sure to read my tips for choosing the perfect travel camera.
Sony 16-35mm F2.8 – Wide Angle Lens
The 16-35mm F2.8 is the lens that’s on my camera 75% of the time. As a landscape photographer, I love shooting wide to capture as much of a big landscape as possible.
But you can also get decent portraits out of it zoomed in to 35mm and stopped down to F2.8. This lens works well for night and star photography too.
There is a less expensive version of this, the Sony 16-35mm F4 which is another decent option too.
Sony 24-70mm F2.8 – Medium Zoom Lens
Occasionally I need a little more reach. Or, I only have space for one lens (like on bigger hiking trips), and want the best of both worlds.
The 24-70mm F2.8 isn’t quite as wide, but often wide enough for most landscapes. With the added ability to zoom in to small subjects far away, or to compress the background making mountains “look” bigger.
This is also my go-to portrait lens for taking photos of people!
Sony FE 70-200mm F4 – Telephoto Zoom
The 70-200mm F4 is my wildlife photography lens. I don’t use it that often, and don’t bring it along on every trip either. If weight is an issue, it’s usually the first to be left behind.
But if I have a particular shot in mind that requires a telephoto, I’ll bring it.
By adding a Sony 2X extension on it, I can up the range to 400mm (which is great for safari photography).
Sony A6500 – Backup Mirrorless Camera
For a long time, I only traveled with one camera. But as I began working professional photography gigs, I realized that a backup camera was a wise investment.
When you’ve been hired for a photography project that pays 5-figures, the last thing you want is an accident or malfunction to leave you without any useable images for the client!
The Sony A6500 works with all my other Sony lenses, plus I use it as a portable vlogging camera.
It has a cropped (smaller) sensor, but has many of the same functions as my larger A7R III.
I also use it for shooting time-lapses while I’m working on other things, with help from Sony’s internal time-lapse software.
Sony 10-18mm F4 – Wide Vlogging Lens
The 10-18mm F4 is a cropped sensor lens that stays attached to my Sony A6500 body. It’s nice and wide for shooting selfie-style vlogging video, with fast autofocus.
GoPro Hero 8 – Action Camera
I’ve been using a GoPro since I started traveling 9 years ago. I’ve owned almost all the models! Currently, I travel with the GoPro Hero 8.
GoPro cameras are great at capturing hands-free action or “b-roll” and you can attach them to almost anything. Plus, they are waterproof and shockproof!
I use my GoPro for surfing, mountain biking, hiking, snowboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, cliff jumping, interior and exterior moving-vehicle footage, and more.
GoPro Camera Accessories
Just owning a GoPro is not enough to get great images and video. The magic of these cameras is in the multitude of accessories that are available for them!
Handheld sticks, suction cups, clamps, head straps, mouth mounts — so many unique ways to attach a GoPro to something and get amazing footage.
Check out my complete guide to the best GoPro accessories for travel.
DJI Mavic 2 Pro – Flying Drone
The perfect tool for capturing aerial photography and video, while costing much less than renting a helicopter! Drones have really come a long way.
I couldn’t be happier with the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro (read my full review here).
It flies super fast, is extremely reliable, and shoots some very high-quality photos and video. Not to mention it folds up to fit in my carry-on bag!
The 360-degree sensors help stop you from running into things while flying, so you can concentrate on the shot. Active track and intelligent flight modes can do a lot of the work for you.
Remote Controller Sun Shade
I don’t own a bunch of accessories for my drone, but one important one is the DJI Mavic Sunshade. This allows me to see what I’m shooting on my iPhone screen, even in bright sunlight.
DJI Car Charger
Another drone accessory I bring with me on road trips is the car-charging adapter for DJI Mavic batteries. This ensures I always have a fresh battery ready to fly during epic travel photography road trips!
My Camera Bags
LowePro Whistler 350 – Camera Backpack
It took me a while to find a great camera backpack that I really loved, and I went through many different ones.
I finally found a winner in the LowePro Whistler 350. It holds everything I need it to, sits comfortably on my back, and has the perfect amount of weatherproofing and gear straps to tackle my typical outdoor adventures.
You can strap on a tripod, snowboard, hiking poles, ice-ax — anything really. While it comes with a rain cover, you really don’t need it because the bag itself is so water-resistant anyway.
There’s a dedicated laptop pocket, room for a jacket and snacks, plus it opens from the back for easy access on the ground. When the bag is fully loaded, it weighs about 24 lbs (11kg).
LowePro TopLoader Pro – Small Camera Bag
This is a smaller top-loading shoulder bag that’s large enough for a single full-size camera with a zoom lens.
You can also cram a 2nd lens into the side pocket if needed (or a GoPro, etc.).
I use this bag specifically for long-distance trekking adventures, where I need to carry a regular hiking backpack filled with food, clothing, and camping gear.
This little camera bag attaches up front to the backpack straps on my chest, for easy access to my camera and a balanced load for hiking long distances.
I use this setup when I need to travel light with a minimum amount of camera gear in the backcountry.
My Camera Tripods
RRS TQC-14 – Full-Size Tripod
As a landscape photographer, a solid yet lightweight travel tripod is a key piece of my photography equipment.
I use my RRS TQC-14 to stabilize the camera in low light situations and with high f-stop settings (for maximum focus range). It allows me to get shots I just can’t achieve hand-held.
Sunsets, sunrises, the northern lights, star photography, and motion blurred waterfalls are just some of the situations where having a tripod is important.
I also use it to film myself for vlogs, as well as to shoot travel selfies when I’m hiking on my own. There are cheaper tripods out there though too, which I share in my guide to the best travel tripods.
Joby Gorillapod – Mini-Tripod
If I need to travel super light, for example on a long-distance camping & trekking adventure that will last multiple days, then I sometimes pack the Joby Gorillapod 5K instead of my full-size tripod.
At only 1.55 lbs, this thing is tiny. But the bendy legs allow you to attach it to objects for a higher perspective too. It’s strong enough to hold my large camera and works great as a “selfie stick” for shooting video too.
This piece of metal attaches to the bottom of my large camera and allows for very quick changes from a landscape angle to portrait mode (long photos to tall photos) on my tripod.
In today’s Instagram world, where the 8×10 ratio is important, I try to shoot images of key locations in both landscape and portrait perspectives. I use the landscape style in my blog posts, and portrait style for social media (because they display better on smartphones).
Important Travel Camera Accessories
Peak Design Capture – Camera Clip
I love this thing so much! Basically, the Peak Design Capture Clip allows you to “clip” your camera onto your belt, or on the shoulder straps of a backpack, for easy access (and to keep your hands free).
I use it constantly for day hiking, walking around cities, and basically, anywhere I know I’ll want quick access to my camera. While I still use a camera strap sometimes, this is the primary way I carry my camera. You can even run with it!
HINT: If you have a larger camera, the Peak Design Pro Pad makes carrying it on your belt MUCH more comfortable.
Peak Design Leash – Camera Strap
When I’m not using my Peak Design camera clip mentioned above, I snap on this Peak Design Leash Camera Strap and sling it around my shoulders it like you’d wear a rifle.
The Peak Design system allows me to quickly remove the strap if it’s getting in the way, or snap it back on. Adjusting the strap length is also super fast. It’s pretty minimal and doesn’t take up much room in a bag.
For video, the internal microphones on cameras just aren’t very good. In fact, they’re pretty terrible. Because audio is SO important for creating a good video, I pack two different external microphones.
One is the Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun, which goes on the top of my camera. Great quality, and very small.
The other is the Tascam DR-TL Lavalier. This goes on my body, so I can get great audio even if the camera is far away, the room has a lot of echoes, or if it’s super windy out.
I own a Sony F43M flash, although I rarely take it with me on trips unless it’s for something very specific. Like maybe cave photography or nightlife.
LED Video Light
This tiny but powerful Aputure ALM9 LED Light mounts to the camera’s hot-shoe and allows me to shoot video at night. It takes up almost no space and can be recharged via USB cable.
Camera Lens Filters
Lens filters help you achieve certain photography effects that just aren’t possible with software yet. Think of them as sunglasses for your camera.
I carry a Hoya Fusion One Polarizing Filter to help reduce glare & reflections on water, glass (like through helicopter windows), and to darken up the blues and clouds in a sky.
I also carry a Tiffen Variable ND Filter (neutral density) which cuts down the amount of light going into the camera to different degrees, depending on how much you spin it. Why? To create special effects like motion blur in a waterfall, even when it’s sunny outside.
One of my favorite pieces of gear is the Pixel TW-283 Wireless Remote & Intervalometer. This allows me to shoot time-lapses, or take photos of myself from up to 100 ft away from the camera.
You can set the timer to take photos all night while you sleep if you want to! They make different versions for different brands of camera.
Because I shoot in RAW, with very large camera files, I use very fast memory cards. I own a mixture of Sony High-Performance 64GB and ScanDisk Extreme Pro 64GB class 10 cards which read/write at around 300 mb/s.
There is nothing worse than running out of battery power during an epic photography moment! That’s why I always carry spare batteries for my cameras.
I pack 3 batteries for my Sony A7R III, 2 for the A6500, 2-3 for the Mavic Pro, and 2 for my GoPro.
Portable Hard Drives
I travel with an Apple Macbook Pro 13″ with a 1TB SDD, which is usually plenty of room for the images & video I shoot on any given trip.
To back that up, I also pack a super small 2TB Scandisk Extreme Portable SSD. Once I get back “home”, I move everything over to a larger desktop RAID system.
Camera Rain Cover
Have you ever shot photos under a waterfall? Your camera will get soaked! While my Sony A7R III has decent weather sealing, in super bad weather, or under waterfalls, I throw on my Peak Design Shell Rain Cover.
Cold Weather Protection
I bought a cold-weather jacket for my camera last year, for a few winter projects I was working on. One camping on the ice in Manitoba, and the other snowmobiling through Russia.
It keeps your camera, batteries, lens, and your hands nice and toasty while shooting outdoors in below-zero temperatures.
Clear Accessory Pouches
I own a few Think Tank Camera Accessory Pouches to keep all my cables, battery chargers, and GoPro Accessories organized. The clear sides allow me to quickly figure out what’s inside.
Camera Cleaning & Maintenance
Microfiber Lens Cloths
There’s nothing worse than a foggy or smudged camera lens! I pack no less than 3 of these 3M Microfiber Lens Cloths on every trip. Two go in my camera bag, one goes in my pocket for easy access.
I always end up losing them too, so it never hurts to have more than you need laying around.
The problem with changing your lenses on mirrorless cameras is that the mirror is exposed to the elements, and they’re a magnet for dust. Dust on your sensor leaves you with “dust spots” on your photos (or worse, video).
A few quick bursts of air with this Camera Air Blower on your sensor can help clear that dust away.
Sticky Sensor Stick
When the air blower doesn’t work, and the dust on my sensor is too stubborn to blow away, I break out the big guns, my Eyelead Sensor Stick. It’s kind of like a gummy bear on a stick that pulls the dust away.
Budget-Friendly Camera Kit Examples
Yes, I own a lot of camera gear now. But that wasn’t always the case.
When I first started traveling, all I used was a Canon 7D, a wide angle zoom lens, a tripod, and a GoPro.
If you are still new to travel and adventure photography, don’t get discouraged by this giant list of gear-porn that I’ve accumulated over the years!
I do this professionally, so I can afford to go a little crazy.
For those of you traveling on a tighter budget, I’ve put together my ideal “starter travel photography kits” below — which won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The Minimalist Backpacker Kit
- Sony RX100 VA – Compact Point & Shoot
- Joby Gorillapod 3K – Compact Tripod
Travel Photography Enthusiast Kit
- Sony A6500 – Compact Mirrorless
- Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 – Travel Zoom Lens
- Manfrotto BeFree – Aluminum Travel Tripod
- Peak Design Everyday Sling – Mirrorless Camera Bag
Improving Your Travel Photography
Ok! That was a big post. But people kept asking about my gear, so there you go.
However please remember that gear isn’t everything.
The best way to improve your travel photography is to practice as much as possible and learn new skills.
Even after 9 years doing this, I’m still learning new techniques to get better.
First, if you don’t already edit your photos using software like Adobe Lightroom, I highly recommend you start.
For more quick and cheap ways to improve your travel photography, no matter what gear you use, make sure to read my full article here. ★
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READ MORE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY ARTICLES
I hope you enjoyed my travel photography gear guide! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few more wanderlust-inducing articles that I recommend you read next:
- How To Choose The Best Travel Camera
- Ultimate Adventure Travel Gear Guide
- Best GoPro Accessories For Travel
- DJI Mavic Pro Drone Review
Have any questions about my travel photography gear? What do you pack in your camera bag? Drop me a message in the comments below!
This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.