Bring everything (but travel light).
You don’t want to get caught in the mountains without important gear, but you also need to keep in mind that you’ll be carrying any equipment you bring with you, often on your back.
Essentials for life.
Pack for outdoor adventure. “Conditions can turn on you at any moment, so I always carry a headlamp, extra battery pack, down jacket, and rain protection for my gear and backpack,” Nguyen says. Also pack more food and water than you think you’ll need and a fully charged phone.
If you’re going to be out overnight, you’ll need more food, maybe a portable stove, and a tent. Nguyen recommends buying lightweight gear. “Even though it’s more expensive, it’s worth it to not carry as much weight.” Whitehouse brings along a Garmin or other GPS satellite communicator for safety.
Essentials for art.
Camera equipment gets heavy, especially when you carry it uphill for several miles. But in addition to your DSLR or mirrorless digital camera, you should bring enough equipment to get different types of shots. “I like to have a variety of lenses with me because I don’t want to limit the type of photos I can get,” Nguyen says. She usually brings one wide lens and one tighter lens. She also brings a drone (if she’s not in a national park) to get a different perspective.
Whitehouse values variety too. “Even if I think all I want is a wide angle with the reflection of a lake, I could get there and see something cool that I might want to get with a more zoomed-in lens,” she says. What she packs depends on the other gear she has to bring. If she’s going backpacking, she won’t bring more than two lenses. “If I’m just going on a hike, I’ll bring lenses that range from 20mm to 200mm. I do a lot of my daytime mountain shots handheld, but if I want to do astrophotography, I bring a tripod,” Whitehouse says.