Hiking is a natural part of landscape photography. A few friends have spent months “thru-hiking” the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. In preparation for this life-changing endeavor, they did frequent repacking called “pack shakedowns.”

When every ounce will influence the next months, there’s a fine line between what is essential and what only appears essential. You may not have plans to thru-hike a trail for months, but traveling long-term for landscape photography comes with many similar challenges.

I’m traveling the world for a year to photograph its unique landscapes, and as a minimalist, I never want to ask the question: “should I bring this on my shoot or not?” By discovering what is absolutely essential to my art, my pack is light enough I don’t need to make tradeoffs.


So, like my hiker friends, I regularly do “gear shakedowns” to figure out what I can eliminate from my pack and what is worth optimizing. With a few years of practice, I’ve gone from three bags to one carry-on sized backpack that holds everything I need for travel and photography of any duration.

As much as I’d like to switch to a lighter camera system, there are less pricey ways to start cutting down your pack count and weight — wishlist items your friends and family just might be able to entertain for the holidays.

Have you traveled for months at a time as a photographer? What are your favorite ways of cutting down pack size and weight?

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