Hey guys, Carson here. I want to preface this by saying Zowie is usually the writer while I take all the photos, but we’re switching things up a little since this is all about what’s in my camera bag! You’ll be getting the inside scoop about all my camera gear and accessories, straight from the horse’s mouth.
I started solo backpacking 3 years ago with nothing but an iPhone 7 and a GoPro 4, which means there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same on your travels. But if you’re looking to make travelling a career, which is exactly what I did, then you’ll need to invest in some quality camera gear. Aside from everything you’ll need for photography, I’ve also included what I use for vlogging since I do a bit of both. Hopefully you’ll find what’s in my camera bag helpful and inspiring for your own adventures!
Regardless of the equipment you end up with, the first thing you’ll need is a sturdy, reliable camera bag to keep everything safe. I opted for the Lowepro ProTactic BP 450 AW II, having recently upgraded from the slightly smaller 350 model. It’s capable of fitting all of my camera gear (except my gimbal) so it’s great for everyday photography and video.
Depending on what equipment you have, you can organise how you like since the separators can be easily adjusted to fit. External zips give you easy access to the different compartments, so you can quickly grab your camera out without having to open up the main zip. Plus, it’s made out of seriously sturdy material that handles life on the road and even includes a built in rain cover for an added layer of protection.
• Weight – 2.84kg
• Volume – 25L
• External Dimensions – 36 x 22 x 52 cm
• Internal Dimension – 30 x 16 x 44 cm
• Laptop Compartment Dimensions – 29 x 2.2 x 37 cm
I dreamed of having this camera for months before I finally took the plunge and bought it. I had been vlogging and taking basic photos with a Sony a6300 for about a year but decided it was time to up my photography game. But if you’re more interested in vlogging than photography or cinematics then I’d definitely recommend the Canon G7 X Mark II, made especially for vlogging with a flip screen.
If you’re planning on taking photography seriously, I can’t recommend the Sony a7 III enough. When you’re deciding which camera to buy for travel photography, weight is a huge factor to consider. The Sony a7 III is one of the top professional cameras out there at half the price and weight of its competitors. I can also comfortably vlog with it, though admittedly Zowie gets the shakes after a little while but that’s nothing a few pushups can’t fix.
• Length x width x height – 126.9 x 73.7 x 95.6 mm
• Weight – 658g (1.43 lbs) – Compared to the Canon 1DX Mark ii that weighs 1.54kg (3.4 lbs)
• 24.2 megapixels
• Video: shoots 120 FPS at 1080 and 30 FPS at 4k
• In Body Stabilisation for filming and photos
If I have one piece of advice for anyone wanting to up their photography game, it’s to ditch the kit lens. There’s nothing wrong with starting out on this lens, but if your aim is take epic travel shots, I’d recommend investing in at least one good zoom lens. Whilst prime lenses are notably sharper, zoom lenses are way more practical and convenient when you’re travelling. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it pretty much means prime lenses are set to one focal length, whereas zoom lenses cover a range. I’ve invested in quite a few zoom lenses, but you can absolutely just start with one.
If there’s any lens I can’t live without it’s the 24-70mm f/2.8. If you only have the budget or backpack space for one lens, then let it be this one. I use this lens the most out of all mine since it’s so versatile and is great for both landscape and portrait photography, so I can get Zowie’s Instagram pics and waterfall shots without having to swap lenses. The 2.8 F-Stop is also a huge plus, since it’s great in low lighting and creating cinematic bokeh effect (blurred background). If this lens is out of your budget, a great alternative is the 24-105mm f/4 which lets you zoom farther, it’s lighter and around half the price. It just won’t perform as well in low light conditions and doesn’t have quite as good an F-Stop.
• Length x height – 136 x 87.6 mm
• Weight – 886g
• 24 – 70mm
This is the lens I use the most for vlogging since it’s super wide angle and fits both of our heads in frame easily. It’s also my second most used photography lens and with such a wide angle it helps establish location so your viewers can really get a feel for where you were. The 35mm is still great for portraits and it has the same f/2.8 as my 24-70mm lens.
• Length x height – 121.6 x 88.5 mm
• Weight – 680g
• 16 – 35mm
I mostly use this lens for when my 16-35mm isn’t wide enough, like in situations when I can’t move further back or I’m inside a car. I don’t use this lens a whole lot, but it’s always handy to have when you need that extra wide angle.
• Length x height – 117.4 x 87 mm
• Weight – 565g
• 12 – 24mm
This is my main telephoto lens and easily one of my favourite lenses out of them all because of how sharp the image quality is. It also has amazing background compression, bringing the background closer to the subject, not to mention you can take photos of candid moments from a distance. With an f/2.8 it does great in low lighting as well as creating blurred backgrounds.
• Length x height – 200 x 88 mm
• Weight – 1.48kg
• 70 – 200mm
This big guy is used when my 70-200mm can’t quite zoom in enough and get as close to the subject as I’d like. If you’re into sports or wildlife photography then this is a great lens to have on hand. It’s pretty heavy though, so I don’t bring it on all our trips unless I know for sure my 70-200mm isn’t going to cut it.
• Length x height – 205 x 93.9 mm
• Weight – 1.395kg
• 100 – 400mm
My drone is without a doubt my favourite camera to use for the unique perspective it offers. It adds a whole new element to travel photography now with the ease and availability of drones. Whilst not everywhere allows you to fly a drone freely, enough places do which makes it more than worth your while.
If you’ve never flown one before, it’s perfectly normal to be scared to fly at the start. In fact, Zowie’s still yet to fly it! It took months for me to use it without a near panic attack every time, and I wasn’t completely comfortable until I got it insured with StateFarm (US residents only), which came in handy since I crashed my first one in the mountains of Banaue. Thanks to my insurance, I was able to upgrade to the DJI Mavic 2 Pro.
DJI has a whole range of drones perfect for travellers and aerial photography enthusiasts, but I ended up choosing the DJI Mavic 2 Pro over the Mavic 2 Zoom for its superior image and video quality. It has a 1 inch sensor compared to the Zoom which only has a half inch sensor, making everything sharper. If the Mavic 2 Pro isn’t in your budget, then I’d highly recommend the Mavic Air 2 or the Mavic Mini, which are still great quality for their price.
• Length x width x height (folded) – 214 x 91 x 84 mm
• Weight – 907g
• 20 megapixels
• F/2.8 – F/11
• Video – 1080: 120fps, 4K: 30fps
• Max flight time – 31 minutes
• Max distance – 18km
Like I mentioned before, when I first started travelling all I really had was my phone and a GoPro. I’ve upgraded since then to the GoPro Hero7 Black, but there’s nothing stopping you from travelling with just a GoPro! One of our good friends @JordenTually travels the world full-time taking mostly GoPro selfies! You can go check out his page for inspo.
They’re obviously super handy to have for adventure travel, underwater photography, and just about everywhere you wouldn’t want to take your main camera. You can get a whole bunch of accessories to up your GoPro game, like a floating handle, dome or seriously long selfie stick. You can even take it a step further and get the GoPro MAX which can shoot in 6K and 360 degrees, but comes at a higher price point.
• Length x height – 62.3 x 44.9 mm
• Weight – 116g
• 12 megapixels
• Video – 1080: 340fps, 4K: 60fps
• HyperSmooth video stabilisation
• Rugged and waterproof to 10m (33ft)
To put it simply, ND filters are like sunglasses for your camera. If you’re shooting video at midday and want to keep your shutterspeed and exposure down whilst maintaining a blurred background, you’re going to want to throw on one of these bad boys. In terms of photography, you’ll need these anytime you want to shoot long exposure and blur movement, like waterfalls or waves.
• Comes in 82, 77 or 67mm thread depending on lens size
• 2-5 stop filter
• Zero vignetting down to 16mm focal length lenses
I have ND filters for my drone for the same reason I use them for my camera, but they also double as polarisers to help reduce glare off the ocean as well as saturate blues and greens. Drone filters are an absolute must if you really want to improve your aerial photography and capture banger shots.
If you’re planning on shooting a lot of video throughout your travels, then I’d recommend getting a gimbal to create smooth, cinematic footage. I chose the Zhiyun Weebill S because it’s the smallest and lightest gimbal that can support my heavier zoom lenses. I tried a friend’s Zhiyun Weebill Lab but it didn’t support the longer lenses.
• Height – 297mm
• Weight – 936g
• 14 hr battery life
You won’t find any Android here! I’m a huge fan of keeping all things Apple, mostly for convenience. Strong WiFi can be hard to come by, so I always upload my videos on my iPhone using data. It’s just so easy to throw files back and forth from devices if everything is Apple. As for why I chose the Pro specifically, I used to have a MacBook Air but I found it was too slow to edit videos and it struggled with too many Adobe programs open at once. I upgraded to the Pro and let me tell you, I haven’t looked back.
• Length x width x height – 30.41 x 21.24 x 1.56cm
• Weight – 1.4g
• 13.3‑inch (diagonal) LED-backlit display
• Battery life – up to 10 hours wireless web
• 2.7 GHz Quad i7 processor
• 16GB memory
• 1 TB storage
This is a huge one for vloggers. When it comes to vlogging, sound is arguably more important than video quality, and you won’t realise the massive difference a mic makes until you try one. Nothing is worse than spending a whole day vlogging, only to edit and realise your voice was muffled by the wind most of the time. A good mic, like the Rode VideoMic Pro+ will solve this problem.
One of the biggest reasons I chose this particular mic was for its auto on/off function. You don’t have to try and remember to turn it on every time you shoot something, since it automatically does this when you turn your camera on. It might be a little pricier than other mics, but I promise there is nothing worse than shooting an entire day’s worth of footage with zero audio.
• Length x width x height – 170 x 66 x 111mm
• Weight – 112g
• 100 hour battery life
• Automatic power function
It’s super important to make sure your camera is clean and dust free, otherwise you’ll end up with dust specks on your photos. This kit has everything you need to take care of that.
One thing I can’t live without is my external hard drive. Photos and videos take up a lot of space, so you’ll need somewhere to archive it all. The Seagate Portable 5TB External Hard Drive HDD is plenty big enough and is super affordable, but if you have a little extra in the bank, I’d recommend investing in an SSD. They’re faster, lighter and have no moving parts so they’re far less likely to get damaged, losing all of your files.
No camera funerals here. The last thing you want to do is drop your camera off a cliff or into the ocean. Plus you can take it on or off in seconds unlike others that are super fiddly.
Your editing software is a super personal choice, but most photographers you ask will recommend Lightroom & Photoshop. I mean, what else is there really? Not to mention, if you want to use popular Lightroom presets by other creators or maybe one day make your own, it’s best to use software that everyone else is using as well.
There’s nothing stopping you from using basic free software to edit vlogs, I have some friends that even edit on their phones. But, if you’re wanting to make cinematic travel videos, you’ll need a little more than iMovie. I use Adobe Premiere Pro, which can be a little intimidating to start with, but there’s plenty of YouTube tutorials to help you out. If you’re not down to pay a monthly or yearly subscription, a good alternative is Final Cut Pro if you have a Mac.
If you’re planning on using more than 3 programs, you’re better off getting the entire Adobe Creative Cloud Package. Maybe you want to up your cinematics with After Effects, or try your hand at graphic design like Zowie who uses InDesign and Illustrator as a side hustle. Whatever the reason, if you end up needing more than 3 apps, then getting the full package will save you money.
Aside from my camera bag, I also have my main backpack that I live out of. It’s a 70 litre Osprey Fairpoint which fits everything I need for life as a full-time backpacker. You can read about it, as well as learn about packing hacks in our How To Pack a Backpack article.
Well, there it is! Everything you need to know about what’s in my backpack. From my camera all the way down to my editing software. Hopefully you found this interesting, and maybe it even answered your questions about what to gear to get. If there’s anything I left out or something specific you want to know, feel free to leave a comment below. Thanks for reading my writing debut and enjoy your photography journey! I’m gonna stick to taking photos and leave the writing to Zowie.