Behind the Lens: Packing for Patagonia. What Do You Bring?

One of the biggest challenges that most photographers come across is deciding what to bring when you are heading off on a photography trip to a destination far far away. Every year I am fortunate to go through this process atleast 3 to 4 times. Over the years I have gotten more and more comfortable with picking the gear that I need to take with me on these adventures. My trip to Patagonia is no different, although the extreme weather that Southern Patagonia is known for definitely comes with its own set of challenges. To make my life easier, my wife and I are bringing a medium sized North Face Base Camp Duffle Bag that will work as a back up bag to store extra gear when we end up hiking into a location for 2-3 days. This way we don’t have to carry all of our gear all the time.

Step 1 is choosing the right “Extra Gear” to carry. By that I mean the clothes and gear that is supposed to keep you alive while you are hiking through frozen tundras and up razor sharp cliffs in order to get “THE SHOT”. For this trip, this is what I have brought:

5 Wool Socks
4 Pairs of Underwear
1 Pair Long Underwear
5 Icebreaker Wool Shirts
1 Pair of Light Trekking Pants
1 Pair of Mountaineering Pants
1 Down Jacket
1 Icebreaker Wool Vest
1 Arteryx Theta Storm Hard Shell
2 Beanies
2 Buffware Neck Warmers
2 Pairs of Gloves w/ wool liners
1 Pair of OR Gaitors
1 Pair of Yak Tracks
1 Pair of Shock Absorbing Trekking Poles

All of which will end up lasting me 20 Days of hiking through some of the most volatile weather in the world. It will be the start of Spring when I arrive, so I am expecting cool weather with high probability of both gail force winds and a snow storm or two.

Step 2 is deciding what Photography Gear to bring. For me, this is easy since I enjoy carrying more weight then I need to in order to make sure I can always “get the shot”. Most photographers in this situation may sacrifice by taking half the gear they would normally, but not me.

Photo Gear for 3 Weeks in Patagonia

  • Canon 1D Mark IV
  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II
  • Canon 24-70 2.8L
  • Canon 17-40 4.0L
  • Canon 100mm 2.8L IS
  • Canon 15mm Fisheye 2.8
  • Canon 1.4 TC
  • Plenty of Memory Cards
  • 2 Backup Batteries for each Camera
  • Hyperdrive Colorspace Album (For Digital Backups of Photos)
  • RRS Pano Head
  • RSS Pano Plate
  • SLIK 714CFII Tripod
  • DSLR Gorilla Pod
  • Plenty of Filters
  • Extra Rechargeable Batteries
  • Canon 580 exII Flash
  • Oregon 400t GPS Unit
  • Spot GPS Tracking Device
  • Iridium Satellite Phone
  • Various Remotes

While all of this sounds like a lot…well it is. Since we are basing out of El Chalten in Argentina and a friends Eco Lodge in Torres del Paine in Chile, we have the ability to leave 60% of all of our gear behind (Both photo and clothes) at any moment so that we don’t have to carry EVERYTHING around with us all the time.

This is a photo of all my camera gear stored inside my F-Stop Loka Backpack with a Medium ICU. This ICU that hols all of my gear is easily removed and stashed inside my larger trekking bag, making it easy to bring my camera gear when we camp out over night while also allowing me to utilize the Loka for my day pack once we find base camps each day.

The Loka is the BEST all purpose adventure photography day pack. There is nothing else like it out there on the market with its full suspension system, light weight aluminum frame and customization. Plus the fact that it weighs just 3.6 lbs without the ICU and it is built to withstand the worst of the elements.

Step 3 is bringing the right tent is also an incredibly important choice. For this trip I choose the Mountain Hardware EV2 Expedition 4 Season Tent. This single walled tent doesn’t have a rain fly, weighs just 5.2 lbs and can withstand extreme winds of Patagonia. Both my wife and I also have Sleeping bags that are rated at 15 degrees F. plus Sea to Summit Silk Liners that help to increasing the temperature in our sleeping bags by up to 9 degrees.

Between my F-Stop Loka and my Dana Design Trekking Pack, I have all of my bases covered. Of course I am leaving out some things such as our Camping Equipment, but all that is in my Wifes pack 🙂

I have all the Photo Gear….and it isn’t light 🙂

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