Photo equipment designed for hiking

Anyone from a weekend hiker to the most experienced trekker knows that walking through nature offers a photo op at almost every turn. Breathtaking vistas, awe-inspiring landscapes and many more of nature's wonders just beg for your camera to capture them.

Sometimes your everyday camera bag is just too heavy to carry through nature, plus you'll also need to add some of the basics that hiking requires.

Ultra-light gear

Manfrotto's new line-up of Off Road gear offers a lot of what you need to enjoy photography plus the great outdoors. The Off Road brand includes ultralight tripods, walking sticks and backpacks designed with photographers in mind.

The Off Road tripod weighs in at a mere 1.4 lbs, and is the lightest in the entire Manfrotto line. It includes a built in ball head that allows full rotation and easy portrait orientation, and supports up to 5.5 lbs. It also features a leveling bubble to help set your camera just right. In closed position, the tripod is less than 22 inches long and its slim diameter make it easy to attach to a backpack. Plus the tripod features an attractive design that comes in three colors.

Off Road also offers two different backpacks, with a choice between 20 or 30 litre capacity. Both have easy attachment points for tripods and/or walking sticks, and fully adjustable shoulder straps for extra comfort. Both backpacks also feature an innovative camera strap that allows you to attach your camera to your chest, reducing neck strain and keeping the camera securely held against your body.

The padded camera case can be detached from the backpack, allowing use as a regular backpack when you're not out taking photos. Of course the backpacks are water repellent and include rain covers.

Manfrotto also features a fully telescopic aluminium walking stick that features a pivoting cover under which lies a screw mount that can attach to your camera thus providing you with an instant monopod, allowing for better camera stability and sharper images.

Make sure your camera is well sealed

Of course, hiking through nature brings its share of sometimes adverse conditions. High levels of humidity, fog, and sometimes the mist from waterfalls or white water can damage your camera if you're not careful. You'll need to make sure your gear is adequately protected.

Most manufacturers will specify that certain camera bodies feature weather sealing and are better suited to less-than-ideal conditions. To name at least one DSLR, the K5-18-55 WR from Pentax is a good example, or, if you're going to be using a compact camera, consider the WG-5 GPS by Ricoh, both excellent choices. Your Zone Image store can also suggest other options that meet your needs or might be a better match for the rest of your equipment.

Ricoh WG-5 GPS
Pentax K50/18-55mm WR

With the right accessories, you can easily combine the pleasures of both hiking and photography. And you get to take home some great images to show friends and family what's out there. Happy trails!