Pictures and Video from the Mountain while not falling off

The experience is amazing- being on a mountain, pushing yourself to get to the top, and eventually (hopefully) standing on the summit. Not surprisingly, I want to be able to document the whole experience fully. With this, my camera becomes a key piece of my gear (though it’s a want versus a need). 

The first (and most important) question to answer is what type of camera to bring? In order to catch the highest quality pictures and even video, I would default to either my DSLR camera or HD-video camera. Both of these devices do both pictures and video…and do them well. But there is a significant downside: weight and access.

First, let’s deal with weight. The idea is simple: stay as light as possible. As you outfit yourself with gear and clothes before the trip, the top consideration is the weight. How many pounds/grams/ounces is the sleeping bag, pack, sleeping pad, shirt, boots….the list goes on and on. DSLR cameras, and HD video cameras, have gotten smaller and lighter over the years in a amazing way.

Digital SLR camera

But the use-case is still taking pictures at Disney World, or at the beach, or video at the kids soccer game, etc. They are not light enough. You then add batteries, lenses, the case, it ends up being a relatively heavy accompaniment to your gear.

Second, access. A 60L pack is pretty big and deep, and it can hold a lot of stuff. When you’re trudging up a snow field at 12,000 ft, the last thing I will want to do is stop, open my pack, and dig through it to find my camera. So the alternative option is to use a harness to secure it to my chest, for easy access. Sadly neither of these options are really good (for me at least). First, if it’s buried in the pack, and I have to stop to get it out, then I will likely get few photos outside of camp and the summit (where we are stopped anyway). If I use a harness to strap it to my chest, it will certainly be easy to access. But I run the significant risk of damaging the hardware if I trip, fall, scrape it against a rock, hit a branch, get snowed/rained on, etc.

So that more or less removes the DSLR or HD video camera from my pack list. Instead, it seems like a digital point-and-shoot is the better course. Luckily, these cameras (P&S) are now sufficiently advanced that I can get high quality photos and even HD videos from them. There are of course 12 dozen options out there, but the main items of concern/interest are:

  • Needs to be anything but super delicate. Ideally, ruggedized to some extent.
  • Light and small
  • Easy to manipulate key functions with gloves on

Luckily the above still gives me a pretty decent assortment of cameras out there to choose from. For access and storage, my hope is that if it’s ruggedized I could secure the camera and its small case on the outside of the pack via a gear loop or something similar. If the camera is not ruggedized, then my pack will (hopefully) have a hip belt.

Digital point and shoot

This is a wrap-around piece that secures the pack at your waist. On it will be a pocket or two, hopefully big enough to fit the camera. This would protect the camera itself, and provide easy access so that I can capture content even as I am moving. Let the testing begin!


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