Hiking with a Camera 101: How to Keep it Safe

Hiking with a Camera: Hiker in front of scenic mountains, planning their next shot

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Hiking with a camera is an amazing experience, but it comes with safety challenges. We want to make sure your camera stays safe (and working) during your trip.

This post focuses on camera protection while hiking, staying at a campsite or even going to or from your destination offering practical tips to ensure it remains in great condition, no matter the trail conditions.

Packing Your Camera for Travel

Before embarking on your adventure or heading back home, there are important steps to take to protect your camera. We understand that you’ll probably have a backpack with other backpacking gear to save on weight.


  • Protecting Threads and Parts: Disassembling your camera prevents wear and tear on its threads and moving parts. When your hiking with a camera, we all know it might shift around, and this can cause damage. Disassembly helps avoid that.
  • Preventing Battery Drain: There’s another advantage too. Sometimes, cameras accidentally switch on in your bag. This can drain your battery, leaving you with a dead camera when you’re ready to take photos. Disassembly is a good habit to prevent this from happening.

Padding and Protection:

  • Padded Protection: You want to protect your camera body and lenses from any knocks or bumps. Some folks use padded inserts designed specifically for camera gear. Others opt for cloth wraps or even their hiking clothes for camera protection. Both of these options work well.
  • Cushioning: As you pack each camera component in your bag, try to insert some soft items (like hiking clothes) between them. This extra cushioning adds an extra layer of protection if you don’t have dedicated dividers.

On The Trail: Hiking with a Camera

Hiking with a Camera: A backpacker taking a photo in a forest

When you’re out hiking with a camera, being prepared is key. You don’t want to miss a beautiful shot or, even worse, damage your camera. So, let’s talk about some important things to keep in mind.

Protecting Your Camera Gear While Hiking With a Camera:

  • Prepare Your Bag: Before your hike, organize your camera gear. Use zipped quick-access pockets for extra items and group similar things together, like batteries and chargers, for easy access.
  • Use Camera Cases: Opt for a lightweight neoprene camera case, around 1.4 oz (40g), to cushion your camera without bulk. It offers protection even when quickly stowed in your backpack.
  • Waterproof Your Camera: Bring along an ultralight dry sack. If it rains, you can place your camera inside it within your backpack. This extra layer of protection can give you peace of mind and keep your camera dry. And if you’re wondering whether a backpack rain cover is a good idea, check out our post here.
  • Use a Hiking Camera Strap: When searching for a camera strap tailored for hiking, prioritize comfort over a standard neck strap. A hiking-specific camera strap should offer adjustability to ensure a secure fit while evenly distributing your camera’s weight.

At Camp: Preventing Theft

Hiking with a camera: How to keep it safe at camp?

If you’re on a multi-day hike and it’s time to camp after a day of walking, and you want to explore a bit without carrying your big camera, what should you do?

If you’re in the wilderness, theft is typically not a concern since there likely won’t be anyone nearby.

However, if you’re in a public campsite near a town and plan to visit the town without your camera, you have a few choices:

  • Camp Office or Store: When there’s an open office or store, you can safely entrust the employees with your gear. If you arrive late, you can retrieve your valuables in the morning.
  • Choosing a Campsite with Lockers: Certain campsites offer secure electronic lockers for storing your valuables. When you have the option of several nearby campsites, select the one with lockers. These are often placed near the washing facilities, and while they may not seem extremely secure, they are a better choice compared to leaving your valuables in your tent.
  • Leaving it in the Tent: Not our top choice, but doable. Hide it out of sight, maybe in a sleeping bag, and consider using an AirTag for tracking. Be cautious about heat on sunny days, and if necessary, remove the batteries.


Hiking with a camera is an exciting adventure, yet it comes with its own set of challenges. We’ve shared practical tips to keep your camera safe throughout every step of your journey.

These steps ensure your camera gear stays protected outdoors. So, go out there and capture those unforgettable moments with confidence.

And if you need inspiration for what to capture on the trail, we recommend exploring the hiking photography book authored by Alison Newberry and Matt Sparapani.


Is it safe to carry a camera in a backpack?

Yes, it’s safe to carry a camera in a backpack if you take the right precautions. Properly organizing and padding your camera gear, using dedicated camera cases, and considering weather conditions like rain can help ensure your camera stays safe and protected during your adventures. Additionally, using camera straps designed for hiking and selecting a secure backpack can enhance the safety of your equipment. With the right measures in place, you can confidently carry your camera in a backpack while exploring the outdoors.

Is it OK to leave lens on camera when hiking?

It’s generally okay to leave a lens on your camera when hiking, especially if you plan to use it frequently for capturing moments on the trail. However, for those wanting to be extra cautious, particularly in challenging weather conditions, it’s advisable to remove the lens and use protective measures like lens filters and camera covers to safeguard your gear from dust and moisture during your hike. Balancing convenience and equipment protection is essential for a worry-free hiking photography experience.

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