Written by Chase Davidson
There’s a good chance if you’re reading this detours blog, that you’ve either watched hiking videos in the past, or are intrigued to begin your own series of memories. Ever wondered how one goes about keeping everything charged and ready for action when out on a long adventurous trek?
Everyone has their ways, but I’d like to talk about the necessities that I bring with me on hikes exceeding a week. My bag may differ from hike to hike but my camera and accessories typically stay the same as it tends to balance weight and sustainability.
My camera gear includes:
- Sony a7iii w/ extra battery (670g / 2280 mAh)
- Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 (550g)
- Samyang 12mm f2.8 Fisheye (525g)
- GoPro Hero 8 w/ two extra batteries (180g / 1220 mAh)
- SP Connect POV pole & quick adapter (120g)
- 3 DJI Mavic 2 batteries (1kg / 3950 mAh)
- DJI Mavic 2 battery charger w/ USB port (255g)
- Manfrotto Carbon Fiber BeFree Tripod (1.1kg)
- iPhone 13 Pro Max (238g / 4352 mAh)
Total weight = 4.6kg (10 pounds)
When doing multi-day hikes, weight is of the utmost importance and I’d be lying if I said the added weight of photography gear doesn’t impact the hike. Having lived over half of my life recording memories from an extreme sports background, it’s safe to say that I’ve become accustomed to the added weight on my back but that’s not to say I’ve given up on looking for ways to lighten my load.
This article isn’t so much about weight however as it is about the charge in your batteries which is why I included the milli ampere-hour (mAh) in my list along with the weight of each item.
There are a number of variables to consider when it comes to power consumption and depending on how many days at a time you’ll be without power supply, sacrifices may have to be made. These sacrifices could come in terms of the resolution you’ll be shooting in, the amount of footage you’ll be taking and of course, which gear is adequate for the job.
For example, you may notice that I have three Mavic 2 batteries listed but not the Mavic 2 itself. This is one of the sacrifices I decided to make when doing longer hikes that require more power preservation. The drone can only be operated under certain conditions and one battery may only give me 25 minutes of flying time, which is why I sacrifice the drone but take the 3950 mAh batteries with me.
By utilising the Mavic’s batteries and the DJI Mavic 2 Power Bank adapter, I’m able to recharge the GoPro batteries (1220 mAh) nearly 4 times, the Sony a7iii’s battery (2280 mAh) almost twice or give the iPhone 13 Pro Max (4352 mAh) close to a full charge. That’s just off one Mavic 2 battery alone!
🡪 GOPRO HERO 8
I’m going to break down my list into specific roles that each item plays during my cinematic style of adventure videos, starting with the GoPro Hero 8. While the quality of the Sony a7iii will no doubt be significantly better, the GoPro’s compactability, waterproof design and easy one-touch button to turn on and start recording makes it extremely useful to capture moments in an instance. The built-in hyperlapse option on the GoPro is also ideal for wide angle timelapses.
The features, resolution and the environment you’ll be shooting in all play a role when it comes to power consumption. Colder temperatures will see the life of your batteries drain quicker which is why I choose to sleep with my batteries inside my sleeping bag during colder nights. In regards to features, the GoPro has a number of handy but not so necessary features when on longer treks such as Wi-Fi, GPS and voice control to name a few that when turned off will give you some extra life.
It is estimated that shooting at 4k/30fps resolution will grant you 60 minutes of recording time compared to shooting at 1080p/60fps resolution which will give you approximately 80-120 minutes of recording time. This extra hour per battery could become of great use when you need it the most.
🡪 SONY a7iii
The Sony a7iii combined with the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 is my ideal cinematic matchup when it comes to capturing detailed shots allowing for smooth transitions. The Sony a7iii shoots photos at a modest 24MP and videos up to 4k/30fps. However, as mentioned about the resolution eating up battery life, I tend to shoot at 1080p/120fps with the option to switch between full frame and APS-C modes in order to give me an extra 1.5x reach when filming.
As listed, I also carry along with me a Samyang 12mm f2.8 fisheye. This lens doesn’t get as much work as the Tamron but comes in handy on those clear night skies for astrophotography and when you’re looking for dramatic landscape shots. From time to time and depending on weather conditions, I will use the fisheye lens for all wide angle shots in order to save the GoPro for more extreme conditions.
🡪 Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
Similar to the GoPro in terms of features, the best thing you can do to conserve battery life is to turn your phone on airplane mode. I tend to only use my phone for navigation using the app Maps.Me, but will also use it for daily Instagram stories that I’ll save and upload after the hike. The iPhone 13 Pro Max’s timelapse feature is a great way to create professional looking timelapses quick and easy with it’s built in 3x optical zoom giving you an additional level of range when combined with the GoPro.
When it comes to taking advantage of what you have, it’s best to imagine the style in which you’ll be filming before beginning the hike. Create a vision in your head and estimate how much battery usage will be consumed day to day and film accordingly. Remember, sacrifices must be made and you can’t always have optimal lighting. It’s always better to have more footage than none at all but be mindful of the space on your SD cards as well because you won’t want to consume battery life whilst scrolling through and clearing unwanted footage.
Long hikes tend to have checkpoints along the routes such as cabins that may offer you a chance to recharge all your batteries. You’ll notice during my 17-day hike in Sweden, I purposely planned to stay at a mid-way location in order to fully recharge my gear. Take advantage of these situations whenever you can!
If you’re interested to see my style of filming first hand, here are a couple of different length hikes from Australia and Sweden:
7-Day Tasmania – Overland Track
8-Day Skåne, Sweden - Skåneleden
17-Day Lapland, Sweden – Kungsleden