My Favorite Accessories for Outdoor and Adventure Photography

Today I’m sharing my favorite accessories for outdoor and adventure photography. The things that make the list are the things I don’t leave behind when I know I have to keep up on a big adventure while also producing high-quality images. Too much gear will weigh me down but the right gear will make my life and photos better.

Before we were professional photographers, my husband/business partner/adventure partner, Marc Bergreen and I loved shooting photos of our own adventures. In fact, it’s what led to where we are today. We used to go on hikes together and I’d always be waiting around (somewhat patiently) for him while he took photos of landscapes or wildflowers or whatever human-powered adventure sport we were doing that day.

Eventually, I told him I needed a camera too and we could do this photography thing together. It obviously quickly became more than a hobby and now we’ve had the opportunity to photograph professional athletes pushing boundaries, trail crews taking care of our recreational landscapes, and adventure lovers like ourselves spending time outdoors as a way of life. This list of accessories helps make telling impactful stories possible.

Camera Clip

The trick to being able to hike efficiently and also take pictures is to have an accessible camera. And the trick to having an accessible camera is having a camera strap system that makes it possible to carry the camera and easily take a picture.

Before Peak Design made a clip, I tried a number of bags and pouches that mounted in various ways but none of them were as quick as having your camera securely connected to your shoulder strap. I tried using an old-fashioned strap as well but that always felt insecure when it came to slightly more rugged sections of trail.

Now we each have Peak Design clips that go on the shoulder strap of any backpack or even a running vest making it easy to carry the camera while hiking, running, or scrambling. Additionally, we use their tab system to easily take a more traditional camera strap on and off. Sometimes a camera strap is in the way but other times you need it.

Photo by Peak Design.

When we photograph places with heights or water, we often find it important to have the security of a camera strap. This works well because as soon as you’re away from a hazardous place, you can easily remove the strap and stow it away to have the freedom of an untethered camera.

Lightweight and Compact Tripod

I don’t need a tripod that often, but it’s a problem to not have one when we do need it. Therefore, my preference is a nice lightweight and compact tripod. I also appreciate it if it’s easy to use in the dark since a lot of the time we’re using it for star photos.

There are a lot of big fancy tripods out there with incredible features that I don’t need. What I do need is something I can set up quickly with legs that won’t break.

Even though lightweight tripods can be flimsy in the wind, you can easily mimic the sturdiness of a bigger tripod by hanging a backpack or other heavy item from the center post to give it more stability. The main two subjects we need a tripod for are shooting long exposures of water and stars. Both of these can be easily accomplished with a quality but compact set of tripod legs.

When it comes to the head of the tripod, I’m not too picky. Sure, having a smooth bullhead that is highly adjustable is nice when you’re working close to the car, but out in the backcountry, anything that locks down securely is good enough for me!


Talk about making our job easier. Now, Marc’s the drone pilot, not me, so I feel a little unfair saying this but it seems like drone footage is the easiest way to get the most dramatic footage. We can climb a tree, scale a mountain, or stand in a river to get the shot and it still doesn’t compare to the impact of seeing things from the POV, point of view, of the drone.

Having the ability to place a camera nearly anywhere is so helpful. Want to get the classic top-down perspective, no problem! Being able to fly all around a subject and pick any angle is so helpful in getting awesome images. It can be helpful to think of a drone as a way to find the most compelling composition.

Many people fly it way up in the air which is nice but I prefer to look at it as just another camera that isn’t restricted by having a piece of land to stand on. You can fly it over water, off the edge of a cliff, or any other place that might otherwise prohibit access. I guess a drone isn’t really an accessory, it’s another camera. But regardless of how you classify a drone, it’s a worthy addition to your kit.


A headlamp is a good insurance policy to have on any adventure but especially if we’re planning to get caught out after dark. Since we almost always shoot a sunset if we can, we’re often hiking out of a location in the dark. We’re also shooting blue hour and star photos which require some sort of night vision to see what we’re doing.

Or, it’s not uncommon that we’re starting pre-dawn in order to catch a sunrise. In that case, we need a headlamp for packing our bag or seeing where we are. I’m not sure I have to argue more for a headlamp, put it on your gear list as well as extra batteries. If you’re traveling with others, it’s often helpful to bring an extra just in case someone forgets theirs.

First Aid Kit

Nothing is worse than being injured in the backcountry without any assistance. Carrying a first aid kit is essential to keeping yourself and others safe. There are a lot of hazards with outdoor adventures but more often than not, the first aid kit provides a little comfort that can allow you to stay and play.

Having some tweezers to remove a splinter before it becomes an infection can be the type of preventative care that will keep you out in the woods longer allowing you to capture more images.

Additionally, more important than having the biggest first aid kit is having the knowledge to go know how to treat injuries. I strongly suggest you find a wilderness first aid class to learn the basics of how to deal with medical problems in a backcountry setting.


I wasn’t always a proponent of filters but I have come to really appreciate the improvement they can make to your images. My most commonly used filter is a simple circular polarizer (CP). If you haven’t tried one, I strongly suggest you pick up a CP filter and learn how it can be used to bring the colors out. It cuts reflections from everything from foliage to water. You’ll notice the strongest effect when your lens is at a 90-degree angle from the sun but it can help in almost any scene.

Two other filters that I use less often are the variable neutral density (VND) filter and the graduated neutral density (GND) filter. The VND is great if you want to shoot at f/1.8 in the middle of the day. The GND filter is great if you’re shooting a bright sunset and want to help balance the exposure of the sky with the foreground. With improvements in dynamic range the GND has become less necessary but it can make a big difference if you’re working with an older camera that doesn’t have as broad a range between highlights and shadows.

The last filter I use occasionally is the basic UV filter. This is basically just a little extra protection for the front of the lens. It’s great if you’re shooting things like mountain biking and you want to get your camera right up in the flying dirt without having to worry about scratching the front element.

When I’m out on a shoot, I pack all these filters into a small pouch for safekeeping. While the CP filters stay on my lenses most of the time, it’s nice to have a place to tuck them away when it gets dark. CP filters will darken your exposure by about 1.5 stops so it’s important to take them off when shooting the night sky or any other dark scene.


All this gear needs to be accessible if it’s going to be helpful which is where a backpack comes in. We have grown partial to the Shimoda Designs packs which offer an excellent balance between a capable adventure pack and a camera pack.

They offer some of the same features as high-quality adventure bags without being excessively heavy. Additionally, they offer back panel access to your camera gear which is optimal when you don’t want to set your back down in the mud to get to your camera gear.

There are also some great bag options from LowePro as well as Fstop. Before I had a nice dedicated camera bag, I often used a small shoulder bag (check out Mountainsmith) with a camera cube inside. This is still an excellent way to have access to your camera gear and the ability to fit it inside a larger adventure bag when you’re not using the camera.


Everything I learned about photography I initially learned from Marc and that includes knowing way too much about gear for someone who doesn’t care that much about it. You see, Marc loves gear but I love being efficient. Therefore, this list is a compilation of what’s fun according to a gear lover but also what’s necessary according to someone who cares more about function.

Interestingly as cameras and editing technology have gotten better, we actually need fewer accessories than we used to. Cameras can now easily shoot photos and videos with the flip of a switch and image stabilization makes shooting slow shutter speeds without a tripod a realistic option.

Simple is best. That applies to a lot of things but certainly adventure photography gear. Especially if you consider the fact that a lot of outdoor and adventure sports are gear-intensive too and you have to save room for your ice axe, rope, jacket, and snacks too.

About the author: Brenda Bergreen is a Colorado wedding photographer, videographer, yoga teacher, and writer who works alongside her husband at Bergreen Photography. With their mission and mantra “love. adventurously.” they are dedicated to telling adventurous stories in beautiful places.