Sorry in advance for the length. Hopefully you will find some value from the following info, take it or leave it...
Since it appears this thread is leaning toward taking the DSLR and having it out and available the entire time, not just during stops, I experimented with and tested using the Cotton Carrier
for hiking with the DSLR. It works well because of several reasons. It doesn't swing. It doesn't bounce. It doesn't hang out, swing or hit the ground if you lean over. It also provides the nice counter weight in front. It isn't attached to your main pack so when you need to remove your main pack, it doesn't go with it. This is a big issue because if you are removing a 40-70 lb backpack, once you start the process of removing it, it's likely going where you planned to put it, with or without the camera going along for the ride and into the dirt. It's bad enough forgetting to disconnect the pack chest strap and strangling yourself but if there's a camera involved, then you are really having to deal with unexpected issues and you could possibly pull a muscle or something trying to deal with a heavy pack and protect a camera as you are in the middle of the removal process.
Also, depending on where you are hiking, sudden weather like rain could be an issue and so you should have something handy to cover the DSLR
regardless of how you keep it attached. Ditto for when you are drinking, eating, or whatever. And if it's hot, you will be sweating and that can drip on the camera. The Cotton Carrier comes with some kind of cover thing as an option I think.
I'm not timid by any means taking a DSLR into the outdoors. I pretty much assume, expect and am braced for a potential loss or damage event on every trip. But I do my best to think ahead and use a system that hopefully prevents most common forms of damage or abuse.Perhaps consider a hiking/pack umbrella
. They make a few that are very light, flexible and durable that you can attach to your pack straps and will not require your hands. This allows you to stay dry underneath in light or non-windy rain or snow. (Horizontal monsoons, not so much!) I considered and briefly tested this also for taking DSLR pictures on the go. The umbrella also helps keep you from sweating your a$$ off from wearing rain gear for hours during misty and drizzly conditions while you hike. The links below show two different products and the youtube video gives a decent idea of what using one would be like.http://www.euroschirm.com/schirm/Swing_handsfree/index.cgi?session=7ia8cnFV4uTpH&sprache_land=usahttp://www.golite.com/Chrome-Dome-Trekking-Umbrella-P928.aspxGoLite Umbrella Review
I spent months trying out different methods of using the DSLR and hiking. IMHO, it's not the weight or even the risk to the equipment that bothers me. It's the logistics of keeping up with it, packing/unpacking it, making room for it along with the other stuff. Things like ultralight stools, a pillow and camp shoes are a godsend on a long expedition style hike. Everything contributes to the list of stuff you have to manage and carry but they are servicing the primary purpose of the activity, hiking and maintaining your body as it endures the challenges you demand of it. Don't forget, you have to carry enough food and water for whatever duration necessary. And you also said you are carrying for the family too
. I don't think you will be able to use any kind of ultralight pack. They are all designed for 35 lbs or less. You will likely need something like a Kelty RedCloud 90 or 110! For this reason, I like the P&S rugged cam for totally carefree hiking and then the DSLR to satisfy my IQ needs while stopped. At that point, take the 40/2.8 or my favorite, the 16-35/2.8. (The 17-40 would also be great but only f4.) Maybe a 28/1.8 or other fast but light prime for very low light like campfires. Consider the LensCoat DSLR Cover
for keeping the DSLR protected in the pack and put that in a heavy duty ziplock. http://tinyurl.com/b8n7n8r
FLASH - You are using a FF body so you will need fill flash. Yes, you will. Get a Sunpak RD2000
with the StoFen Diffuser
made for it. Put some foil in the diffuser to direct the light more forward. Gaffer tape the diffuser to the flash. Aim the flash up at an angle for better results indoors, in shadows, etc but remove the diffuser in total bright sun. Use Energizer Lithium AAs
for long life and very low weight. Expect about two days from each pair assuming you run the flash about 1-2 stops down like I do.
Last thing - Trekking Poles. Get Aluminum so they bend instead of snap/shatter like carbon fiber does. Leki
has some (Aergon
) that you can install their 1/4-20 bolt inside of the hand grip. Or get a trekmount to fit on any pole which is what I did. http://www.trekmount.com/
But of course, what will you do with the trekking poles when you want to grab the camera to take pictures? Again, grabbing the P&S on my left shoulder strap while still moving on the trail one handed is easier then having to stop the group, remove the poles and lean them somewhere (where they fall over anyway) and use two hands to manage the DSLR. I actually rigged up two super magnets high up on my pack to hold the trekking poles so I never had to deal with them when I took pictures and no one else had to be bothered helping me.
In conclusion, I would like to implore you to do some "shakedown hikes" where you try out several different methods and ideas before you go on the actual trip. And I don't mean walk up and down the street. I mean hike up and down hills in similar conditions/weather and go for at least 3-4 miles. You need to know how it feels after you are tired and you need to be sure your feet/boots can handle the extra weight, etc. Anyone can hike for 3 miles no problem. But once you hit 5 miles, you start to discover where the problems are. Blisters on feet, wear points on hips or other areas and you start to ever so slightly question why you brought something or other. You might decide that DSLR in front of you is an annoyance and not worth the trouble. That's why I have a weatherproof P&S hanging on a supermagnet while on the trail. No fuss, it can get wet, dropped, used one handed, etc with zero worry or annoyance.
Good luck and have a great time with your family!! That's JOB 1!