Good lens for hiking


Nov 24, 2012
Everyone has a different style, but my go-to hiking/backpacking/mountaineering/climbing lens is:

28mm f/2.8 IS


Small, sharp, very hand-hold-able with that big-ish aperture and 4-stop IS. I also do a lot of video stuff and the IS is so good that people frequently ask what type of "rigging" I use!

If I'm camping for the night I'll also take a tripod and a Samyang 14/2.8.

I'll sometimes also take a 50/1.4. This used to be my go-to lens, but I now find the FL a bit too tight and the lack of IS makes for shaky hand-held video. (sidebar: this is why I want a big-aperture 50 with IS so badly)

If the area is known for wildlife and/or I want to have some training-weight on me, I'll take a big-dumb zoom, like a 70-200. This is the except though, not the rule!


Dec 6, 2012
For me its my 24-70 f/2.8 II mounted on my 6D and 135 f/2 in a Lowepro lens case attached to my belt. These two lenses cover just about everything I need. At times I wish I had a longer lens for wildlife, but I can always use the 135 and crop and my longer lenses are just to heavy for longer hikes.


Always in learning mode
I'll share some of my experiences evolving and perfecting a hiking setup.

I hike what I would consider moderate length day hikes in varying terrains. I hike in the Appalachians in the fall and winter, and in Texas, Colorado, and Utah in the summer. I don't pack anything non-essential and aside from camera gear, that typically includes some food, water, a rain shell, first aid kit, portable binoculars, multitool, hunting knife, pepper spray, sunscreen, etc... As far as camera gear, I've been through several gyrations and combinations and various packs to carry it all in. I have just returned from 10 days in 4 states out west and did several 3-6 hour hikes with this setup and it works wonderfully.

I use a Black Rapid strap, over the left shoulder with the camera attachment hanging from my right side at arms length. Over that I wear my Lowepro Photo Sport 200AW. In the camera compartment (2 pockets) I carry either my 16-35mm f/4L or a 430EX II flash in the smaller pocket and my 6D with the 24-105 attached in the larger pocket. If I carry the flash, I carry my 35mm f/2 IS and 15mm f/2.8 fisheye in the upper larger compartment, but in Lowepro lens cases, which can be easily attached to the waist or shoulder strap of the pack. Access to the compartment for the lens is as ease as reaching behind my left side, unzipping the compartment with my left hand, pulling out the 16-35mm and swapping it with the 24-105mm and placing it in the compartment and zipping it back up. No need for the gymnastics of swinging the pack around the left shoulder to access the compartment (though this is precisely what I do if I want to retrieve or replace the camera into the pack, as it's easier). The camera hangs at my right hip, and I often just carry it in my hand by the grip, or lay it across my leg and use my hand to keep it there when needed.

The pack, loaded, with water bladder weighs in at approximately 12-15 pounds. Everything is easily accessible, I have mobility, and most importantly, it's comfortable.

I've spent the last 2.5 years with no less than 4 different attempts to get the right pack, the right combination of gear (body and lenses) and be able to hike comfortably with ease of access.

I realize this is a bit more detailed information than what the OP asked, but in reading the thread of conversation, there were tangents about weight and comfort and I simply wanted to share my experiences. If anyone would like, I'd be happy to take some photos of my setup, how it's packed and how I wear it.

In short, the combination I use most when hiking is the 24-105 lens on either my 6D or 7D. Which camera I select depends on if I want the slightly longer reach or not. I think the 35mm f/2 IS is the perfect companion to the 24-105mm for it's low-light capabilities. If the OP wanted to just carry one lens, it might be worth looking into a superzoom, like the Tamron 28-300mm. I've been considering that myself, but don't want to compromise image quality over what I have now. There are times where having that kind of range would be great.

Hope this helps.


Apr 27, 2011
OK. Now I guess I've read enough praises about the new 24, 28 and 35 primes (with IS) from everyone here that one is now on my radar / wish list. And I hold each and every one of your responsible! ;)

(I guess this is a borderline hijack of the thread. Sorry.)

So now comes the daunting task of deciding which one to get. If they had simply made them all f/1.8 or f/2 it would be a simpler decision but since I use my 28 f/1.8 for very low light, that keeps the 35 in my list even though it's a bit too long for my taste for a prime where I'm usually trying to get plenty in the frame. So I'll probably go with the 24 to gain some extra width and cross my fingers the IS can help make up for the loss of stops in aperture from the older 28 f/1.8.

Of course, since my older 28 is most often used in very dark situations, the IQ improvements probably are a bit moot anyway. Black is black, regardless of the corner sharpness, eh? And I assume everyone is eventually going to be shooting a 5D4 with even better High ISO so who needs more aperture anymore, right? LOL. Ah, and the G.A.S. justification begins!


Dec 28, 2014
Out hiking who knows what you'll run into. I'm going to assume day hikes vs overnight.

I'm lucky and my wife will take some of the burden so I carry the 6D with the 24-105 on my shoulder, in the Lowepro pack I take a Tamron 15-30, a Sigma 150mm macro, 430 flash, 90EX flash, batteries, remote, polarizer, ND filters and a Canon 70-200 f4 along with a tripod.

I like the Tamron even though its a beast, the macro for obvious reasons and the 70-200 for a more compressed landscape or a multi-row pano.

My wife carries the gear like rain coats, food, water, bug spray, med kit, extra socks..... She loves to point out things I miss.


Nov 3, 2012
Hi d4mike
This thread was about multiday hikes, not day hikes or even overnight hikes. In that situation space, but more importantly weight becomes an issue. And others have said that simplicity is a virtue (and I agree). Nevertheless, its interesting to see what some posters are prepared to carry.
The other theme is image quality. I have a G11 - this is fine in social environments, but in my view is limiting from an IQ perspective. I took the G11 on a week long motorbike trip with my wife last summer. It didn't produce anything I'd like to hang on a wall. Similarly I took an older A-series point and shoot on a month-long motorbike ride through Patagonia. Nice memories, the photos on my walls are with the 20D.
For wide shots, I need corner to corner sharpness, so much as I would like to love the 28/1.8, it would go the way of my previous 20/2.8.
My 35/2 is plenty sharp even wide open (apart from coma, but that's only an issue for stars), but as Rusty notes a bit tight.
And then there is the reality of being in windy, dusty, rainy environments, so my 24-105/4 will come along. I've noted that it weighs less than the 35/2 plus 85/1.8 and is just about as sharp.
But then I read threads like "Make it long" from Michael Reichman (! And my 200/2.8 becomes attractive. Many of my best landscape shots are taken at about 200mm, where I can compress perspective or isolate details. I spent a week in the US on a work trip with just my 35/2 and 200/2.8 and captured a nice sequence of ospreys breeding on the shores of Chesapeake Bay as a bonus.
So, its looking like taking the 6D plus 24-105/4, 35/2 and 200/2.8, with:
- 24-105 for the main, long hike (in a Crumpler 4 million dollar home)
- add the 200 for separate overnight hikes
- just take the 35 for more technical alpine overnighters and for social events (I have a nice case that just fits the 6D plus 35),
leaving unused lenses with my mother-in-law.


I'm New Here
Aug 18, 2013
Thanks for all these answers !

I didn't expected all these answers ! I have been trekking a little with my 6D Kit but I don't really like this lens. Since it is a good all-around lens, it looks more like a not good for anything lens (in non hiking situations).

Since the beginning of this thread, I upgraded my 6D + 24-105 kit with an additional 17-40 f/4L. Great lens, lightweight and very fun to play with. But I'm not always satisfied with the IQ wide open. I should maybe switch to a 16-35 f/4L, or a prime.

Then, I wanted a telephoto, and I wanted anything but a 70-200, I was too used to it. I went with the 135L, and it was a perfect choice. I grab it for single day hikes.


Apr 15, 2011
San Juan, PR
Now that I have a 6D and a 7DII, my favorite "light" kit is those bodies and:
8-15mm fisheye
24-105mm f4 IS L - on the 6D most of the time
70-200 f4 L - On the 7D II most of the time.
1.4x III extender.

This gives me a huge range of focal lengths from 8mm to 448mm equivalent.


Nov 3, 2012
Perhaps a bit off topic. So you take a 24-105/4 and have 800g (1.7 pounds) spare. Would you take a a 200/2.8 (or 70-200/4) or a Surui T-025X tripod for this multi-day hike in the mountains?
I've taken tripods in the past but the weight, even at 1.5 kg, is more than the DSLR plus 24-105/4. But the Surui has my interest tweaked.