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Zion National Park hiking set up

Discussion in 'Other Cool Gear, Camera Bags, Camera Straps' started by blue_snow, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. blue_snow


    Dec 16, 2007
    I'm going to Zion National Park for a few days and I'd really like to bring my D3 with me. I'm struggling on what to bring with my D3. I hope this wonderful forum can suggest some set up for me.

    Here are my struggles.

    * I ordered a Gitzo 2541 tripod that weights 3 pounds. I have an old Kirk BH-1 ball head that's 30 ounces. That makes the entire tripod set up almost 5 pounds. I'm struggling if I should get the RSS BH-40 to match with the Gitzo 2541. The RSS BH-40 is only 13 ounces.

    * I have the 24-70/2.8 AF-S zoom and the 80-200/2.8D AF-S and 18-200/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR II DX lens. Is 24mm wide enough in Zion? I'm worried that it may not be wide enough in the slot canyons and the Zion subway. Do I really need the 80-200? It weighs a ton... I also have the 105/2.8 VRII micro and Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF (the one with the ugly bokeh.) :biggrin: What do I do?

    * I need a big enough backpack that doesn't add too much weight to the entire setup. What's a good bag that's good for long hike?

    Thank you a bunch in advance for sharing your experience!

  2. johnmh


    Nov 21, 2007
    Greater NYC
    Backcountry means compromises. How long will you be hiking? How much elevation gain? Angel's Landing will take a bit out of you.......

    I've carried a relatively full pack - and a light one..... needless to say, lighter is easier.

    You COULD get by with just the 18-200....... many people do, but I exepct you'd miss the 24-70.

    In the past I've carried a 12-24 Tokina (the Wide angle IS useful and I'd want something beyond 24 for a place like Zion), 24-85 2.8-4, 70-200 (with all 3 TC's) and on occasion a 200-400 (large and heavy) along with a tripod. All this covered 12-400 one way or another.

    Last trip I went down to a 16-85 and 70-300 - with a Sigma 150-500 (was quite useful for wildlife and far llighter than the 200-400). Was much easier to cope with and a welcome reduction in Rocky Mountain elevations. An even simpleer solution would be the 16-85 and 80-400 with a Tokina 11-16 for really wide shots.

    For Zion, you really could get away with just the 18-200 (my wife's usual carry lens). If you want to go for the better glass, bring the 24-70 though you probaly will want something a little wider for some shots. The 80-200 will get less use and could be left behind for some locales but then you never know what you might run across..... we spotted two owls asleep in a tree on our way up to Angel's Landing........ The 105 is nice only if you're into flowers and such - not really needed otherwise. My wife usually carries it with the 18-200 left on her camera.

    I've used Lowepro backpacks and been happy - make sure you have one with a good waist belt and good shoulder straps. I usually make this my carry-on. You can easily get the 24-70, 80-200, the tripod and even some water and a jacket/sweatshirt in it.

    If you don't get something wider, I'd also bring the 18-200 for the wide end - and maybe even to replace the 80-200 if you want to cut down on the weight you're carrying.

    Don't neglect the east side - the rock formations past the tunnel are rather unique.... look for the deep cut stream beds along road too..... The hike up the canyon wall by the falls is cool and Angel's Landing is cool - but watch out for idiots on the trail - it gets pretty narrow. Check out KolubCanyon if you have the time - most people skip it.

    You might want to get a good monopod that you can use as a walking stick as well.

    Zion is easiest if you can stay IN the park, you can drive in and leave your car there - otherwise you're dealing with the shuttle far more....
  3. wbeem


    Feb 11, 2007
    Sanford, FL
    William Beem
    I got by with a D70 and the 18-200. Of course, I didn't really have my expensive glass at the time.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  4. blue_snow


    Dec 16, 2007
    Stunning picture, wbeem!

    I thought about bringing only my wife's D80 and the 18-200. There should be plenty of sunlights, but I'm worried that there won't be enough light in the canyon slots and the Zion Subway. I prefer to leave the tripod in the car. :biggrin: I don't fancy myself hiking up to Angel's Landing with a heavy tripod.

    Were you able to handhold and get some shots in the Zion Subway or in any canyon slots?

    Here is my plan.

    Angel's Landing. Only D80 + 18-200.
    Zion Subway, Either (1) D80 + 18-200 + Tripod, or (2) D3 + 24-70
    The Narrows, D3+24-70, no tripod.

    My remaining problem is to find a good enough backpack. Unfortunately, I can't find any backpack that's comfortable enough for long hike and provide adequate padding for my gear. A friend suggested that I wrap the gear with clothes and paddings and put the gear in a technical daypack which is light-weight and comfortable for long hike.

    I checked out the Lowe Pro Photo Trekker in a shop today. It weights more than my D3 + 24-70. What an irony... :redface: And then I went to REI, but none of their daypack has any way to strap a tripod to it.


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