My Backpacking Photography Setup

Get everyone in the shot with this simple and inexpensive setup.

The author’s outdoors “selfie” setup

In this article I thought I would share a photography setup for hiking and backpacking.  For a while now, all of my group hiking pictures have been missing the photographer from the shots.  This problem had to be remedied.  As with any gear setup, a few unique goals of the system had to be met.  First, everyone needed to be in the shot.  Second, a heavy tripod or bulky device to hold the camera was not going to work.  And third, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is going to be used to take the pictures.  Why the S5?  Because I have it, it takes great pictures for a phone, it is weather resistant, and I don‘t want to carry a separate camera.

Now that the ground rules are set, let‘s take a look at the system.  The components of my setup include: Komperdell trekking poles, an UltraPod small lightweight tripod from Industrial Revolution, a RokForm phone case and tripod adaptor, the Galaxy S5 phone and a piece of thick flexible rubber.  Many of these pieces were bought years ago and have been in use by me for a while.  The only pieces that I needed to purchase to complete this setup are those from RokForm.

All the pieces for Mark’s rig

Let‘s start with the phone/camera and work our way through the setup from there.  The Samsung Galaxy S5 is a fairly tough phone.  Radio commercials in my area tout the phone’s ability to be dropped into a swimming pool, get rained on and more.  I have found the phone to take great pictures and videos and have been using it on all of my hiking trips this summer.

As tough as the Samsung is, I wanted to have a protective shell on it just in case I drop it.  RokForm makes a series of phone cases and specialty mounts that really appealed to me.  RokForm has mounts for bicycles, tripods, cars, magnetic mounts and more.  I bought the case for my phone and the tripod mount.  The tripod mount is made of aluminum and is very sturdy but it is a bit heavy for what it is.

Ultra Pod mini tripod

The RokForm tripod mount is screwed onto the UltraPod from Industrial Revolution.  I have had this little tripod for at least ten years and have used it extensively. (Our review of the latest model here) A standard tripod screw sits atop the UltraPod.  A thumb screw is used to tighten the swiveling head.  Small legs fold out to use the UltraPod as a standalone tripod.  A long piece of Velcro is attached to one of the legs and is used to strap the UltraPod to trees, posts, or in my case, a hiking pole.

Upon strapping the UltraPod to my hiking pole, I found the end of the pole was too thin and slick for the UltraPod to hold onto.  Using a piece of grippy rubber between the UltraPod and the hiking pole fixed that problem.

One aspect of this system that I like very much is the flexibility it offers.  All of the pieces can be assembled together for a camera on a stick.  Simply set the timer on the camera, hold out the hiking pole and smile for those selfies that everyone loves to hate.  Un-strap the tripod from the Komperdell pole and use it as a standalone tripod.  I‘m sure everyone has their own needs and requirements for personal photography setups, but perhaps this article has provided some fresh ideas for improvements or new setups for you.

You can check out the products that I am using at these websites –  For that piece of rubber, an old mouse pad or even a heavy duty inner tube should do the trick.

– Mark

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