You’ve read what the powderhound keeps in his backpack and what the Mountain Sherpa (also known as a ski mom) has in hers. My haul looks similar, but I lug a camera around in my pack, making everything a bit more complicated. Here’s a rundown of my gear for a day of shooting on the mountain and how I carry it:
Sony a6000: This is the perfect action sports photography camera. It’s mirrorless (which allows for a much more compact and lightweight build than a DSLR) so I can stuff it into a fairly small backpack and not even notice it’s there. This thing also shoots 11 frames per second and has a ridiculously fast autofocus, ensuring that you’ll always get the shot of your buddy hitting that pillow. The only big drawback about this camera is its battery usage. Mirrorless setups run through juice much more quickly than DSLR’s, especially in the cold, so I bring at least two spares to get me through a day of shooting.
Lenses: I run a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS and a 55-210mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS. The ridiculously portable 16-50mm is my go to for landscape and wide angle shots, while the 55-250mm makes for intimate action shots. These are serving me well so far, and I’m not sure how I feel about upgrading to have a $1200 lens on my back while moving 40 miles an hour down a mountain…
SD cards, batteries, cleaning kit: These are pretty standard for a camera bag, and for good reason. I always bring two backup SD cards in case one gets corrupted or lost. I also bring a couple of extra batteries, as the cold runs them down quite quickly (Pro tip: stash them on an inside jacket pocket to keep them from dying before you use them). On top of that, I have a brush, a blower, and a ton of extra goggle wipes, as keeping your gear free of snow is the most important part of ski photography. I’ve never regretted anything more than having a blurry spot on what could have been a sweet still because I forgot to wipe the lens…
Tripod: The only time I go for a tripod is when I’m filming on my mirrorless camera. Other than that, they are burdensome to work with in the snow and I keep shutter speeds low enough where I won’t need one.
Gopro Hero 5 Black: The GoPro is my go to for quick and easy video production on the hill. It takes up no space in my bag, shoots 240 fps for great slow-motion, and it makes for creative angles. When I’m snowboarding and filming myself, I use an extendable pole for the most immersive video as seen here (for skiers I recommend the a pole or a chest mount).
Evo Gimbals SS Stabilizer: This is my new favorite toy, as a stabilizer is the closest thing you can get to professional footage on a budget. It attaches to any GoPro mount (I mostly use it on a pole for follow shots) and makes otherwise nauseating footage buttery smooth. Check it out what it looks like via this link.
The Pack: Through all of this gear, I still have to make room for the essentials: extra layer, sunglasses, another pair of gloves, spare goggle lens, my main form of sustenance (Cliff Bars), and lots of water. If you want to stay sane, than a camera backpack is a must. They are designed with dedicated pockets for easy access to your camera and lenses. I keep all my ski gear in the pocket above, so there is no dead time fumbling through my pack when it’s time to shoot (your friends will thank you).
I also need a pack with padded hip and sternum straps, which are a must for bringing heavy gear around and locking it tight on my back. I have been using the Clik Elite Probody Sport, which is unfortunately discontinued, and now ripped, so I’m soon upgrading to an F-Stop Guru UL.
At the end of the day, looking back at the shots you get proves that the extra effort of carrying a camera is always worth it. I have never gone through a day without wishing that I had my Sony a6000 at least once, as there is always something worth capturing amongst these magnificent mountains.