From hats to gloves to pants, these items make my experience in the outdoors more comfortable. And, allows me to spend more time photographing wildlife.
As nature and wildlife photographers, our list of gear to acquire never ends. There’s always a new lens or accessory to try out. We invest a lot into camera gear but often forget about the other part – the clothing we wear to protect us from the elements and to keep us comfortable outside.
I love to explore and photograph in all weather conditions. That may be persistent rain, ice-cold temperatures or mosquito-filled forests. Here are 5 pieces of outdoor gear that has allowed me to spend more time outside; thus increasing my my opportunities in photographing wildlife.
*Note: I’ve been using all of these items for at least 2 years and can attest to their long-term performance and durability.
1) Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero
There’s a lot to love about the Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero. The brim is wide enough to keep raindrops away from your face, it’s breathable and Gore-tex waterproof. The great thing about a rain hat is that it doesn’t block your ears the way a rain jacket hood would. Freeing your ears allows you to continue listening to birds and the environment despite the rainy weather. My one gripe with the hat is that the brim can be bent and thus making it floppy with water drooping down one side.
Pros: Breathable ,waterproof and has a wide brim that keeps rain away from your face
Cons: Hat brim can be bent over time
2) Outdoor Research Bug Helios Hat
For the warmer weather, I’ve really been enjoying the Outdoor Research Bug Helios Hat. It provides excellent sun protection, good water resistance and get this- a built in bug net! It’s really convenient and critical for someone like me who seems to attract all the mosquitos. The bug net tucks in behind the hat and secures via a set of magnets. Two things I wish they’d improve on: choosing stronger magnets to keep the netting secured and, making the bug net cinch cord tighten not just the front but the back as well.
Pros: Excellent sun and bug protection, good weather resistance
Cons: Rear magnets can be stronger, cinch cord for bug net only tightens at the front
3) Fjällräven Abisko Midsummer Jacket
When the sun is high and the temperature is hot during the summer months, I like to wear a lightweight jacket to protect myself from UV rays. Personally, I avoid applying sunscreen and insect repellant if possible. The combination of these chemicals with salty sweat is very unpleasant. This is especially true if I’m on a backpacking trip with no showers guaranteed.
With that said, the Fjällräven Abisko Midsummer jacket is my go-to piece for sun and some insect protection. It’s essentially a breathable softshell jacket from the Fjällräven brand. I love the three roomy pockets, the low profile hood and durable fabric. I’d love to see them improve the jacket by making it G-1000 mosquito proof, moving the hand pockets higher to be harness compatible and, including a two-way zipper to access items in another layer.
Pros: Very breathable, quick drying and lots of pockets for organization, nice hood for sun protection – protects the back of your neck
Cons: not fully mosquito proof, hand pockets could be raised higher and be harness compatible, lacking a two-way zipper
4) Fjällräven Vidda Pro Trousers
The Fjällräven Vidda Pro Trousers are my trusted field pants that are durable, adaptable and mosquito proof (yes, you may have noticed by now that I love this feature). There are lots of pockets to store your personal items, the fit has a nice articulation to it and the high-wear areas such as the knees and seat are reinforced with more G-1000 fabric. One of my favourite features is the roomy side pocket on the right leg. The placement of this pocket ensures that your phone isn’t getting squished when you’re laying on the ground to achieve low angles. Two things to note: the G-1000 material while very functional is also not very stretchy. I recommended trying the pants on in-person first. The colour also tends to lightly fade over time.
Pros: Lots of pockets to store your items, nice articulation and reinforcements, G-100 original material is adaptable to be more breathable/water resistant and is mosquito proof! The roomy side pocket ensures your phone doesn’t get squished when laying on the ground
Cons: Not very stretchy so highly recommend trying them on in-person first. Colour lightly fades over time
5) The Heat Company Heat 2 Softshell Gloves
Last and certainly not least, we have the Heat 2 Softshell Gloves from the Heat Company. Hands and feet are two parts of our bodies that are very sensitive to the cold. Once they start feeling numb most people will naturally want to leave and search for a warmer environment. I find that keeping hands and feet nice and toasty is the key to spending more time outside in the winter.
The Heat Company’s Heat 2 Softshell Gloves are my go-to for winter photography. They are well made and versatile for nature photographers. The fingerless design paired with the ability to quickly tuck your fingers into the mitt is superb. In addition to that, the gloves can be layered and can accommodate a base layer of your choice (I use a merino liner for maximum warmth). Finally, it has a hidden pocket for hand warmers. My one and only small gripe with the glove is the really long cuff. While it seals in the warmth well it also blocks my watch when out in the field.
Pros: Well-made, versatile, easy to use, ability to layer and add hand warmers, included carabiner is great for clipping onto belt, finger loops are handy to remove gloves quickly
Cons: The cuffs are too long for me personally, covers my watch in the field
*Note: For more frigid conditions I use the more insulated model: The Heat Company Shell Gloves
And there you have it! Hope you found this blog useful and/or informative. If you have any questions please feel free to comment down below or share with your friends and family.
Until next time, happy birding :)