The following is based on a journey through Greece, May 2016, where I shot a documentary while hiking 240 miles in eight days on mountains, valleys, and coastlines.
This is all based on a 4.0 mile per hour pace. Your pack should weigh no more than 30 lbs with gear and supplies fully loaded (this will lighten as you eat your snacks and drink throughout the day). Plan to resupply every 10 Kilometers if possible (especially during hotter months).
At the end of each day I stayed in a small country hotel (allowing me to catch up with work/family/friends and charge all my gear/offload footage into a hard drive).
Here is the documentary I filmed and edited:
1.) The right Back-Pack
- Cross Strap on chest = less stress on back
- Can easily fit 3L camel back bladder
- Multiple pockets within arms reach, allowing you to continue moving and accessing supplies
- Flipping this around onto your chest allows you to quickly access your camera without stopping
- Top zipper (big enough for wallet, batteries, and SD cards)
- Two main compartments, allowing you to stow camera gear in one and water in the other (in case of water leak this is extra helpful)
- Recommended hacks: place foam or packing bubble wrap at the base of the pack to keep electronics safer, try to keep the pack upright when setting it down if your water bladder is full (otherwise you risk leakage), and keep your mavic style mini-drone in the base of the pack with your mirror-less placed upon it (try to keep all weight within the pack as high as you can for less stress on your body).
You cannot reasonably maintain a 30 mile a day pace with a larger pack, especially as your journey compounds over consecutive days.
2.) The right water bladder
- Three Liters of water is a requirement for a weighted long distance event (more is too much, less is too little).
- This bladder fits into the above mentioned backpack
- The hose is well built with a locking mechanism and all other joints are sturdy (preventing leaks).
- All camel back water bladders are susceptible to leakage, but if you keep it upright when full, you’ll have no problems.
- Hacks: add electrolytes in the morning, use a paper clip, or bobby pin to secure the top plastic hook to your bladder anchor within the backpack. When you are moving, there is a chance the bladder could slide off the anchor, which would distribute the weight of the water lower in your pack (doubling the stress on your body). If you take the pack off, set it against a tree, fence, rock, or anything to keep it upright to prevent leakage.
3.) The right fuel & hydration
- Train with these foods to see how your body reacts to them (obviously don’t buy anything you are allergic to).
- The nut butter from probar I found to be the keystone between meals (the butter was easily consumed and digested while moving). This source of fat helped satiate my hunger and provided a clean burn over a long period of time.
- The variety pack gives you an opportunity to try different flavors to break up the road side rations. These “meal bars” are more akin to a typical energy bar, but full of good fats and carbs. This allows you to take a break from the butter and eat something with a bit more to it (I often found myself eating the bar in the afternoon or late morning)
- MCT powder is great in coffee, I recommend Bubs brand as I personally know the owner and trust his company/product (keeps your mind clear for the morning and allows you to have a light breakfast, which will serve you well as you begin your daily 4 hour walk to lunch)
- A collagen supplement will aid, especially during your six months of training, in keeping your joints and skin healthy. You will have a lot of wear and tear on knees/hips/ankles/feet.
- take electrolytes before bed every day and first thing in the morning (hydrate with plain water otherwise)
4.) Training Plan
- six months or more of preparation
- gradually increase total distance each week (one mile per day, until you are getting 20 miles a week)
- gradually add weight to your hikes, to a max of 60 lbs by the end of the six months
- focus mostly on body weight movements outside of hiking (lunges, push-ups, situps)
- break in your shoes and solidify your nutrition plan (if you decide to buy new shoes before the event, break them in for two or more weeks prior to leaving and grab the same brand/type)
- ease up on training a week before the event and focus more on mobility (yoga) and light jogs
5.) Shoes + Socks
- WIDE TOE SHOES. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT wear narrow toe shoes.
- Thick soles and comfortable foam insert (compensate shoe size based on insert)
- Do not wear heavy boots (Do not)
- Do not wear boots covering the ankle (you are on a path, not a jagged mountain)
- Do not wear water proof shoes/boots (if you do this, you’ll suffocate your feet)
- thin inner sock, dry fit outer sock
6.) Mirror-less Camera
- all of these are great candidates depending on your needs (comment below if you want details pertaining to the pros/cons of each platform)
- pack at least six batteries per camera (don’t worry about shoulder rigs and Dtap power, as it would be too bulky)
- buy a power strip with USB ports (see next point) and multiple (at least two) chargers for the corresponding camera batteries
- DJI mavic series are easily the best drones for the job here… super lightweight and provide powerful cinematography for landscapes (you can’t fully capture a hiking trip without a drone in my opinion)
- phone charger needed so that you can always have your screen (smart phone) ready
- buy a power strip with additional USB ports that is adapted to the power outlets of your country (almost everything drone related can be charged by usb)
- do not buy anything other than this if you plan to operate with the before mentioned camera bodies
- can easily fit in the outer pocket of the back pack
- you will not be able to walk and film with a stable shot unless you have this
- I recommend a 25 mm and 50 mm (macro capable) lens with a photography housing (cinema housings will be too big and heavy for the gimbal/pack)
- sigma, sony, canon, nikon, zeiss all have great options in this area that can fit to the lens adapter required
- buy an adapter with built in variable ND or a variable ND filter for the lens face (required)
- it’s probably best to stick to lenses that can communicate with the auto focus function of your camera body, in case you plan to walk and interview people at the same time
10.) Shotgun Microphone
- be sure to purchase the furry wind cover accessory
- this microphone is the best in the business (in my opinion) when it comes to camera mounted reference audio (and in this case, your main source of clean audio)
- light enough to be mounted on camera while flying on gimbal, high quality recording with plus or minus DB switch, and battery will last days