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The travel kit list: wildlife photography essentials for 2022

Take your photography to the next level this year with the best gear for capturing images of animals in the wild.

By Nori Jamil
Published 16 Feb 2022, 06:40 GMT, Updated 24 Feb 2022, 15:18 GMT
Lowepro Whistler Backpack 450 AW II; LensCoat LensSack Pro Bean Bag RealTree Advantage Max 4; Gitzo Légende Traveler ...

Lowepro Whistler Backpack 450 AW II; LensCoat LensSack Pro Bean Bag RealTree Advantage Max 4; Gitzo Légende Traveler Tripod Kit; Craghoppers NosiLife Adventure II Long-Sleeved Shirt.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

1. Lowepro Whistler Backpack 450 AW II

Big enough to fit a pro DSLR and multiple lenses, including safari-size telephotos, this backpack zips fully open to reveal expandable compartments for all your photographic kit, making it easy to change lenses or grab an extra camera on the go. There’s room in the CradleFit pocket for a 15-inch laptop, and the cushioned back panel and harness mean it’s a more comfortable load. Waterproof and tear resistant, it’s a great flight carry-on bag too. £422.95, lowepro.com

2. LensCoat LensSack Pro Bean Bag RealTree Advantage Max 4

This isn’t any old bean bag. With its U-shaped design, it will take the weight of a telephoto lens up to 800mm hooked over the door of a safari jeep. It has a removable, aluminium mounting plate to attach a tripod head, and the bag can be turned upside down for stability on the ground. With reinforced seams, pockets and heavy duty, waterproof material in a variety of camouflaged designs, it weighs .34kg when empty, to be filled with sunflower seeds or similar on arrival. £141.99, lenscoat.com

3. Gitzo Légende Traveler Tripod Kit

Sleek and stylish, this carbon fibre tripod comes with a smooth, centre ball head, and is all the stabilisation you'll need for travel. Weighing only 1.45kg, it has a payload of 8kg, meaning it can cope with a 200mm lens and DSLR set up, support any longer lenses directly and handhold the camera for stability. Even better, its 165cm maximum height is offset by a short column that enables you to get low. At only 43cm when closed, sling the chic leather strap over your shoulder and off you go. £572.99, gitzo.com

4. Craghoppers NosiLife Adventure II Long-Sleeved Shirt

This light but extremely well-made, crumple-free shirt uses bug-repellent and anti-odour technology, keeping you cool and fresh when the sun’s beating down or mosquitos are on the wing. With four pockets, including a zip’n’clip security one, opting for the neutral desert sand or soft moss colours will make you less likely to scare away the wildlife. Guaranteed for life too, this shirt washes and dries quickly and beautifully, and will soon become your go-to travel shirt, whatever the destination. £75, craghoppers.com

Arc’teryx Zeta SL jacket; Nikon D850 DSLR Camera; AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Telephoto Lens; LEE100 Circular Polarising Filter.

Photograph by National Geographic Traveller (UK)

5. Arc’teryx Zeta SL jacket

Style meets substance with this reliable, comfortable shell from the Canadian brand. Minimalist in design, and with a lifetime warranty (as with all Arc’teryx products), the Zeta is made with GORE-TEX Paclite Plus technology, which includes a heavier-duty nylon for the outer layer, ensuring optimum protection against wind and water while you’re shooting. The adjustable hem and cuffs for extra protection from the elements are a savvy touch, too. Best of all, it’s super-lightweight (hence the ‘SL’ in the name) and can pack down easily for any photography adventure. £280, arcteryx.com

6. Nikon D850 DSLR Camera

With 45.4 million pixels, Nikon’s full frame D850 is a weather-sealed, workhorse of a camera that’s suited for any terrain. Having won awards across the board, it’s known for its detailed resolution and speed. This camera will respond when you need it to, capturing up to nine frames per second when using fast memory cards and an additional grip — just what’s required when a cheetah’s flying past. The 4K full-frame video allows you to document the savannah in cinematic style. £2,699, nikon.co.uk

7. AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Telephoto Lens

When it comes to safari lenses, the price of a prime or super telephoto might just take your breath away. You’ll need around 300mm of focal length for distant subjects, so the Nikkor 200-500mm is a great option at the lower end of the price range. It loses nothing of Nikon’s optical technology, and will suit enthusiast photographers who need a hand-holdable option. The capacity to zoom between 200mm and a whopping 500mm also reduces the need to travel with a slew of lenses. £1,299, nikon.co.uk

8. LEE100 Circular Polarising Filter

Photographing in bright sun usually requires a lens filter to cut out glare or increase contrast. Neutral density and ultraviolet filters help to control haze and over-exposure, while polarising filters go a step further, adding contrast to skies and removing distracting reflections on water. By turning the filter, you decide exactly what effect to go for, so be subtle with the colour contrast. LEE’s circular polariser snaps onto a filter holder (bought separately), with room for additional ND filters. £209, leefilters.com

9. Leica Noctivid Binoculars

If you’re keen on being the first to spot elusive wildlife or just want to take a break from photographing, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Leica binoculars. Beloved by local bird watchers and travel enthusiasts alike, it’s the craftsmanship and glass that set these apart. Makers of optical instruments for more than 100 years, Leica’s beautiful but robust binoculars will enrich your experience of any animal encounter, getting you closer without endangering you or the creature. From £2,275, leica-camera.com

Discover more essential travel kit lists

Published in the March 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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