While it might not officially be the winter season yet, it’s still a great time to start preparing for when the sub-zero degree temperatures hit. As photographers, it’s of the utmost importance to keep our gear safe and secure in the colder temperatures, not to mention ourselves.
Having grown up in Northern Michigan, I know what the frozen tundra feels like. And despite having moved a few hours south, I still know how winter can take its toll on my love of photography. A few years ago I invested in a few pieces of gear that I know consider must-haves for anyone braving the winter elements.
Bag or Backpack with Weather Cover
A good bag is important for any photographer. But with winter weather, you want something that will protect your gear from the elements, or in case of a fall. Look for something that’s tightly padded and that offers a rain cover, like the Lowepro Flipside Trek AW 350.
I used the Flipside Trek during my Ireland trip, and since then, it’s become one of my favorite backpacks. It protected my gear from the constant rain that Ireland gave us, and it was very easy and non-intrusive to carry around. It also offers body-side access, meaning it’s quick and easy to turn the backpack around to your chest in order to access your gear.
My gloves are something I always have on me in my bag. I’ve tried a few different types, but I found the AquaTech Sensory Gloves were my best option. They have a fleece lining and fold-over fingertips for the thumb and index finger. They’re also water resistant; perfect for those wet, snowy days.
I prefer the fold-over fingertip option, rather than gloves that leave your index finger and thumb exposed, as it’s nice to be able to cover my fingers back up during longer events.
When I venture out to the lakeshore, I always bring my shoe spikes with me so I can walk around on the snow and ice. Usually the piers are covered in ice, and there’s no way I wouldn’t slip and fall without these.
I use Kahtoola MICROspikes, which are available in a variety of sizes so they can fit your shoes or boots. I’ve never once fallen because of having these on, and have even run on the ice without a problem. Yaktrax is another popular brand, but I found these didn’t have as strong of a grip on the ice.
Batteries drain power faster in cold weather, so it’s a good idea to have one or two extras handy when you’re out for the day. Instead of keeping them in your bag, throw them in your pocket, which will stay warmer.
Tripod Leg Warmers and Spikes
Tripods can get cold very quickly in winter temperatures. And while most of my tripods are somewhat covered with a padded cover, those that don’t really need a leg warmer. There’s a few different options out there, and they’ll make it so that you can handle your tripod without freezing your hands. If you’ve got a carbon fiber tripod, you don’t have to worry about this as much, as cold temperatures don’t effect it as much as aluminum tripods.
Tripod spikes are also important, especially if you’re out on the ice. Like the shoe spikes I talked about above, the tripod spikes will make a more secure fit when you’re on a slippery surface. Depending on the tripod you use, these might already be included. For my Veo2 tripod, I’ll be making sure to use these once the winter weather hits.
Photographing in the winter can provide you with some really interesting shots, that you wouldn’t be able to capture during other times of the year. Whether it be the lakeshore or ice skaters in your city center, winter provides endless possibilities for capturing those special moments. And with a little preparation you can make the cold temperatures a little less…miserable.