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I always try to avoid taking much delicate on a hike, but sometimes it either can't be helped or I decide I want to take it anyway (camera would be the prime example!)

How can I best pack such equipment in a rucksack to avoid it getting damaged or broken on a multi-day hike?

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Backpacking or day hiking? I'd pack differently depending. –  Russell Steen Jun 2 '12 at 2:19
    
@RussellSteen Backpacking - good point, edited to reflect. –  berry120 Jun 4 '12 at 21:47
    
This is a great question, I've sat on my rucksack while ski touring and ruined a pair of googles. sigh. –  furtive Jun 11 '12 at 3:43
    
Spare glasses I carry in a hard shell, my phone is waterproof to 1 meter (after killing a couple phones with water) and my camera is from the Olympus tough series. Sadly, the camera is dying/dead anyway, more I think from low quality manufacture than from abuse. –  Don Branson Jan 22 '13 at 1:07
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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Hard walled cases. For my camera at first I would stuff it into a sock and wrap the remainder of that sock and another sock around the camera and call it good, then I saw a hard molded camera case in a store and threw it around a little bit in the store. After people stopped looking at me like I was crazy, I decided to buy and test it. I have dropped the camera in the case form a decent height (20 ft or so) and had no issues. If you need something a bit more sure try a Pelican Case, they even have a padded one for an iPhone.

Update 6/4/12: It's worth noting that specifically for the camera I don't store it in my pack. The hard case is on a lanyard around my neck and the lanyard on the camera is attached inside the case. This way I always have my camera ready to take pictures and out of it's case it still won't hit the ground when falling.

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Awesome, sounds like solid advice! –  berry120 Jun 4 '12 at 21:47
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If it's a camera or other precision instrument you will probably want it stored in the Always Ready position. For me this is on my chest, strapped to the front straps of my backpack. While walking across the Pyrenees recently I carried my Leica D-Lux 5 compact camera in a hard leather Leica-made case and attached that to the straps. One advantage, apart from immediate access, is that I always knew it was there and could whip it out while walking without having to remove my pack.

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There is little point in bringing a camera if you're just going to pack it away. The best place for a camera is around your neck and shoulder when you're hiking and not immediately taking pictures. When you want to be a little more ready, just aound the neck is better. However, that's not so good for hiking since it will swing around a lot. The camera is held more solidly against your body when the strap is around your neck and one shoulder.

If you're really into outdoor photography, get a camera meant to take little abuse. Some cameras are "weather sealed". I still am not going to wear one around my body in the rain, but it will do better surviving some inevitable wetness that sooner or later will find its way to the camera.

When I just want to or need to hike (getting dark, caught in thunderstorm, etc) but have a camera along, I wrap it and any separate lenses each in their own plastic bag. Good weather or not, I always bring one plastic bag for each such item. This is one layer extra protection since some water will always get into a pack when you're hiking in the rain, and when it's not raining the bag helps keep dirt off the item. These don't need to be ziplock or sealed bags. Just ordinary grocery store plastic bags with the excess wrapped around the item work well enough.

I haven't found the need for extra mechanical padding. My day pack has some foam padding up against my back, which keeps hard things from digging into me. Other than that, just put the pack down on the ground gently and you shouldn't need anything more. If you're not wearing all the clothes that you brought, then that extra windbreaker or sweater makes good padding for insurance. If you're using everything though, don't sweat it. Delicate objects like a camera are quite safe up against your back, so just be careful with the pack when you're not wearing it and all will be fine.

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