You don’t need a ton of gear to start watching wildlife, but it’s nice not to be cold when photographing birds or mammals. It is a good idea to buy a few specialized pieces that will better protect you from the elements than standard gear.
These are the four clothing items I recommend.
This softshell jacket is on Amazon.com. Please don’t make the mistake I did and wear a coat that rustles at the wrong time, scaring the ocelot away. Softshell jackets use a material that makes them quiet.
The softshell jacket that I recommend for photography is the Columbia Ascender softshell. It’s perfect for photographers! This jacket is very warm, even in relatively heavy wind. It is also water-resistant and walking through a downpour recently, and I didn’t get wet. There are more expensive softshell jackets out there, but I haven’t used one of those yet as I am happy with the Columbia.
It has all the features I need from a jacket. Both pockets have zips, so I know I will not lose my keys when out. The coat is very warm due to the drawcord at the hem and the cuffs, which are elasticated.
If you are a wildlife photographer or want to go out and take some photos, you should get a softshell jacket. When I first started looking for wildlife, I did not have one, and for a while, it was OK. I thought it would be fine until I made the mistake that changed my mind. I was lying there watching a family of Ocelots, and as I moved, the material on my coat rustled, and they fled into the night. Even though there were only two other people there, I have never been more embarrassed.
Please don’t try to save money and skip on the softshell jacket. One day you can send me a photo of an ocelot family.
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The North Face Venture 2 raincoat on Amazon.com– There is nothing more essential than a good raincoat. Raincoats can pack up into such small pouches that there is no need to get wet again.
An essential raincoat is a requirement for wildlife spotting and photography. It keeps you dry and out longer without feeling drenched and miserable.
Everyone has a preference regarding their style, color, and make, but for me, you can’t beat the North Face Venture 2 jacket.
North Face jackets have an excellent reputation, and rightly so. They give great protection against the rain and even snow. They are warm, well made, and have great zips with double zipper pulls. They can also be packed into one of the pockets, making them great for carrying around in a backpack.
They can last for a long time as well. You can renew the waterproof coating, but just hanging it out to dry after use will also extend its life.
They also come in both male and female versions.
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The North Face Bedford thick down jacket on Amazon.com – When you need to get that shot in the snow, this coat is what you need.
My North Face Bedford parka is my favorite coat and my go-to as soon as it gets a little colder. North Face is a well-known brand, and rightly so. They give a full lifetime warranty against defects in materials and quality, so you know you are getting a quality piece of gear. I have worn parkas since going to school as a child. This coat is so comfortable I don’t want to take it off when I come in.
It has great big pockets to fit an iPad, a spare camera, and side pockets to put your hands in when cold. I like that the hood is detachable as this helps with taking photos, and the fur can be taken off.
I have never been cold in this coat, and I have been in some freezing temperatures. The coat is filled with down, which is great for keeping you warm.
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The Markhof winter gloves on Amazon.com. Made for photographers’ needs, these keep your hands warm and allow you to take great shots.
Vallerret has been designing and making winter photography gloves for five years, and they are the best. The gloves I recommend have flip finger caps so you can use your camera. These are essential for keeping your hands warm while allowing you to take the photos you love.
These gloves are hot as the liner is 100% merino wool. Different models have different warmth ratings, and these are designed for mid-winter. These have been designed with slightly less insulation to minimize bulk, but they have other arctic winter designs.
One little warning. Please don’t do what I did and put them in the washing machine. Merino wool is not suited for machines, as I found out. As a result, and due to their quality, I did go and buy another pair of the same gloves.
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