The Very Best All-Weather Gear

Preparation is the key to success (and not having a very expensive problem).

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When it’s hot and dry, freezing cold, or pouring rain, you’ll need specialized equipment to make it through the shoot with your gear intact. From silica gel to a waterproof backpack to snowshoes for your tripod, here are the accessories that will keep your stuff safe no matter what the weather brings.Galyna Andrushko - Fotolia
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HOT DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w SE with SPOT Satellite Communicator Intense heat can disorient on wilderness trips, but this handheld combo GPS and satellite communicator will bring you home safely—even if you’re beyond cell range. Operates in humidity levels over 90-percent and in temps up to 167° F. And friends can even track you on Google maps. $700, street; www.delorme.com
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HOT Silica Gel Packets Most cameras are shipped with silica gel desiccant packets, but most of us toss them away. Don’t. They absorb up to 40-percent of their weight in moisture, useful in hot, humid climes. From $9 for a 20-pack of 1-gram packs; www.silicagelpackets.com
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HOT Travel Lite Fishing Vest Typical photo vests can get sweaty, so take an idea from the fishing community: the Travel Lite Fly Fishing Vest from Aqua Design. Made from quick-drying, brushed- nylon mesh and weighing only 7.1 ounces, it also has lots of pockets. $50, street; www.aquadesign.com
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HOT Giottos CoCo-Air Blowers Hot and dry environments bring dust­—no good for gear.Giottos CoCo-Air Blowers are a great low-tech solution. The adjustable air nozzle lets you aim the flow, and a blow- back valve prevents them from sucking up the dust. $13, street; www.giottos.com
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HOT Igloo Playmate MaxCold Soft Cooler Cameras hate high heat, so try swapping your shoulder bag for the soft- sided Igloo Maxcold cooler. It will hold your DSLR and a few lenses, and it has a neat internal lid compartment for extras. $20, street; www.igloo-store.com
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HOT Extech 44550 Pocket Humidity/Temperature Pen The Extech 44550 Pocket Humidity/Temperature Pen will tell you exactly how hot and humid it is­—it has a temperature range of 14 to 122° F and a relative humidity range of 20 to 90 percent. $33, street; www.calright.com
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Photoflex Translucent LiteDisc Too much sun is a bad thing. These diffusers, available in sizes from 12-inch (great for macro work) to 52-inch (for close-up portraits), soften shadows and reduce specular highlights on days with too-contrasty light. $15–$68, street; www.photoflex.com
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LensCoat LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers The last thing you want is a scorching burn from a sunbaked metal tripod leg. One solution: Wrap your tripod legs in LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. Made of close-cell foam, they feature Velco fasteners for quick installation. $35–$55, street, depending on size; www.lenscoat.com
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WET Pelican Micro Cases You can’t beat a big Pelican case for keeping lots of gear clean and dry—and these micro models do the same for smaller stuff, such as compact cameras and cell phones. Watertight (no diving, but several models are safe at 3.3-foot submersion for 30 minutes), dustproof, and crushproof, they have clear lids for seeing what’s inside. $8–$37, depending on size; www.pelican-case.com
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WET BRNO dri+Cap SYSTEM It's important to keep your gear at a constant, safe, relative humidity level (35- to 40-percent), and the BRNO dri+Cap protective dehumidifying lens cap system can help. Its color-indicating silica packs attach directly to your camera body and lenses using special caps. Available for Canon and Nikon bodies and lenses. $55, street; www.hpmarketingcorp.com
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WET Aquatech Sports Shield These soft one-piece 100-percent waterproof rain shields protect your camera and lens from all the nasty elements. An adjustable rubber seal wraps around the front of the lens, and a waterproof sleeve provides complete access to camera controls. $72–$230, depending on camera and lens size; www.aquatech.net
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WET Large Bubble Umbrella Clear umbrellas let you continue to watch the action while keeping you and your gear dry. The Large Bubble Umbrella provides a 36-inch diameter haven and has a metal shaft. $34, street; www.umbrellastand.com
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WET ShamWow Vince the ShamWow guy may drive you nuts with his infomercials, but the chamois-like cloth he’s hawking really works for drying wet gear. It holds 12 times its weight in water and is easily snipped to custom sizes. $20 for four; www.shamwow.com
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WET Nikon Fog Eliminator Cloths In humid and damp weather, your lenses and filters will probably gather condensation. To prevent it, wipe with Nikon’s Fog Eliminator Cloths. The individually wrapped, reusable cloths prevent moisture from gathering on glass and camera surfaces. $4.50, street, for a pack of three; www.nikonusa.com
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WET Gepe Card Safe Extreme Memory cards and water shouldn’t mix, but these hard-shell wallets can protect them: They’re crushproof, dustproof, and watertight—and they float. $17, street; www.gepe.com
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WET OpTech Rainsleeve These pocket-size camera rain hoods sport an eyepiece that adapts to viewfinders so you view through the glass, not the bag. Drawstring around front lens element lets you seal out the weather. $7, street, for two; www.optechusa.com
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WET HPRC 3500E Waterproof Backpack Falling in a river or getting drenched in a raging rain would spell doom with most backpacks, but with this hard-shell resin pack, your stuff will stay safe and dry. Crushproof and light, it handles extreme temps, too: –40˚F to 175˚F. Weighs 6.6 pounds empty (7.82 with foam). $292, street, without insert; www.plaber.com
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COLD Pentax K-5 The Pentax K-5 DSLR was born for handling extreme cold. Pentax says this 16.3MP all-weather camera (tested on page 71) is “fully weathersealed” against cold and resists water, fog, snow, sand, dust, and more. It’s got a tough frame, too: a magnesium-alloy body wrapped around a stainless steel chassis. $1,500, street; www.pentaximaging.com
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COLD Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater No need to sit in a frigid blind while you wait for a wildlife subject: Warm up with Mr. Heater. Powered by 1-lb propane tanks, it has two output options—4,000 or 9,000 BTUs—for up to 6 hours of warmth. Also has automatic low-oxygen and tip-over safety shut-off features. $100, street; www.cabelas.com
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COLD Energizer Ultimate Lithium Batteries Non-rechargeable lithium batteries handle cold best. Energizer claims its cells last up to eight times longer than others, have a 15-year storage life, and operate down to –40˚F. $7, street, for four AAs; www.energizer.com
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COLD Hand Warmers Chemical hand warmers are good for other things, too. Says Alaskan photographer Ron Niebrugge, “I keep an extra battery in my pocket with a warmer and then rotate as needed.” Extreme cold? He suggests securing one to the base of your camera with a rubber band. $10, street for a bag of 10; www.warmers.com
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COLD Everest Designs Glomitt Convertible Mittens Both glove and mitten, these let you operate camera controls while keeping all but your fingertips toasty. Made by a women’s cooperative in Nepal in sight of Mount Everest. $15, street; www.rei.com
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COLD GoPro HD Helmet HERO For shooting while skiing, GoPro’s 1080p HD Helmet HERO will capture your adventures. It can record up to 2.5 hours of video on a single charge or shoot 5MP stills at 60-sec intervals automatically. $299, street; www.goprocamera.comCourt Leve
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COLD Manfrotto 230 All Weather Tripod Snowshoes Your feet sink into the snow—why wouldn’t your tripod’s? These universal pads clamp on to your tripod legs and, in snow or sand, prevent your camera support from heading south on you. Package of three (good for one tripod or three monopods). $20, street; www.manfrotto.com