During the last few months we’ve been mixing it up on our Youtube Channel expanding the types of content from just bag reviews to include tech and some travel vlog style content. Our interest in vlogging has evolved slowly over time as a means to share what we do in a little more immediate way. While testing the waters with this format, we didn’t really want to spend a whole lot of money and wanted to use gear we already owned. For us, that meant an iPhone with a few choice accessories. The bonus with doing it on the iPhone is that I could edit videos at night in the tent!

You can see the results from our experiment in our #GreatWesternRamble playlist. While the production value is a little less than the client work that we do, having a small innocuous system really allowed us to capture some great extemporaneous moments. Some of our favorites include interviewing the owners of Tiger Town Brewing and Spoken Hostel in Mitchell, OR. Sure, we could have rigged up the larger camera, but at the cost of these quick great moments.

Here’s a list of the gear we used for vlogging during the summer and some notes on whether we would use the same thing again or not.

Saramonic iMic
The Saramonic iMic is an ESSENTIAL piece of gear. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about video, it is that you can get away with a little sub par video if the audio/narrative is strong, but not the other way around. The Saramonic is small and inexpensive and works pretty well. You do have to use it fairly close for best results (about an arms length away) but for most vlogging uses that is fine.

Gorillapod and Phone Holder
This Gorillapod and phone holder combination came in handy as well. The Gorillapod allows you to extend your reach to capture more of you, your surroundings and your partner in the frame. It was also great for setting the phone down on a table or wrapped around a bike for quick timelapses. If there is one flaw in this system it is the cheap phone holder. I went through two of these in a month. If I were to do it again, I would get something nicer like the Glif!

Clip on Wide Angle Lens
We used the least expensive and Primeable clip on wide angle lens we could find at the time. A wide angle lens is essential for talking into the camera (especially with two people). The wide angle also allows you to hold the camera closer to you and thus improve the sound quality of the mic. The clip on mechanism worked fine but was fidgety when aligning it for the best quality. If you missed the lens on the camera you will get some extremely soft corners. It was also a bit of a pain to have to unclip and reclip it to switch between forward facing and rear facing cameras. Ultimately, we would have liked to get something like the Olloclip but weren’t ready to invest that kind of money.

Portable Battery
Vlogging is a good way to run down your phone battery! Some sort of external battery pack is essential especially if you are touring through remote areas without a way to charge things. Fortunately, external batteries have gone way down in price (like this one!) and allow you to travel and shoot for several days “off the grid”. A bonus is that a lot of gear these days (GPS, camera, phone, lights, etc.,) can also be charged by external battery packs almost getting rid of the need of other heavy and complicated systems like dynamos and solar panels.

Dedicated Vlog Camera
One of the things we considered was getting a dedicated vlogging camera. Perhaps the most recommended is the Canon G7 Mark 2. It is packed with lots of great features like image stabilization, high image quality and a passable mic. However, it DOES come in at a hefty price point for a camera with a singular purpose. We are on the fence on this one, but if we did have the available funds it would be a strong contender.

Future Vlogs
We are pretty dedicated to doing future vlogs on upcoming trips. For us it is a fun way to share our experiences with others. The gear we use may ultimately change, but for us using the phone was a good place to start. One of the cameras we are eagerly anticipating is the Lumix G85 which works well with our other camera lenses, has a mic input and amazing image stabilization. Stay tuned for more vlogs in the future and a gear update when we get that sorted out.