BackPacking With Your Drone. A Simple Guide For An Epic Hike

man on edge of mountain

Packing Up Your Drone For The Weekend Hike

Here is a helpful checklist I Wish I Had To Review – Before Taking A Hike

I mentioned in an earlier post the opportunity on a hike to take some great pictures, and video can be fantastic. If you like to backpack or hike up in the mountains or grab your backpack on vacation, your small drone can be your best friend.

 What Should I Know Before Going Hiking?  Plan your next hike with these tools and resources. Here are Eight import points to review before you go on your next hike with your Camera Drone or Quadcopter

  1. Planning the Hike with a Drone.
  2. Plan your Shots.
  3. What Drone Flight Modes will I need
  4. Practice your Drones flight modes
  5. Know Your Camera Setting
  6. Your Drones Flight time and Batteries.
  7. The Range of the Drone
  8. Where Not to fly a Drone

How to plane your hike with a Drone

 You have a drone, and you’re an avid hiker who likes to take off for the day or weekend to explore the many incredible outdoor destinations close by. Maybe you’re planning to take your Drone with you on vacation? Grab a pencil or copy and paste,  because this is a great basic checklist to go through before you go.

Here is the basic list of items I check off before I go; 

  •  Drone
  •  Batteries and Charger
  • Extra Propellers
  • Controller
  • Prop Guards (If Safety is an Issue)
  • Car Charger and Charging Cables
  • Memory Cards (Empty)
  • ND Filters
  • Lens Cloth
  • APPs loaded on your Phone or Tablet
  • Batteries, Devices Fully Charged

I found that most of the items can be tucked away in your backpack, but of course, it depends on where you are going and for how long. Most of today’s good quality Drones come with a small travel case that you can slide into or hook onto your pack.  All in all, if you have a small foldable Drone like the DJI Mavic, it fits almost anywhere.

camera equipment by candle

Plan Your Shots

The checklist above, I do that before I leave of course, but the night before I check out where I’m going to be hiking.  I like aerial photography, so I want to plan out my shots. It’s easy if you’ve been to the area before but obviously a little harder with a new location.

If you are an experienced hiker you probably already know some of the resources available to check out locations. A lot of times I’ll check out reviews of the area and look a some of the forums that talk about favorite spots to go in that particular area.

Google Earth is a great tool I use often. The idea is to take a few minutes before you go and think about what opportunities for great shots will present themselves during your hike.

woman on mountain

What Drone Flight Modes Will I Need?

The Flight Modes on your Drone can come in handy on a hike. A couple of examples would be; let’s say you’re putting together a little video of your day out.  If your Drone has Follow Me, you can get some great clips of yourself climbing up, walking down or canoes on the lake. Short little clips to add to your video. 

Another Flight Mode that can be fun is Orbit or Point of Interest. I’m sure you’ve seen the classic Drone Shot of someone standing at the top of the mountain they just climbed, on the edge of a rock! With the Drone orbiting around them while they glance out over the classic view of the canyon below. 

One more Flight Mode that may come in handy is WayPoints. One example,  I have used this at my Brothers cottage.  I set a waypoint at 3 different spots around the edge of the lake. Using the App on my iPad, I selected Go and videotaped the entire trip.  It’s an accurate way to get to the spot you want to video or photograph and back safely. It’s cool watching your Drone on its predetermined Flight plan.

Practice Your Drone Flight Modes

Recommendation You may already have experience with Flight Modes. If not, I would highly recommend you spend some time in your backyard or local park and Practice Practice Practice. Test each flight mode out over and over until you can do it in your sleep. The top of the Mountain or the middle of nowhere is not the best place to learn.

The most critical Flight Mode or feature to test is Return to Home. This feature can be confusing on some Drones. There are two basic types. Auto and Switched. Auto is engaged when you lose connection with your Drone.  Switched is a Switch on your controller you toggle to engage RTH.  If you lose connection before switching it on ….well, it may be a problem.  So it’s important to know the difference.  Most now have Auto. There is no worse feeling in the world than when you watch your Drone Fly off in another direction. 

man with hat on

Know Your Camera Setting

This is pretty straight forward. The day before you go, or in the car on the way, if you’re not driving!!, go over the settings for the camera. Just familiarize yourself with the controls, so you’re not trying to make adjustments and fiddling around when the bear in the valley below is walking by. You’ll miss out. Know which buttons on the Controller operate the camera and what they do.

Most of the APPs have a setting for the camera to make adjustments.  The Controllers have a couple of dedicated buttons for operating the camera angles. Some have a zoom feature.  Basically, get it set up so you can forget about it and concentrate on getting the shot. Don’t forget Memory Cards!

Flight Times and Batteries

Check the manufacturer’s suggested flight times.  If they suggest flight times around 25 minutes, that’s code for 20 MAX.  I have never flown a drone the same length of time the Box indicates. There are too many factors.  Wind, speed, aggressively flying your Drone. Make sure you know the maximum time you can fly per battery.

Try to have a minimum of 2 extra batteries. When I bought my Phantom, I purchased a total of 4 batteries to start. This allowed me to fly continuously for over an hour. Having an hour of flight time on a hike is nice.  If you are flying close to your car, you can almost fly all day depending on how long it takes to charge a battery.

What’s The Range Limit For My Drone?

 This is a tricky question to answer. Carefully read your Operating materials. Obviously, it’s important to know how far away you can fly you Drone safely while staying connected to your controller. 

All Drones have varying ranges from a few meters/feet to a few miles (remember to keep your Drone in Visual Line Of Sight).

 For most of us, the range is excellent. You can test yours if you have an App that goes with it.  Take off and fly your Drone in a straight line, keeping an eye on your devices video feed.  Once the video feed begins to break up, this is an indication you are getting out of range.

 If you don’t have video watch when your Drone starts to become unresponsive at times, then head back into Range. This is where the Auto Return to Home comes in handy. If you fly out of range, it will stop and return to its start point

no drone sign

Where NOT to fly your Drone

Remember, in some Countries, you CANNOT fly in National Parks. Some State or Provincial Parks are ok. If not they may give you permission for special activities. But remember, there are a few obvious places you shout not be flying a drone.  An Airport is a good example.

Here is a really great Map you can use to see if you can, not only operate on your hike but in your backyard as well.

AirMap WebApp:

AirMao for Drones is available on iOS and Android

What are the best Drones for hiking and backpacking?

A new small foldable drone from DJI, the Mavic Mni is, in my opinion, is the best Drone right now for Hiking and Backpacking. I review it here on our website and you can check out the reviews and pricing on Amazon here.

I also found the following small Drones for this type of activity. The DJI Spark and Mavic Series, or the Yuneec Breeze.  (Reviews on Amazon) All have their pros and cons but are great drones.

You can also check out  GPS Trackers for your Drone.  A couple of them you can put on your Pet if you take your best friend with you on the hike.


It’s an amazing adventure when you take a drone with you backpacking.  You’ll get a whole, new perspective shooting photos and videos with your Drone.

Remember to respect the rules, respect Trail Etiquette, and stay clear of wildlife. When you leave the area, leave no trace you were there.

so, Take a hike… Stay out of the tree! I wish you a safe flight


I'm Rob, the founder of I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

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