Vehicle for Wildlife & Nature Travel Photography

Started Mar 18, 2020 | Discussions thread
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Bill Ferris
Bill Ferris Veteran Member • Posts: 7,066
Vehicle for Wildlife & Nature Travel Photography

I never thought I'd be at this place in life.

I'm within a year of having enough points for full retirement benefits and, while I'm not planning to chuck it all and stop working, immediately,  retirement is something that is clearly on the horizon.

In recent years, I've developed a real enjoyment of bird and wildlife photography. I've always enjoyed being in the outdoors. Family vacations during my  childhood usually centered around backpacking, canoeing or sailing. As an adult, I've done a fair bit of hiking and backpacking in Grand Canyon. And since getting more seriously into photography, I've made trips to GC, Rocky Mountain NP, Grand Tetons NP and Yellowstone NP specifically for the purpose of photographing wildlife and landscapes.

My wife and I currently share a Pontiac Vibe. It gets pretty good gas mileage for road trips but, my goodness, there's barely enough room for me to roll out a mattress and sleeping bag in the back and it's not exactly a vehicle I'm comfortable taking too far down a maintained forest road, let alone a jeep trail.

So, I've been shopping for a vehicle the current and future-retired me will find more comfortable for extended road trips to do wildlife and nature photography. My journey began with an obsession over class B campervans. Sportsmobiles are seriously hot. They still appeal but honestly, it's not how I've ever traveled and the $150K pricetag for new (not much less for used) is just not realistic.

I also had a brief flirtation with travel trailers - Outdoors RV makes a bodacious off-road worthy trailer - but, again, it's not how I've ever traveled and the price tag is an obstacle. More recently, I've been looking at used trucks (F150s, mostly) and Jeeps (model year 2018 and newer Wrangler Unlimiteds) as vehicles I could use as a daily driver, for roadtrips and going off-road to gain access to places and subjects that interest me. I'd probably mount a roof-top tent to either.

The truck would be more luxurious and comfortable. But I've never driven a truck and have difficulty imagining a use for the bed. The Jeep would be "comfortable enough" and more off-road worthy but I'm not a rock-crawler. I will admit, I do like the "tough" look of the Jeep.

So, what do you think? All opinions are invited and welcome. If you regularly use a truck, Jeep or other vehicle for the kind of travel and photography I've described, I'd really like to hear your thoughts on the pros & cons of your chosen method of transportation.

In the time of coronavirus, this is the kind of discussion that has the potential to be a fun distraction from all the crazy. Let's take advantage of that and keep it, fun. Thanks in advance to you for sharing your thoughts.

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Bill Ferris Photography
Flagstaff, AZ

 Bill Ferris's gear list:Bill Ferris's gear list
Nikon D610 Nikon D500 Fujifilm X-T20 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm F4G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR +4 more
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