It looks like we all may soon be able to travel again soon! With that in mind Nicole and I thought we would share a recent interview we did for a travel site. We were asked about our strategies for packing our gear. Since this is something we are regularly asked about we thought we would share some of that interview here.
What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings? Why these things? How do they help/improve your traveling? Any good stories about how they have helped/improved things? What are the most useless things you have seen people bring?
The top three things we bring on our trips are cameras, cameras, cameras – oh, and lenses too. Being professional nature photographers, Nicole and I make a living by building unique photography trips to beautiful parts of the world that we share with other photographers and nature lovers. Because of the amount of gear we bring, every ounce is an important decision. Keeping this in mind, one of the essentials that we include on every packing list is a bit of dark chocolate since it isn’t always available at the locations we travel to. Bringing other people along on our journeys, we often see unusual packing choices. For instance, on our last trip to Costa Rica, we had one client who always travels with his own personal showerhead and accompanying wrench with which to do the necessary plumbing.
How do you bring things with you? What type of bags do you carry? What are their brand names and models? How do you organize things in your bags? Do you feel you have enough/too little room in your bags?
Our gear is essential to our trips so how we transport and secure this expensive equipment is critical to our comfort and success. The bags we use play a big part in our travel. For our gear, Nicole and I use only one brand for travel: Think Tank. Nicole, being of slighter frame, prefers the rolling Airport Advantage bag, while I use the Airport Addicted Backpack. Having done this type of work and travel for over thirty years, they are quite simply the best bags we have found. They are strong, durable and lightweight while also providing the needed protection for our fragile gear. As for our checked luggage, we could not live without our 30” Eagle Creek Rolling Duffels. These bags provide the right number of compartments as well as reinforced zippers, buckles, and corners. We never question the durability of Eagle Creek bags. In addition, on the inside, Nicole swears by the Eagle Creek packing cubes. Being able to keep clothes, personal items as well as small camera gear well organized in separate packs inside the duffle compartment has greatly simplified travel. Being out in the field all day, it is nice to be able to return to the lodge and pull-out unruffled clothes so we can dress for a fine dinner.
What are your top tips for other outdoor photographers? How to pack light? Why not pack like everybody else? Something you see a lot of outdoor photographers do wrong? Any recommendations for getting out of the door and not just dream about it.
Our top tips for other photographers: Tip #1 come on a trip with us! We have a lot of fun and go to epic destinations where we make incredible images. Our best packing recommendation is to use the Think Tank bags to carry on all your expensive, hard to replace gear. This includes camera bodies, super telephoto lenses, all necessary chargers, cords, cables, laptop computer and of course the hard drives containing precious imagery. In the checked Eagle Creek 30” duffels, we recommend packing the tripods, tripod heads, mid-range and wide angle zoom lenses, flashes and other equipment.
We take this approach because when we arrive at some remote location, we need to have all our essential gear with us. If checked bags don’t arrive, we may be able to purchase smaller gear and tripods on location, but our trusted camera bodies and long lenses would be virtually impossible to replace in the countries we travel to.
The biggest mistake we see is photographers trying to learn a brand new unfamiliar camera on their trip of a lifetime. The other mistake we see is when people bring gear that they will never use. Photographers tend to love their gadgets, but travel photography is not the place for unnecessary gadgets.
In the end, travel is about having amazing experiences in epic locations where we explore new cultures and environments, creating memories that last a lifetime. Your gear should never get in the way of that.
Good Luck and Good Light!
Steve and Nicole