Packing can be stressful when planning what to pack for any type of trip or adventure. The “what if”s end up taking over your planning and all of a sudden you have over 50 kg worth of stuff. Not me! Everything I have comes in under 20 kg, including enough clothes, shoes, computer and camera gear for a year. Whenever someone asks me how I packed, my response is, “Bring half of what you currently have packed. When you’ve narrowed it down, cut it in half again.” You’d be surprised how little you need and what you’re able to pick up along the way. I’ve talked about packing for a shorter adventure here. I wanted to share how I travel with all of my gear and some advice for packing it.
Every type of lens and accessory does serve a purpose and it might be a challenge to limit what you’re used to shooting with. Often times I go back and forth being envious of people who have a small mirrorless camera with a fixed lens vs the people with a DSLR with the lens trinity. I’ve realized that there’s never a perfect solution. It’s more about what you feel comfortable having with you and how easy it allows you to have fun taking photos; however, the exception to this can be a situation like traveling on an assignment for which you’re required to have gear for specific needs, like a dedicated portrait lens, lighting or sports.
Let’s first start with my bag. Well, kind of. I don’t have a dedicated “photo bag” so that I am able to use my “camera” bag for other things. The same bag that I keep my camera stuff in is used for my daily bag for my commute to work. The same bag is also used when I go away for a weekend. When my gear isn’t with me, it’s in my apartment neatly stored away.
When I do travel with a lot of my gear, none of my daypacks look like an expensive camera bag, so it’s hard to tell that I have expensive equipment in them. When I go out shooting for the day, I’ll bring only what I need.
Which photo gear do I travel with?
Sony Alpha a7 II
Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 Lens
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens
Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens
GoPro HERO5 Black w/ accessories
MeFOTO BackPacker Air
Sensor cleaning supplies
Giottos Rocket Blaster
Batteries & memory cards
Peak Design CapturePRO
Most days I will have my a7 and 55mm attached and nothing else. When I go on longer trips, I will start bringing extra accessories like more batteries, the GoPro, the tripod, and so on.
I’ve gotten creative with storing certain items in certain places. Like I mentioned above, I don’t have a traditional camera bag. My storage system demonstrates different types of tricks that you can use when you’re traveling with a number of different items. Memory cards without a case can fit in between a lens and body cap. You can use binder clips to keep loose bags shut. I kept the bubble wrap that shipped with one of my lenses and use that instead of the bag. I felt the bag was better served to hold more items.
I’ve learned this year that these accessories and extra gear that I have with me are mostly “nice to have” things. If you limit what you have, it becomes less of “I wish that I bought this [gear]” and more about “what can I do with this [gear]?”.
My advice for anyone planning a short or long trip with photo gear is to think about your goals for your trip. Are you after shooting portraits? Are you looking to shoot some landscapes? Do you want a variety of subjects? Next, pick the bare minimum from your gear that can accomplish your goals. And lastly, have fun!
What’s in your bag? I’d love to hear what you’ve brought and what you travel with. Let me know on Twitter — @danielcgold.