Travel photography is an art form entirely of its’ own. I mean, just the sheer amount of days getting to your destination just to begin your photoshoot is essentially like running a marathon. On a recent trip to the Norwegian Arctic, I knew I had to refine my traveling and camera setup. In the past, I’ve relied heavily on camera backpacks to carry and protect all of my equipment photography jobs in the great outdoors.
The problem with relying entirely on camera backpacks is that they’re not airplane friendly. The hip belts just always tend to bounce off of unsuspecting passenger’s foreheads as you walk down the tiny isle of an airplane. They don’t typically have enough padding or protection to keep your gear safe from the poor flight attendant who is desperately using all of her strength to stow that last carry-on hard case overhead, all the while your camera’s and lenses are taking massive blows from her desperate efforts. And then there’s safety, have you ever tried to zip tie all your zippers together, or use TSA locks or any other means to actually protect your precious camera cargo from would be thieves? In my experience, there’s just not really a good way to do it!
The biggest challenge I’ve had in the past with relying on a single backpack to hold all of my camera gear, is having other people on a trip or expedition handling my bag as if it’s a sack of potatoes. It’s difficult to stress the importance of “safe handling” when the bag is full of your precious contents and not theirs.
So how can you avoid this classic travel photographer oversight?
My answer to you is:
Pelican Air cases.
I got my hands on a 1535 Air case with TrekPak inserts so I could fully customize the interior to arrange my camera gear exactly the way I needed. I invested in an extremely small camera backpack to hold one or two cameras, a jacket and some snacks for when I was on the run. I used the 1535 air to hold the rest of my camera gear and all of my camera accessories, GoPros, Mavic Pro, and charging equipment.
The benefit of having all of your precious and bulky camera equipment in a small hard case is that you can 100% rely on it to be fall-proof, waterproof, dust-proof, and tampering-proof. It’s a lot easier to throw a TSA lock on one of these cases than it is to attempt to lock up a camera bag.
I also learned a massive advantage to storing all of your camera gear in a hard case when you’re going through airport security screening. Typically you have to remove all of your cameras, lap tops, drones and electronic devices into separate bins to send them though to be scanned. With everything in one hard case you can inform the security agent the case is full of camera gear and electronic devices and they will prompt you to leave everything in the case and send it through the scanner. Saving me a ton of time at every security check I go through, on this last trip I had six flights so that little hack is actually a big deal for me!
I hope that I convinced you to ditch the oversized camera bags, travel light and pack your traveling photography kit into a more practical hard case where you can protect your gear from the elements, and other people.