Essential Travel Gear for the Girth-Challenged Photographer

I am a small person, but I like to play with heavy equipment. Thus necessitating extensive research on what gear is available to make traveling and backpacking less of a physical ordeal. Too many times I have tried to travel with gear equaling half my weight and double my size. But no more.

The trouble is, in this tech world how can you limit the gear that you bring on a trip, without sacrificing the connectivity that technology allows us? And to top that off, as a travel photographer, how can you be prepared without breaking your back?

Ideally, I want to be able to have enough gear to cover most shooting situations which, ultimately, is most important to me. Which means that I have to limit everything else that I bring with me. I can’t afford (weight-wise) to bring my laptop. But I need to have a way to save and backup my photo files. I also want to be able to check my email and use Skype. And I also want to be able to have access to my blog to update. Books are essential for the quiet times during travel, but a nightmare to carry.

So, here are some of my solutions that I have come up with. I will be testing almost everything out on my 2 week trip to the Philippines, and will report back on the success of each item.

Osprey Aura 50

Osprey Aura 50

I went to Adventure 16 yesterday to find the best backpack for my frame, and with the help of the knowledgeable staff there, came home with the Osprey Aura 50. It was a pretty close call between the Osprey and the Gregory Jade 50, but the fit of the Osprey just blew me away, so I took it. It has an amazing lumbar support system that has a space for air ventilation (perfect for the summer heat of Asia) and hugs the female form for superior comfort. Also, they are made in different sizes from XS-XL. Mine (a small) looks tiny, and is only 2800 c.i or 47 liters. Which I was a little nervous about fitting all my stuff in it. But I got home packed it up, and I still have plenty of room. Once I put it on and looked in the mirror, it became obvious that with my frame, I should NEVER again travel with anymore than what fits in this pack.

Naneu Pro Alpha

Naneu Pro Alpha

Every photographer has a weakness for bags. And there’s a bag for every occasion. I needed something specific for traveling and as a day pack. The Naneu Pro line is great because of two things: They don’t look like camera bags and they are comfortable to carry. And again, size was an issue for me as most camera backpacks are way too big for my frame. This particular one was perfect, I have my camera, 3 lenses, and my light meter, all crammed into the bottom half of the bag. The extra front pockets hold all the accessories you could need and the top half is just enough for personal effects that you may need while out shooting.

Epson P3000

Epson P3000

This is a godsend for travel photographers. It is a portable photo viewer with 40GB of storage and a beautiful 4 inch LCD screen. You plug in your CF cards, it downloads them onto the drive for viewing and also, you can connect the Epson P3000 directly to an external HD to do multiple backups of your files. This function also allows you to buy HDs of whatever size for cheaper, unlimited storage capability. The P5000 is 80GB, but at $600 over a 320GB LaCie Rugged HD for $200, it makes more sense to just buy the cheaper viewer and save your money for more HD space. Just a thought, I wonder if it has a PDF viewer for documents, if so I might be able to take PDF books with me using the viewer…

LaCie Rugged HD

LaCie Rugged Harddrive

Not much to say about this except I’ve heard great things about the Rugged’s performance and reliablity, which is key when I am in the middle of a village in the heart of China. I will be backing up all my images directly from the Epson to 2 Ruggeds so that I always have 2 copies of my photos. Maybe a little overkill to some, but if you’ve ever had a HD crash, you know what I’m talking about!

iPod Touch iPod Touch

With the new software upgrade that includes Mail and Notes, not only does it offer entertainment and access to the web whilst traveling, but now when you have a wifi connection, you can check your email directly and take it with you. With some patience, I can also blog while on the road with my iPod Touch and then email the post to my blog once I get to an area with wifi access. I won’t have to spend my waking hours sitting in an internet cafe instead of at the beach… If only Apple will remove the $20 tag on the upgrade! The other thing that would be great for the iPod Touch is to include a (free) PDF viewer for PDF books. The Amazon kindle is just too big and ugly and specific for me to pay $400. I’d rather stick with my iPod Touch for now. But if they come out with

SMC Skype Phone

SMC WiFi Phone

I have been using Skype for over a year now, talking to my parents in Hong Kong from LA for free. Brilliant. This phone gives me wifi access to Skype without a computer, so I can keep in touch while I travel. Did I say Skype is FREE for all users? Also, I now have a US number for a mere $3/mth to take with me to HK so I will never be more than a phone call away from anyone without Skype in the US.

I will try to weigh in the total of my gear, including my camera and 3 lenses to give you an idea. But so far, I’ve carried it all and it feels great!


~ by Jen C. on 16/01/2008.

One Response to “Essential Travel Gear for the Girth-Challenged Photographer”

  1. well this is useful… (at least for me)

    very thanks

    travel link

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