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One backpack & a camera

If you only had a backpack and were travelling for 6 months or more around the globe…what gear would you take ???

I am struggling to figure out what to take for my travels…..I’m already thinking 1 Dslr & flash, 2 lens ,1 x field audio recorder & mic, 1 x very very small video camera HD, 1 x LAPTOP which means batteries, cards, cords etc, etc. AAAAh I already feel its too much !!!!

I have been thinking of just taking a film SLR, 2 lens & a stack of film….instead of the DSLR & laptop etc but I still have the problem of transferring to dig ???

If you have any suggestions I would appreciate the input !


by Nick McGrath at 2009-06-04 10:44:12 UTC (ed. Jun 4 2009 ) Melbourne , Australia | Bookmark | | Report spam→

The principal secret to going light in the circumstances you outline may be in the computer. Use a pocket external drive (such as Seagate’s Free Agent Go…up to 500GB) for image storage and a “netbook” to manage the process and get e-mail. You could ratchet down the audio weight by ditching the external mic but at a compromise of quality.

The other secret is clothing…two changes only and wearing the same shoes the whole time (if you can stand it!).

Others will no doubt have their own secrets.

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2009 11:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
Unfortunately the two changes of clothes and the same shoes looks highly likely so i apologize in advance if i smell !….My problem in thinking is that I wish to be able to work (ie, produce multimedia) as I go and I am wondering if the only thing capable of running the necessary software all together, ie cs3, pro-tools, fcp is a mac ?

by Nick McGrath | 04 Jun 2009 12:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
try taking a 24-70, a dictaphone sort of recorder (there are some nice ones available now), a macbook with pro-tools, fcp and cs3, one small seagate (500GB) and 2 8GB cards. that’s whats in my kit usually. very hassle-free.

and yes, a mac book pro is probably the machine you want. the 15 inch one should do. though i use the bigger one.

by Shankar Chandra | 04 Jun 2009 12:06 | New Delhi, India | | Report spam→
If you go the film route, do you need to transfer to digital on the road? can you wait till you are home?

by [former member] | 04 Jun 2009 12:06 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
I am having the same problem.

I really just want to take my 28mm and 50mm, but the pack rat inside of me is telling me I need a longer lens JUST IN CASE. Also, my 17in MBP is not gonna work in a backpack… It is way too heavy. I wish I had thought about that before I bought that huge thing 2 years ago.

Anyone have any suggestions on backing up files without a laptop?

by Alex Blackwelder | 04 Jun 2009 17:06 | Murfreesboro, United States | | Report spam→
I travel with the 13-inch macbook (not the pro). It’s bigger than the netbooks but will run the software you want. I thought about a netbook but couldn’t bring myself to go PC.

I also take two Seagate freeagent hard drives for redundant storage (The PC version is thinner and cheaper than the Mac version but only USB, which works fine since the macbook is only usb too.)

As for cameras, I travel with two M8 bodies and 24 and 35mm lenses (roughly equal to a 28 and 50 on full frame). For film I use two M6 cameras with 28 and 50 mm lenses and in that case I leave the laptop home.

I’ve been thinking of starting to shoot more film but the problem is that film can take up as much or more space than a laptop and the digital support gear! And forget about scanning film on the road if you want to travel light.

by Noah Addis | 04 Jun 2009 18:06 | Philadelphia, United States | | Report spam→
I’m not sure I would listen to my own suggestion, but how about 2- Canon G10 and an Olympus Ls 10 audio recorder. Plus what Neal said for the storage and communications.
Six months ago I would have said 2- M6 bodies a 50 and 35 (maybe a 28 tucked away) and screw the rest. I wouldn’t take just one camera body for a job down the block, let alone around the globe.

by Joel Sackett | 04 Jun 2009 21:06 | Puget Sound, Washington, United States | | Report spam→
Dell Mini 9 netbook computer with MAC OSX installed.
250 GB Lacie mini-hard drive
Tiny flash
Canon G10 or other Digital P/S Camera with an extra battery, charger, cards, etc.

either DSLR with 28mm, 50mm, + 100mm lenses, or film camera with same.
space for the DSLR’s extra batteries, charger, card reader, and memory card wallet are only marginally less than say, 20-40 rolls of film.

If you’re shooting film, you can get developing and Photo-CD type scans on the road. Also labs in lots of countries will do Imacon scans really cheap for your hi-res needs.

All of that will fit in one backpack. You’re good to go.

by [former member] | 05 Jun 2009 08:06 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
it would be interesting to know what backpack ull be going with

by Emil Zinger | 05 Jun 2009 09:06 | Vilnius, Lithuania | | Report spam→
I would also advise to get a netbook… or a MacBook at MOST. I have the MacbookPro 15" and it’s cumbersome in terms of space and weight.

I understand the need for the Mac OS X environment. The last thing you need to worry about on the road is an unstable, virus-prone OS. In that sense, a Mac netbook IS a possibility. Check out Ben Long’s post:

Is FCP really that essential? Can you work with FCExpress? And ProTools versus something much lighter, like Sound Studio or even Soundtrack Pro? And how about just Lightroom? Or LR and Photoshop Elements? Going minimal on hardware (netbook style) may require you to minimize in terms of software.

In terms of backup on the go, check out a portable harddrive with card reader included like the Hyperdrive SPACE:
It’s tempting to go after the color versions, or the versions with a bigger LCD screen… but in the end, the simple SPACE gets things done and uses much less battery power. It’s not incredibly important to use this device to browse through photos in the field. Also, since it takes a regular 2.5" laptop harddrive, you could even swap out the HD when one gets full and send it back home for off-site storage. And DO consider a Pelican case for this HD. Words of wisdom from Mustafah Abdulaziz and his travels through Patagonia…

As for the backpack, I know that LoweAlpine makes a hiking backpack that includes an extendible handle and roller system similar to ones found on suitcases. A German acquiantance of mine had one and he loved it. Great for hauling the heavy load around airports and streets… and comfortable enough to wear it on your back in not-so-urban settings. Hell, he took it around Torres del Paine National Park. Pretty sure it was LoweAlpine, though I don’t know the model.

g’luck, mate

by G. Morty Ortega | 05 Jun 2009 13:06 | Santiago, Chile | | Report spam→
Firstly, thanks everyone for your replies !!

Alan, I’ve heard about the Dell Mini 9 with Mac OSx installed ….how do you go about this ?? I have been told that to run Cs3, FCP & Pro-Tools , I need the specs similiar to a 15"macbook pro ??? ………. The Dell along with external HD would certainly be ideal.

As for the backpack…. one that I am looking at is a macpac by a NZ company……. I travelled around Europe 2 years ago and I had a 55 litre backpack & my lowepro camera backpack. In transit between points it became a hassle but once at point of origin it was fine….. but that was only for 2 months…my trip is for 6 months plus so I’m only taking the one pack !!!

I have found a company that can modify backpacks which I’m thinking of doing…ie-creating compartments more out of security than anything as I dont want to be a walking advertisement for a mugging !! This nearly happened to me once before and I dont care to re-live that experience !!! I guess common sense prevails ???

When I’m shooting , I will either put what I need into a crusty old man bag or I will buy something that blends in with the particular place I am at ??

by Nick McGrath | 05 Jun 2009 13:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
How to http://i.gizmodo.com/5156903/how-to-hackintosh-a-dell-mini-9-into-the-ultimate-os-x-netbook or there is one on flea bay in Melbourne http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=250438227713&_trkparms=tab%3DWatching

by Imants | 05 Jun 2009 13:06 (ed. Jun 5 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
……remember the bigger the bag the more crap you put in it. Asia is sweet, buy a T shirt use it and donate it to a local mechanic……. buy another one.

by Imants | 05 Jun 2009 13:06 (ed. Jun 5 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
Gabriel…… I checked out the hyperdrive but B&H are out of stock ??? I will keep an eye out !!!

I need to keep researching on the software/hardware options…

…thanks for the heads up !!

by Nick McGrath | 05 Jun 2009 13:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
Ha Ha ….yes I will be donating T-shirts as I go !!…Pity I’m not going to Bali …. I love that Old “Ive been to Bali and all I got was beep beep…….” T-Shirt from Wayan @ jalan legian ????

by Nick McGrath | 05 Jun 2009 13:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
The more you take, the more you have to keep an eye on. I would never pack my Macbook Pro (too expensive, to fragile and too easy to steal). What do you do when you go into ‘the field’? Keeping the Mac in the (only) pack you have or stuff in a ‘safety’ box in your hotel? An external hard drive would do the trick for me (and extra back up DVD burning in local web cafes).

by Michiel Bles | 05 Jun 2009 14:06 | Amsterdam, Netherlands | | Report spam→
Karrimor Sabre 60-100 litres


by Daniel Legendre | 05 Jun 2009 15:06 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
Can you send home film from time to time?

by eva mbk | 05 Jun 2009 17:06 | Tuscany, Italy | | Report spam→
I’d suggest getting a small/lightweight (15-20 liter) daypack to keep your camera/computer gear in, which you can then just load inside your bigger travel backpack when walking or in transit to a new place. Works well if maybe you’re on a train and have to put your backpack in some luggage area that you can’t see; just pull out the daypack so you can keep it with you at your seat, without having to unpack or show any expensive stuff.

If you don’t need to actually produce/submit work while on the road, try to keep the computer gear to a minimum as it will get heavy after 6 months. Go with netbook as others have suggested and a couple portable HD’s. Maybe also think of an additional DVD burner and mail DVD’s home as you go (but I’m overly paranoid about my files).

by Cody Duncan | 05 Jun 2009 18:06 | Santa Barbara, United States | | Report spam→
For daypack



And a fly fishing vest for photographic gear (Simm)

by Daniel Legendre | 05 Jun 2009 18:06 (ed. Jun 5 2009) | Paris, France | | Report spam→
If you’re using FCP and ProTools the netbook is out of the question. You’ll need a Macbook Pro, might be able to get by with a regular Macbook. If you go for the latter you’ll have to get an older white/black one, the unibody Macbook doesn’t have firewire and then it’s going to be pretty slow going editing footage.

by Christopher Guess | 05 Jun 2009 18:06 | Madison, United States | | Report spam→
I wish I went places so I could worry about stuff like this. Serves me right for being such a stick in the mud.

by Akaky | 05 Jun 2009 20:06 (ed. Jun 5 2009) | New York , United States | | Report spam→
I’ve been thinking about this for the past year as I want to go explore Japan by rail. ‘d defiantly bring my Netbook (So I don’t have to manually transcribe my blog from a notepad… again)

I love my Nikon D2Hs too much to leave it behind, though I’d really rather do this with a Leica M8.2 with a 20mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm.

Glass wise, I’m become really lazy, no that’s a lie, I’m getting OCD about dust. I bought an 18-200 last year for three weeks in Japan and never removed it becasue I am really getting Howard Hughs about dust. (I’m not joking, I can never get the CCD clean enough, it’s really bad for me) I’d bring the 12-24 and the 70-200 just becasue, though I do have a 70-300 VR that I took last year to keep the weight down.

At them moment I have 9 domke’s but for a trip like this, probably use my medium canvas ALICE pack custom.

Now, I do have a ear of taking external hard drives with me, part of the OCD thing, so I’d suggest backing things up to be safe on to a CD or DVD at any local photo shop if you can just for an additional bit of safety.

I’m sure given time I can think of a lot more to say in this thread, but I’m really tired, and and have a cold killing me at the moment. Gomen.

by Aaron J. Heiner | 06 Jun 2009 02:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
a lot of people have given some pretty good advice. i’ve actually jotted down a lot.

now what about just taking a 5dmk2 so you have video capability and a audio recorder with a 24-70. this covers you pretty well. i’m down for the prime, but if you’re going to be gone for 6 months, that’s a long time to be making everything work in a 28 or 35 or whatever. whereas with the 24-70, it’s got a bit of versatility. then again, i’ve seen some amazing stuff from long term work on one lens. i’m just erring on the safe side…

i would absolutely leave behind the 70-200, especially if you’re just taking a backpack. that’s going to be a lot of weight for “just in case” something happens. in much likelihood, unless you’re traveling to specific places where the chances of needing that lens is high, i wouldn’t waste the space in the backpack.

and bring bags. like, plastic bags and drybags. they will save your life.

by [former member] | 06 Jun 2009 03:06 | Philadelphia, United States | | Report spam→
agree with mustafa here. lot’s of very good tips.
Neal Jacksons two shift of clothes is a good advice, but bring enough underwear and socks.

In a addition to the 5dmk2/24-70 combo mustafa is proposing, I would bring a point’n’shoot with raw. g10 for example? as backup, or for when the dslr is too protruding. and when buying a sound recorder, go for one that can take regular aa batteries. power is not always accessible but aa’s can be bought just about everywhere, no matter how remote. just like coca cola.

as for a bag, if you really want versatility and mobility, just a single bag might be the way to go. a carryon. I use a patagonia mlc for a lot of travel. can take several days shift of clothes, and with a customized camera insert, like the ones from domke or crumpler, my camera is safe. you can use those small dslr bags from lowepro as well. it can be carried like a backpack and a shoulder bag, never had any trouble getting it onto an airplane ever, and it is rock solid.
this bag carries my dslr with lens, clothes, mbp and minidisc with microphone.

because you are already in aussie nick, you might want to check sord australia for some really tough and solid backpacks, also used by the adf.

could also be nice to just bring a smaller collapsible backpack for everyday carry while the other bag is in a hotel or so too.

the less you have to carry around, the less you have to worry.
it’s not always fun to see your backpack getting unloaded from the roof of the bus you’re in onto a passing lorry in some remote outpost;)

have a nice trip.
wish I could hit the road soon again…
if you pass trough welly, give a shout and I’ll buy you a beer;)

by marius sortland myklebust | 06 Jun 2009 04:06 | Wellington, New Zealand | | Report spam→
thanks marius !! the sord site has some great stuff !!! …..have you checked out www.legear.com.au they are an Australian / New Zealand distributor …….lots of interesting stuff there!!!

I liked the Maxpedition versi-pack…..I think that could make a good camera bag

With lenses…. I am taking Nikon-17-35mm & 24 – 70mm ……….thats it !

I am definitely taking Imants & Aytak’s advice …..less is more and an umbrella !!!

by Nick McGrath | 06 Jun 2009 06:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
havent seen the legear site before, but now I’m afraid they’ll have to send me some stuff:P
nice with a distributor of stuff like that closer than the us… tnx :)

less is definitely more while travelling…

by marius sortland myklebust | 06 Jun 2009 06:06 | Wellington, New Zealand | | Report spam→
Back on the computer side, if you elect to wait for serious image editing until you get home, that reduces the need for heavy computing equipment. Notwithstanding I know several people who are running Lightroom 2.0 in a netbook.

And it may be nice to have a Hackintosh if your cyberlife is Mac-based, but in my mind the computer here will mostly be a means to get the images from the card (or other recording medium) into the pocket external drive (and occasional checks on e-mail). So getting a cheap netbook with XP may be a compromise of economics. You can also save another few bucks by putting shareware, especially Mozilla’s Firefox and Thunderbird (for e-mail — remarkably simple, user-friendly and reliable). Open Office is also a good choice if you need a free word processor for composing.

Since you will have to have a computer and separate drive anyway, wouldn’t the Hyperdrive be unnecessary weight, cables, batteries, space, etc.? Just carrying some extra large-capacity camera cards may give the stretch capacity you need between times when you can download images.

by [former member] | 06 Jun 2009 12:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
a good pair of shoes, M4-P, M6, Neopan.

by Buck Pago | 06 Jun 2009 14:06 | | Report spam→
Interesting discussion, I am grappling with a similar question as I am about to hit the road for about +1yr myself. So far, this is what I will have as my prime gear (clothing & sleeping stuff aside; I’ve complied some links to certain items at the bottom of the post).

I am going with 2 bags. For my backpack I have an Eagle Creek Truist 55l. For my camera and laptop bag I have a Crumpler bag similar to the “Brazillion Dollar Home” (the bag I have has been discontinued and I can’t find a link to it). I will probably get a Crumpler sleeve for the notebook as well … A fellow PJ dropped her whole kit bag w/laptop into the river the other week and the Crumpler sleeve saved her laptop!

For a laptop, I have a 13" MacBook, running LightRoom as my main photo program. Before I jump I will get x2 LaCie 500GB Rugged hard disks for storage and backup.

My current camera is a Nikon D200 and I have the 18-200mm zoom. I have the SB400 for my flash (it’s the little one) and x2 batteries w/charger. This is my biggest worry since the D200 is a hog (and yes I do keep the lcd off and hardly look while I shoot!).

For additional lenses I have a prime 50mm and I have been seriously thinking about getting a fisheye. I used to have one and loved it for on-the-sly shots in markets etc. I debate carrying the 50, but then I use it in some unexpected situation and love it.

I have the Olympus WS-311M digital voice recorder – works great for what I do with it! So far I have not had to use an external microphone.

I have thought about a second camera, maybe a baby Nikon or a Lumix DMC-G1 … ? The D200 can be a bit intimidating when it’s out and something low key and less conspicuous would be nice sometimes – although I do not want to give up the advantages of a proper DSL. Video camera I have still not thought about … maybe a smaller digital camera that does video as well? Something that uses CF cards so I have one less media type to worry about.

As well I will have a Nokia E71 and will get an iPhone. I will swap chips in the Nokia and keep the iPhone for global roaming).

Yes, batteries, cords, charges etc! One thing I will have is a extension cord/3 socket “power strip” … nothing worse then only having one plug to charge all your devices from! Especially when the wall socket is in some damn awkward place to get to! This also saves on the need for the socket adaptors.

Eagle Creek Truist 55l backpack

Olympus WS-311M Voice Recorder

LaCie 500GB Hard Drive

by David Mark Erickson | 06 Jun 2009 18:06 | Budapest, Hungary | | Report spam→
Traveling with just one camera body is risky, but with digital cameras, even if you have the same brand, two different models can require different batteries, battery chargers, lenses, etc. Quite a bit to carry on a long trip. So, my advice is to stay home; make porno films of your friends, that should sell and you will make enough money to travel without your cameras and accessories.

by Barry Milyovsky | 06 Jun 2009 19:06 | lost in the, United States | | Report spam→
Quite possibly the best advice so far, barry….

by Noah Addis | 06 Jun 2009 22:06 | Philadelphia, United States | | Report spam→
Maybe so. But I suppose anyone who would take my advice shouldn’t be traveling anyway.

by Barry Milyovsky | 07 Jun 2009 02:06 | lost in the, United States | | Report spam→
A few other Aussie military gear sites that may have something that takes your fancy;


Sord / Platatac gear is excellent, I use their gear and extremely happy with it.

by Michael Franchi | 07 Jun 2009 06:06 | Brisbane, Australia | | Report spam→
Aside from the gear itself, what about the arguments for/against the idea of managing content on the run.

I’m currently thinking of…

Uploading to either a my own website/ photoshelter/ wordpress.

What are the basic advantages over either of the above….If there is any ??? ( There was a great thread on Worpress recently but I couldn’t find the link ?? )

Forgive my ignorance…but I’m only a novice when it comes to the backend of websites ???

by Nick McGrath | 07 Jun 2009 08:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
hey nick

im heading back to Timor in a few weeks for two months to work on a few photo stories, while i also have some assignments while im there which means i will have to have my laptop there… so for this trip, ill take a ruck sack its 65L, i will also take my camera bag which is a lowepro polar bear one,,, link below,
its nice, lets laptop slip in although you dont have a whole lot of covering for it, so in theory it wouldnt take much work to pull it out- only two clips, but i have not had any problems with it so far (yeah i know what everyone is gonna say, ur crazy!) anyway the bottom section is well padded and can fit two cameras with lenses, while the top section i use to hold my other lens, bits n ends…
I will be taking my 1DmkIIN w 16-35 as well as my 5D w 35mm 1.4, i will also take my 50mm 1.4,,, definetley leaving the 70-200mm at home, way to heavy and wouldnt be used…

i like this combo, 1d with the zoom is a bit tougher and is a bit safer in terms of shots to cover for assignments, while the 35 on 5d is just so beautiful that i will primarily use it when doing my two personal photo stories, and will prob chuck the 50mm on the 1D to get a bit more versatility,,,
i have to take 2 batt chargers, and a whole range of extra different batteries, sucks, but thats life…
I also carry a canvas shoulder bag which i take out when i just want a body, audio recorder, n other bits n pieces…

Agree totally with Neals comment about clothes, hard when trying to cover for all climates though…

I also use lil leather pouches on my belt, like the army ones someone linked to, they are always handy, particularly if u dont have many pockets on ur pants…

I back up onto 2 different external hard drives, i got a rugged lacie and a WD passport 250GB…

Good luck with ur one bag mate, enjoy ur travels!

by Conor Ashleigh | 07 Jun 2009 08:06 | Sydney, Australia | | Report spam→
If you are looking for something that you don’t have to setup yourself, you could use a photo site like smugmug.com .. there is quite a few around.

Or if you are inclined to get something running yourself there is multitudes of free content management systems (CMS) and photo galleries you can setup on web hosting.

by Michael Franchi | 07 Jun 2009 08:06 | Brisbane, Australia | | Report spam→
I disagree regarding processing film on the road. Professional processing labs are virtually non-existent outside of industrialized countries. Even in the industrialized countries, there will be differences between the results that you will get in one country versus another. Depending upon the quality level that you require, you can use “one hour photo” processing, but, if you require professional quality, that is an unacceptable solution.
An alternative re processing would be to ship your film back to your home via FedEx. The film must be packed in lead bags, which significantly increase the weight. Makes sure that you write, very prominently on all sides of the exterior package, “Unprocessed photo film — do not x-ray — visual inspection only.”
Re the necessity for a laptop — it is extremely necessary. I review my take each evening and I have to have the large screen view to accurately assess the day’s take.
If you are travelling to cold climates, do not take heavy coat, sweaters, etc. Instead, take two pairs of thermal underwear. They require little room in a suitcase. A double layer is sufficient for all climates down to 20 degrees F or so. If you can afford silk thermals, they take even less space.
You have to take “two of everything” in yout photo equipment, even your battery chargers. You cannot count on getting repairs, replacements performed in non-industrialized countries. Also, before you leave, post here to request references to pro equipment/repair shops at the places you will go. Foewarned is forearmed and you cannot trust the recommendations of local non-professionals re where to obtain what. For example, the only places in sub-Saharan Africa that I would have repairs done, get replacement equipment, etc are S Africa and Kenya. If you have problems in DRC, you have to get to Jo’burg or Nairobi to fix the problem. Otherwise, you could have equipment destroyed by someone who claims that s/he knows that s/he is doing,
Do not stay in “backpacker” quality accomodations. They are notorious for burglary. It is much cheaper to stay in 3 star plus hotels than to replace your equipment, exposed film, digital files, etc.
Be prepared to learn by your mistakes. My motto is that I have a problem only once — the next time the problem recurs — I’m prepared to deal with it.

by Richard Lord | 07 Jun 2009 10:06 | Virginia and NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Hi Nick,
if you could get the
is great I been using it for the last 2 years on the road no problem. Ones is full, change the drive, easy to do, if any serious problem when traveling,send them an email or get there Asia location, they very fast in sending it back to you sometimes they replace the unit

backpack check
really strong material, they have various models

I would use Lightroom and install Gallery menalto on your server it is easy and fast to use, when on the road its easy to upload and make varius folder



by Dominik | 07 Jun 2009 13:06 (ed. Jun 7 2009) | Guwahati- Assam, India | | Report spam→
Hi again
since you use Nikon get 2 nikon D40x (10MG)great small and light and cheap (US300/400)and a small flash for extra light nikon SB 400

by Dominik | 07 Jun 2009 13:06 (ed. Jun 7 2009) | Guwahati- Assam, India | | Report spam→
The Hyperdrive’s look pretty good, might pick one up for when Im next travelling. I like how with the latest model it can backup to a usb hard drive. win win!

by Michael Franchi | 07 Jun 2009 13:06 | Brisbane, Australia | | Report spam→
if you take 2 big bags, you might as well take 6. Because anything more than one backpack that you can comfortably walk a few miles wearing — means that you are taxi and hotel dependent anyway — in which case why bother to travel light?!?

Bring everything, and I do, when I am in the “heavy” mode — books, DVDs, film developing kit, lots of cameras, a scanner, a few carpets that i might buy along the way — it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. If I get a taxi from the airport to “base camp,” what does it matter that the driver has to help me with four suitcases instead of two?

But in the “light” mode, then REALLY go light. That’s why I got the Dell Hackintosh. Granted, I don’t do video or audio, but this is what I have loaded onto the 16 GB hard-drive:

Photoshop CS3
Photo Mechanic
Microsoft Word

and that’s it. Anything else you can put on an external drive, including all your image files as you shoot and download.

Neal, an external drive like the LACIE “Design Sam Hecht” series is really essential, not larger than a pack and a half of cigarettes. Shooting RAW fills cards fast, you’re going to want to download them. And A Dell Mini 9 with Mac OS X installed costs, theoretically, nothing more than it does set up for Windows. I did pay a kid to do it for me, being a Luddite myself, but it was well worth it.

Nick, with all due respect, a 17-35mm and a 24-70mm sound like serious overkill if you’re going to be on the road. Not to mention that they’re only f/2.8 and not so good in all the hostess bars you may find yourself it. 28mm f/2.0 and 50mm f/1.4, that’s my combination…whatever yours may be, i have found that speed in a lens is more important than zoom capability for the hippie artist-photographer prowling the late night streets of distant cities.

a seasoned veteran correspondent once told me, for most people, being on the road is “camping” — but for us, it’s regular life — and he could not have been more right. cheap hotels are great — but access to good communications + internet is a must — so not too cheap, unless you bring a satphone. but then what you spend on that bill is likely to be more than what decent hotels with good communications will cost.

and using nikon? D700 is the only serious and usable digital camera that they make. everything else is either crop factor or too big and heavy. for film, go back to the FM-2 or FM-3a.

backpack? any reasonable daypack, you should only be carrying 20 lbs. or so.

by [former member] | 07 Jun 2009 15:06 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
i say get a camera in the first country you get to.
and use that.do with what you find on the way


by Marios Stavrou | 07 Jun 2009 21:06 | msida, Malta | | Report spam→
Marios, I say yes. That is brilliant. It is truly the way to travel.

by Barry Milyovsky | 08 Jun 2009 01:06 | lost in the, United States | | Report spam→
Get a life! get a Holga!

by Nigel Amies | 08 Jun 2009 08:06 | Vientiane, Laos | | Report spam→

by Imants | 09 Jun 2009 13:06 | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
it amazes me the manner in which very valid, significant, helpful discussions on this site digress into such childish BS. If this sounds like you, get a life and stop wasting the time of serious pros

by Richard Lord | 09 Jun 2009 19:06 | Virginia and NYC, United States | | Report spam→
Lighten up or get a life!!……. ohhh, mighty one, our Lord of true spam…………..

by Imants | 09 Jun 2009 21:06 (ed. Jun 9 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
Oh Lord, it amazes me the manner in which some very serious pros take themselves so seriously.

by Barry Milyovsky | 09 Jun 2009 21:06 | lost in the, United States | | Report spam→
… Barry, the ability to prostitute oneself to pro-spam is a fine art

by Imants | 09 Jun 2009 22:06 (ed. Jun 9 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
Ah, I see Imants. Do you think I should be using protection?

by Barry Milyovsky | 09 Jun 2009 22:06 | lost in the, United States | | Report spam→
Do not use“backpacker” quality protection. They are notorious for “fat burst” content. It is much cheaper to use 3 star plus protection than to replace your equipment………….
Be prepared to learn by your mistakes.
According to the lords ……." My motto is that I use it only once — the next time the problem recurs — I’m prepared to go bareback"

by Imants | 09 Jun 2009 22:06 (ed. Jun 9 2009) | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
I think I will take an environmental shopping bag instead !!

by Nick McGrath | 10 Jun 2009 03:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
…….along with the edible jockstraps.

by Imants | 10 Jun 2009 03:06 | "The Boneyard 017º", Australia | | Report spam→
I tried to travel many times with a ‘one-backpack-rule’ and always found out it doesn’t make sense. It’s a fail.

A fully stuffed single backpack is heavy as hell and unless you are athletic or just left army training nobody really carries their single backpack from the airport to their hotel room. So why not having two bags or more, it really doesn’t matter.

Most important to me is my small bag to carry gear around for 1-3 days trips. That is the time to make decisions what to bring…I rather have loads of gear to chose from then discovering I left something at home, and what you don’t pack in the small bag stays in the hotel room and that is mostly chargers, cables, and other small photo gear that is not used while taking the actual photos.

Another thing: if you want to travel with one bag you must know that you can only start off with it half full. Along the road you’ll pick up so much handy and useless stuff that the pack seems to fill itself up automatically. Or somebody gives you a gift: most likely some useless handcrafted ‘thing’…where will you put it? Exactly, the bag you will most likely buy extra.

If your pack is full at the beginning, you arrive back home with two ;-)

Where are you going again Nick?
Cheers Tom

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 10 Jun 2009 05:06 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
If you don’t have at least 50 kilos of kit, you just aren’t trying hard enough! :o)

This is what I typically have been traveling with for the past 4 years. Just got done with a 6 month trip myself (all around Asia). It isn’t fun dragging so much around, but not as bad as it looks. Not that I’m recommending it, but when it comes to some types of gear, I think it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Regarding lens selection, I really don’t see how anybody can make recommendations on what lenses to bring. That depends on how you shoot.

by Tommy Huynh | 10 Jun 2009 06:06 (ed. Jun 10 2009) | San Antonio, United States | | Report spam→
Hey Tom, funny you ask where I’m headed…..first stop Kathmandu – Nth India – Europe – US (for a PJ workshop) then back to India before heading home….all up 6 months of travellling …should be fun !!! Dare I say do you need film ??

by Nick McGrath | 10 Jun 2009 09:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
I actually need some stuff when are you coming?

Not film, little sis brings that from BKK.

by Tom Van Cakenberghe | 10 Jun 2009 09:06 | Kathmandu, Nepal | | Report spam→
arriving in Kat 3rd july

by Nick McGrath | 10 Jun 2009 10:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
well, whatever gear you finally decide to bring,
you should have a good pack to put it in..
I saw somene suggested some dakine packs… well they
also make camera pack, that are pretty good..
check out http://www.dakine.com/snowboard/packs/photo/
but what might suit you even better I guess would be a photo pack that burton snowboards makes, the zoom pro pack
very well designed and made for all the stuff you might want to bring including hd’s laptop and so on
also the pricetag on it is very reasonable..
check http://www.burton.com/Gear/Default.aspx#/gear/productdetail/bags/packs/fw-packs/10038/211329036/
hope this helps. cheers ha

by Hans Herbig | 10 Jun 2009 12:06 | Munich, Germany | | Report spam→
After working on the road for 5 years (65 countries) I have learned allot about traveling and packing, there are no absolutes, and every person has a different way of working and traveling.
This is not about (Digital vs. Film) or (Zoom vs. Prime) or (Canon vs. Nikon) or (Mac vs. PC) and I used all of them.
Most people think that traveling is about living with less but the truth is while I travel I am doing all the things that I usually do but on the road so I cannot cut corners but change the way I do my work.
The less you carry the more you have to worry about and your body, mind and wallet will thank you throughout your journey.
Computer: I carried the stupid laptop for 3 years before I got stopped carrying it, why? I kept worrying about the laptop being stolen or having to repair it and after I have processed the photographs, I still have to upload or send so I still needed to worry about each country and their method of connecting to the internet. Solution was easy, hard drive, cards and a card reader. I hook up my cards and backup the files to a hard drive using internet cafes wherever I am, and the connections are already setup and it cost pennies to use, so I can spend an hour doing basic processing and uploading without having to carry a heavy machine or always worrying about losing it. I have software in the hard drive so I can install any missing software (word, Photoshop or any other editing program). I have not missed the laptop for the last two years and shaved off around 5LB of weight of my load. Photoshelter is a great way to upload and backup online (they are the fastest upload time).
Camera: This is personal choice, I used to carry back up bodies, lenses, small (G9) but in the end it boils down to carrying it and ready to use it so for me, Digital and it evolved to a (1) Canon 5D w/ 24-105 with Canon Speedlite 580EX II, the image stabilizer helps the lens in low light and indoors I needed flash for better lighting, I used hate flash but having it have saved and improved my photography.
Bags: Here again I spent so much money and tried out so many but now I carry two bags both are small one for Camera and one for clothing and stuff. They are both small enough for a carry on but the weight is balanced and I can check in the clothing one when the Airlines have restriction or the mode of transportation is too small to accommodate a large bag. Camera bags manufacturers are so clueless about bags either great for carrying equipment or shooting so I carried 2 bags but no more.
I use Cubes for organizing my stuff and easy access also quick packing and unpacking.
Clothing: Layering is the key here, I have a lightweight fleece(doubles as Pillow or seat pad) and rain shell, Marino wool socks, sandal, All walking shoes (the most important piece of gear for me).
My gear now is half the weight, I have 3 seasons clothing, I can work in every country without restriction and always producing images that can be delivered in timely and professional way.

Good luck on your trip.

Camera Bag (newswear Vest)http://www.newswear.com/chestvests.htm
Bag (osprey porter series 45)http://www.ospreypacks.com/Packs/PorterSeries/
Cubes ( eaglecreek)http://www.eaglecreek.com/accessories/
Hard drive (WD 250)http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=525
Clothing (
rain shell, http://www.patagonia.com/web/us/product/mens-rain-shadow-jacket-alpine?p=84472-0-684
Teva sandals, http://www.rei.com/product/733975
Shoes, http://www.vasque.com/products/m-velocityvstxcr.cfm

by Kahtan Alamery | 10 Jun 2009 15:06 (ed. Jun 10 2009) | new york, United States | | Report spam→
I can say that my 1DS MKll survived the two yers of travel unbelievably well. It is now rusty and moldy but functions fine and nothing wrong with the inside. The repair guy here in Iceland has never ever seen a camera in that state before. And I thought he had seen every thing with my old F1. So one 1DS MKll/lll and a G9/10 as a backup is a thought.

Regarding image storage. Have you thought of a storage site like Photoshelter or similar that you can upload to.

In any case get a friend or family to agree to you sending backup DVD regularly home. Thus if any thing gets stolen your images are at least in the post or can be retrieved from the DVD.

I also can not praise the 24 – 70 enough the only possible replacement would be in the 24 – 105 but I do not know about the quality of that.

I used my 24 – 70 most of the time and you might think of that and a extension 1.4 or 2.0 but that again will downgrade the quality a little and loose you some f stop.

Still after my last hiking trip I would very much like to have something in the lightweight compact range like a rangefinder camera or my fine Mamyia 7.

by Kristjan Logason | 10 Jun 2009 20:06 | Reykjavik, Iceland | | Report spam→
BTW, why is film still being tossed around as an alternative to digital to save weight? The cost of memory is now below that of film (per exposure) and that doesn’t even account for the cost of processing. You don’t have to bring a laptop. Just load up on memory cards which will be cheaper than the equivalent amount of film, and it will take up much less space and weight, less hassle when flying, etc… etc..

by Tommy Huynh | 10 Jun 2009 23:06 | San Antonio, United States | | Report spam→
After a lot of thought I’ve decided to ditch the laptop…Instead I will use the Hyperdrive in combo with a Portable HD to store images & audio then transfer to cd as I go.

I feel lighter already !!

I’m still figuring out my camera combo…. but definitily will be 1x body & 2 lens thats it!

by Nick McGrath | 11 Jun 2009 02:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
Hi Nick

I travel around Asia last year for two months.
And had the same problem with packing but I ended up doing like this.

1 Canon Eos 5D
1 35mm f1,4
1 85mmf1,8
1 Roland Edirol sound recorder

I did not bring my laptop so what I did was that I brought my card reader and allot of cards and some recordable DVDs
When my cards were close to full I went to an internet cafe and burned some DVDs I send the DVDs to my parents by TNT currier

All the best

Thomas Sjørup

by Thomas Sjørup | 11 Jun 2009 07:06 | Copenhagen, Denmark | | Report spam→
When I’ve been overseas I’ve had 2 separate friends on 2 separate occasions in the asia area put their memory cards into a computer at a internet cafe and the computers just corrupted their cards and they lost everything… Something to keep in mind…

by Michael Franchi | 11 Jun 2009 09:06 | Brisbane, Australia | | Report spam→
Nick, just came across these travel backpacks with facilities for camera kit. might be of some use for you :)


by Michael Franchi | 29 Jun 2009 00:06 | Brisbane, Australia | | Report spam→
Michael, those bps look great …

I ended up getting a standard run of the mill backpack 50litre version for my basic clothes & stuff …for my gear I decided to go with a maxpedition versi-pack


Its not specifically a camera bag, but I think it will work for me considering i am only packing 1 body & 2 lens. It has a few compartments which I can put my audio gear & other general stuff in it..

I recieve the bag today via snailmail ?? hopefully I have made the right choice !

by Nick McGrath | 29 Jun 2009 00:06 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→
This is good stuff.

Kit: one slr and three lenses (24, 35, and 50). With the nikons thats a 35, 50 and 75. more than enough for low-key doc work and easily portable. A lot of CF cards ( have 36 gb worth). Use the vid cam for audio work (trust me it can be done). I would also look into a SB800 flash for some lit work.

Laptops: Id work off a small laptop that can run FCE (or Adobe Premiere elements) and PS Elements. With some tweaking you can also use Premeiere Elements for audio production. I have the hyperdrive and totally recommend it. However, i wouldnt change that hard drive on the road. just dump it to an external hard drive via the laptop. I use lightroom for most of image processing now. so stick to that.

Bags: one “day” bag for the kit and another slight larger one for the clothes and misc gear (like extra batteries and cables) to carry the stuff during transit.

Walking around: Wear a belt with a couple of pouches while walking around. As a precaution, the pouches should be “ratty.” Just saying.

Leave the laptop, bags and whatnot at the hotel and go shoot!

by Bill Putnam | 29 Jun 2009 03:06 (ed. Jun 29 2009) | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→
oh please, putnam! you know you’d bring some type 52 and a few 4×5 polaroid backs.

by Erin Siegal McIntyre | 29 Jun 2009 03:06 | New York, New York, United States | | Report spam→
hell yeah! and a giant tent to load 11×14 film holders for a pinhole camera! dig it!

by Bill Putnam | 29 Jun 2009 14:06 | Washington, DC, United States | | Report spam→

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Nick McGrath, Editorial Photographer Nick McGrath
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Sydney , Australia ( SYD )
Barry Milyovsky, totally unprofessional Barry Milyovsky
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New York , United States
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Bruxelles , Belgium
Nigel Amies, Photographer/writer Nigel Amies
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Tom Van Cakenberghe, Tom Van Cakenberghe
Kathmandu , Nepal
Tommy Huynh, Travel & Corporate Photog Tommy Huynh
Travel & Corporate Photog
Houston , United States
Hans Herbig, Photographer Hans Herbig
Munich , Germany ( MUC )
Kahtan Alamery, Kahtan Alamery
Topanga, California , United States
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News Photographer
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