In a couple weeks I head back to Nepal for almost 2 weeks for our Kathmandu Within The Frame adventure. Each trip I do is different, but overall my packing has become lighter, thanks, in part, to changing technology, as well as the reality that I just can’t haul all the extra crap anymore. So what am I bringing to Kathmandu? Here’s the important stuff.
First, I’m bringing 2 bodies, both of them Nikon D3s bodies, which allows me to share batteries. I won’t bring a charger, just 4 fully-charged batteries, which’ll more than do me. In each of these bodies I have two 64GB CF cards, and the camera writes RAW files to both simultaneously. I’ll probably bring only two lenses – a 16-35/4.0 and an 85/1.8. If you look through my work in places like Nepal, that’s the lion’s share of what I use for my favourite work. And I’ll bring ND and ND grad filters, a polarizer, and a tripod, likely just my Gitzo Ocean Traveler.
This is all my gear for Nepal, though by the time I leave I’ll probably have talked myself out of the 70-200/2.8. Everything here, except the tripod, will go into the Bataflae 26 you see here. Add personal items like iPhone, passports, and my Kindle and it’s packed. I love this bag. Want one? Keep reading.
For workflow I’ll have my 11″MacBook Air, and a tiny 125GB SSD backup drive which is the original drive from the MacBook Air, having upgraded that drive to a 250GB drive. And I have a small USB card reader. I used to carry a 13 MacBook Pro, and at least two drives, all of which was at least twice the weight of what I carry now. But I spend so little time working on images in the field, what I really need is a way to look, to play, and to create at least one more back up. At the end of the day now I have all files on 2 CF cards, my MacBook Air, and my SSD backup drive. When I get home I export all my images as a Lightroom Catalog to a small drive, import those to my iMac and the external RAID drive, then again onto a drive I keep in a Pelican case offsite. Only then do I erase files from the MacBook Air, and format drives and CF cards.
For Antarctica or Kenya, the workflow items will be the same, but the gear changes. For Antarctica and Kenya I’ll bring my D800 as one of my bodies, which means another charger and extra batteries. I’ll bring larger lenses – adding a 70-200/2.8, and likely my 300/2.8. For Kenya, because it’s going to be primarily a portrait project I’ll also bring diffusers and reflectors. And my tripod is likely to be much larger.
The revelation after so much travel over the past 8 years is that I just don’t need all the extras (though those who’ve traveled with me will still wonder what the hell makes my bags so heavy.) I usually bring a couple pairs of jeans, 4 long-sleeve shirts, 4 t-shirts, and some underwear and socks that can be washed in a sink. As much of that as possible is merino wool from companies like Patagonia and Icebreaker. Nothing comes close to merino for keeping me cool in the hot, hot in the cold, and still somehow not sweating. Add to that a merino sweater, a fleece jacket, light rain shell, and a light toque (also merino), and I’m almost done. First aid kit, extra prescriptions, including spare glasses, and some basic repair items – like a bit of duct tape, wrenches for tripods, small screwdrivers, and superglue, complete the kit. Practically everything else can be purchased where I’m heading, should I need it.
I’ll be packing my gear, laptop, and the stuff I’ll wish I had in my carry-on when the airlines lose my checked bag, in the 26L GuraGear Bataflae. The Bataflae is an update to Gura Gear’s much-loved Kiboko bags, which have been my bag of choice as my travel has become more adventurous over the last few years. I’m also using their new Et Cetera cases for odds and ends (I’ll do a more complete review on all this stuff later.) The rest of my stuff will get thrown into my large Rimowa suitcase, which just seems to get more beat-up with every trip. In that suitcase is also my Think Tank Retro 30 satchel, which I love for just walking around with a little gear, a sweater, and bottle of water, way more convenient than a backback for days walking around the city making candid photographs.
As I was writing this I had an idea. So I fired off a note to my friends at Gura Gear and said, “Any chance you’d give one of my readers a free bag?” They replied within 5 minutes and said, simply, “Done!” They’re good folks, those Gura Gear people. So leave a comment, just make sure you put your name and emails in the fields asking for that info, and just before I head to Nepal, I’ll pull out a name, drop a line to Gura Gear, and one lucky winner will get the same bag I use, the Bataflae 26L. And yes, they’ll even let you choose the colour.
**Updated October 29 – This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Carlos Celis! My friends at Gura Gear will be in touch!