On February 11 we’re releasing SEE THE WORLD: 20 Lessons for Stronger Travel Photographs. As I gear up for it, and start packing for the trip to Kenya that follows hot on its heels (I leave February 15), I thought I’d give you a copy of my own packing list. I’ll drop it down at the bottom of this post so those of you not using Evernote can copy/paste it and adopt it to your own needs. But for those using Evernote, you can download the list and take advantage of the check boxes, etc. I use a new copy each time I travel, spend a moment deleting what I don’t need, and adding a few things I do, and then I’m ready to pack.
The book itself is mostly not logistics stuff – it’s about making compelling photographs of the places we experience, and experiencing those places more deeply in order to do so. But some of the more frequently asked stuff made it in there too – stuff about carry on bags and tripods, for example. It’s a meaty book, free of platitudes, and – I hope – refreshingly honest about the stuff that actually makes for stronger photographs, and it’ll be out soon. If you get it during the first week of release you’ll save 20% and your name will be put in the hat for a new Fuji XE-2 and 18-55mm lens. In the mean time, get packing!
Download the Evernote Note here. (It’ll download as a zip file because WordPress didn’t like the Evernote .enex file) Below you will find the complete list and notes in text format. Feel free to copy/paste. Any questions about the list or the way I travel, feel free to drop them in the comments. The formatting went a little weird and WordPress isn’t playing nice, so you just might want to download Evernote. It’s free.
This is my own packing list which you can adapt to your needs. I use a new one for each trip, renaming it – for example – KENYA 2014. It allows me to see what I brought on each previous trip and make notes about things I might have forgotten or could have left at home.
Where I have my own brand preference or recommendation I note it in a parenthetical or italicized comment. (Feel free to delete anything in italics to begin your own list.) These are based purely on my own preferences in terms of fit, budget, and quality, preferring to buy quality that I can rely on once rather than something I have to replace more often)
This list assumes a 7-14 day trip. It assumes I can buy the odd thing if I need to, and get laundry done at some point, even if just in the sink.
This list also assumes my own preference in shooting, so if you can’t work without, for example, strobes and soft boxes, be sure to add those.
This list does not assume specialist activities, like photographing wildlife, but those needs should be obvious – adding things like long lenses and gimbal heads as you need.
Add to this list, or delete from it, I hope it helps as you prepare for your own adventures.
1 or 2 Camera Bodies
Camera Batteries (minimum 3 for each – one in camera, one in pocket, one charging)
Wide lens (16-35mm)
Standard lens (50mm)
Longer lens (85mm or 70-200mm)
SD or CF cards (I use 64GB cards, and pack 4-10 of them depending on duration of trip, and never format them until I am home)
2-3 Micro fiber lens cloths
If I anticipate landscape opportunities:
Lee Filter Holder and adaptor rings
Graduated ND Filter
If I anticipate heavy inclement weather:
Think Tank Hydrophobia rain covers
Small kitchen-sized garbage bags (I bring a couple and use them to prevent condensation when moving from very cold into very warm)
Extra lens cloths, small dish towel or bandana to dry gear.
Small travel umbrella
Laptop (11” MacBook Air)
Laptop charge cable
Small SSD drive
iPhone, and charge cable
Headphones (Bose earbuds. I like the ones with built-in microphone so I can Skype or podcast if needed)
Small multi-outlet power strip (so I only need one adaptor and can charge multiple devices/batteries at once.)
Small flashlight or headlamp, fresh batteries
* I put all my cables and chargers into one pouch. GuraGear makes some nice ones.
Small first aid kit
Small repair kit – duct tape, crazy glue, knife / multi-plier, small screwdriver, tripod wrench
Meal bars ( I usually have a handful. I’m diabetic, so this might be more important to me than you)
Personal Toiletries (including CampSuds or something environmentally friendly with which I can wash underwear and socks)
Medication (All important meds stay in carry-on luggage, and bring more than you need)
Wallet (I leave unnecessary ID at home. For money I bring some local cash, and rely on my ATM card or VISA. The more remote I am, the more local cash I bring and less I rely on the cards. )
Passport (copies of passports and important documents all sitting on my Dropbox as well. Dropbox.com)
Travel Medical Policy card
Medical Evacuation Policy card (US and Canadian residents, consider MedJet Assist. I will never leave home without this policy.)
4 shirts (I prefer long sleeve button up shirts made of cotton (Filson makes great shirts from something they call Feather cloth) but some of the synthetic options are nice and they dry quickly. I almost always keep one folded and in reserve in case i need something sharp-looking or want a clean shirt for the flight home. Lighter colours get dirty faster, so most of my shirts are navy blue. )
4 pairs underwear I use merino wool, which wash and dry easily and retain no odour (Icebreaker)
4 pairs socks (see note above, re. merino wool)
2 pairs of jeans or khaki pants (Nice jeans are almost universally acceptable now, and with a clean shirt they can dress up nicely.)
1 pair comfortable boots or shoes (I prefer Blundstone leather boots, without laces, for easy slide on, slide off at airports, churches, mosques, shrines, etc.)
1 sweater (cashmere or merino, the latter being from Icebreaker)
1 baseball hat to keep off sun and rain
1 jacket (Filson Guide Work Jacket or Patagonia)
1 light rain jacket (Patagonia)
Clothing – Cold
If the weather is going to be (very) cold I will add:
Warmer sweater (Patagonia, wool or fleece)
Warmer socks (Icebreaker, merino wool)
2 light wool t-shirts (Icebreaker, merino wool)
Long underwear (2 pairs, tops and bottoms, Icebreaker, merino wool)
Thin gloves, something I can shoot in (I have a pair of Lowe Pro gloves I like)
Thicker gloves (Patagonia)
Warm hat (Icebreaker, merino wool)
Warm jacket (Patagonia or Canada Goose)
Warm boots (Keen)
Rain pants (Patagonia H2No)
Clothing – Tropical
1-2 pairs shorts, 1 doubles as swimsuit
Swap 2 long-sleeve shirts for 2 short sleeves
Water housing for camera, mask and snorkel if applicable
I have used Gura Gear
bags for several years and been very happy with them. Think Tank Photo
also makes excellent bags I still use. My current favourite for small gear travel is the Think Tank Airport Essentials
– it won’t hold much in the way of pro-sized gear but for a couple mirrorless cameras, 3 lenses and all the trimmings, it’s perfect, and it’ll hold a laptop. http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/airport-essentials.aspx
For urban travel, my checked luggage is Rimowa. For adventure travel it’s North Face’s Base Camp Duffles.
For security products, check out PacSafe’s full range of lockable products. I no longer travel with any of these, but that might be over-confidence. I prefer vigilance to carrying more stuff. But a couple luggage locks isn’t a bad idea.
If you plan to be remote, power becomes an issue. Consider something like the Goal Zero
Sherpa 100 kit, which comes with solar panels, power pack, and inverter, and weighs about 5 lbs. You can add to this various cables to charge from vehicle 12v sockets and straight off battery terminals. This kit will allow you to keep charging laptops, cameras, and smart phones. http://www.goalzero.com/p/211/sherpa-100-solar-kit
I often download a language app, city map, or other helpful apps specific to my destination, before I leave. A couple minutes in the Apple App Store can be very helpful.
There’s a fine line between paranoid and well-prepared, but I keep copies of all my important documents on my Dropbox in case something goes wrong. This includes copies of my passports and tickets. If my laptop were stolen or died, I could access almost everything important. Before Dropbox I used to just email it to my Gmail account so I could log in from anywhere to get it.