How to Pack Photo Gear for a Trip
Travel and photography go hand in hand. Whether your trip takes you fly fishing in The Bahamas, wingshooting in Argentina, or even camping on your local river for the weekend, photographing your experience is the key to sharing it with others and capturing memories that will last a lifetime. When traveling for adventure, packing the right photography gear, in a way that keeps it safe and accessible, can be a difficult task. But with a little planning, and some versatile luggage, you'll have the tools and confidence needed to capture the action on your next trip.
If you're not a professional photographer and your trip is as much about the experience (fishing, hunting etc.) as it is about capturing photographs, your ideal camera kit will be minimal. It can range from a cell phone, to an action camera, to a mirrorless or DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses. What will work best for you? Check out our suggestions for different types of cameras for fish photography .
Packing a Cell Phone or Action Camera for Adventure Travel
Most likely you'll carry your cell phone in your pocket on the plane and an action camera (Go-Pro) in your carry-on. You shouldn't experience any trouble with TSA at the airport when carrying these items. If you're carrying your cell phone in your pocket, put it in one of the scanner bins at the security checkpoint. If your action camera is in your carry-on you can leave it in there and put your whole carry-on through the scanner. If you have spare lithium ion batteries for your action camera, they should be placed in your carry-on and not your checked bag. Take a look at the Travel Tips before heading to the airport so you can prepare your bags for safe and easy travel by plane.
Once on the water or in the field, you will want to protect your cell phone to keep it safe from drops on hard surfaces or in the water. Most Orvis waders include a flip-out waterproof pocket and you can add a waterproof pocket to your Safe Passage Sling Packs — both fit a smartphone perfectly. Hopefully your action camera is waterproof (most are these days), so any bag or pocket that fits, and is easily accessible, is a great option. Or, carry your action camera with one of a variety of mounts so you can capture the action as it happens.
Packing a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera for Adventure Travel
Preferences for camera gear can vary widely from one photographer to another. A common amateur setup recommended by many professionals for travel includes a mid-sized DSLR body, an f/2.8 24-70mm and an f/2.8 70-200mm lens, plus accessories (filters, backup battery, charger, etc.). One item that will most improve your shots is a circular polarizing filter. Just as your polarized sunglasses cut glare, so does this lens filter. The colors of the fish and the beauty of the water will really come through. With this setup, you'll be able to capture a wide range of images, while keeping your luggage volume to a minimum.
While there are a seemingly endless number of camera-specific backpacks on the market, many professionals suggest disguising your camera gear in non-camera-specific bags to deter theft. You can easily slip a padded camera insert into any normal backpack or carry-on bag, keeping it safe for travel and disguised from potential thieves. When it comes to packing, the best tool for the job is the one that works most efficiently: The Safe Passage Reel Briefcase, while not sold as a camera insert, actually features everything you'd want from a padded camera cube, plus pockets and zippers.
When you arrive at the TSA checkpoint, you'll want to have your DSLR and accessories in your carry-on if possible. While laptops need to be removed from carry-ons and placed in their own bin, you should be able to keep your camera in its bag for screening. Lithium ion batteries can't go in packed bags, so keep spare batteries in your carry-on, for both DSLR and action cameras. Unlike film, memory cards can go through airport scanners without issue.
A DSLR can be a bear to carry on the water or in the field. If you're wading or walking the whole time, a fishing daypack is the preferred method to carry such cumbersome gear. Keep your camera kit in your padded insert, so you can transfer between bags as necessary. The more you carry your DSLR camera on adventures the easier it becomes, so if you haven't photographed your fishing or hunting excursions yet, take a few local day trips with your camera before attempting to bring it on an international adventure.
Packing photography gear for travel is much like photography itself—it takes practice to find out what works best for you. The more you travel with your camera, the more you'll learn which gear is necessary and which items can be left at home. And no matter what and how you pack your camera for travel, the most important thing is that you use it. Happy travels.