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Backpacking with a camera

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Backpacking with a camera, testo e foto by Juza. Pubblicato il 14 Marzo 2014; 3 risposte, 6565 visite.

It is not easy to select the stuff to carry with you when you are going to do a two or three weeks trip. Is it too much? Can I leave that at home? What if I need it? ...after many travels around the world, I have made a list of the equipment that I really need: I have eliminated all the unnecessary things, and I made a careful selection to reduce bulk and weight at minimum. In this page, I describe the equipment I carry with me: what and why.

The main backpack (Quechua Symbium Easyfit 70)

. Tent : Terra Nova Solar Photon 2, 1.05 kg
. Sleeping bag : Ferrino HL 350 WTS, 0.90 kg
. Torch : Nitecore MH2C, 0.15 kg
. Food and water : xx kg
. Plastic bags x 4 : 0.10 kg
. Tripod : Manfrotto BeFree, 1.45 kg
. Swiss Knife : Victorinox Outrider, 0.10 kg
. Plamp: Wimberley Plamp (customized), 0.35kg

I don't use photographic bags: most of the times I travel with a large trekking backpack that I use also as checked baggage when I travel by plane. I have recently replaced by old backpack with a Quechua Symbium Easyfit 70, but every backpack with a capacity of 60-70 liters is OK. Other than that I have a small Invicta backpack that I use for the photo equipment (it is my carry-on luggage when traveling by plane).

Tent: Terra Nova Solar Photon 2, 1.05 kg
This is one of the lightest two-persons, freestanding tents in the world: it weights just 1.05 kg and it takes miminal space in the backpack; it has good areation thanks to its double wall design, it is very well built and easy to mount. If you want to travel light, I highly recommend this tent.

Sleeping bag: Ferrino Diable 700, 0.90 kg
In most of my trips I have used a Ferrino HL 350 WTS sleeping bag. In spite of it very light weight, but it can be used up to 20 celsius degrees under zero; I have used it even in hot climates (open, of course) to avoid sleeping directly on the tent floor.

Torch: Nitecore MH2C, 0.15 kg
Lightweight and compact, the Nitecore MH2C has a lot of power (800 lumens, that means a beam of light up to 140 meters), it is waterproof and extremely robust; the icing on the cake is that you can charge it via USB. I had the opportunity to use many torches, but this is by far my favourite.

Water and food: xx kg
Sometimes I bring food from Italy (my home country): if I visit a country where the food is so good that I'd prefer to die of starvation, I carry with me some canned food, usually rice and tuna that can be preserved well in all climates . In other cases, when I travel with large cars, I even brought much more abundant supplies and everything I need to cook proper meals :-) In Morocco I and my travelmate had brought several kilograms of pasta, condiments all kinds, meat and cheeses: we were traveling with a huge Toyota Land Cruiser that had refrigerator and stove, as well as abundant water reserves. Cooking a good Italian pasta between the dunes of the Sahara is one of the pleasures of travels like that...

Small bags of plastic x 4: 0.05 kg
The common shopper bags that you get in every supermarket : they take up very little space and they are always helpful, I bring 3-4 of these plastic bags in everytrip.

Tripod: Manfrotto BeFree, 1.45 kg
Since I really needed to reduce the size and weight of my backpack, I have replaced all my tripods and heads with the Manfrotto BeFree. It is very lightweight and once closed it measures just 40 centimeters, head included; it can carry up to 4 kg, that is more than enough for landscape and macro lenses. Of course it is not enough for heavy tele lenses, but I prefer to handh hold the 300 2.8.

Swiss Knife : Victorinox Outrider, 0.10 kg
I have recently added this multi tool to my gear. The Outrider is a larger than the classic swiss knife; it is very well built and it includes a small shissor, that I use to cut grass in macro photography.

Plamp: Wimberley Plamp, 0.35kg
Another thing that I bring exclusively in macro trips is the plamp, a small articulated arm that is very useful in this genre of photography.

. Trekking shoes : Teva Churn 1.00 kg
. Sandals : Teva Terra Fi 4
. Socks
. Trousers : Quechua Forclaz 900
. Underwear
. Sleeveless t-shirts
. T-shirts
. Jacket
. Anorak
. Gloves
. Handkerchiefs

In many travels I have preferred the use of sandals instead of closed shoes, I have chosen the Teva Terra Fi 4 because they have a sole similar to hiking boots, which offers good grip and allows use even in challenging hikes.

As for the trousers, I'm a big fan of Quechua Forclaz 900(or similar models): they are 'modular' trousers in two sections joined by a zipper, they can be easily transformed into shorts if the weather is hot. They have various pockets including two with zipper (very useful for not losing things) and reasonable cost (50-60 €). Obviously, depending on the trip I select only some of the clothes from the list above.

Personal hygiene and medicines bag, 0.60 kg total:
. Toothbrush
. Toothpaste
. Soap
. Cotton swabs
. Toilet towels
. Sponge
. Small towel
. Antipyretic : Bayer Aspirin
. Antiemetic : Plasil
. Antidiarrhea : Imodium
. Wide-spectrum antibiotic : Velamox Amoxicillin
. Throat lozenge : Benagol
. Insect repellent
. Sun cream

As always, I try to bring only the strict necessary. I use a travel toothbrush in two sections (minimum size); liquid soap which if necessary can also be used for the shower, a very small towel (it is not exactly comfortable, but it takes minimum space). Another 'accessory' that I consider very good are wet wipes: they are enormously useful when there is no running water, as often happens during my adventures.

I carry with me a basic set of medicines; here I listed the specific names of the products I use, but of course there are many alternatives. I have an antipyretic, against fever, headache and inflammation; an antiemetic (against vomiting); an antidiarrehea and a wide-spectrum antibiotic. Other than that, I carry with me something against sore throat: it may looks unnecessary, but in my trip to Madagascar I have had sore throat for several days and it has been a real pain, so now I always carry a throat lozenge.

After getting sunburns during many of my travels, I always carry with me sun cream. In tropical countries the sun is really strong, and if you are not tanned you can get burn even after 10-20 minutes! Other than that, I carry an insect repellent. I really don't like to use it, but in some countries where flies carry severe diseases, it is better to stay safe. If you are traveling to a third world country, remember that it may be difficult to find medicines, so bring a good supply from home.

The compact backpack (Invicta backpack)

. Documents and cash : 0.10 kg
. Pen and Paper : 0.15 kg
. Mobile phone: Nokia Lumia 1020, 0.15 kg
. Camera : Canon EOS 70D (with 2 spare Canon LP-E6 batteries), 1.00 kg
. Wide angle lens : Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 HSM, 0.55 kg
. Standard zoom lens : Canon 24-105 L IS USM, 0.70 kg
. Macro lens : Canon 180 Macro L USM, 1.10 kg
. Tele lens: Canon 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM (and teleconveter Canon 2x), 2.80 kg
. Universal electric socket with USB : Skross World Adapter MUV USB, 0.15 kg
. USB cable : 0.00 kg
. Canon 70D battery charger : Patona 4in1 Charger, 0.10 kg

I use a common student backpack for photo equipment: it is compact, lightweight and discreet. Other than camera and lenses, here I keep the charger of the reflex and the universal power adapter, documents, pen and paper; I have some business cards, too, so if I talk to someone about my work I can give them the address of my website. I have already discussed about the photo equipment in many other articles, so there I'll describe the other stuff.

Smartphone: Nokia Lumia 1020, 0.15 kg
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is currently the best smartphone on the market in terms of photographic capabilities: it has a 38 megapixel sensor, optical image stabilization and all the manual controls, including the ability to shoot in RAW. I also use it as a GPS, with the ability to download and use offline maps for more than 100 nations.

Universal Power Adapter with USB: Skross World MUV USB Adapter
I have carefully chosen all my equipment to make sure that anything that requires electricity is rechargeable via micro USB: the Patona charger, the Nokia smartphone, the Nitecore torch... all them works with a simple USB cable, which can be connected to a computer, to the USB car adapter or to the universal wall adapter. The Skross World MUV USB Adapter can be used all over the world and it also replace the power strip: it has two USB ports plus a standard electrical outlet, so you can charge up to three things at the same time.

Charger for Canon 70D : Patona 4in1 Charger, 0.10 kg
The original Canon charger is relatively bulky and not very versatile: instead, the Patona charger is much lighter and small (and it is even cheaper). It can can be powered both with a USB cable or through various other cables. I use it instead of the original Canon charger from 2013 and I really recommend it.

Documents and money
Nowadays, with electronic tickets, all you need in the airport is to show your passport; many times you don't even need to show the mail with the electronic ticket...nevertheless, I prefer to print it twice and to keep two copies with me, you never know ;-) If you travel with photo equipment or other expensive stuff, I recommend to bring with you all the receipts that demonstrates that you have not purchased the equipment in the country you have visited, otherwise you may have to pay custom fees. It is a remote possibility, in particular if your equipment has clear signs of wear and it is obviously not new; nevertheless, having the receipts is an additional safety.

If you are going to drive, check if your driving license is accepted in the place you will visit. In many countries, you need the international driving license. Of course you always have to carry your passport with you, in some place where you can not lose it. Another document that sometimes you may need is an immunization certificate; for example, if you visit Kenya you must have a certificate that you have done immunization to yellow fever.

I bring the credit card with me only when I have to rent a car (all renting companies ask for credit card), otherwise I prefer to bring with me some cash in the local currency. Pay attention to the change rate! Sometimes there may be huge difference from one place to another; when I visited Argentina, I changed a lot of money at the airport with a change of 1 € = 4.6 Argentine Pesos (ARS), but later I discovered that the "real" change was 1 € = 5.3 ARS, and some places even gave 1 to 5.6! Before departure, be sure to check the change rate, to avoid being ripped off.

Risposte e commenti

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inviato il 14 Marzo 2014 ore 22:50

Very interesting article dear Juza. I think many of us are using similar backpacking to travel light and efficient !
But many of us also needed to be informed about the way to prepare their trip...You just show how to create the best conditions to practice photography without spending any time to get the gear ready, because we all know that sometimes, favorable light can only stay e few seconds...!
You make me want to leave, and shoot !
thank you.
Cordial Greetings.

inviato il 15 Marzo 2014 ore 6:28

very helpful and useful article , Thank you Juza

inviato il 16 Marzo 2014 ore 0:20

I've a long traveling experience but there are excellent advices in your article. I've 2x TC, I need 300mm f/2.8. Your equipment is good for traveling but too heavy for mountains hiking. I'm thinking as well to get a 28-300mm. Thanks you for sharing your experience. One thing I will add, when you have the chance to have a car all is coming better. But of course renting a car has a cost.
Greetings, Francis


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