He who would travel happily must travel light. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Although this blog has no product sponsorship deals or affiliations with companies, I am going to write a ‘what’s in my bag’ post for the simple reason that my kit for long-distance walking pleases me greatly. Over the years I have enjoyed reading many such posts about packing for different kinds of tasks, including just a regular day going to work. I have enjoyed seeing what gadgets @Documentally carries around on his various missions.
I do like bags and pack, of all sizes and shapes generally speaking but particularly crave good ones for photography and walking. Saying that you can never have enough bags (or shoes) really feels like being a bit of an Imelda Marcos but most photographers know this feeling well. I have quite a few bags but it has taken about three years to get it really right for walking light and maximising opportunities to produce, create and design without having aching soldiers. The times I have returned, gear not used, are numerous and have encouraged me to get it right.
A Travelling Light Rambling Kit
My daypack, the Camelbak M.U.L.E. NV, is really designed for mountain bike riders but it is perfect for walking long distances too. Three litres of water piped straight to your mouth, a fantastic harness and ventilation systems with loads of different pockets makes it perfect for photography and tech gadgets. It fits snugly on my back and forces one to limit the amount carried.
I find my Joby Gorillapod dangles conveniently on the outside and can be used used to stabilise both an iPhone (with a Glif) and my X100T which I house in a decent leather case. It is important to have plenty of storage and the SanDisk 128GB Extreme SDXC UHS-I Memory Card is more than enough. The X100T is truly great for land or seascape work, even in the most awkward of positions, especially when the Lee Filters’ Seven5 Micro System is employed and one has a manual cable release.
I particularly like the Big and Little Stoppers as they provide ten and six stops of neutral density filtering for long exposure work. When either are coupled with either a hard or soft graduated neutral density filter there are many options, even in the harshest of light, for some nice long exposure shots. The X100T is a flexible tool with many fun features. One can be shooting a seascape, see something interesting nearby and quickly flick into macro mode or play around with some great inbuilt film simulation features.
When travelling ultra light one could ditch the camera completely. The iPhone 6, with a plethora of photo-editing apps, gives many options for quick processing and uploading. When combined with a Jorno keyboard one can blog or make notes in the field comfortably. It is particularly useful to be able to write knowing that notes made on my iPhone will be uploaded to my main computer with this workflow involving Simplenote and Scrivener.
An app like Gaia GPS is an invaluable navigation tool, especially when one knows the iPhone will not run out of power as it is housed in the Mophie Juice Pack Plus (more than doubling the battery life). The iPhone has so many features that are incredibly useful for reducing weight in a pack. If the light fades or one makes a very early, pre-dawn start, it doubles as a powerful torch.
I tend to take fruit and energy bars when walking, anything that wont squash or increase my pack weight greatly. I always have plenty of pockets in my clothing too which helps. Water is far more important than food and I like to snack rather than sitting down to demolish anything heavy. However, when it is particularly cold one needs to stay properly fuelled. I have dispensed with carrying a medical or blister kit. It is usually fine to have good, well broken in boots and quality socks. Scarpas have served me well over the years.
I have some very long walks planned for September in England and do not want to miss photographic opportunities. Basically, I will have two kits, the one I talked about here and another, heavier pack that has my Nikon gear for when I have a base and am only heading out in the morning for landscape photography. Sherpa van is a good service for transporting gear. I’ll blog about that in the not too distance future, maybe while on the trail.
Here’s a list of photography gear at my Flickr page including a number of other bags and packs. I often carry a great deal, especially when taking my Nikon D800 with the holy trinity of lenses and large tripod plus filters. Once, I used to always take as much as I could carry on my rambles but increasingly, I think about what kind of shooting I want to do, choose a bag and pack for that rather than random possibilities. Occasionally, when travelling light, I wish I had a longer lens, with much more reach but even that can be sorted out with Camera+ on my iPhone.