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27-November-2007: “I Need To Travel In One Light Weight Legal Carry On Bag, Pack Two Lights And I Hate Backpacks”
Following my Blog entry about packing a full kit of gear and lights in one single carry on bag (The All In One Camera, Lights, Computer Carry On Bag) I received an e-mail that started with this : “I Need To Travel In One Light Weight Legal Carry On Bag, Pack Two Lights And I Hate Backpacks.”
The reader of my blog went on to tell me there is no way to create a kit that will allow them to carry two lights, two stands, other lighting gear, a minimum of two bodies, five lenses, laptop and other related accessories and still meet the British Airport Authority (BAA) size and weight restrictions. In one way the person is right, you cannot pack this in one legal carry on when departing from most of the BAA airports (some airports are more relaxed than others), however you can create a complete kit that will travel in two bags, legal carry on from the vast majority or departure points, and that will protect your lights completely while departing from BAA airports.
Aside from flying from BAA airports, some airlines have a single carry-on restriction. This allows for one carry on NOT one carry on and one personal item. Singapore Airlines often enforces this, as does Emirates, obviously any flight departing the UK, and some other Euro and Asian based carriers.
My answer to this packing problem is obviously a two bag system. The bodies, batteries and lenses go in the old reliable Domke F-805 while the lights go in my often mentioned, and highly versatile, Pelican 1514 (http://Pelican1514Case.notlong.com).
The Domke F-805 looks like a basic laptop bag, it is small, designed long before photogs used laptops daily and will never get a second glance from anyone at the gate causing then to weight it. Should someone ask to weight it, you simply remove your laptop, take out the two bodies, stick a lens on each body, sling them on your shoulders, then weigh it. Why do you do this? No airline counts cameras on your shoulders as carry on or personal items, and the laptop being removed is for the safety and security of your laptop. Personally I have never had anyone give my heavily loaded F-805 second look or challenge me on it being a “personal item,” in any airport or in any country. The unassuming profile of the bag is great because when I pull out the Domke F-805 it is often loaded heavily with two or three bodies, 5 to 8 lenses, a flash or two, a laptop (at times two), batteries, chargers, emPower inverters, etc. I have traveled through one of the most difficult airports, London Heathrow (LHR), with this bag loaded to the brim and it has never been pulled aside to be weighed by any airline staff or airport official.
One of the beauties of the F-805 is that is looks deceptively small while actually being quite deep and able to haul a lot of gear, including longer lenses like the 400f5.6.
For the most part I have moved away from shoulder bags after having had major surgery on my right shoulder in 2002. I now primarily use backpacks, but I still do love the Domke F-805, I miss using my Domke F-2 and my Domke F-802 is my favourite briefcase……………………….but the person who sent me the e-mail that got this entry rolling stated that they hated to use backpacks.
For packing lights, I reconfigure my Pelican 1514 to haul my portable lighting kit. I use the Pelican at times when traveling out on Turbo Prop Flights (my home airport, HVN, is only served by 5 flights per day, all 5 are on Dash 8 Turbo Props, http://USDash8.notlong.com) I also pack this way when traveling through the UK.
When traveling to or through the UK, I will depart for the UK with both bags, and on my return out of the UK I can safely check my lighting kit with no fear of it being damaged. If you choose your lighting kit wisely, sticking with shoe-mount flash units you can pack an astounding amount of gear in this small little, light weight, legal carry on!
Below is a list of what gets packed in the Domke F-805 when I use this bag
2 – Canon 1D series bodies
1 – Canon 14f2.8L
1 – Canon 24f3.5L TS-E (tilt-shift)
1 – Canon 24f1.4L
1 – Canon 50f1.4 USM
1 – Canon 85f1.2L
1 – Canon 16-35f2.8L
1 – Canon 70-200f2.8
1 – Modified Holga Lens (to fit EOS mount)
1 – Canon 580ex Speedlight
3 – Lens Hoods off of lenses (16-35f2.8, 24f1.4, 24f3.5)
4 – Canon 1D batteries
1 – Canon 1D battery charger (not pictured)
1 – ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket (CF Card wallet with 10CF cards)
1 – Canon Off-Camera ETTL Cord
1 – Lexar CF Card Reader
1 – USB Cord
1 – Compact International Power-Tip Adapter
1 – Apple Power Supply
1 – Apple MacBook
Not pictured in the photos below are an iPod, headsets, sleeve of DVDs , APC emPower in-seat power inverter, magazines. I know I should have pulled them out to shoot them, but I shot it late at night, after having put my kids to sleep and I was tired.
Below is a list of what gets packed in the Pelican 1514
2 – Nikon SB-28dx Speedlights
2 – Bogen 3373 Compact Lightstands
2 – Pocket Wizard Receivers
1 – Pocket Wizard Transmitter
2 – PC Cords (Pocket Wizard to Nikon SB-28dx)
2 – PhotoFlex Q39 soft boxes
8 – PhotoFlex mini-rods (for soft boxes)
2 – PhotoFlex Speedrights (with tic-tac-toe patterned rubber bands to hold Nikon SB-28dx lights in place)
2 – Calumet Swivel Adapters
2 – Spare Sets Of “AA” Batteries
1 – Sheet of Cinefoil (to make snoot)
1 – Small Roll of Black Gaffers Tape
1 – Black/White Gobo
1 – Stofen White OmniBounce
1 – Energizer 15 minute AA Battery Charger w/ power supply
1 – Gitzo 0012 Compact Tripod w/Gitzo G1277M compact ball head
1 – Maglight MiniMag Flashlight
X – A bunch of spare rubber bands for the speed rings
Not pictured in the photos below, hidden under the foam padding, is a zip-wire cable and three locks, two to lock the case and one to lock the zip-wire and Pelican case to a bench for some security.
So for those who don’t want to carry the extremely heavy all-in-one Think Tank Airport Addicted backpack, try out this set up , or your own variation of this set up. I suggest possibly swapping out of the Domke F-802 for a low profile backpack, such as the the Mountainsmith Parallax (http://ParallaxOverview.notlong.com ) that can hold a lot, but is small and is easily worn by women and people who are not very tall.
Below are a few photos of both the Domke F-805 and the Pelican 1514 in the setups I have discussed here.
Have any questions, comments or need help with your specific packing situation? Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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