The Mountainsmith Tour – Part 3 – The Compact Road Warrior Lighting Kit

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17/01/08 – The Mountainsmith Tour – Part 3 – The Compact Road Warrior Lighting Kit

While working on the road there are many situations that require me to light quickly and on the run…………and my Mountainsmith Tour provides me a packing option that is perfect for working quickly and effectively.

As much as I’d often like the opportunity to set up a full lighting kit for many of my subjects, or at least be able to set up a carefully planned small lighting set up, this is not always possible. Many of my shoots need to be shot quickly, with little-to-no planning in regard to location and this leaves me with the old reliable “single light stand-by” option.

The “single light” set up is an extremely common set up among news and editorial photographers. It is not always the most ideal set up, but it is done for a variety of reasons, the most common being that it can be done quickly. You’re waiting for a very high profile person, once they arrive you are told you have 5 minutes (which really means 2 minutes) and you are told where to set up and given 5 minutes to do so. These can be frustrating situations, but I have learned to plan for these situations. The constraints placed on me are not my client’s problem, they just need the photographs, and it is my job to provide these images regardless of obstacles.

With the need to create a very small, very unassuming, ultra portable lighting kit, I have adapted my Mountainsmith Tour bag to meet my most basic lighting needs. This kit makes my “stripped down” kit look complex, but it gets the job done. This configuration of the Mountainsmith Tour can be carried on the plane, worn around your waist with two cameras on your shoulders and easily be set up and torn down in less than five minutes anywhere……… is my “Road Warrior Single Light Kit”.

The following equipment makes up my “Road Warrior Single Light Kit”:
– Nikon SB-28dx
– Calumet Swivel Adapter
– PhotoFlex Speedring
– Pocket Wizard Transmitter
– Pocket Wizard Receiver
– PC Cord
– 2 “AA” four packs
– Roll of Gaffers Tape
– 22″ Photoflex LiteDisc
– Maglight MiniMag Flashlight
– Bogen 3373 Compact Light Stand
– (often added and not pictured : Photoflex Q39 Small Softbox)

All of this gear fits neatly inside the Mountainsmith Tour (including the Photoflex Q39 Softbox that is not pictured). The Bogen 3373 Compact Light Stand is attached to the Mountainsmith Tour by the bags strap system under the bag.

If you are interested in learning more about single light set ups, you need to check out Neil Turner‘s web site

For those interested in learning a wide variety of small light shooting concepts and techniques, I strongly suggest visiting The Strobist at . The Strobist is the most comprehensive source anywhere for using small strobes and learning to maximize the potential of your small strobe capabilities.

Below are some photos of my Mountainsmith Tour and the gear that makes up my “Road Warrior Single Light Kit.” Even with all the gear pictured below (and the often added, but not pictured Photoflex Q39 Softbox) the pack has enough room for other items you may want to add. I have packed all this, plus tossed in an additional small lens (like the 50f1.4 , 85f1.8, 12mm macro extension tubes) and lashed on a Gitzo 0012 tripod with no problems in regard to space, weight and maneuverability.

Happy Flying!

–Click The Images To Enlarge Them–


  1. Nice series on this bag – I’d not heard of Mountainsmith, but it looks like an interesting product. My main questions about this particular setup is – Do airlines really let you take this entire setup on board the plane? Seems like they’d have a problem witht he lightstand on the bottom (I have the same one but haven’t traveled with it yet)

  2. Backwards

    In fact you can easily fly with the light stand attached to the bag. You should have no problem flying with any compact light stands, tripods or monopods on US Domestic flights, flights within Canada, or US/CAN flights.

    Fly with an exterior light stand in certain European countries and you’ll have problems (such as Italy where tripods are specifically prohibited). I have had carry on light stands with me on flights departing from Germany, France and England, never been stopped, so you need to check your departure point before flying with them.

    You can also fly with a compact light stand from some countries in Asia, I have had a small exterior tripod on my bag when departing from Tokyo’s Narita, Incheon and Hong Kong.

    You should have no problems flying with this set up, depending on where you’re flying from and flying back from.

    Happy Flying!


  3. Thanks for clearing that up for me – I’ll be taking a couple trips in June, and I was wondering how to/if I should take my lightstand…


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