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01/03/2009 – Traveling Quick & Light : Packing A ‘Run Kit’
The run kit is a simple concept, it is single bag that is usually kept packed, or that can be rapidly packed, allowing a photographer to quickly get out the door and go to work.
While I no longer keep a run kit permanently packed, as I no longer cover breaking news for a living, I keep one handy for last minute jobs and ‘quick and dirty’ travel assignments. My concept for a run kit is simple, a single bag, that can be worn while working, that only carries ‘mission critical’ items.
Mission critical items can be broken down into groups, and for me include quite literally the clothes on my back. These groups include equipment, critical ‘support’ accessories, clothing and ‘sanity’ (sanity is noise canceling headsets and a Sony PSP with movies). When choosing your items for this type of bag, it is important to throw out anything that is not a basic essential need. If you can fit in a few non-critical items, great, if you can’t be prepared to travel without them.
Photographers are notorious for wanting to pack and travel with every piece of gear they own. While I often wish I has access to a larger arsenal of equipment on many shoots, the actual time and travel constraints prevent me from packing much of my gear, so I have broken the vast majority of my ‘quick shooting’ into a set of two bodies and two lenses. Of course there are times I get on a plane with a large backpack or Pelican case loaded with 10 lenses, various accessories and a spare body, but for many shoots a combo of simple gear handles all of my needs.
Choosing your equipment should be based on both your shooting style and the minimal essentials to be able to function in the field. Sometimes the run-kit includes a flash and e-TTL cord, at times a 3rd lens is thrown in, but that is based on the basic needs of what I think I’ll encounter on any given assignment.
Below is a photo of my basic run-kit, which has just come on two-day journey to Paris and Amsterdam, with only half-a-day shooting in Paris (the rest of the job was strictly related to travel strategies).
This kit includes the following
– Mountainsmith Borealis AT backpack
– Think Tank Cable Management 10 case
– 15″ Apple PowerBook
– Motorola (unlocked and used with a local SIM card when traveling internationally)
– Motorola USB charger (used with both Motorola Razr and Blackberry 8700)
– International Plug Adapter
– Sony NC22 noise canceling headsets
– Sony extra ear-bud covers
– Sony PSP batter (extra extended life battery)
– Lexar USB card reader
– USB 2.0 cable
– Sony PSP
– 2 USB jump drives
– Canon BP511 battery charger
– 3-way multi-outlet adapter
– Sony PSP power supply
– 2 four UMD disk cases (8 movies for the PSP, in addition to one inserted in the PSP)
– Sleeve of 10 DVDs
– Toiletry bag (Heft zip lock bag with toiletry essentials)
– Pack of moist toiletry wipes
– Zip cable with combination lock
– Lonely Planet Encounters Guide to Paris(its been well used)
– Four colour pen (pink Hello Kitty pen, it is really hard to lose a pink Hello Kitty pen)
– Moleskin pocket notebook
– Right Guard deodorant stick
– 2oz container of Purell (hand sanitizer)
– Canon 5D w/BG-E4
– Canon 20D w/BG-E3
– Canon 70-200f2.8l (with shortened modified lens hood)
– Canon 16-35f2.8L
– Think Tank Pixel Pocket Rocket (CF card wallet)
– Bogen 3007 mini-tripod with extension pole)
– 2 TSA combination locks
– 2 shirts
– 2 pairs of EMS travel underwear
– 2 pairs of Hanes socks (as I travel I toss my socks to gain space, and because they smell)
– Mini roll of gaffers tape clipped to exterior of bag (not seen)
All of this fits easily and comfortably into a single bag, which in turn wears comfortably on my back for long days. Yesterday I wore this backpack non-stop for nearly 8 hours with the cameras out on my shoulders.
When packing for you next quick trip save your back, save yourself the hassle (if possible) and pack on a run-kit.
Below are three photos of my Mountainsmith Borealis AT run kit.